Category Archives: School

Ready for the world

S’ preschool teacher sent this picture of S (on the right) and a friend via e-mail with the subject heading “ready for the world”.

I agree with her assessment.

Of course, it does beg the question…

Do you think the world is ready for them?

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With apologies to Punxsutawney Phil…

Punxsutawney Phil, America’s groundhog, saw his shadow Thursday, thereby predicting 6 more weeks of winter.

Oh, Phil.  How naïve, how naïve.

Perhaps you were unaware that the day before your prediction, I finally found – and purchased – a reasonably priced set of snowboots for T ($5, on sale…thank you, Target shoe clearance).

That means everyone in the family is now prepared for the February we had last year – (snow, ice and sledding!).

Phil, you must know that the fact that we are finally ready for winter virtually guarantees the early arrival of spring.

Better luck next year, Punxsitawney.

P.S. Don’t bother predicting weather for playgroup either, Phil (I say this in case your discouragement with your current arena of meteorology should tempt you to redirect your attention).  I have developed a knack for determining that weather as well.  Twice this year, I have hosted the group at my house (“It’s going to rain!” my organizational e-mails have predicted…only to greet the most beautiful days of the season.  This week’s e-mail announced, “It’s going to be gorgeous!” and resulted in playgroup lunch at the park in the drizzly rain.)

Bottom line: my prep for one type of weather virtually guarantees the other.

On the upside, I think this might be a marketable talent.  Hiring me to show up at your wedding with an umbrella guarantees a gorgeous day for the happy couple!  Farmers could pay me to show up in their drying fields wearing sunglasses, since it guarantees rain.

But I’m losing focus.

The point is that everyone should prepare for warm weather.   I have guaranteed it is coming.  We’ll be outside with you – wearing our snowboots, while rejoicing in the spring.

P.P.S.  Here’s two relevant photos:

The first is the groundhog E made at school, sitting next the one S asked me to help her make at home, both looking at their shadows on our kitchen table, clearly predicting 6 more weeks of winter.

Can you see the groundhogs, popping out of their little green "burrows"?

The second shows the shadow of the boots I bought T on clearance, virtually guaranteeing the arrival of an early spring.

“Non-returnable boots” trump “shadow of a rodent”, in terms of reliable predictions, wouldn’t you think?

What we’ve been up to

I was AWOL for a few days recently.  Here’s what I’ve been up to…

(1) Surviving (and recovering from) my husband’s 5 day work trip last week…we are so happy to have you back!  Thanks for working so hard for our family.

(2) E was bumblebee of the week at school this week!  Everyone in her class gets a turn, and she loved hers.  Every day there was something special (her favorite toys to school one day, her favorite outfit the next, etc.) that we were able to help her prepare.  One day she was encouraged to invite her whole family into the classroom to share a family tradition.  While our favorite family tradition (making a gingerbread house) was a little too complicated for our half hour slot, we had a great time showing a picture of E with a past house and helping the kids make the faces of gingerbread men on big round cookies.  Cue the icing and the facial features made out of m&m’s!  (Nothing like getting the whole class on a sugar high then saying goodbye and wishing the teachers good luck :  )  Thanks to E’s teachers for making her feel so special this week and for letting all of us visit. And thanks to dad, S & T for helping share our family tradition with the class!

(3)  Helping S through a tough week.  Though S had plenty of special stuff going on this week and I promise you we have had lots of fun (her regular preschool one day, attending the “grand opening” of a kid’s playplace with all of us – dressed in our dress up finest – another day, hosting playgroup at our house another day…), it can still be hard when your sibling is having such a special week at school.  We are working hard to teach celebrating others (I struggle with when it is the right time to make the spotlight equal and when to help the girls take turns having their special moments…more on this later)  But this week for E – with a new report on how they made her special that day at school each afternoon – was a little hard on S, despite my determination to give S a special thing each day to report too…

