Monday, August 28, 2006

It's going to be a long year

Mrs. X: “Carol? This is (Harry’s teacher). How are you?”

Me: (tentatively) “Okay, and you?”

Mrs. X: “Just wanted to let you know that there was a little incident today during Art. The scissors were out and Harry cut G’s hair (adorable little girl down the street).

Me: “Oh my god.”

Mrs. X: “I have to give him credit. G came up to report it and I called Harry up. I asked him what happened and he said, ‘I cut G’s hair.’ I told him that it was completely unacceptable to cut hair in this classroom (somehow I think he already knows that), and asked him why he did it. He said, ‘I don’t know.’”

Me: “I truly believe that. He does things without thinking quite a bit. He has a bit of an impulsive streak.” (Just check out most of my archives from the last school year!)

Mrs. X: “Well, I think a note of apology to G would be nice.”

Me: “Of course.”

Mrs. X: “I haven’t had any other problems with him (IT’S ONLY THE 4th DAY OF SCHOOL!!!) I just thought you should know and now I am going to call G’s parents.”

Me: “Do you have to? I’m already on thin ice with them – I really don’t think her mom likes me.” (yes…I actually said all of that.) "Can you tell where he cut it?"

Mrs. X: nervous laugh “No, but I still think a note of apology would be nice.”

Yes, ma’am.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Should I quit my job tomorrow or just wait till Monday?

After becoming "comfortable" with the new routine - two sitters rotating in and out of the house as I started back at work two weeks ago - the kids had change in that routine on Wednesday. Harrison started school and Ella had a friend from preschool over for most of the day. Ella had fun, but a seven hour play date is too much for anyone. Today, while Harry got to run off to school again, giddy and excited, Ella went to the neighbors' for the day. Normally, this would be quite a treat. She loves the mother of this family and they have a girl about her age and a year and a half old baby. It's Ella's dream house - real baby paraphenalia all over the place!

Today, however, she was tentative to leave the house. She woke up a bit late and didn't have enough time to just wake up in her own surroundings. I left for work knowing that she was in excellent care and tried to brush off her clingy-ness.

Nine and a half hours later, my two beautiful kids bound into the kitchen. Tonight was Back to School Night for parents only. We had 45 minutes to make dinner, eat and catch up on everyone's day before they were going back to the neighbors' to share their sitter. Both of them were amazingly resilient to my hurriedness. They peeled their own corn on the cob and didn't squabble as they normally do.

Harrison left the room for some reason and Ella declared her thoughts:

Ella: "Mama, I didn't handle things too good today."

Me: Amazed that she was using this expression, I made her repeat herself. "What? What did you say?"

Ella: "I didn't HANDLE things very good today."

Me: I had visions of her not sharing with her friend, or using poor manners at lunch. "What do you mean?"

Ella: "I couldn't handle that you were gone all day. I really missed you."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

You only have one chance to make a first impression

Harrison met his teacher today. He chose not to speak to her at all. Not once. He did a great job of giving her a refresher from the non-verbal unit in her college Communications course.

Sideways glances = I'm listening, but I'd rather go over here and look at all your books.

Hiding behind Mom's leg = Didn't they tell you that I'm shy?

Slow and thoughtful nods = Yes, that sounds good, but don't think I'm going to show you any excitement until at least October.

Grabbing and wiggling front tooth for 95% of the visit = my tooth is loose and I am determined to be the first name of the year on your "Lost a Tooth" chart

Monday, August 21, 2006

My little boy is growing up

Here it is – two days before the first day of first grade. It’s post-bath time and I’m logging in my Weight Watcher points for the 153rd day (seriously, I just counted) while Harrison is behind me loudly slurping from his straw the remains of his homemade smoothie. We just had a great mother-son discussion that I wanted to write down so that I never forget the ever-changing dreams of my first-born.

Me: “That was really nice of you to teach Ella some words in the bath just now.”

Harry: “I put the letters “e” and “t” together and then put different letters in front of them to make words.”

Me: “I know, dear, that was really great. She was really learning. Are you going to be a teacher when you grow up?”

Harry: “NOOOOOoooooo!!!! I want to be a firefighter, (pause) and an army guy (pause) and a police officer.”

Me: “All at the same time?”

Harry: “Yup.”

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I had a week "off" between the three weeks of house guests and my first day back at work. I had great aspirations of finishing all the projects I mentally had set up for myself back in June.

Didn't happen.

So here I sit, exhausted after only three days back in the working-mommy-grind, trying to at least record a bit of our life of late.

These pictures wer taken the other day. I attempted to take four kids to a professional soccer team practice. The parking was a nightmare so we didn't get to go. Harrison, however, made the best of it by playing soccer at the park with his best buddy. She is the proud owner of the original "baby Seal". Grandma sent a new baby Seal a few months ago from Wisconsin. I don't get the obsession, but it is somewhat comforting to know that there is another child affixed to a large white stuffed seal just a few doors down.

Going back to work has been tough. I'm not sure if this is the best profession for me anymore. My empathy for adolescents has waned over the past 14 years. Starting Year 15 seems a bit overwhelming. I worry that I won't be able to give any more of myself.

