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Story School

June29

We decided to skip the six hours a week of preschool in the fall. Instead, I am completely nerding out over ordering a home preschool program for her today. Yes, I’m crazy but no, I’m not. Of course, toddlers don’t need anything resembling actual schooling, and rest assured I’m not getting academic with her. The homeschool “curriculum” consists of classic children’s literature and fairy tales; books on animals, how the body works, and what people do all day; a couple of clever games, songs and nursery rhymes, a bit of art, and some prayers and Bible stories.

We have plenty of books in this house and I could have come up with something terribly enriching on my own, but I’ve found that in real life, especially pregnant life, I haven’t made great effort. I chose this sweet program because I don’t have to think or have will power. When my brain is even further shot with a newborn, Audrey will have something special that’s just between her and Mommy for a half hour or so each day. I’m also totally looking forward to reading these books myself!

I’ve shown Audrey pictures of the stuff she’s getting and she’s crazy excited. I’ll be honest, her greatest focus is own getting her own child safety scissors, but she’s thrilled with the music, games, and books too.

A big thank you to family that donated toward the cause or gave me birthday cash. This is where it went (and what I really wanted!). Can’t wait to show you pictures when we get her box in the mail!

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Ready fer book learnin’.

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This Week in Stuff

June24

You know when it’s hard to blog? When you’ve felt catatonic for a week. The crazy preggers congestion/exhaustion took over last Wednesday and I’m only starting to feel like a person again. A person who still needs a nap every day, but a person.

Here’s what I know:

Aud and I have been taking a parent-child swimming class for 40 minutes in the early evenings the last couple of weeks. Her preschool BFF is doing it too, which is a treat. Aud sort of loves it. For a few minutes each time. Then she’s cold and desperately over it. “I NEED TO GET OUT.” Pretty proud of her for sticking through a lot of it. It’s been a treat for me! Stepping into a pool and feeling the bowling ball in my belly just lift up is so freeing. If I weren’t wrastling a squirming toddler the whole time, I’d been in complete heaven. Our last night is tonight.

Speaking of preschool buds, I just got the call that a two-morning-a-week spot opened up in the fall. Haven’t even told the husband yet. Am…torn?…but leaning toward…not? It is a really lovely experience for the kid. She’d have something that’s just hers when the new brother invades. But it would also be a bigger pain to shuttle her back and forth with said brother. And there’s, you know, that money that we could always find another use for. Eh.

We’ve added another name to the running for boy child. Guess we’ll figure it out when we meet him. Or something.

I had a birthday this weekend. I was miserable and cranky and no fun but there was food and cake, so that’s nice. Gonna get a night out with my hubs tomorrow and if I’m continuing to feel better, that should be a treat!

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My mommy made me strawberry shortcake cake. It was INTENSE. My honey brought me roses that don’t die (even though I’m a terrible plant killer!). The first time he did this was a year and a half ago on Valentine’s Day and now I have a big ol’ rose bush in my yard. It’s awesome. Men of the world: take note!

School’s Out For…ever?

May26

It’s Tuesday. Normally, Aud would have gone to preschool this morning but last week was the last week. Out for the summer. Maybe forever. She has no concept of that.

We chucked her into this program at the last second, about a week or two after the session started last fall. Put in her application when I was having a really hard time. Did it solely for my benefit: 6 hours a week (out of 168) to be off-duty.

And then we saw that it was the awesomest thing for her. She was delighted to be there. She spent hours outside. She painted. She pretended to be wild animals. She came home singing new songs and talking about cleaning up her toys. She said “please” and “thank you” and “sorry” more often. She talked about the other kids and her teachers all the time. She did a million things I’ll never even know about and it’s so crazy that she’s had this life of her own already.

Sometimes she’d get mad at me for taking her home!

But. It costs money. Not a ton, but enough. We don’t need it: I get to stay home with my progeny. Sometimes it’s actually a pain to get ourselves somewhere at a certain time, especially if the weather really blows, and I imagine it’s less fun when you’re carting around an infant too. So. We’re not continuing right now.

Picked her up Thursday, her last day, and her teacher gave me her “portfolio.” Just a thin binder of some stuff she did, but it made me get all weepy and I only sort of stammered out a “Thank you for everything you did for her,” before I ran.

