Wednesday, May 31, 2006

And the Winner Is......

....Montessori. Thanks for all your comments. I've always kind of rolled my eyes at people who obsess over preschools (it's PRESCHOOL, for heaven's sake, not college), but damn. It is hard. He's a fairly adaptable kid, but I really want him to have positive associations with school and academics. That makes it so much easier later.

I took A. to a play-based preschool near our house yesterday morning, and while he was very impressed that they 1. knew how to draw turtles, and, 2. had a sandbox, he was overwhelmed almost to the point of tears by all the attention from the teachers who fawned over him and the kids, who thought he was exotic, being one of the few white kids, and definitely the only red-headed kid, there. He loves attention, but it has to be on his terms.

He did answer the teachers when they were asking him how old he was and if he wanted to go to school. He said, "I'm free (three). I'm a big kid. But on my next birthday I'll be bigger and maybe I'll go to school after that day." The teachers thought this was hilarious and kept commenting on how verbal he was. "Well, yeah, we do talk to him," I thought. They also told him that he was big enough now, and he looked at them like he'd decided then and there never to trust a teacher again.

As we walked back towards the entrance, the kept encouraging him to join in the activities or find something to play with, and his face screwed up in that "I'm about to have a meltdown" way. He pulled on my arm to get the hell out of there. As we walked out, though, he said, "That was cool! And they give you food if you don't have any!"

Later that afternoon, he went with G. to observe the Montessori. He was supposed to sit quietly in a chair next to G. while observing, which was no problem for him. When they got back, I asked which he liked better, the one he saw that morning with me, or the one he saw that afternoon with Papa.

He said, "the one I saw this morning...with Papa." Thanks, that clears it up.

Later, though, he confirmed twice that he liked the Montessori better. I think it just seemed so much calmer to him. So. He'll start in July.

On the one hand, I can't wait to have a few hours in the morning alone with Ben. He loves music and instruments and I think he'd love Music Together, which I did with A. a few years back.

On the other hand, My Little First Born is going to school! 5 days a week! That means I have to be dressed before 8:30 am almost every day! The classroom is at the back of a church campus, so yes, I do have to get out of the car. And I suppose I have to be coherent enough to drive safely. Fortunately, it's not too far away and I don't mind giving the impression that I'm much more concerned about character and knowledge than appearance. Heck, I already give that impression.

Oh, and that's him flying a kite up there on the header. How cute is that? G. taught him how to do it at the Kids'nKites festival this weekend and it was a great, blustery day for it.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Vote: Montessori or Play-Based?

We went to Big Lots the other day and there was a bunch of spaghetti all over the floor. A., of course, went back several times to walk on it. I told him, "Hey, buddy, don't make it a bigger mess than it already is, OK?"

Still skating on the spaghetti, he deepened his voice and said, "Cleanup in aisle 2! Cleanup in aisle 2!" Cracked me up.

We've been laying low licking our wounds lately. G. has more wounds than I do, being the one who got rejected and all. I think he feels like this was our one chance to move up to Portland and he blew it (not saying he did, but that's what it feels like). There really aren't that many jobs up there in our field that pay a living wage, let alone a decent one. Major HMO was the best shot we had. I applied for a different position the day after he found out, but that job appears to be gone now.

I've also been struggling with preschool decisions. The cheapest, best academically school is the Montessori school a couple of miles away, which would seem to be a perfect answer. But, I have mixed feelings about Montessori for preschool.

On the one hand, he loves doing stuff like their "jobs," and would be really well prepared for kindergarten.

On the other hand, he's really imaginative and loves pretend play and there's not as much room for that at Montessori. When people wonder about the lack of creativity in Montessori, I've seen the example of learning the violin used as an answer:

"Like learning how to handle a good violin and then playing music. It is not considered "creative" to use a violin as a hammer, or a bridge while playing with blocks. We consider it "creative" to learn how to use the violin properly and then create music."