Anyway, S is such a wonderful, wonderful sister, and the reality is that she just wanted to be in Kindergarten with E this week with all those special things going on at school.  We figured it out when an initially cute moment for S during E’s special day at school turned sad.  The story: S was there to help us share our family tradition.  At the beginning of the activity, the Kindergarten teacher told each child to sit on the mat while we gave our talk/demonstration and to stay there until their name was called to go sit at the table and begin work on their cookie.  This rule didn’t apply to E or to S, who were both a part of the demonstration.  Well, after the last name was called, we realized there was one patient little person still sitting on the mat.  It was S (who – again – had been part of the demonstration, but apparently plopped down as soon as we were done with that because she remembered the teacher saying that kids would be called from a seat on the mat to go make their cookies)  Anyway, when we saw S, my husband immediately told her, “You can go make your cookie!  There’s a chair for you at E’s table!  E is already there.”  S replied, “Ms. H told everyone NOT to move from the mat until she called their name, dad!”  We actually had to get Ms. H to come over and officially release S to go to her chair.  The sad end to the story is that we later realized that three year old S was actually trying to demonstrate that she was ready for Kindergarten too…there were lots of tears from her when our activity ended (almost an hour of tears in the school hallway, the parking lot, the car and then at home…they started the moment she realized she was leaving with us instead of staying with E at school.  So sorry, S!  We love you, and if it makes you feel better, you will be in Kindergarten before you know it.  You are such a great kid and such a wonderful sister and we did our very best to give you an extra special week at home, which you did love, by the way :  ).

Then, later in the week, S got sick.  I will spare you the details, and just say, “poor S!”  She has received lots of TLC and been made to feel very special on her own.  Now we are simply at the point of being grateful that she is feeling better (and that overall, our family is very healthy…thank you God).

(4)  Marking milestones for T.  He has learned to say the word “no!”, heaven help me.  Also, just yesterday, when S had the blocks out, T walked over and used three of them to build a tower.  He pointed at it, laughed, then promptly kicked it down.  We did that for about half an hour yesterday afternoon!  T made a gingerbread face at school too, by the way :  )

(5)  Creating a cleaning schedule for our house.  I pride myself on being a “homemaker” for the family, but I might be the worst “housekeeper” in the universe.  I finally made a schedule for getting things done (i.e. designating times during the day for basic stuff (e.g. created a revised chore chart – our last one was too complicated – and setting a daily time to review it), designating a day each week for larger stuff (e.g. putting laundry away), and creating a 5 week rotation for things I just haven’t been doing (e.g. vacuuming the whole upstairs one week, cleaning porch toys another week, etc.).  I know the schedule is not completely realistic (and that the chore chart is going to be the death of me…more on this later too…are the ages of 5 & 3 too young for this?), but it at least gives me something to shoot for.

(6)  Prepping for Thanksgiving: a poster of things we are thankful for is growing on our wall, our grocery list is being made (all those family favorites, mmmmmm….) , and family is preparing to visit.  Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday : )

(7)  Christmas shopping!  We are *trying* to get an early start on our holiday “to do” list this year so we can focus more on Christ, family and friends during the wonderful season.  More Christmas details coming later!

I woke up early today and have been typing in a quiet house.  But it’s 6:30, which means the kids will be up any minute (I can’t believe T is still asleep…maybe he’s tired from our 4:30am playdate, which is why I was up so early today…love you T!).  Anyway, I’m off to start our day!

The Runaway Bunny, science edition

As we were leaving (five year old) E’s school building yesterday, she surprised me by yelling “I’m a magnet; I have to stay with things that are metal!” She then ran to the nearest pole, hugged it tightly, and announced it would be impossible for her to let go.

Trying to think quickly, I announced, “If you’re a magnet, then I’m the biggest piece of metal in the whole world.  Come give me a great big hug!”  E then leaped off the pole, ran across the sidewalk and let me swoop her up in the biggest bear hug I could give her.

It’s like The Runaway Bunny, science edition.

images-7

(I mean, can’t you just hear it:  “If you become a magnet and attach to randomly placed metal objects”, said the mother, “I will become a giant metal mama and you’ll be drawn in to hug me”.)

P.S.  Please tell me you’ve read this book, or – alternatively – are at least willing to click here so you’ll understand what I’m talking about…

P.P.S. This imaginary insertion into a kiddie-lit classic is absolutely dedicated to you, E.  Your mama loves you, your amazing imagination, and your wonderful hugs.

