"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

the truth is....

...six months snuck up on me Big Time.

I was, like, whaa?!
...I have only completed through February in her First Year Scrapbook. She was born on February 21st. Therefore, I have scrapbooked eight days of her life. 

....she's still coming into our bed at night. And I'm not ready to get her out for good. The other night she stayed in her crib until 4am. I missed her.

...she's a sassy thing. My two favorite new faces are that coy grin....


...and the stink-eye.


...she's movin'. And there's nothing cuter than watching her stick that little butt up in the air in her army crawl stance. And, yes, maybe I lure her across the room with a platter full of forbidden legos....


...but I reward her with a pile of more appropriate toys. Just don't try to offer this girl "baby" toys. She wants trucks, duplos, and buddies....anything her brothers are playing with, actually...


 ...she's six months old, but this is as close to eating "real food" that she's been...

the bowl is empty.
 ...and the only reason she's even in the booster seat is because, the day before she turned six-months old, I tripped over it in the basement storage room. I saw it and realized that, by this age, Max had been sitting in it at the dinner table with us for two months. Whoops.

We started feeding Evan pureed foods the day he turned six months old. Max was practicing Baby-Led Weaning within a week of his big day. But not this girl. We plan to continue with BLW with Molls...someday. In BLW, it's imperative that babies are able to sit, completely unassisted, before they are offered solids. She's close, but not there yet. And she's not showing a huge interest in our food. And....you know what? I'm not going to rock this boat. My baby will sit when she wants to sit and will eat when she wants to eat. I'm going to enjoy these last few pre-food weeks of this girl's sweet milk-breath while I can....this last moment in our lives when she is completely dependent on me for nourishment and comfort....I know that this sweet time is coming to a close so I will relish in it...

Lesson Learned:
I've said it before and I'll say it again: SLOW DOWN, TIME!

Monday, August 27, 2012

showdown, but no stitches

If we were in the Wild West, we would have been standing, bow-legged, facing each other. Our fingers would be twitching, at the ready. The saloon doors would be slowly swinging, the piano man and loose women having just taken cover behind the bar. Off-camera a whistle would play that OO-ee-oo-ee-ooooooo that accompanies such scenes and a tumbleweed would tumble by.....

Instead, we are in the office. I'm standing, arms crossed, stern-faced, looking down at the three-foot tall person staring up at me. Every book from our bookshelf and every shell from our seashell bin are strewn across the room and he stands in the middle of it all, perfectly still. There are no tumbleweeds, no ominous whistle, but don't be fooled: it's a stand-off.

It should have been simple: "Hey, Max, Molly is asleep. As soon as you get these things picked up, we can play! Get started, alright?"

Nothing.

"Max, I can't wait to have some special Max and Mommy time, but we can't until this room is cleaned up."

Not moving.

"Max. Please put the books on the bookshelf. Once you get started, I can help."

Nope.

"Put the books on the shelf."

He's a statue. 

I can feel myself getting angry, so I excuse myself to fold some laundry. "When I come back downstairs, I hope to see that you are making good choices and are cleaning up."

So I do...and when I do....HE HASN'T MOVED A MUSCLE.

Now I'm seriously angry and am speaking in a tone of voice that I wasn't (and am not) proud of.  And then I hear the baby calling me, so I lose it: "Max! Don't you see? Now Molly is awake! We should have been having special Mommy and Max time and you wasted it! CLEAN UP THIS ROOM RIGHT NOW."

I go up to get our girl and when I come down, he's moving in slow motion, but he's cleaning. So I give him a few minutes and then I pitch in. We say our apologies and I think fast to come up with a way to salvage the day.

The park! Of course! We haven't been to our neighborhood park in awhile. It's a beautiful day, so we walk.  I toss the wipe case, two dipes, and Molly's blanket/nursing cover/all-purpose drop-cloth into the stroller basket. I load Molly into the pouch while Max gets his shoes on, and then we're on our way.

During the fifteen-minute walk, I breathe. Deeply. I look at the mountains rising over our neighborhood and notice the pretty pots of flowers on the front porches we pass. I smile at the little old man who lets us pass him ("You all have places to go!" he said). I look down at the attentive little baby peeking out above the edge of the porch, noticing everything. I look down at the quiet little boy in the stroller...quiet, maybe, because he's feeling sorry about the way he treated his poor mommy that morning. It's the fifteen minutes I need to recharge and change course. This WILL be a good day.

