Friday, September 28, 2012

The Lady Turns 5!

The Lady, who normally shows up at my bedside by 6:45 a.m. every morning, slept in this morning. When I finally went upstairs to get her brother and try to wake her, I found her sleeping inside her pink pillowcase. Did I mention she sleeps with at least six blankets of varying sizes?

Happy Birthday to my beautiful Lady, who keeps me guessing, never fails to challenge or amaze me, and who's presence in my life has been nothing but a blessing. I love you.



Almost 5. She got up late this morning and I didn't get a pic!

Friday, September 21, 2012

The One Where I Tried to Volunteer

"I volunteer, I volunteer as tribute"

Well not tribute, but elementary school volunteer and really isn't that pretty much the same thing?

You are out there in the unknown, challenges at every turn, bake sale, book fair, something called "Family Fun Night," which I definitely signed up for in that fog of first day excitement, but was smart enough not to reply to the email from the PTO member about taking on the challenge of co-chair.

I am walking blind into these event, I don't know where anything is at the school and I don't know who anyone is. However, I am ever grateful that the one sponsor who always shows up at these events is Dunkin Donuts and that he is always offering me something from his Box O'Joe.

Last week, after I dropped the Little Lady off for her first day, I got in Minnie-Ru and headed over to the book fair at the Lady's school to volunteer. Could I have been home spending time with QT or doing something around the house? Yes. Was I? No, but I was able to listen to my own songs in the car.

After I finally was able to figure out how to buzz into the school (when the office buzzes back--you better be opening that door), and found the gym, my job at the book fair was to walk aimlessly around watching kids write down the names of the books that they wanted their parents to buy for them on Back to School Night. My role was to help anyone who needed it, which weren't too many considering that most of the classes that came in were 4th and 5th grade. I was also forced to tell a very sweet 5th grade boy, after a fairly exhaustive search on my part that I did not think that there were any Judy Blume books. Not quite a Katniss/Rue moment, but close.

Are you there God? It's me, Bean, and this is torture. 

I did meet one very nice woman who was also volunteering. Both of her children were in school, so not only was she covering the same 9-11 shift that I was, she was also going to be coming back in the afternoon to cover more hours. What? More hours of watching kids write down books about Justin Beiber and wrestling while bypassing actual books that were worth reading, didn't seem like how I would want to pass my afternoon, but then I started to feel guilty about not volunteering enough. Should I do more hours? Should I come back the next day? I am trying to join a community here, maybe I should just quit my job, chair the PTO and become the queen of book fairs. What is more important than kids and books? That's right. Nothing, except the new fall TV line up and free iced coffee days at Dunkies. 

But then reigned it in. I showed up. I helped a few kids spell some things and check prices. I did take some time to write down the names of books that I wanted to get for my kids, knowing full well that "Barbie, The Princess and the Popstar" would be high on the Lady's list.

Finally, it was over. I had survived. The other woman gave me her email and told me that she would be more than happy to unload all of her Curious George books off on me and QT, I smiled politely and made a beeline for the door. As I was leaving, I passed the Lady on her way to the cafeteria and in that one little moment, I realized it was totally worth it to have shown up.

Fast forward to last night where I got stuck at work, had to pick up my husband and the kids and head over to the Back to School Family Picnic, where I was supposed to man the bake sale from 5:30-6.

After winning some tickets

The Lady got her face painted and a few tickets
We showed up at 5:45. I rushed over to the table where the other volunteer told me not to worry about it, that she "hadn't given anything back to the school yet this year" and to go "find your people and enjoy." For a moment I felt guilty, like I should run behind that table and sell sweets to elementary school kids, but then I let it go. I made it there. The Ladies and QT were more than happy to participate in some of the events and I was just as happy to participate with them.

There will be more volunteer opportunities coming up. I know, I keep on getting emails reminding me that I signed up. I will say one thing though to all the volunteers who's hard work and planning really did make for a great event last night, do not, I repeat, do not buy whistles for prizes. I don't care what sale you found at Party City, those whistles were a relentless assault on my evening. A scary foreshadowing of what I can only imagine a 4th grade recorder concert might sound like. My ears are still ringing. What kind of mother would think that giving 100+ elementary school kids whistles is a good idea?

Maybe I should get on this PTO. I have ideas. . .

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Literary Mama

Check out my short story "The Drop Off" over at Literary Mama.

It was a response piece to the Cassie Premo Steele column "Birthing the Mother Writer"

I guess all that angst and anxiety about the Lady starting school was put to good use.

And you all thought I just wrote about my boobs and my crazy kids. . .

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dear FaceTime, Please Filter Me

Dear FaceTime,

I want to start off by thanking you for how easy you are to use. Since my hubby has started traveling again we have been able to use you to help the kids keep in touch.