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Weekend of Sick

March10

We decided to spend the weekend with giant colds. We figured it would be fun to do it right when it got nice outside so it would be more of a slap in the balls. The kid was sick with us but opted not to feel it. She was just as perky as ever and so bummed we weren’t taking her outside or chasing her or even bathing her.

She has learned a great trick though. When she hears her Daddy hock up a loogey, she immediately runs to open the kitchen trash can, so he can deposit it in there. It’s so gross, you guys. I still have a wicked gag reflex.

Aud was fine enough to be dumped at school this morning, so I did that. She was super excited. Finally, fun people! Her teacher asked me, “So…do you ever have to ask her to do something about twenty times?” Ha. Yes. YES. And twenty different ways to avoid it devolving to a wresting match with a toddler. Oy.

Here’s something cute the kid did yesterday when bored out of her mind with us:

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She’s wearing my shirt and has made a pocket out of the front for carrying her water.

The expression is because when she’s trying to smile on purpose, that’s what comes out.

And that’s my whole story. Later.

 

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Snow Bunny

December11

Since I’ve spent so much time recently in a ball on the couch, I’ve neglected a few activities. Sweeping the kitchen floor, washing myself, clothing my child. As I watched the snow pile up Sunday, I enjoyed the pretty distraction from my unrelenting misery, but it never once occurred to me that my kid had absolutely no winter gear to wear outside at her preschool, a school obsessed with being outside. Didn’t occur to me the next day either, as I sent my husband to Target for assorted needs like saltines and Pop Tarts.

Then yesterday morning came, a COLD morning, and I had to send my tiny, vulnerable baby to school in tennis shoes and a giant fleece jumpsuit. I felt so guilty thinking about her getting all wet playing in the snow outside. I was about to say I’ve never felt so guilty as a mom, but then I’d have to compare every other stupid thing I’ve done and I’m not sure I want to spend time evaluating whether it was better or worse when I lifted her straight into a light fixture or when I bit her finger.

So today we went out in search of snow pants and boots. I’ve been feeling pretty good in the mornings, which came in handy, as these two items took us three stores to procure. Packing a small, bundled person in and out of the car in the freezing cold. Hey, people who keep threatening me with the family’s genetic edge toward twins: How on earth do you go places with twin babies? Can you ever? Cause trying to figure out how I’d even drop Audrey off at school in that scenario is keeping me up at night.

Anyway.

Walmart: No pants, no boots.

Kohl’s: Boots! One kind. No snow pants sold independently, and wouldn’t matter anyway, as it is impossible to tell what things cost at Kohl’s, because the prices on tags are all made-up lies, and the electronic gadgets that tell you the real price are missing or not working. I hate Kohl’s. But the remnants of last year’s Christmas gift card made the boots affordable!

Target: Two pairs of snow pants available, both actually in Audrey’s size. One pink, one purple. Because those are the only colors girls are allowed to wear, apparently.

Success!

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Home Economics and the Selfish Parent

October4

I’ve been thinking about economics lately. No, really! Okay, sort of.

 

First, listen to this:

 

http://freakonomics.com/2011/08/17/new-freakonomics-radio-podcast-the-economists-guide-to-parenting/

 

Are you done? No, you’re not. You didn’t listen. That’s okay. It took me a couple of toddler naptimes over a couple of days but it was totally worth it. It’s an hour-long podcast of a bunch of economists talking parenting. And a lot more fun than it sounds. The sum-up is thus (and here I’m also including stuff I read in a book by podcast contributor Bryan Caplan called Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun than You Think): Twin and adoption studies have shown us that the way we raise our kids has far less influence on who they are going to be than we wish it did. Health, level of education, income, general happiness, even how law-abiding they are – these things are going to be what they’re going to be regardless of how we parent them.

 

Wait, what? What we do doesn’t matter? Well, no, not completely. Parental influence is seen in behavior (at least temporarily), smoking and drinking, and general kindness. Kids remember absolutely forever how warm and kind their home life was (or wasn’t). Parents influence what religion their kids identify with (though not how much they partake of religious activities) and how soon their daughters have sex. Fascinating.

 

But that’s about it.