And so, we play.



And Molly and I swing.



There's a little girl, slightly older than Max, playing too. Me-Too Max tries to keep up. She plays restaurant, he serves the lemonade. She rides the horsey, he jumps on the motorcycle.  She climbs up the steps and slides down the slide with her arms above her head, he does, too. She crawls through the ladder, gymnastically.....dangerously?....he starts to also.

"Max...." I call, to get his attention. "Be careful....watch what you're doing."

At this point, he is leaning through the ladder rungs and I'm picturing him face-plating on the mulch. And though he's not high off the ground, his arms are not in a position to brace his fall.

"Hon, why don't you back up and climb up the ladder the regular way?"

Shockingly, based on how this morning went, he listens. But as he backs up, he hops down. Problem is...his head hasn't cleared the ladder rungs.....soooooo, he hits the top of his head on the rung above him, which slams his FACE down into the rung below him.

I jump off the swing, but by the time I cross over to grab him...he turns to me, hysterical. His mouth is full of blood. I grab the wipes case out of the stroller and, using the FIVE wipes I brought with me, try to clean him up and assess the damage. There are deep gashes inside and on the outside of his lower lip and I can't tell if he bit straight through it. Also....his teeth are covered in blood so I can't tell if anything is loose or if there's any gum damage. Also, he's hysterical and covered in blood and I'm bloody and wearing a baby in my pouch AND a fifteen minute WALK from home, so...yeah...so much for salvaging our day.

Perk of having a husband working in the neighborhood? Quick relief in playground emergencies.  Sam was there within ten minutes and we were off to our first ever emergency doctor's appointment. 


He was so brave. The doc checked him out and determined that he didn't need stitches and that his teeth looked fine. He said we dodged a bullet this time, it could have been really ugly. Then he noticed the scar by Max's right eye and said, "But, by the looks of things, you've been around the block a time or two before with this one." Is it that easy for a pediatrician to spot a Wild Thing?

We came home to a lunch of applesauce (doc said to take it easy on the teeth for a bit because they might be sore) and hot chocolate with marshmallows (Max said it was the only thing in the whole house that would make him feel better).


And he's just fine.  But man, is Three Years Old around the corner or WHAT?!

Lesson Learned:
This kid is the biggest lover you'll ever meet. He's funny and energetic and excitable and fun-loving. He's smart and sweet and cuddly and kind. But damn. He makes me tired.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Evan Goes To Kindergarten

6 am. We wake up get out of bed. Had been lying awake for an hour. Nervous tummy. Today's the Day. And it's time to start it.

The day begins nicely...everyone is happy and moving right along in the morning routine...even routines that, now that school is starting, are changing....today, we will get dressed BEFORE breakfast. We will eat WHILE we watch Wild Kratts, instead of cuddling in bed for an extra 24 minutes while we watch. And....happily (surprisingly) everyone is okay with these changes.

7:20. Time to put on shoes, grab his nearly-empty backpack (which means there's room for him to sneak Beary in next to his snack..."Just in case I need to see him." There's also room for me to sneak in a family picture and love note....just in case he needs to see us.), and head out for pictures.

He's happy.



And, whether I'm ready or not....he is.
With confidence, he leads the way to the Bus Stop.


And when it is time....he's off to great places, he's off on his way.


I try, with little success, to keep the tears at bay. I allow myself to be That Mom, who, at the tiniest hint of hesitation before he takes that first big step onto the bus, hurries over to give him one last kiss, one last, "You can do it! I love you!"  Of course I do. I only have this One Time to send Evan to Kindergarten for the first time. This is it. Do it right.

And we do...we must, because, just before the bus drives off, we see his little head pop up into the window...and his hand waves goodbye...

Sam is off to work, then, and the three of us who remain just sit for a minute, looking at each other. "I miss Evan," Max says, for the first of many times that day. "Me, too, baby," I say. 7:42 am. It's going to be a long day.

***

What's so different about Kindergarten?

I had kissed Evan goodbye for a long day away from me three times a week for an entire school year before now. It's not just the goodbye...it's not just the long day....it's the feeling that this is the first day of the rest of our lives. We go to School. Or, for the next 18 years at least, when Molly will graduate from High School. We are a family with a school-aged child. And then? School-aged Children. For the first time, Evan will spend nearly as much time away from home as he does with us. And as he grows, that time away will, too. Until, like my parents did on the same day that I sent my boy to Kindergarten, we bring our baby to college. And then he'll find a nice girl to marry and I'll only see him every other Christmas or Thanksgiving.