Airing our dirty laundry (and floors)

This is the picture E drew at school last week.

DSC_0217

It came home in her backpack, mingled in with lots of other papers.

On the surface, it appears to be a nice family portrait. From left to right you can see dad, mom, E, S and T.

However, if you look closely there are small brown ovals on the far right of the picture.  When I asked E what those were, she told me, “That’s poop on our floor! It makes my picture so funny!”

Fortunately, I believe anyone who knows me will dismiss the picture as a fictional representation: not because of the condition of the house (though it is never that bad, I promise!), but because in this image I am wearing heels (which any of my friends can tell you just never happens. I am a tennis shoe person, and in my world, “formal” simply means matching socks.)

Unfortunately, no one at E’s school really knows me yet.  So when I exclaim, “Ha!  This cannot be our family!  The mom is wearing red stilettos!”  it is going to seem like a pretty weak defense.

When E showed me the picture, we had a fantastic laugh.  (I couldn’t help it.  And E’s giggles, in combination with a shocked expression I overanimated for her benefit, got S in stitches too…)  But when we all calmed down and I asked E what her teachers thought of the picture, she said she didn’t think anyone had actually seen it.  In her still giggly, but very nonchalant tone, she said, “This might have been a drawing I just put right into my backpack; I can’t really remember…”

Maybe she’s right, since I have not yet received a phone call from the school.

Of course, they could have decided not to call me, and instead alert social services who could surprise us with some sort of unannounced, on-the-spot inspection.

And we will welcome them!  They will find breakfast dishes still piled in the sink, laundry in desperate need of washing, and toys scattered everywhere.  If they timed it perfectly, they might even witness a diaper changing disaster.

But, I promise you (!) they won’t find a single pair of red stilettos . . .

. . . or a pile of poop left to fester on our living room floor!

Seeking advice!

After attending the wonderful preschool at our church for three years, E started (and is loving) our wonderful local, public Kindergarten.

We chose this school for many reasons, but knew that our personal values meant that a decision to place her in a public school (instead of one with religious affiliations) meant we were making a commitment to creating some kind of “spiritual curriculum” at home.

So far, this has meant (1) enrollment in the kids’ choir at church (2) more praise music in the car, (3) a commitment to a daily family devotional and (4) our best effort at more focus during prayers at home.

So far, I am pretty happy with the results.  The music in the car has made the biggest difference, as it has sparked conversation about who Jesus is, what He did for us, etc.

As far as the devotionals and prayers go, I have realized that my distractedness (at bedtime, during dinner prep, etc.) is the biggest obstacle to both, and I am working on that.  But when we do succeed, those have sparked interesting conversations too, some of which I don’t know how to handle.

Last night was one of those conversations.

We had just set out dinner and said our blessing.  Right after we were done, E announced that her Kindergarten teacher always forgets to say the blessing before snack.

First, I told E how wonderful it was that she was remembering to thank God for her food.

Then I told her that the teacher didn’t forget, and explained that in her school there were so many kids with so many different blessings that instead of one big group blessing, everyone could just say their own.

E responded that this was great, and told us that at the last snack, she had led her little table of 4 kids in our family blessing.

So far, I have basically avoided giving a response.

I will leave the post there and ask for thoughts…I am open to any thoughts at all.

I am particularly interested in two things:

(1) making sure E (a very sensitive child who is a people pleaser and is very proud of doing the right thing in every situation, and has now been told how great it is she is remembering to thank God for her food) is not getting set up for something that will confuse or hurt her (when a wonderful teacher trying to do right by everyone questions or intervenes? by the way, the teacher was absent yesterday.)

and

(2) making sure I handle it in a way I would want another parent to handle it if their child were trying to lead E in something.  I don’t know the families of these other kids, but I respect whatever their beliefs are and want E to do the same.  Keep in mind that our prayer has big hand gestures, so suggesting a silent prayer would need both an explanation of why (she’s 5…everything needs an explanation of why) and possibly a new prayer without gestures?