The Ladies are considered pretty adept at iPad usage and can now FaceTime with ease. Both Ladies have FaceTimed me at the office to tell me about their school day and they are often asking about when they can use you again. QT gets so excited when he sees his dad's face on the screen that he can't keep his hands off the thing. He just points to the screen and repeats "dada" over and over again. Sometimes he hangs up on him, but mostly he just puts his little face on that filthy screen and gives him big, big kisses.

It is incredibly heartwarming and has made the sometimes difficult aspects of my husband traveling easier on both him and the kids.

Can I just ask one thing of you FaceTime?

Would it be at all possible to put some sort of filter on the screen? I mean Instagram does it to phenomenal success.

When my face pops up on that screen, I want to look away, but I cannot. I am so transfixed on how I appear on that screen that I find myself moving it in minute detail to get the best angle. It is bad enough that I look tired, a bit worn and worried in my everyday life, do you have to magnify it?

Look, I get it, we aren't using super high tech cameras here, and I realize that the one person who I am FaceTiming the most with is the one person who has seen me at my very worst. This man has seen me birth human beings, and I know that wasn't too pretty, but would it kill you to just add some sort of layering device? Perhaps something subtle, something that just takes out a few of the wrinkles, makes my skin tone look somewhat even, gives me hope that this guy might actually want to get back on the plane home to see me.

I guess I could try makeup or maybe brushing my hair, but at this point I think that I would prefer my image to be projected in one of those "photo booth" options that makes me look like a circus sideshow act rather then what you are offering now.

"Kaleidoscope" effect from the photo booth app.

Let me know. I would be more than willing to test out any new filters as my husband will be out of town again soon.

Yours wearied and wrinkled,


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Little Lady's First Day

Here are some pics of the Little Lady's first day(s) at nursery school.

Meet the Teacher Day. Here's to hoping that the water she spilled down the front of her dress while brushing her teeth dried in time. Also, not sure if any of you watch the Glee Project but she is doing that same weird self-hug thing that the choreographer always does when he is happy about something. See below.

Thought it was necessary to make a "funny face"

The official first day shot!

We were all set to start in the afternoons and I even made an effort with some moms in the class to meet up and get together, however at the last minute (Thursday) she was switched to the morning class. I was a little disappointed because the other moms actually seemed really nice and I had prepped her for the afternoon class.

However, yesterday the nursery school director told me that the "stars must have been aligned for you." I guess the a.m. is when all the cool kids hit the scene.

So, Monday morning my mom took her to meet the teachers and get acclimated (for a full 45 minutes) and then yesterday I took the morning off and brought her to school.

I am so used to the Little Lady just going with the flow of things. She is definitely my more adventurous child and is used to keeping up with the bigger kids. I will say I was a little taken aback when she got upset when I was leaving. I was surprised at how upset I got to leave her. I guess that since we have gone through separations before that this I thought this time it would be easier.

It wasn't.

This isn't the Little Lady's first "school" experience but it is a new experience for her and I hope she has a great year.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

When Kindergarten Kicks Your Ass


Ugh, I say.

So that beautiful smiling face that gladly rode the bus with her parents last Monday has now resorted to trying to fake stomach aches and woke up proclaiming "I hate school."

It really isn't school. The Lady seems to love her teacher and although she told me that she was sitting on the bench at recess instead of playing, she seems to be making it through the day engaged and interested in her classroom.

The problem is the bus. More specifically, the bus ride to school.

Last week at this time I was being told about how the kindergartners sit at the front of the bus, how they get on first and very careful care is taken to make sure they are well tended to.

However, that is only on the ride home.

On the way to school the Lady is on a bus with 56 other kids ranging in age from 4-to however old  5th graders are, with no monitor, no seatbelts, and no assigned seating.

For the past five years I have been strapping the Lady into every type of carseat imaginable. I have been telling her that the car does not move unless seatbelts are on and that cops can give me a ticket if she isn't strapped in, and then I just throw her on a moving vehicle with a ton of other kids and only one adult and am expected to just accept it.

I know that the Lady has to get used to riding the bus. I know that in a few weeks this (hopefully) will be a non-issue. But for now it is.

I called the transportation office. They didn't call me back. Her father drove her to school for two days last week. We have resorted to having the sitter get her on the bus. I feel badly for the sitter because she has to deal with the drama, but at least with her there are no excuses.

This morning the Lady cried while getting on the bus. I am calling the transportation office again.

I don't want the Lady to dread going to school each morning. Selfishly, I don't want to have to worry about it. I want her to be excited for school, for all the opportunity she will have there. I don't want fake stomach aches and manipulative behavior. I don't want to have to watch my phone every morning at 8:30 and every afternoon at 4.

I had to bribe her last week. This should not be my parenting default. This is kindergarten right? A time where they are meeting new friends, becoming accustomed to the school day, going to art, going to gym, reading stories, playing games, being kids. Why then is it kicking my ass?