See how my mind works? It's not pretty in here.

***

The day, however long it feels, is sweet. My two little ones decide to tag-team nap which, ordinarily would have been highly annoying, but today feels right. I spend Real Time with each of them, one-on-one and catch a glimpse of another positive (besides the obvious benefits of Going To School) in this New Life of ours.

But Max is mopey and by the time 2:35 finally gets here, I am, too. Sam is home and I'm anxious to get to the Bus Stop to meet our Kindergartner...even if we are 15 minutes early.

But we have a cute baby and a lovey big brother to help us pass the time...



Until....



He's home! And all is right in the world....

Lesson Learned:
He had a furrowed brow as he got off the bus. We ignored it, though, as we did school altogether. We gave a few "We missed you, buddy!"'s and "I love you!"'s, but that's about it. We knew we would have all weekend to let the stories start spilling out...and they did. It didn't take long. But Friday afternoon was about decompressing (mine and his) and playing.

Turns out, the grumpy face was because, after he boarded the bus in the afternoon, it remained parked for awhile before it headed home. We knew it would....the bus drivers were checking their rider lists and doing roll call, making sure everyone was where he or she should be. But I think it worried him...and then when they STILL weren't driving home, it annoyed him.

But he had a GREAT day in kindergarten. We heard about a new friend (Jack) and a new marble maze (that's wooden "but not, like, plain boring wood. It has deSIGNS on it that make the marble do interesting things"). We heard about a teacher's aide (Mrs. G) and the library (where there are "thousands, like more you can ever imagine" books). He told us about some of the class rules, including the class sign for "I need to use the potty!" ("because you don't want to shout it out so someone in another state could hear you when you need to use the potty"), and to be so quiet and listen when there's an announcement over the loudspeaker ("in case there's a skunk in the building and we need to shut our door really quickly").

And...AND...he brought home his first project: The Kissing Hand. He even let Mrs. C PAINT HIS HAND for the project. AND he colored in a heart.

Yup. It's going to be a great year. What a great kid.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Maxwell Goes To Preschool

He came into our bed at 6:30 this morning to begin our daily snuggle routine. I took a deep breath and hit him with contrived enthusiasm: "Max! Do you remember what today is?"

Pause. Thinking. Sigh. "What." he said, with no inflection....indicating that he probably knew exACTly what today was.

"It's your first day of preschool!"

He burst into tears.

I snuggled him tighter. "Oh, buddy," I began...and then I launched into the same monologue that parents are having countless times over, all across the country, at this time of year. It'll be fun....you can do this...everyone's nervous on the first day....blah, blah, blah. Nothing calmed his sad, sad, crying, though, so I changed the subject: "Want to watch Octonauts?" We made it through the first part of the morning more or less ignoring the subject of school but, watching the clock tick closer to Go Time, I knew it had to be addressed.

"Max, remember when we went to your Open House and we played on your awesome playground? Well, it's too bad you don't like playing on playgrounds."

"Yes, I do!" [tiny, hiding grin]

"And remember when you were building that really cool castle with those big dominoes? Oh, nevermind. That was so Boring."

"No it wasn't!" [grin beginning to spread]

"Oh, and those ponies that you were playing with were so boring, too. I hope you don't play with those ponies at ALL today."

"No they weren't! It was fun!"

"Preschool is so boring though."

"No, it's not!" [full-on, huge smile, hands clasped beneath his chin] "Preschool is FUN!" [hands outstretched over his head!]

Success.


Of course, Big Bro had to get in on the photo shoot.


I left Evan and Molly home with Sam so I could focus on Just Max during this first-ever drop-off. (It's a perk of Sam working remotely, a five-minute bike ride from home.) As we entered the lobby, one of his teachers met us, "Everyone's out on the playground with Ms. E," she said ("Playground?! Brilliant!" I thought). "Stay as long as you need to." Max hung his tote bag on his hook in the room and grabbed my hand. We headed out the playground door and his grip tightened. I squeezed back.