Advice please!  (via comments or in a phone call or in person!)  I am really a little at a loss on this one…

Anyone want to channel Dr. Phil and give me the script of the week for a talk with E?!

From “ow’s” to vows (alternate title: never understimate the value of a kind word!)

E announced today that she might ask X (a boy in her Kindergarten class) to marry her.

When I asked her why she had chosen X, she told me that when she had scraped her knee on the playground, X was the first one to ask her if she was ok.

How’s that for a Kindergarten lesson?

Note to those who might have missed recess on Friday:  Never underestimate the value of a kind word.

(Or the expense of one, apparently.  I am allowed to say that as a parent-of-the-bride, who would likely be expected to pay for the wedding.  Although as far as venues go, the elementary school playground has to be on the more reasonable side…)

Anyway, there is no date set yet, and the groom may change, since apparently E was also quite smitten with another little boy who made everyone give her some space after she fell so that the teachers could rush in with a bandaid.

May your scraped knees recover well, E!

And (a little hopeful blessing/advice from your mama…)

May you continue to fall (figuratively!) for the nice ones.

Please say a prayer for E today! (and one for the fruit bully too…) – Updated

(Side note: my vagueness in this post is a result of my commitment to never post the mean nicknames kids come up with, since I wouldn’t want them to come back on my kids when their classmates are of the age they can read!)

Actual blog:

I know that relative to many issues, this seems small, but in the world of one little 5 year old, today is a big day, so…

Please say a prayer for E today!

The backstory:

E is having a great time in Kindergarten.  She loves her teacher, her new friends, and everything she’s learning.

Of course, there are always hiccups, and one of E’s recent ones came at snack time.

You see, E loves fruit, so I have packed her a favorite kind of fruit for snack on several occasions since the beginning of the school year.

Well, I always show E what I have packed before she leaves for school in the morning, and last week, when I showed her that fruit, she asked me if I would take it out and pack her something else.

I told her I would pack whatever she wanted (and I did), but did ask if there was a reason she had specifically asked that that fruit be removed.

Well, it turns out that there is a little boy in her class who had called her “[fruit] face” when she pulled it out for snack.  They are assigned to the same work table (4 kids total at that table), and that space doubles as a snack table, so there is no avoiding him by choosing a far away seat.

It has now been a week, I have helped E talk to her teacher about the teasing; the teacher has spoken to the boy; and all these conversations have made E feel very safe.

I also talked to E about not letting one mean comment take the “happy” out of snack time for her.  The teacher and I would help make sure everyone behaved nicely.  E should let us know when she wanted to try taking that type of fruit again.

You may recall an earlier post I wrote revealing my angst and confusion about the right time to help kids avoid teasing, and the right time to encourage them to be who they are and not let bullies dictate their choices and behavior (http://wp.me/p1Auii-5t).

Well, today is the day for defying fruit bullies.  E made the choice that she wants this fruit at snack time because she likes it, and because we won’t give people who make mean comments that power (even though we all know they have the power to hurt).  She knows she might get teased again, but she is prepared to stand her ground and enjoy her snack.  I am proud of her.

In addition to telling E I am proud of her, I have done everything I can to make the space safe for her (including e-mailing the teacher to let her know E was bringing in that fruit and might be nervous at snacktime…yes, I am that parent, but I want an adult eye on that table…yes, I know the teacher has a thousand other things to think about and do…still, E is taking a risk today and I want a grown-up encouraging her…)

So say a prayer for E today!

And one for the fruit bully too.

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone could just enjoy snack?

UPDATED: E had a great day at school!   She reported that everyone was nice at snack time, that one of the other kids at the table had the same snack as she did, and that she only ate half of her snack because she was so busy talking to her three table friends (!).  Her teacher reported that she overheard the boy that had teased E earlier saying to her:  “You brought fruit again, but I am not going to say anything mean about it.  I am going to be nice.”  Do you think he had been coached? : )  Thanks for the prayers!  From table teasing to table friends…that is what I call progress!

Public Service Announcement (re: Grocery Stores)…alternate title: “Thank You Nana”…other alternate title: “These Are My People”

So, it turns out that our local grocery store does not open until 7am.

