Monday, September 24, 2012

Rolling along

For the first time in his life, I want to stop time.

Summer has been over for three weeks.  I know this because three weeks ago, Little G started pre-school.  When Little G was born, it felt like I grabbed onto a moving roller coaster and only recently has it felt like I have gotten my bearings.  And now the whole thing just started off again.  I can not completely describe it, but even just looking at pictures from three weeks ago...just three weeks...seems like I'm looking at a different kid.

The end of our summer was epic.  Summer itself was epic - Little G had 'camp' for five weeks and then we were away for our yearly pilgrimage to the Jersey Shore and then he had two more weeks of camp and another week of 'welcome to your new school' camp.  And then, after a summer of scheduled fun, we had two weeks off.  Two whole weeks of just me, Little G and his baby sister.

I was petrified.

I ended up making a basic plan for each day where we lounged and had breakfast then headed out to explore the city, or go to a beach, or just ride the rails, and then we came home and I tucked two kids into their beds, exhausted, for a nap.  I had a babysitter come for the afternoons during those two weeks.  She had the easiest job ever as both my kids were usually asleep the whole time and I spent the afternoons trying to fit in various appointments...physical therapy for my ankle, dentist appointments, therapist appointments, etc.  We deviated from the plan on some days, but for the most part, that's what we did.  And it was awesome.

And now it is September.  And not just September, but three weeks into September.  For the first time since having Little G, September MEANT something.  Preschool isn't just a change in his life, it is a change in ours.  He goes five days a week for six hours a day.  This was a major shift for us.  So yeah, for the first time, when September rolled around and life had a major, noticeable, transition I found myself wanting to stop time.  Wanting to hold onto Summer, as long as I could -- because this roller coaster didn't even slow down and too quickly I am looking back into the distance trying to hold on to everything that was awesome knowing that the next time summer rolls around, he'll be four.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Open House at Little G's New School

Exactly a year ago it dawned on us that we needed to start looking for pre-schools for Little G for the following Fall.  He was, at the time, attending a home daycare program two days a week and getting ready to transition into a full time slot in the month prior to his baby sister's arrival.  Though some children chose to stay in the daycare program (which had a curriculum) until entering the Boston Public School (BPS) system, we wanted more of a traditional pre-school environment for him.

Thus started the two month long pre-school vetting program for our household that just happened to coincide with the final days of my pregnancy.  We considered dozens of programs during the month of September and eventually settled on no less than seven schools that we wanted to look at more closely during the month of October, when most schools scheduled their informational visits.  First on our list of schools that we were interested in (but due to scheduling craziness, last on the list of schools to actually visit) was a Montessori school that I threw in the mix because I liked the idea of the program and I was intrigued that this particular school went through 8th grade.

We had already picked our top three programs when our visit date came up for this particular Montessori school (we had already visited one Montessori program and decided it wasn't for us).  We had absolutely no doubt that Little G would thrive in any preschool environment, so truth be told, we went to this final appointment because it had been on our list the longest...but we really thought we knew where we wanted him to go.

And then we visited the school.  The Children's House program for 3, 4, and 5 year olds was clearly amazing, but again, as we said, we could see Little G doing well anywhere.  But it was the upper school that we found incredibly inspiring.  The children in 7th and 8th grade were running their own businesses!  The first graders were writing journals on what they were interested in learning.  The music room and art room....Holy Lord they reminded me of my own privileged* grammar school education - the programs seemed so rich and the materials and instruments so thoughtful (*one of the perks of living in a tony town is the amount of tax money earmarked for the school system; I'm one of the only people I know of all my friends who not only had art and music but home-ec and shop...every year through 8th grade) 

We knew on the spot that this was the school we wanted our children to attend.

Fast forward through having a baby, applying to the school, getting accepted and enrolling to this past Tuesday when Little G attended the Open House for the Children's House program. It was a 45 minute opportunity to bring in our supplies (nap materials, indoor shoes, mug, etc) as well as meet the teacher, see the classroom, pick up our bag and car tag (for the rolling pick-up process) and meet some new friends.

Little G was really excited...he actually got to attend a "Welcome to Our School" week during their summer camp series, so he was used to the building and all.  I actually snapped this shot on our way out, but put it here to show the level of excitement he had:

All of the materials...and I mean ALL of them...were out for the children to explore.  I'm not going to lie...I just kept praying that Little G would keep it together and not dump everything off the shelves in one fell swoop!  Word on the street is they don't actually start the year with EVERYTHING makes its way back into the classroom over the course of the year.

There was a minor incident with beads...but nothing too hard to handle:

Little G loved this fractions board...see...already a scholar!