His shoulders slumped and his bottom lip jutted out as we reached Ms. E. "Max!" she greeted. He started to melt. I knelt down low and gave him a quick hug. "Are you going to go drive that truck?" I asked him, referring to his favorite part of playing on the playground during the Open House. "I love you," I said, "I'll see you soon!" Ms. E was ready to take it from there. And she did....and he let her.  He hesitated...he looked back after me...but there were no tears.

Back in the room, I lingered, watching him through a gap in the curtains. Ms. E was walking around the playground with him, trying to find the truck he was looking for. I saw him shake his head, "no," but he followed along behind her. Finally, he stretched his hands apart wide in the universal sign for "big." But then, he stopped, and just stood, watching the rest of the children. He stood right next to Mrs. E's leg and I saw a glimmer of his big brother in him...the quiet watcher...

But he was okay. So I could go home.

***
It was a good day at home with my Big Boy and Baby Girl.
While Molly slept, Evan and I made Monster Truck obstacle courses....


...and mazes...


...and, of course, we baked a cake. Pink, with Lavender sprinkles, because Evan knows that those are Max's two favorite colors.


***

We arrived at the school a few minutes early (naturally). We were just in time to see Max's class line up on the playground and head back inside. "Oh, look!" I said to Evan as I spotted Max, "There he is!"

"Oh!" said that sweet big brother, "He is so cute!"

Max was on the carpet, picking books out of a book bin when we walked in the room. He looked up but didn't move right away. "Max!" called Evan, "We're here!" So Max came running with hugs and kisses for everyone.  Ms. A came over and said, "Max had such a great day today!" And my heart heaved with relief. "He had a few sad times early in the morning, " she continued, "but there were no tears. Whenever he felt sad or lonely, he just went over to his bag and took out the family picture you sent in. After a minute or two, he would put it away and rejoin the group."

And I looked down at my brave, big, boy and saw the look of pride on his face. "You did it!" I gushed. And he just smiled, and squeezed my leg.

***

Back at home, I didn't get much out of him....except for:
"You know the silly thing they do at preschool?"
"What's that?"
"They paint on paper towels!"
"You painted on paper towels? That's so cool!"
"No, I didn't. I said THEY did."

...and...
"Remember Olivia from the playground? She steered the truck with me. But we didn't play together. And then she sat in the third sandbox with me. But we didn't play together then, either."

...and...
"I ate snack at the table. I got it out of my bag and I just found my seat. I just found it. I think it was next to a boy. What's his name? Maybe his name is Chase."

***

Then, we ate cake for lunch (don't judge) and Max slept off his busy day for the next three hours.

This evening, the boys reconnected while watching a show before dinner. They had the whole couch to themselves....


...but sat, literally, touching each other. They missed each other.


Lesson Learned:
Big exhale. 
He did it.
And now, regroup, gear up for our next big day on Friday...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

what's that you say? (part 2)

For the past few weeks, Max has been singing a song...several times a day and complemented by some very fancy dancin'. And while it cracks Evan up to the point of nearly peeing in his pants each and every time, we had (until a few days ago) No Idea what he was singing.

It sounded like:
Ohhhhhhhhhhhh! I'm the Greatest feeling that! and other kinds of fancy stuff!

And every time I asked him to "Say it again, slower this time," he just sang it again louder. And LOUDER. With fancier, twirlier, and stompier dancing.

After a week or so of pure bewilderment, we watched a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse featuring Goofy the Great. He was a magician.

"Max!" I said, starting to get it. "Is your song about a magician? Max the Great?"
"Yup," he said, "and other kinds of FANCY STUFF!" he finished in sing-song.

When he sang it again, it became a bit more clear:
"I'm the Great! and feeling that! and other kinds of FANCY STUFF!!"

A few nights later, while eating popsicles on the front porch, he started singing again.
"I'm the Great! and feeling that! and other kinds of FANCY STUUUUUFFFFFFFF!!"

I needed to crack it.
"Okay, Max, you're the Great."
"Yup. I'm the GRREAAAAAAAATTT!"
"And feeling that?"
"No, no, no. Feeling WAX."
"Feeling wax?"
"Yup."
"Feeling WAX?"
"Yes. I'm the Great! and feeling wax! and other kinds of fancy STUUUUUUUFFF!"

More confused than ever, I just let him sing. As his voice faded into the background, and Evan doubled over in laughter, and Molly and I played, the words played over and over in my mind. They became more familiar and I couldn't tell if it was because I'd been listening to this same refrain for weeks or if I was about to place it....