Yeah, OK, except these are 3-year-olds and I love that he uses his imagination. He can come up with amazing relationships between things and I'd hate for him to lose that because he was concerned with the "correct" way to use things. I think Montessori might be great for grade school, because it has innovative ways to teach academics, but I don't know about preschool.

On the other hand, it would be one year of preschool (I think, maybe two) and only 3 hours a day. We do lots of pretend stuff at home and it might be a good balance.

I don't know. When I was observing, I tried to picture A. among the very quiet, industrious children there. Each one finished their task and quietly took their tray back to its spot, and got another tray, usually without saying a word. A. tends to announce every move he makes. "I'm done with this now! I'm going to count now!" in a very excited voice (he'd make a great emcee).

We could start and pull him out, I suppose, if it's too stifling. I just want his first school experience to be a good one.

I've also looked at some play-based programs, but I'm afraid he'll get lost and be intimidated in those. I think he could really be a leader at Montessori, and I don't think it would intimidate him at all. I think it fits his brainy side and it wouldn't matter so much that he was scared to do the slide or the rings. I do think he'd wonder why you had to do certain specific things with the sombreros and beans and couldn't say, make up a ring toss game with them. I can totally see him telling the teacher, "But I'm going to play like THIS."

ACK. Anyone have any insight? Psychic abilities? The answers?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

They Learn Early

Conversation between A. and his friend W. (exactly a year older than A., and generally a very sweet kid):

W: C'mon A., play baseball with me!

A: I can't right now, I'm climbing this tree.

W: But I really want you to play baseball with me!

A: I'll play later!

(and so on.....over and over)

A: Oh, alright W! I'll play baseball with you!

W (forlornly hitting the ball off the T-ball stand): That's OK, you don't have to play, I'll just play by myself. :::sulk sulk sulk::: (hits ball weakly and drags bat over to pick it up)

A (cheerfully): OK! (goes back to climbing tree)

W: Aw man. (starts hitting tree with plastic bat)

A: Stop hitting the tree, W! You have to stop because plants need water and trees need water!

W: Huh? I think this is an oak tree. (note: tree is a small juniper-type tree)

A: W! You have to stop hitting the tree because plants need water and trees need water TOO!

W: I think the oak tree is inside.

A: Yeah, it's inside the bark.

W: I hit trees at home all the time and they don't mind. They still get water.

A: Well, it's not good to do. It won't grow anymore if you hit it.

W: I won't hit the tree if you play baseball with me.

A: OK! I'm coming down and I'll play baseball with you! (climbs down)

W (sliding past him): I'm gonna climb the tree!

I think W. was hoping to turn the tables on A. by scrambling up into the tree and hoped A. would then beg him to get down and play, but it didn't work because A. is not versed in these sorts of games. He just shrugged his shoulders and climbed back up a different branch.

A little later, A. stomps down the driveway with a big ol' frown and gets on his bike. W. follows with a bigger pout and gets on his bike. Both pedal away angrily. W., who is a far better bike rider, maneuvers his bike to block A.

W: I won't be mad at you anymore if you play baseball with me!

A: I don't wanna play baseball!

I can tell A.'s getting really frustrated so I go over and tell him, in front of W., that he doesn't have to play baseball. W. sulks but leaves him alone.

Me to W's aunt: Man, that kid is already pretty good at emotional manipulation, huh?

Aunt (shaking her head): He's great at it.

Best Night for TV EVER

The great thing about American Idol is that I get a chance to be 14 again. Last night I was jumping around behind the couch yelling, "This is the best finale EVER!" and telling G, "I am so totally going to the Idol concert!"

and, "I LOVE Elliot! Why aren't they putting him in front? He should be in front. How come Ace is getting all the camera time? Wow, Bucky sounds pretty good."

and, "OHMYGAWD! PRINCE! Look G! It's Prince!"

to which G. replied, "Hmmm. I thought Ryan said there wouldn't be any more surprises."

"Well, obviously he lied!" OMG, roll the eyes.

I didn't literally jump around behind the couch because G. was sitting right there and I was tired, but I was doing it on the inside. I also had aggressively curled long hair and was wearing pink from head to toe, too. I probably even cried. On the inside.