The room has a giant loom and they plan to do some weaving this year:

Just prior to getting in the car to come to the open house, Little G grabbed a snail shell from our garden and put it in his pocket.  While we were at the school, he spotted a large, snail-shaped sea shell and exclaimed it was just like 'his' shell...then he ran over to the teacher across the room to show her:

He came back soon enough and found a tray with some farm pieces on it and started to lay them all out on a mat that he grabbed from a nearby basket:

Then it was on to some more scoop-able things/parents'-worst-nightmare:

The room had these fun closure boxes:

As well as a cleaning station:

A snack area:

Materials for cleaning up:

Here's a broader perspective of the whole many materials!!

A washing station:

And an in-room bathroom that, as Little G says, "is just my size!!!"

Soon it was time to put on our shoes and head out again...but I know Little G felt so much more confident for the next day: the first day of school!

Before heading home, we started what I hope will be a yearly first-and-last-day-of-school tradition:


Do you have any experience with the Montessori philosophy?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Like clockwork

This is the clock that sits on my bedside table:

Last week, Little G was snuggling with me in bed before we had to get up for the day (he finally, after a YEAR of sleeping in his big boy bed in his big boy bedroom will get up in the morning and leave his bedroom all by himself instead of calling for us to get him).  Snuggling, of course, is actually defined as rolling all over me in bed with elbows and feet flailing all over the place.

So it happened that while we were 'snuggling' my clock got knocked off the bedside table.  I picked it up and though it didn't LOOK broken, it did seem to have something rather large knocked loose and clunking around in it.

Since then it has only told the correct time twice a day, in other words, it stopped working.

So tonight, as I was getting into bed, I decided to rid myself of the broken clock and hauled it over to our bedroom trashcan.  As I was depositing the clock, my husband said, "Let me see that."  I reminded him that it was broken and he asked me if he could open it up.  I rolled my eyes and said I didn't think there was a way to get inside as I proceeded to try to wedge the back open.

He reached out his hand to me from bed and said, "may I look at it?"  I sighed, begrudgingly, and handed him the clock and got into bed fully expecting him to realize how right I was about how you couldn't even get into the back of this clock to even SEE what was wrong, no less fix it.

Yeah, in less than 30 seconds he had unscrewed the two very obvious finger screws on the back panel, opened up the clock, replaced the AA battery that had been knocking about (clumsily) on the inside, closed the casing and reset the clock.

I've clearly given up and stepped of the technology train.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

I pronounce you: mother-of-the-year...

...and YOU mother-of-the-year and YOU mother-of-the year and you and you and YOU!!

To all you new-to-pre-school mamas who are in the throes of 1st-day-at-school activites...I just want to take a moment to send a quick note of encouragement that as long as you all made it out the door today, you did an awesome job!  And even if you didn't you STILL did an awesome job!

Today is our second day of taking Little G to school and then dropping off the Ladybug with our nanny at the neighbors' house.  Two days ago, we visited Little G's school for open house and got our name tags (they wear them for the first week) and the tag for our car (to identify us at pick-up) and our school bag (everyone has the same one) and we dropped off Little G's indoor shoes and blanket and sheet and pillow all with the appropriate name tags neatly applied to tags.

So yesterday morning when I pulled up to drop off Little G and the director of the whole school (whom I shall nickname: School Director Barney) got Little G out of the car, I was able to say that all of his things were already inside with their name tags on and I won't like, I felt a little bit smug about the whole thing.  So of course, as what always happens when I'm feeling smug, I end up falling flat on my face.  Case in point: yesterday was a half day and I thought it ended at noon but it ended at 11:30 so there I was, on Little G's first day of the school where he will be for the next 10 years, picking him up late by a half an hour!! So much for smug.

Then, this morning, I once again got us all packed up and out of the house (I have to pack all of the Ladybug's stuff too since we go straight to the nanny share) and got to the car and I realized that somehow, the name tags that I thought I had been so smart to keep in the car, had gone missing! (In my defense, I tossed them during a quickie clean-up-the-car tirade once I realized that every crumb and schrapnel of granola bar wrapper was now visible to anyone who got Little G in and out of the car)   So I ran inside and made a new one (not a huge deal [for me since I had the supplies on hand], just a white stick-on name tag).  Then I got all the way to school and realized that we hadn't grabbed Little G's bag on the way out the door!  Blerg.

All of this to say that once again, School Director Barney was the one to get Little G out of the car and I said, "well, mother-of-the-year over here seems to have forgotten his bag today" and he didn't miss a beat.  He smiled totally genuinely at me and said, "even mother's-of-the-year forget bags".

Which is totally true.

So, to all you mamas out there who got out the door today, no matter what you did or didn't forget, as long as everyone got to school safely - I now pronounce* you: "mother-of-the-year", today and EVERY day!!

*ok...I'm not actually sure I have the authority to make proclamations...but I can totally send out encouragement and maybe even deem things


Update: I've since sent Little G in with reusable ice cubes in an old baby bottle cooler to keep his yogurt cool in his lunch bag...only to realize too late they they're shaped like margarita glasses.