....feeling wax....other kinds of fancy stuff....fancy stuff.....and other fancy stuff...!!!

...SSSSSSealing wax and other fancy stuff!!

"Max!!"
He came running.

I started singing:

"Little Jackie Paper
loved that rascal, Puff
and brought him strings
and sealing wax
and other fancy stuff!"

Max just smiled.
"It's a good song," he said.
And as he danced away down the porch, he started again....
"Ohhhhhhhhhhhh! I'm the Great! and feeling wax! and other kinds of fancy stuff!!"

Lesson Learned:
It's been a couple of days since I figured out what he was singing. Tonight I sang to him as I laid with him at bedtime. He let me choose the song tonight (which was nice because, lately, he's been asking me to sing the ABCs "in Spanish and then in English"), and so I chose Puff. And when I got to the part about Jackie Paper, he put his hand on my cheek, locked eyes with mine, and said, "Hey! I know that song! It's a nice song."

Saturday, August 18, 2012

small town saturday

Since we were all up super early anyway this morning, we decided to walk to our local farmer's market.
Yup, I said "walk." As in....


It's a tiny, cute little farmer's market, with eight or ten booths of locally grown veggies, homemade breads and sweets, handmade jewelry, pottery, soaps and crafts. There was even a guy selling, I think, handmade walking sticks out of his trunk. I'm not exactly sure if he was an official part of the market or not, now that I think about it....


Our first stop was here, where we picked up some tomatoes, corn, and peaches. The watermelons looked super tasty...but we had walked to the market and that's an extra five pounds for Sam to push all the hilly way home...



I wanted to get a picture of the farmer who was running the stand. He looked like he had been perfectly cast to play the role of Small Town Farmer's Market Vendor. He was already giving me a curious look as I was taking pictures of his produce though, so I refrained.

After the produce stand, we stopped by the breads and sweets table. Everything was homemade by the sweet Mennonite girl and her mom who were running the stand, and everything was labeled for allergens! We bought some zucchini bread, which we ate before lunch, and a blueberry muffin that didn't even last that long....



As we perused the other tables (and trunk), Molly flirted with all the old men and ladies by peeking coyly out of the pouch...


And then, on the walk home, we saw this...


Lesson Learned:
For real? Pinch me. Again.

an early transition into fall

Maybe it's because I haven't buried my toes in the sand this summer, or dipped them in the Atlantic...

Maybe it's because between moving and traveling and having a new baby, we've been busier than in summers past...

Maybe it's because, with each passing year and each subsequent child, time really does seem to speed up (as is evidenced by the fact that my itty bitty baby girl is somehow already saying "mama" and nearly sitting up all by herself)....

Or, maybe it's just because we moved from a school district with a late-start calendar to one with an early-start calendar, so our summer break really is Shorter this year....

But whatever the reason, we are already, in mid-August, getting ready for school. And, even though it's only mid-August, that makes me want to pull out my jeans and start buying pumpkins along with those shiny new Crayolas. 

But first, let's tackle the big issue: SCHOOL.

You guys. I will have TWO CHILDREN attending school this year. I'm not quite sure how this happened because, I'm pretty sure, last time I checked, I was the Mommy to three babies. Or at least two babies and a toddler. Alright, maybe that middle baby was pretty large and in-charge, but still my BABY. Too little for Circle Time, for sure.

But then, he wasn't. We had added Max to the Waiting List at the most highly recommended preschool in our new little town. It wasn't likely that he'd get in this year, which was fine with us...he's not even three yet, after all. But having his name on the list would help secure a spot for him the following year. We got the call a few weeks after we moved in....a spot opened up and he'd be starting August 21st. In early July, that seemed like a whole summer away. Before we knew it, though, it was his Open House.

He walked into his school proudly and with confidence: "You all can follow me!" he said, "It'll go Max, Evan, Mommy, and Daddy. And Molly in the pouch." He was excited to show Daddy his classroom for the first time and to check out the toys that Evan had promised would be there. He was also excited to meet, as he calls them for some reason, his "school mates." As soon as his teacher crouched low to welcome him, though, he was hiding behind my legs. Ms. A smiled and introduced herself to me, instead. She invited us in to go check out the room. After a few minutes (and some inappropriate laughter over the "little potty," "Look, Evan, it's like a BABY POTTY!" How ironic coming from the 35-pound, thick-as-a-brick, almost three-year old wearing a diaper), he started to warm up. 