And I still have to watch the whole thing (which I taped, of course - I'm retro in a world of Tivo) because it was on against LOST and you can miss parts of AI and not really miss anything, but you can't miss parts of LOST because then you'll be, well, LOST. By the way, like, how hot was cleaned-up Desmond?

But, "OHMYGAWD! Was that David Hasselhoff? And was he CRYING?"

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

More About My Mammogram Than You Want to Know

So, I had my first mammogram today. Nothing's wrong - just getting a baseline now that I've reached the big 40.

First the receptionist confirms with everyone what part of their body is getting x-rayed.

"It's for your knee, right?"
"Your shoulder today, right?"

So I was expecting her to say, "Your breasts, right?" but she disappointed me by just saying, "A mammogram today?" I wanted to respond, "Yes, my BOOBS," just in case there was any confusion.

Then I'm led into a little dressing room, told to strip from the waist up, and, I'm not making this up, given a gown with THREE armholes. Ummm..... If you put it on right, is it supposed to make a slit through which you stick your boob out, ala nursing gowns? I can't figure it out.

So the tech is outside saying, "Whenever you're ready...." and I have to tell her, "Yeah, I'm just trying to figure out this gown."

She says, "Yeah, it's crazy, isn't it?" but doesn't offer any helpful information.

I wrap it around by putting one arm through two of the armholes, which I'm pretty sure is wrong, but whatever. There's also a sign on the wall apologizing for any bruising or discomfort I might have as a result of the exam and suggesting I take some Tylenol for it. It also suggests that I will feel better about the pain if I realize that squishing my boob to the point of bruising allows them to get a better picture of the inside of my breast. Yeah, just like those cute kids made me feel so much better about the labor pain. I wonder why women have to use these cognitive tricks to accept pain. Is there a similiar experience for men? Do they tell men, "Hey, you'll feel better about my fondling your balls if you realize it gives me a much better sense of what's going on in there"? Because I'm pretty sure they don't have to get their testicles squeezed between two pieces of plexiglass as a preventive measure, but I could be wrong about that.

We go into the exam room and I have to take the whole 3-armed thing off anyway. I wondered how uncomfortable it would be, since I've heard stories - much like labor, ranging from, "Oh, it's not that bad," to "Ouch."

In retrospect, it really wasn't that bad, but it's a weird process. They don't just stick your boob on a plate and then tighten the vise - you have to contort your body all kinds of ways and reach out to grab a bar that's barely reachable (for one as short as I, anyway) and keep your chin up and hold your breath. Maybe if you're more flexible it's easier, but I found it a rather difficult position to hold. And forget about holding my breath - there was no way I could breathe in that position anyway.

She squishes the plates together as far as they'll go (or so I think), and then says, "OK, just one more tightening." Seriously? How's that going to work? But yeah, she tightens it a notch and that's when I stop breathing.

Fortunately, it's not like other x-rays where she has to leave the room - she just stands behind a clear partition right near the machine, presses a button and is back to release the vise. Then we do it to the other side.

I found top-to-bottom squishing more painful than side-to-side squishing. But the whole thing is pretty fast, then I had to get my gown on again while she developed the film. So I asked, "How does this gown work?"

She said, "Like a jacket, then the extra piece goes across your front." Aha. That makes much more sense then the way I was wearing it. Next time I may remember. But probably not.

In other health news: Damn, brain injuries suck. Not as much as many other things that could be wrong with me and overall I'm really lucky blah blah blah, I realize that, but still. My memory is crap. I'll get annoyed with G. for "hiding" something like the box of OTC meds, and he'll point out that I was the one who decided it should go there on the shelf in our new cabinets. I'm afraid to put anything away because I'll never find it again. I was seriously worried about this when I thought we were moving. How was I going to decide where things went, and how was I going to remember where I put them?