Yeah...I'm gaining quite the reputation there.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

First days

After a fantastic summer and an amazing two weeks between the end of camps and school starting, we have begun some big transitions around here.  Namely, Little G started school yesterday and today (yesterday was a 45 minute open house where I went in with him and we met his guide [teacher] and brought in our extra clothes and nap items, etc. and found our hook/cubby - today and tomorrow are half days and Friday is a full day).

The Ladybug is going through a big transition as well.  We are participating in a nanny share with our good friends (who happen to be our neighbors) who's son (who I will nickname "Blue Eyes") is four months older than the Ladybug.   While the nanny has spent some time in the afternoons with the Ladybug, yesterday was her first day spending 6 hours at our neighbor's house with the nanny and Blue Eyes.

Today was the first day we all had to get out of the house to go to school.  My husband, bless his amazing heart, gets up and is out of our house by 6:18am so that he can be home by 6:00pm.  This means that the morning routine has always been my responsibility (except on the weekends...oh the glorious weekends when I get to totally sleep in because my aforementioned awesome husband wakes up with our children and lets me sleep.  Dear God, I love him!!)

Anyway, since this is only day 1 (or 2 depending on how you look at it) of transition for everyone, I braced myself for challenge.  It wasn't too bad, but I thought you'd get a kick out of the email I sent to my husband detailing our morning (note: I don't normally send anything this detailed about our mornings, in fact by the time we actually get to communicate on a daily basis, other than me grunting at him from the bed as he sneaks off to work before the sun has risen, I've already forgotten the morning and moved on with my life):


Ladybug woke up just as you walked out the door, so 6:19ish? (I would know but Little G knocked over my clock yesterday at 6:37am and now it only tells the correct time twice a day)

Fed Ladybug and snuggled a bit in rocking chair.

Took Ladybug to our room and let her play while I got dressed.

Took Ladybug to her room to get her dressed and Little G got up and walked out of his room.  It was approx 6:55.

Suggested to Little G that we go downstairs and have breakfast and then watch Mr Rogers to which he suggested we watch Mr Rogers and then have breakfast. Upon my not agreeing with that suggestion the wailing started.  Then he semi-agreed with me but wanted to watch Cars.  I suggest we watch Cars when he gets home from school instead of quiet time (stupid. stupid. stupid.) Of course, he agrees.

7:00, we are downstairs and I finally get him to agree that we will have breakfast first, then TV.  I suggest I am making pancakes for Ladybug [I make large batches of Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes and freeze them so I can pull them out and microwave them quickly for breakfasts], would he want one. He says "no".  I suggest pancakes and/or a banana or yogurt or toast or cereal to which he replies, he wants oatmeal.

Start to make oatmeal at 7:05.

7:12, still making oatmeal, Little G is now insisting that we watch Cars after breakfast.

7:18 I have extra pancake for Little G (because I never expected him to refuse it) and 1/2 banana.  I suggest he start eating that so when oatmeal is ready, he can eat that with enough time to watch Mr Rogers.

7:19 He has major fit because he wanted oatmeal

7:22 he FINALLY realizes I AM making him oatmeal

7:25 I realize oatmeal isn't going to be cool enough to eat until at least 7:45, Mr Rogers is a 30 minute program and we need to head out to the car at 8:05

7:29 I turn on TV and tell Little G we're doing something special today that we won't be doing tomorrow: we will turn on Mr Rogers and I will bring over his table and chair and he can eat his breakfast while he watches

7:32 (seriously, it takes 3 minutes to turn on TV and get to Amazon Prime option and start streaming) Little G finally starts watching Mr Rogers!!

7:35 I get Little G dressed while he watches Mr Rogers

7:40 I put food on his little table and remind him we have to eat our breakfast because when Mr Rogers is over we have to leave for school

I clean up the Ladybug (who's been eating a banana and a pancake all this time) and put her on the floor and pour my coffee

7:45 I redirect the Ladybug from living room since she's obsessed with pushing and pulling Little G's table away from him

8:01 Mr Rogers is over - Little G is not done eating and has made that very clear to me.  I play it cool and suggest that he let me know when he's ready to put his rain boots on

8:05 We're heading out the door into torrential rain...I am very thankful for forgetting to move car out back.

8:07 Torrential rain has stopped for enough time for me to snap a first-day-of-school picture

8:08 We're on our way to school - the radio czar has declared no music allowed

At some point (stopped caring about time as long as I made it between 8:20 and 8:40) I drop off Little G at school.  The director of the school comes out to meet us [drop off is defined as "rolling" in that all I have to do is pull up the car and someone comes and gets Little G out of the car] .  I quickly realize just how dirty the back of the car is.  Eep.