He found some large foam dominoes and started building a castle with them. Ms. A walked over and we chatted for a few minutes about schedules, routines, supplies, etc. Then, with a glisten of a tear in the corner of my eye I said, "You know, this will be his first time away from home. Away from me.  I mean, I think he'll be fine....but still...this is big."

As if on cue, Max's castle tumbled, he uttered a frustrated expletive"Oh, brish-o-brash," and he hurled a domino across the Circle Rug. 

"Um. Yeah." I continued, as Sam handled the "You Can't Throw Toys in the Classroom" lesson, "I'm sure he'll be fine."

Why is it so much different this time around? Is it because I'm different? I've already sent one child off to preschool....to learn with and from a new teacher, to become friends with children I don't know, to have parts of his day that he'll keep to himself and not share with me...is that why I don't feel as suffocated by the thought of sending Max to preschool? Or is it him? Max has spent two or three mornings a week for nearly his entire life going into classrooms that look beautiful and exciting and inviting and being told that he can't stay yet..."When you're bigger like Evan you can stay in preschool and play." Now that he's "bigger" and CAN stay....are we both more ready because we've been practicing for so long? Or is it his personality? My Maxwell who pulls you in and engages you with his bright blue eyes. Maxwell who keeps you close with his silly ways and quick wit. Max who feels no shame in singing loudly, dancing "fancy," dressing up in wacky costumes, or trying new things--even if he's not sure he'll succeed. Max who wants so badly to be like his big brother that he's already writing letters, sounding out words, counting up through the thirties, and learning Important Information (like what asteroids are made of and why thunder sounds scary). My Maxwell who wasn't even going to go to preschool this year....but we looked at him last spring and knew we had to at least put him on the waiting list because....He's Ready.

He'll be fine. But I'll be close by in case he surprises me and isn't. And Evan and I have big plans for Max's first day of preschool: when he comes home, he find a Giant Cake, "because he loves cakes, you know." And it'll have pink frosting (his favorite color), and lavender sprinkles (his second favorite color). And we'll celebrate his first day of big boy preschool and eat cake.

***

The day before Max's Preschool Open House, we attended Evan's Kindergarten Open House. 

Do you remember how nervous I've been for the past few years about Kindergarten? I was worried about him being away from me all day every day. I was worried that he would be intimidated by the busyness and the noise in Kindergarten. I was worried that the excessive testing now required in Kindergarten would stress him out. I was worried that he wouldn't feel comfortable enough to show all of the wonderful and hilarious and curious and thoughtful sides of himself. I was worried about how he and I would handle all of the obstacles that his food allergies present....what would we do about birthday treats and special behavior incentive treats and holiday treats and the lunch room? Oh, god! The lunchroom!! Would he feel left out? Would the other kids make him feel bad? Would he be safe? And then....I was worried that he would get a teacher who didn't love him....or (worse?), didn't love Kindergarten. Because if nothing else, I want for my children to love school.

Well, I've learned some things over the past year. First of all, and most importantly, I've learned that Evan can handle a whole lot more than I may have given him credit for in the past. I've learned that he can be away from me (and I, him) and that he can make friends, handle assessing, and show off all of his strengths to his teachers. 

I've also learned that, sometimes, strange twists of fate can put you in exactly the right place at exactly the right time for exactly the right reason.

Evan's teacher will be Mrs. C, the teacher who taught me how to teach, who taught me to love Kindergarten as much as she does, and who, now....will take care of my baby during this first, huge, year of School.

She loves teaching. It's infectious, actually; when you're around her, you just want to hang out in that room all day with her and her students and watch and be a part of the magic that is Kindergarten...the magic that is learning! I can't wait for Evan to be in her class. I can't wait for him to experience, through her, that magic. And he can't either! When I opened the letter from school last week with his teacher assignment in it, I was nervous...but didn't let on. I opened the letter and quickly scanned for the name: Mrs. C.! As soon as I told him, his face lit up and a huge, wide-open mouth smile spread across his face. He's ready.