Another thing that happens is that I forget what I've thrown out and/or donated. We take photos of everything, so that helps, but I was realizing that I can't remember if I kept any of my maternity clothes. I know I gave a lot away, but did I keep my favorites? I have no idea what I would have done with them if I had kept them, so it's not like I can exactly check. Is this normal? I think I normally would remember that kind of stuff. I can usually keep a to do list in my head, too, but not anymore. I have to write it down.

I just feel dumber. I haven't noticed a difference at work, except that I have to write any schedule changes down right away and keep better track of who paid what - I can't just call it up from memory anymore...but maybe like Dr. House last night, maybe I think I'm OK but I'm actually saying stupid stuff. I don't really think so - a few nights ago one member of a couple I see told me I'd done "a very good job tonight," and asked if I was related to Henry Kissinger, considering all the diplomacy involved in working with contentious couples. So that felt good.

Oh, and I blabber more, I think. Not that you could tell, or anything.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

And To Think I Wasted All That Angst....

So G. didn't get the job in Portland. They put him through what amounted to a grueling oral exam last Wednesday and 4 hours of individual meetings with every staff member on Thursday, and Head Guy called yesterday to leave a message (grrrr) that there was too big a gap between their "program up here and your program down there." Well, la de freakin' da.

Mostly I feel bad for G. He deserves to be appreciated and they're idiots for thinking they can do better. Yes, I'm biased, but he really is the hardest working and most responsible employee I've seen. He gets along with everyone and clients really respond to him.

I'm angry and sad and frustrated. Everything seemed to be flowing so perfectly....the perfect house came available through his sister's friend (it would be a direct sale and we would save money by not using a realtor), but in case that didn't work, his childhood friend is a realtor in the area....his work schedule would have been just what he wanted, etc.

All signs seemed to point to this being the right move for us - and then BLAM! Guess what guys? You think you're in control but you're not. You think you get to choose when you're ready to relocate, but you don't.

Anyway, I'm a little frustrated right now, but we'll press on. I guess it's my turn to apply for a job. I don't want to work full-time while my kids are small, but sometimes you don't get to choose.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Some Planet is in Retrograde

Haven't written much lately because it would just be a bunch of whining and complaining, and really, I have very little to whine and complain about, in the grand scheme of things.

Except that I think I broke my nose. Last Friday at the playground, Ben and I went down a tunnel slide. I tried to sit up just as he threw himself backwards and thrust his head right into my nose. It only bled and swelled a little, but it's TUESDAY and it still hurts whenever anything touches it and glasses give me a nose-ache. These kids are determined to break my head.

G. hasn't heard anything about the job in Portland yet. We should know by the end of the week. In the meantime, we're trying to get all the accumulated crap out of the house so we can put it on the market as soon as we know we're going. There are many things I'm good at, but this is not one of them. I'm a collector, a hoarder. And a piler. God, the piles. Everywhere - the tables, the desk, the closet. And it is not easy to sort through all this crap with two sick children demanding either cuddling or entertainment. And I think I'm getting sick now, too.

And our experiments in potty training have failed. Now I just give A. the choice of underwear or pull-ups, and he'll usually pick the pull-ups. Not always, though. I also encourage him to be "Half-Naked Boy" (as he calls himself) at home. Our little super-hero.

Now that American Idol is on, I'm off to sort through more toys.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Journal Cover

Found a perfect quote on Rhonna's site for my current journal cover:
Live is never a straight line.
It's full of twists and turns.
The way to a happy life is not to avoid them
but to embrace them, to find happiness in them.
~Warren T. Vander Ven

(Patterned digital papers from Jen Wilson and dotted brush by Rhonna Farrer).

G's interviews in Portland went well, but they're incredibly detail oriented and asked him to essentially walk them through every professional decision he's made in the last 15 years. The first interview with the department administrators lasted a couple hours, and the next day's interview with the staff lasted over 4 hours.

He also looked at some houses. One is being sold by his sister's friend, who rehabs old Portland houses. She's hoping to sell to us directly and avoid a realtor. G is quite taken with this house, which has a studio in the back that we could use as a private practice office (as long as we don't see more than 8 clients a day). It's in a perfect location, with old, tree-lined streets and the elementary school about half a block away.