How do I know this?

Nana told me.

How does Nana know this?

She is visiting us, and was gracious enough to travel to said grocery store at 6:30 am this morning to buy one apple.

Who was Jonesing for one apple at 6:30am, you ask?

No one.  And normally, I would have served an apple core out of the garbage before loading everyone up that early for a trip to the store.

However, last night (too late to go out) I remembered that E was supposed to take an apple to school for her Kindergarten’s “Johnny Appleseed” unit.

I also remembered that Nana was here, and (God love her), she naturally follows the schedule my children have forced me into (i.e. she naturally wakes up at 6am).

So, when she graciously volunteered to use her early morning time to get us the apple…

and then upped the ante by volunteering to take the wide-awake T with her…

I took her up on the offer.  (Who wouldn’t?!  And, by the way, I was helping E get ready for school at the time, just so you don’t think I sent Nana off and then went back to bed!)

How was I to know that poor Nana would end up looking like a kid peering in a store window at some forbidden object for half-an-hour?  (the eternally forbidden fruit, it turns out, that bright red apple…)

Grocery stores have those bright, all-night, lights!  Who knew they weren’t open until 7am?

By the way, this might be another piece of evidence that although E is rocking her Kindergarten class, I am in danger of failing the “parent of a Kindergartener curriculum” (seriously, it is harder than you think keeping track of their assignments, completing the administrative paperwork correctly, making sure their spare cubby clothing is weather appropriate amid ever-changing fall temperatures, and remembering which days we pack shorts for gym, books for library, a fresh blanket for naptime laundry exchange, etc.)

Given my mis-steps so far (only one month into the school year), it makes it extra nice that instead of just buying one apple, once Nana got into the store, she bought a bag of apples for E to take just in case any other families forgot theirs.

Although we donated the apples to the pile as anonymously as possible, I think Nana realized that we should – even subconsciously – get in good with this group of families now, early in the schooling experience.

Because although I love all types of people (and secretly admire the more organized ones), the folks who appreciate those extra apples being there are the folks I understand, feel connected to, and will probably see most often.

They are my people.  They are the ones who forget the apple, but realize they forgot the apple, and will be intent upon moving heaven-and-earth to get an apple there, until they realize that someone dropped off a huge bag of spare apples.  They are not the ones who remember the apple effortlessly every time.  And they are not the ones who forget the apple, but don’t really care.

They are the ones who, when we create a cornucopia in November, will make up for an apple-oversight by dropping a few extra gourds in the pile anonymously, and by doing so, will save me a panicked trip to Target.

These are the people who I will meet at school as we drop off the lunches that were left on the counter in the middle of morning crazies.  They are the folks I will see when we’re all picking up posterboard at Target at midnight some evening because something spilled on (or a sibling ate part of) the just-completed project at dinner.  We will chat about how our kids will all be gluing things on a new poster tomorrow morning before the 7:50am school bell.  Craft party at my place; be there at 6am!

For better or worse, these are my people, and I love them before I’ve even met them.

Thanks for the effort and the apples, Nana!  And thanks for beginning my connection to my group of parents: the ones who are (1) invested enough to make it happen no matter what sort of Herculean effort is required to do so, and (2) imperfect enough that we can be friends.

Note to self (re: American Gothic)

Note to self:

Check the church calendar before volunteering to weed the church preschool’s playground on a random weekday evening.

Failure to check could result in weeding on the first night of formal church directory photos.

Of course, mid-weeding, the children will inevitably have to poop, which will require that the family enter the building bearing garden tools and covered in dirt and sand from the playground.

The end effect of this will be a moment in which fellow parishoners believe you have arrived for photos looking like Ma and Pa American Gothic with their three dust bowl children.

American Gothic, but in our version, you would have to picture me in a ratty T-shirt, my husband in a baseball hat, and three kids with tangled hair and faces covered in dirt

(and no, we did not, despite some ill-founded encouragement from some highly entertained friends, opt to sit for our photos…

…though maybe we should have…one of the things we love about our church is that you are encouraged to come as you are!)