At Open House, he led the way to his classroom with confidence and excitement. We entered the bright and cheery room and were greeted by an even brighter and cheerier Mrs. C. She handed him a "scavenger hunt" to complete to help him to become acquainted with the room, while I looked over some Parent Letters. On the table of hand-outs were three special pieces of paper with children's names on the top...one of them was for Evan. It was a letter explaining that there would be two food-related activities within the first two weeks of school. The names of the products that would be used were given, as well as ingredient lists. We were to sign off on the sheet saying, yes, our child could eat the treats or no, the foods were not safe, so the parents would provide a similar treat from home.

First of all: Holy Organization!! 
Second of all: This teacher GETS food allergies. Which means that I feel a whole lot better about the safety of my child in this classroom.
And third: THERE ARE THREE CHILDREN WITH FOOD ALLERGIES IN EVAN'S CLASS!! 

He will not be alone! He will not be the only kid not eating the cupcakes brought in by the birthday kid! He will not be made to feel badly for not being able to eat what everyone else is eating! He will have compadres! Kids that are JUST LIKE HIM!

And the best news of all: He'll have lunch buddies. And because there are three of them, Mrs. C has already said that they can sit together at the end of the REGULAR lunch table (no separate, isolated nut-free table!!), which the classroom TA will sanitize before lunch each day.

That nervous tummy that I've had for the past few years?
Gone.

Replaced by happy butterflies, maybe. And pride. And excitement. But I'm not worried anymore.

Everything is just right.

Lesson Learned:
Max is ready for school.
Evan is ready for school.
And, believe it or not, even I am ready for school. And jeans. And pumpkins.....

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

she's a tough one....

So....a few weeks ago, I let on that it was Time. Time to let my baby girl cry it out.  I reached this point waaaaaaaaayyy sooner this time around (before five months with Molly to Max's six and Evan's TEN). Maybe in part because I have learned (twice now) that my babies CAN handle sleep training (and so can I), but also because, now with three?, I really just wanted my evenings back. Especially now that Bachelor Pad is on again. Kidding! (Or am I?)

Two weeks ago, we started. Our routine would be: Sam gives her a bath, I nurse/rock/sing with her, put her in her crib drowsy but not asleep. Assuming that she would be crying, Sam would go in to soothe her (but not pick her up, and for just a few seconds--no longer than a minute) after three minutes, then after five minutes, then after 10 minutes (and continuing to go in after 10 minutes until she falls asleep). And then....we were off!

Night #1:  Routine was on point, Molly cried, but didn't scream (and we all know that girl knows how to use her lungs!) for 50 minutes. No fun, but not horrible.

Night #2: Same thing....perfect routine, crying but not inconsolable, this time for 30 minutes.

Night #3: Ditto...tonight, out in 25 minutes.

...and so it continued for the next four or five nights. She never cried for more than 20 minutes, and it was an intermittent, fussy sort of cry that didn't even require Sam's consolation after the first two nights.   It wasn't great (because she was, after all, still upset at bedtime), but it did help her to sleep on her own (and gave me my evenings back...call it selfish if you must, but this mama needs her alone time). We're not cold turkey CIO people though, so when she did wake up for her first nighttime feeding (which I'm not ready to drop yet, even if all the books say that nighttime feedings aren't "necessary" by this point), she'd come into our bed for the rest of the night. And it was working! We were all sleeping and all relatively well-rested.

But then, as summer schedules often do, our routine fell out of whack. A few nights of overnight guests plus a few nights of staying-up-later-than-normal plus a few nights of Sam-is-out-of-town-so-all-bets-are-off and somehow, some way, this little girl managed to get her mommy to nurse her to sleep again. Ooops. 

That's not so bad, right? I mean, she's still sleeping from bedtime until after Sam and I go to sleep...so she gets a good stretch, I get my guilty pleasure summer TV fix, and everyone's happy....

And who cares that her naps are all over the map and becoming increasingly inconsistent?

And it's not TERRIBLE that, by 11pm or so she's attached to the boob all night, right?

Oh, boy.

Lesson Learned:
I mean, really. Who can resist this face?


We're in Big Trouble with this one.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

space men

When my boys are into something, they're INTO it. Being five and I-can-do-it-too-two, they have insatiable curiosities about whatever the topic at hand may be....trucks, dinosaurs, animals...potty talk...whatever....and they want to read/talk/sing and play about it all. the. time. It's cute. No, really. It's cute. Soooooooooooooooooo cute.

But then....it was Cute.
Meet my Space Men:


Max's big boy room has an outer space theme. There's the Sara Kate Kids birth stat print....