As a rule, I'm against change. Change is hard and I already tend to be incredibly sentimental about the things left behind. I know there are a lot of good reasons for considering this move, but damn. I'm feeling my 40-year-old roots shudder at the thought of being ripped up.

And I wish I just knew one way or the other. The Boss said he'd let us know by the end of next week, but last time he said that he called the same day, and I'm kind of hoping he does the same thing this time. I hate not knowing where I'll be living in three months.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

So Far, So Good

24 hours down, 26 hours to go.

We went to the Children's Discovery Museum today. I packed diapers, wipes, snacks, lunch, drinks, a change of undies and pants for A., Motrin for me, sunscreen and hats in my backpack. Dressed me and the boys, fed me and the boys breakfast, loaded the car and felt quite proud of myself for accomplishing all of this by myself before 9 am.

It's about 35 miles away, and traffic was horrible. An hour later as I finally found the darn parking lot, I pulled in and said to myself, "*&#@! I forgot the &^%$# stroller."

AAARRRGH! I finally have the perfect stroller - my new double jogging stroller*. It rocks. And it's home in the garage because we took it out of the trunk last night to put G's luggage in. Damnit.

So I carried Ben the whole day. He's just 20 lbs, but 20 lbs can get pretty heavy when you're walking a couple of blocks and have to carry him inside the place as well. I hoped they'd have strollers to rent, but no such luck was mine today. Oh well. One of the best things about this place is that they have several areas set aside for kids 4 and under (and they're good about keeping it enforced). They even had a little infant room for "crawlers only" where Ben had a great time crawling up shallow steps, ramps and kissing puppets. I was able to set him down often enough that I'm still able to move tonight.

But, I couldn't carry him and our bag. That meant I only carried my wallet and we had no lunch so we had to buy a greasy expensive lunch there; we had no camera, no wipes and no travel potty seat, so A. had to go on the big-people public potty. Let's just say he was "unable to perform" and ended up holding it about 5 hours. Adding insult to injury (sort of), 5 minutes after arriving home and 2 feet away from his potty chair, he peed on the floor.

Besides the stroller absence, it was really fun. I can't believe we haven't been there before now. We may go tomorrow, too (just to take the stroller since it missed out). And I want to go for Mother's Day, as well.

Ben looked so cute in his plastic smock in the water play area - it was full-length on him, and he was so excited he actually walked to the water table holding onto just one of my hands. That was the first time he's been willing to attempt that. He also managed to get the smock situated just right so that the water ran down the smock, around his side, and down the back of his leg. Both he and A. were drenched, but very happy.

In one part of the 4-and-under area, two separate little girls (but both blonde...coincidence?) tried to keep Ben and A. from playing in the "forest tree" area where there were puppets inside this tree trunk room that would fit about 4 kids. The first chickie bounced in while they were exploring in there, took a puppet from A. He gave me a look that said, "Girls are trouble," and ran off to some other exhibit. Then she tried to scoot Ben out with giant waves of her arms. Seeing no adult attached to her, I told her, "Screw you."

No, I didn't. But I did give her the evil eye and said through gritted teeth, "Can't he play inside too?" She shook her head no. Geez, babe, don't you even know enough to give me lip service? You're supposed to say, "Yes," or say nothing but look guilty, then try to push him out without me seeing it.

If she'd been there first, I'd say, "OK, whatever, ya little brat," but the boys were there first and both were significantly smaller than her, so I saw her as a pretty little bully. I sat at the entrance, folded my arms, and smiled at her. She got the message that I wasn't going to move Ben, that I was bigger than she was, and she finally skulked out.

Word of the male tree interlopers must have gotten out because a second blondie girl ran over and actually tried to push Ben out. "Hey! We don't push," I told her. Ben did crawl out of the tree trunk entrance and sat down right outside it. The girl picked up a puppet and made it snarl at Ben. "Trying to scare him, are you? I'll show you something scary," I snarled at her.