 

How we raise them doesn’t get them more education, doesn’t make them richer, doesn’t make them happier or healthier than they are going to be anyway.

 

Which, ach, frustrating, right? But these economists tell us that should actually make us happy. Think about it. We can relax. Our kids are whole, unique people from day one, and we can get out of their way a little more and let them be. Think of how crazy the lives are of kids who spend all day in school, only to come home to homework, piano lessons, soccer practice – weeknights and weekends. Maybe it’s okay to let them dink around, stare at the wall (or TV!), amuse themselves. Maybe it’s okay for us to stop driving around, losing hours of our own time to…well, not really benefit anyone.

 

So much easier said than done, though, right? My kid’s not even two years old, and a lot of this rubs me the wrong way. Of course she needs to play piano! And well! (Because I value it, and wish I had worked harder at it) Of course she will need dance lessons (because when she shakes her little toddler booty I am convinced she is gifted). Of course she needs to have fun! And experience different things! And get her energy out!

 

And of course I need to homeschool her, because she is obviously brilliant, because I’ve read up a lot on education, because I’ve worked in schools and I know I can do so much better by her, and it’s an area in which I can clearly make a difference. Clearly. Right?

 

Oh, homeschooling. I grow more passionate every day about homeschooling (that is to say: for me and my family, at this point in our lives, knowing full well that once I have a 6-year-old and possibly a younger child too, I could change my tune faster than a drunk chick in a karaoke bar). I have lots of good, solid reasons to want to be in charge of Audrey’s education. I even made a list! It’s sitting in a notebook at home. But while I’m sure I’ll tell you all those good reasons one day, the economists have inspired me to try to look at it differently today. Because, let’s be honest: what sounds like more work and personal sacrifice that homeschooling your kids? If the benefits are negligible, why do it? Well, there are some things on my pro-homeschooling list that are actually less than noble. So today I’d like to offer you my:

 

Completely Selfish Reasons I Want to Homeschool My Kids

 

Would you believe there are plenty of things I’m looking to get out of homeschooling?

1. We are not morning people. This is the big one here. Andrew and I would prefer to sit in our jammies with our coffee and our laptops for a least an hour before even thinking about showering. The two days a week we have to get our kid to preschool at 9am are hard work. Not sending our kids to school will mean we never have to move off that couch if we don’t want to.

2. Teenagers are even worse to get out of bed. Their melatonin production goes off by, like, two hours or something, and they are biologically just crappy at getting out of bed and functioning. I will never have to fight that battle!

3. We can go on vacation whenever we want to. We will be beholden to no one’s schedule but our own.

4. I get to engage with my kids at their peak time of day, instead of getting them when they’re already burned out from a day of work. (Note: I realize I still get the end-of-day kids either way, but at least they will have done fewer hours of school being at home.)

5. Anecdotal evidence suggests that spending a large chunk of their waking hours in a virtual society of their same-age peers will cause my kids to disproportionately absorb the values of that group, resulting in kids who suck more to be around.

6. Less sickness. Man, those kids like to share germs.

7. I want to learn too. I feel a gaping hole in my brain where more education should be, and I wonder if learning alongside my kids will open me up to a later-in-life career path I would not have discovered otherwise. Also, the already-planned-out-for-you-so-you-can-do-less-work curriculum I’m currently in love with has book lists that make me drool. I really, really, really can’t wait to explore this stuff.

 

So there you have it. I can be a lazy and happy parent without compromising my kid’s future. After all, I did all the hard work of molding her life when I picked my gorgeous and brilliant husband to mate with.

 

I feel so accomplished.

 

So, what do you wish you could relax about when it comes to parenting? And what will you NEVER LET GO OF EVER, studies be damned?

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Parent-Teacher Conferences

September24

We went to Parent-Teacher Conferences last night. For our baby. Who goes to preschool two mornings a week. I know, right? But, awesome, because if there’s anything I like, it’s listening to someone talk about my kid for 15 minutes. Here’s what we learned:

 

Audrey says nothing at school. Just nothing. As the morning wears on, she will say, “Mommy?” and her teacher will say, “Mommy work,” and Aud will say, “Daddy?” and her teacher will say, “Daddy work,” and that’s it. Oh, and she says, “NO” to diaper changes. And that’s her school vocab.