I leave school drop off and discover new, faster, less scary way home (i.e. no needing to have to wait in line while people try to turn left twice where people don't use their blinkers at two consecutive weird intersections)

8:28 - The Ladybug starts crying because she is exhausted - we are at least 10 minutes away from home.

8:35 - I call the nanny as the Ladybug stops crying.  I leave message to see if it is ok to bring Ladybug straight over and put her down for nap - I mention I will call one of Blue Eyes's mommies to confirm if this is ok even though she requested that we not show up until 9 the first two weeks [Blue Eyes is our neighbor's first child and has been home with his mommies for 14 months, so he's going to have a much harder transition to nanny than we are, thus we have agreed to let him be with the nanny exclusively for the first hour of the day]

8:36 - I call our neighbor and leave message to see if it is ok with her

8:41 - I pull up in front of house and the nanny calls and says it is fine with her; I let her know that I haven't heard back from our neighbor, so I will take the Ladybug inside and nap her here and bring her over when she wakes up

8:45 - I feed the Ladybug 5 oz of milk and she falls asleep immediately - phone rings while I am feeding her and our neighbor leaves message

8:50 - I check message from our neighbor who says it is fine to bring over the Ladybug so I send her a text telling her I brought her here to our house

8:45 - 10:40 - the Ladybug is STILL SLEEPING!!!

So yeah...busy morning.  And I have to turn around in less than an hour and go get Little G since today's only a 1/2 day!

I'm not sure I would have ever been able to wrap my mind around the logistics of getting out of the house in the morning with a preschooler and 10 month old back when Little G was just a baby.

Thankfully, like most endurance challenges, I've been working up to this for three years.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

(K)onquering KALE!!!

Long time readers (ok...anyone who was with me last year) will remember that Kale is the bane of my CSA existence.  So you will be surprised to hear that twice now I have VOLUNTARILY chosen kale as my extra-item-of-choice while at the market.  

Say, whaaaa??

Turns out I created (and by created I mean people have probably been preparing it this way for years, I just finally caught on) a flipping delicious recipe for kale slaw that I figured I would share with you fine people should you too find yourself stuck with a bunch on hand.  In fact, this recipe is SO good, that you might even seek out kale...I know...go figure.

Anyway, first you get some kale.  Either voluntarily or by being bequeathed large amounts of it in your CSA box.  Then take a very yellow picture of the kale to make it seem as unappetizing as possible:

Cut the kale off the stems and send them for a spin in the salad spinner:
Dry off the kale and chop it into fine slaw:

Take a handful of nuts of any kind (I used sliced almonds) and throw them in a small pan on medium high heat and swirl around with a silicone spatula until they JUUUUUST start to get fragrant and then take them off the heat.  The heat of the pan will continue to toast them to perfection:

Grab your bacon from the freezer [side note: for YEARS (and yes, I feel shame about this) I did not cook bacon because I usually only needed a little bit and then the rest would go stank in my fridge.  Just this past spring (I'm quick, you know) I realized I could roll up leftover, uncooked pieces individually in parchment paper and then only take out what I needed.  GENIUS, I tell you]:

Cook two slices of bacon (Yes, there are four here.  Yes, I fully admit to cooking up two extra slices to nosh on):

Let the bacon cool and chop up (2) slices:

Add bacon (just the 2 slices) back to the fat in the pan along with a large handful of raisins and cook on medium high for a minute until the raisins plump a bit [side note: if you DO make more than 2 slices of bacon, make sure to pour off the excess bacon only need the fat of 2 slices here]:

Add in your kale - it will be a HUGE mound but will cook down quickly:

Toss kale and bacon and raisins until kale has cooked down 1/2 way and looks tender:

Turn off heat and add in toasted nuts:

Julienne a medium sized, firm/tart apple and add that to the mix:

Make 3-2-1-1* vinaigrette by whisking together 3 TBS Olive Oil, 2 TBS Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 TBS mustard and 1tsp honey:

Pour vinaigrette over warm slaw and toss:

Serve it up warm or, even better, toss it in the fridge and let all of the flavors meld together and then eat it with every meal for the next two days:

Delicious Kale Slaw

Ok, the last thing anyone ever wants is a 50 bazillion step process to make a simple slaw that includes things like "now go get the fill-in-the-blank-ingredient from the tree you planted last summer in preparation for this moment".  I get it that this sounds like a lot of work.  But the reality is there are really only a few steps: 1) Process your kale 2) toast some nuts 3) make some bacon 3a) eat some bacon 4) julienne an apple 5) make a vinaigrette 6) toss it all together.  If you can wrap your mind around that, than you should be golden and this shouldn't overwhelm you at all.

Bunch of Kale
Handful of toasted nuts
Medium apple - julienned
Two slices of cooked bacon, crumbled or chopped
Handful of raisins
3-2-1-1-mustard vinaigrette*