Finding sitters for the 12 day gap, before the kids' schools start, has been an even tougher challenge than going back to work. We found a former nanny, who is GREAT, but extremely expensive. I'm paying her almost more than I'm making. I also worry about what is going on all day. She was recommended through someone we know, but she is still a stranger. Due to her high hourly rate, I've pieced together an extremely complex schedule that slips in three other adults to cover this time period. The kids are starting to ask - "who is watching us tomorrow??"

Guilt, and more guilt. Motherhood.

Chris' birthday was yesterday. He worked late and I didn't do as much in the present department as I would have liked. The kids got him another Johnny Cash CD (Chris loves to crank "Burning Ring of Fire"on the minivan's AWESOME stereo for them.) His wrist is slowly healing. He can do a few more things, but still can't write at all. He never complains. I can't even imagine how frustrating it must be.

Harrison starts first grade next Wednesday. The anticipation looms for Friday at 4:00 when they post the class lists. Harry is excited for school to begin. That, to me, is the best gift his Kindergarten teacher could have given him.

Ella's preschool is changing locations and will be closer and have a much better facility. She doesn't really understand how great this is - all she wants to know is if she'll have a locker. Where do four year olds pick up stuff like that?

Still dieting and exercising like mad. Not happy with the results (of course) - really wish I was. I write all the time about appreciating what I have - not worrying about the "little" stuff - seizing the day, etc. Even as I sit here in some pants I bought for my mom, right before she died and was pretty little, and all I can think is that I wish they fit looser. OH. MY. GOD. WHO CARES??? I want to yell at myself some days. Your mother DIED, for god sakes. Did you not learn anything from that?

I have. Chris and I try to remember this often. In fact, he is almost better at this than I am. His feelings of loss are also strong.

These ramblings are all over the place. It's hard for me to sit down and write about one of these at a time because I over analyze and then think it will take too much emotional (and physical) energy. Overall, I'm good. Chris and I are happier than we've been in a long time. The kids are happy and becoming easier to parent every day. The other stuff will come with time.

Oh - did I mention....I still really miss my mom.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Photo Friday: "Four"

Another entry in the Photo Friday series. Film shot before I had even touched a digital camera. It's a picture of my favorite spot, the turret, in my old Victorian house back in Wisconsin.

These four windows were just a few of the over 50 in the house.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Getting along

I’ve decided that there are few truly easy relationships.

At work, you are never able to truly be yourself. There is always a professionalism and certain decorum that needs to be maintained.

Friendships are complex. I have a friend from elementary school. I never forget her birthday and feel as if I could call her day or night with any problem, but we live 1000 miles apart and that leaves many limitations. She doesn’t know my day-to-day stuff, so that leaves the superficial topics for our rare phone conversations.

Because I’ve moved a lot, I don’t have many longtime friends. I just don’t have the desire/time to keep up friendships I’ve met along the way as well as I should.

New friends are great. They don’t know all your crap, so you can totally start over. Hold back showing all your insecurities. Reinvent yourself if you will. The bad part is, though, that because they don’t know all your crap there is no true glue that holds it all together. Hope is always there, though. Hope that it will develop into more. However, at this time in my life (kids/work/marriage/house) I don’t really make it a priority to deepen friendships.

Family is just plain weird. Having my dad and brother here for three weeks was eye-opening. First of all it was like having my mom’s absence thrown in my face over and over again. My brother and dad have started turning to me in uncomfortable ways. My dad is meta-morphing into a desperate single retiree who is on the prowl and my brother is … well, just difficult. He has always been Mom’s project. She did all his clothes shopping. She was who he talked to about problems. She was his staunch supporter when he made loads of mistakes in his teens and twenties. She is no longer around and he has chosen me to replace her. But I don’t really want to. My dad has also chosen me to replace my mom as his new confidant. I like it at times, but know I will be replaced when he hooks up with some hot widow at grief group.

The relationship of marriage? Where does one begin? Ups and downs. Highs and lows. Compromise and reward. Complex and yet very simple. Chris and I are best friends, but also our toughest critics. When nurtured, our marriage is amazing. When neglected, it can turn my world upside down.

That leaves the relationship between a parent and her kids. This summer off began simply. I loved being home with the kids. They responded with good behavior and wonderful energy. As the weeks went on, we struggled. Then the guests began. The break in our routine was actually good. However, not all of our guests agreed with my parenting style. My dad believes that children should be seen and not heard.  My brother, on the other hand, is a completely content parent. He loves being a dad to the core of his soul. At first I was skeptical. As siblings, we have little in common besides sharing an upbringing. I couldn’t accept his style. He brings his kids everywhere. For example, one morning we were short on milk. I quickly volunteered to run and get a gallon. He began to gather the kids and tell them to get dressed. I interjected that I was going alone as he was there to watch the FIVE children. He sincerely stared with disbelief that I didn’t want to take him and the children with. “It will be fun!” was his remark.

Now that he is gone, it is easier to look back on the week he was here. Even though he still drives me batty – due to our cavernous differences – he taught me a lot. He reminded me what parenting should be all about. It SHOULD be about enjoying my children – not about getting through the day. There have been several days this summer that I did not like being a mom at all. Several that I liked it for a few hours, but very few that I can say I truly LOVED parenting my two amazing little people. Since he’s been gone, though, that has changed. I look at them differently. I understand the root of their behaviors with more patience. I have returned to playing with them – not just working/cleaning/reading around them.

Thanks, Mark. Who would’ve thought that my little brother could teach me a thing or two?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Tuesday, August 01, 2006