 

However, since she’s started there, she now says new things at home every day, including:

 

“One, two, wee,” and “Shining, eight, nine.”

“I-Dow!” (“Upside-down”)

“I no wa’t to!”

And various letter names.

 

Ca-razy. We just sent her there to play in the dirt.

 

Oh! Which she loves! Dirt and sand. She spends her time outside at school immersing herself in those sensory wonders. She and another kid spent one morning filling a 5-gallon bucket with dirt but not physically being able to dump it all over themselves as hoped.

 

While she is quiet in general, don’t cheese her off. Apparently when someone inflicts injury upon her, she chews the kid out. She doesn’t hit back, she doesn’t crumple into despair – she yells. I laughed so hard when I heard this. I don’t know if I should, but I love it. I love it. Tell it, sister.

 

Aud started a couple of weeks after the school year began, and she’s there only two mornings each week. She’s attached herself to the kids that have spent all day, every day there since they were babies. She must get that they know the ropes. She’s gotten into the groove of things just fine. So marvelous – and strange – to hear about this world that does not involve us. It’s only hers.

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Padded Cell

August30

My thrill in the personal time freed up by preschool lasted for about an hour after I picked up my kid. Aud had woken up late that morning, and preschool had been so very exciting, that a nap just did not happen.

 

Hell hath no crazy like a toddler without a nap.

 

The next two days brought her a little cold and slight fever. No second day of preschool. Not enough sleeping for anyone. More insanity for everyone. I brought out the pack-n-play to serve as a baby jail. Don’t you judge me! When she’s in Full Crazy, I can’t go pee without her climbing the couch to get my Kindle off the shelf and start buying things. Or putting cereal in my coffee. Or shutting down the entire TV system, which is a moral offense of the highest caliber in this household.

 

On that topic, PBS won’t come in anymore. It’s like I have to parent my own child ALL THE TIME now.

 

Oh, and when you DO put the child in baby jail, you’d better make sure she has a proper diaper on, because if she’s in underwear, she will prove to you that she has some pretty great control over that bladder when she’s pissed off.

 

So Andrew has an office space right off our dining room. A great little room with French doors. Well, he’s currently fixing up part of our basement so he can move all his crap work downstairs. And then his office will be mine! My first inclination was to make it a little schoolroom/library that can double as a guest room. But then this week happened and my idea now is to pad the walls and make it a little asylum for destructive monkey toddlers.

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Can you picture it? (Can  you picture anything? Sheesh.)

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First Day of Preschool

August27

So this happened.

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Actually, there was supposed to be a First Day of Preschool picture here but we decided it would be more fun to argue about how to get the toddler to stay in one spot and where exactly that spot should be and why didn’t you take the picture, she was still for 4 whole seconds!?!?

 

And, what? Preschool? But she’s my baaaaaaby. Okay, to be fair, it’s two mornings a week. She will play in the dirt and hit a couple of kids and come home to me.

 

I have no idea if that’s true. She’s really more of an exuberant hugger, though I’ve seen her greet her best friend with a shriek in the face and a whack on the head. But not long ago, I was talking to one of the women in our church nursery (the only non-home place we’ve ever left her before). She told me Audrey was quite solemn and calm there.

 

Solemn. Calm.

 

This child:

solemn and calm

So it turns out I don’t know who Audrey is, really. I see only a few aspects of her. The loud, adorable, monkey person I have at home. Or the charming kid who goes out into the world with me by her side, the one who says “hi” to every person she sees. Who even says “hi” to women entering a restaurant bathroom while she’s spread-eagle on the changing table. Or points at a kid and shouts, “BOY!” like an accusation.

 

So we took her to preschool today. About the time we’d normally be sitting in our jammies (that’s all of us, not just her) on the couch with a bowl of Cheerios and Curious George on TV. Swept her out the door, brought her to this room full of new people and a few minutes later said, hey, kid, you’re going to play here this morning and then Mama will come get you, okay? And her solemn self nodded solemnly, kissed us goodbye, and went off to play. The uncertainty in her face coupled with the total acceptance of the situation just killed me. She didn’t cry. I had to leave quickly before I did though.

 

I can’t wait to find out who she has been when I come to pick her up today.

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