...and the mural...


...which has prompted lots of planet (and "dwarf planet") talk.
He wasn't, like, super into space before we chose it as his room decor...but it came together and the interest was sparked.

And then, while back-to-school shopping at Old Navy, we spied the astronaut jammies, aka: Space Suits, that we just Had To Have.

And because the boys had endured a full morning of shopping, and because they could use some new long-sleeved jammies for the fall anyway, and because, honestly, they ARE cute....we now have them. The boys wore them all afternoon on Thursday. They played Space Men Explorers, who traveled to far and distant planets ("And dwarf planets, like Pluto!" reminded Max). They played Space Men Spies, who solved solar system mysteries. They played Astronaut Ninjas, who basically just tackled each other.

The next day, Friday, was Max's three-year well check (and shots needed for school). They wore their jammies. I mean, SUITS. They were Space Men getting Check-Ups. Evan told Max that all astronauts need check ups before they can go into space. It kind of helped. (The astronaut lollipop helped more.)

The next morning, they changed back into their space suits. (We insisted upon them wearing other jammies to bed.) Max asked to watch, and I'm not making this up..."That video on the computer when Venus goes in front of the sun."  He remembered. So we watched. And then we watched the History of the Moon youTube video...and we caught up on the latest from Curiosity, the Mars Rover. 


It's a good time to be a Space Man.

Lesson Learned:
Just don't tell them the truth when they ask if they can be astronauts when they grow up....
if not NASA astronauts maybe "Space Travelers"..............

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Peanut Challenge Bust

Sooooooooo......

A little over a year ago, Evan had a skin prick test to all of his suspected allergens. It came back COMPLETELY negative. As in: Evan Has No Allergies. (We know about, and continue to learn about, his sensitivity to raw milk, but it's mild.) A subsequent RAST test indicated an allergic response to peanuts. I didn't care. Peanuts are easy to avoid and they're not missed.

But....then he was about to start school. The big school. And his allergist suggested we find out just how reactive he is...after all, the skin test was completely negative. Did he really have to sit at the peanut-free table? Would proximity really be THAT big of a deal? And what about treats brought in by the other kids? Could he try them?

So today was to be the day.

I hadn't slept in the two days leading up to the Challenge. I've had a nervous tummy. I just felt.....off....about this challenge. And it's not the Challenge that made me feel this way....this was to be our fourth food challenge. We KNOW food challenges. But something felt different....True, this would be the first that I wouldn't be in attendance for...but I knew he was in good hands with Sam. It was something different. I was scared for him to ingest a peanut for the first time. I had a bad feeling about it. I've seen my boy suffer an anaphylactic reaction to milk and even THAT food challenge didn't scare me.  But today? I didn't feel well. And from the minute he and Sam left the house? I was tied to my phone, looking for texted updates. Couldn't get anything done. Felt......disconnected.

And then I get the call...

Before any tasting, they repeated the skin prick test...and there's a big hive. A big reaction. A challenge FAIL.

But....a Win. A skin reaction means no food challenge. The allergist got on the phone with me: "The aggressive way to proceed would be to go ahead with the food challenge," she said, "It's the gold standard. But...."

"No." I interrupted, "I don't want to go ahead with it. I didn't feel good about it anyway. I had a....gut feeling."

"Trust it," she reassured. "I agree with you. There's no rush. We'll reevaluate in a year."

"And the peanut-free table?"

"Yes. I'd take the results of the testing seriously. With the RAST tests as high as they were and now a positive skin test, I'd interpret the negative skin test as an outlier. A mistake. A false negative."

Bummer.

BUT....now there are no questions. Evan is allergic to peanuts. It is what it is. It is what it always has been. And to be honest, had he passed the challenge, even though some things wouldn't have changed (I can't imagine Evan being willing to branch out to incorporating many peanut products in his diet...), others would have:  Dr. D would probably have taken our Epi-Pen away. What would I have done? It's become my security blanket. For five years we have never been without it. Not for an hour, not for a mile. What if it was no longer needed? I'd have felt naked. Unprotected. Because....what if, someday, things changed...again? If you're allergic and then not....couldn't you, conceivably, become so again?

Lesson Learned:
It's not the news I thought I wanted to hear....but it's good news. Nothing changes. And if you know me, and know my boy, "nothing changes" is right where we like to be....