No, I didn't. But I laughed because Ben thought it was funny and kept grabbing the puppet and giving it hugs and kisses while her hand was in it. She didn't know what to do with that, so she took the puppet off her hand and threw it at him. He was thrilled, picked it up and showered it with more hugs and kisses. I laughed and she glared. Way to show her, my little lovebug.

Can you tell, by the length of this post, that I've had very little adult interaction today? My sister called to find out how it went today, G. called to fill me in on his interview and some housing possibilities (all of which are looking pretty good), and a chick took my money at the entrance to the museum and was spectacularly unhelpful with any of my questions. Oh, and our neighbor came over with some freezer pops for the boys and talked to me at length. But I don't count that since I only understand about a quarter of what she says and she doesn't stop talking long enough for me to get an "I'm sorry...what?" in.

*By the way, I was mistaken a few posts back - our new sink did NOT cost more than the stroller, G. pointed out. It was not THAT much cheaper, I'd like to point out.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Got Nothin' to Do But...

Blog. I caught up on all my paperwork because I knew I wouldn't have a chance to do any work while G. was away. The dishwasher's going, the kids are in bed, got a cold Hefeweizen, and American Idol's on. Life is good, and I love Elliot. If he doesn't make it into the finals, I'm boycotting something. Chevrolet. I'll boycott Chevrolet.

Some More Thoughts

I cooked some frozen ravioli for dinner tonight. The directions said to boil them for 5-7 minutes or until the internal temperature is 160 degrees.

I wanna know, who takes the internal temperature of their ravioli?

All By Myself....

well, except for the little guy in diapers and the little guy who's trying mightily to get out of diapers. We just dropped G. off at the airport. He's flying to Portland and has interviews and house tours (with our friendly realtor who happened to grow up next door to G.) for the next two days.

I realize that mothers all over the world deal with husband's business trips, deployment or various levels of absence, so 48 hours with two little ones is not that big a deal, but let's just say I wish I had to work the next two days and could drop them off with a babysitter, day care, swim lessons, whoever.

I told G., ala Roseanne, that if we're all alive by the time he gets home, I've done my job.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Am I Too Much of a Drama Queen?

Every evening, as I start to pick up the wreckage that is our playroom/family room, the scene in "Fiddler on The Roof" comes to mind - the one where the villagers start cleaning up the wreckage from the czar's army setting fire to the village during the wedding feast. I also start humming "Anatevka," although I know that's a different part of the movie.

Also, I'm trying to do more yoga videos in an attempt to relax and feel less burnt-out....but they're so damn slow that I find myself fast forwarding through them to the next pose. I'm afraid I may be missing the point.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Comment Lunacy

I've switched from HaloScan to Blogger comments. Sorry I had to delete all the previous comments - I still have them and hold them close to my heart. Go ahead and break the new Blogger thing in, though.

I don't know how to get rid of that little string of code next to the comments. It's not in my template, and the comment code looks OK to me. I turned trackback off. That didn't work. Any ideas are welcome. When I have a few more minutes, I'll check out Blogger help.

Land of the Obvious

So an advocacy group has filed complaints saying that those hyper-expensive Baby Einstein videos don't actually make your baby smarter.

In other news....Bill Gates isn't going to give you 10 million dollars, no one in Nigeria is going to pay you to help them move their money, and you can get pregnant the first time.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

We Da Bomb

Tonight we took a walk around the block. A. rode his scooter, which he just recently figured out. We stopped to look at all the houses and comment on the color.

"I wanna see more houses I never seen the color of before!"
"Well, you're in the right neighborhood."
"Look at dat house! Dat house isss vewy sy-lish."
"That house is stylish?"
"Yes, I think dat house is sy-lish."

As we went to cross the street:
"But this sidewalk is all ready for me to ride on!"
"Yeah, but this sidewalk across the street is ready for you to ride on, too."
"C'mon, buddy, we'll help you cross." I picked up the scooter and G. took A.'s hand.
"Oh, thank you guys! You're da best."

See? THAT'S why I let him watch Dragon Tales.

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