Monday, September 15, 2014

That's What They Said: Kid Speak

(Reading the feminine product dispenser in the ladies' bathroom at Meijer ... the way he read it)
Baylor: "Natrell Pads" (Naturelle Pads) and "Playtex Tampoons" (Playtex Tampons)

Amalia:  Mommy!  I want to give you an eggskimo kiss!

(While describing a Lego building ...)
Baylor:  It is he-normous!
Me:  He-normous?
Baylor:  Yup, he-normous.
(A mix of enormous and huge, perhaps?)

(While watching college football on TV ...)
Baylor:  Is it the East Virginia Pirates?
Bryson:  Nope, it's the East Carolina Pirates.
Me:  And the Virginia Tech Hokies.
Baylor:  Like the Hokey Pokeys?!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

That's What They Said: Being Called Out and Routine

Bryson:  Did you hear Baylor (University) put up an RGIII statue?
Me:  Yeah?  That's nice.
Bryson:  Doesn't it seem a little premature?
Me:  No.  I mean, it's for his time there.
Bryson:  Yeah, I know.  That's what I'm saying.  It just seems a little soon.
Me:  Well, no matter what he does in the NFL, it doesn't change what he did there.  (after thinking for a moment)  Unless he does something irretrievably stupid.
Baylor:  (to me)  You said a BAD word!!!
Me:  Uh ...
Baylor:  (in an accusatory voice) I hear when you say bad words!!!

(every night before I leave her room after getting her in bed)
Amalia:  Wait, Mommy, waaaaait.  I have to get situated!

(after bath time tonight ...)
Me:  Baylor, I love you.
Baylor:  I love you, too.  Mommy?
Me:  Yeah?
Baylor:  I'm so glad you're my mommy!
Me:  Aww, buddy, me too.
Amalia:  Mommy, you are the best mom I have ever had.
Me:  Thank you, Amalia.  I think you are right.  I am the only mom you've ever had, though, so ...
Bryson:  Mollie, maybe you mean she's the best mommy in the world.
Amalia:  Nope.
Bryson:  Oh.  Well, ...
Amalia:  Maybe one of the best?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Amalia's First Day of Preschool!

After the stress of yesterday, I was so hoping today would go well for both my dear, sweet kiddos.  I will say this, it did not start well.  The feet-dragging of pretty much every day of our lives persisted today, and even in spite of my best attempts to stay perky and positive I was barking at them to move faster by the end of breakfast.  Baylor stepped it up a bit, but Mollie, never really having had much of anywhere to go in a hurry, lolly-gagged her rear end off.

But once everyone was dressed, brushed, and backpacked, I was able to snap a few pictures before we made our way over to school.  In the first picture, Mollie really looked pretty nervous.

But, in typical Mollie fashion, she was clowning around by the second picture and looking as cheerful as ever.

I'm not sure Baylor was thrilled to have his picture taken yet again, but he seemed to understand how big a day this was for Mollie so he gave it his best shot.

Of course, when it came time for a silly picture - at Mollie's request - he was totally game!

Throughout the morning I had been reminding Baylor that he had to walk in from the car at school today, and I was about to do it again on the ride there when I realized they had launched into some sort of elaborate pretend play involving rocket ships and were finally totally relaxed before school.  About halfway down the street his school is on, though, he got really quiet, so I took that opportunity to reassure him that he could do this and that I was so proud of him.  As I put the car into park, I looked back at my boy and he seemed a bit nervous, so I told him to come give me a hug.  Then, after helping him get his backpack on, he said goodbye, jumped out of the car, and walked into school like he'd been doing it his whole life.

Honestly, at that moment, watching him walk/trot to the back of school with all the other kids and teachers and staff around him, I could have cried.  I was so insanely proud of him for his bravery, and it took a lot of focus to keep the tears at bay.  On top of it, Mollie soon thereafter told me that seeing Baylor walk into school on his own really helped her!  That's a win-win if I've ever seen one.

Once we got to school, parked, and made our way to the preschool door, I made Mollie pose for yet another picture.  Man, it was sunny out, though!

As the doors opened, we filed in with all the other parents and preschoolers and set about looking for Mollie's backpack/jacket hook.  Lo and behold, it had an orange star marking it!  (Nothing makes you feel better when you're a preschooler like seeing your favorite color on something that is newly yours.)  Of course, it was at this point I noticed that, in all the hubbub of the morning, I had neglected to button the back of her dress!  Oops!

After I sheepishly buttoned her dress, Mollie sat down at an empty table to play with some magnatiles.

She was soon joined by another little girl, and not long after that her teacher came over to say hi!  I wanted my time in her class today to be spent supporting her only as much as she needed it, so I stepped back to let the two of them chat for a bit.

It took a bit for all the kiddos and their parents to get in and get situated, but once they did the kids were called over to the "circle" rug for circle time.  (Really it is a giant oval, but I guess "oval time" doesn't really have that special preschool ring to it, does it?)  They then passed around a (Curious) George doll and introduced themselves, most of them very quietly.

By now parents were giving quick hugs and making quiet exits and I began to wonder if it really was okay for me to stay the whole day.  Mollie's teacher clarified that it was indeed okay for me to stay all day if Mollie wanted me to, and, unsurprisingly, she wanted me to.

After a scavenger hunt to find special spots around the room, the kids were encouraged to play at the various centers around the room.  Mollie, still feeling quite shy, just wanted to walk around taking it all in.  Eventually I got her to go to an empty center where she did a little tracing.  (Later in the day she revealed to me that this activity had been "boring".)

While she was busy tracing, her classmates were busy tearing the room apart toy-by-toy, and when it came time to pick up I thought Mollie would beg off, noting that she hadn't taken anything out.  But, to my surprise and delight, she absolutely dove right in and helped tremendously with the clean up of all the other centers!  I was so proud of her, particularly that she seemed to want to help, and I likely had a goofy grin on my face for the duration of pick up time as a result.

Snack time was a little dicey for Mollie, though.  Not only was the snack, a treat brought in by a birthday girl classmate, something sweet and therefore not her cup of tea, but when she went to pour some apple juice into a cup by herself, she spilled a bunch and had no idea what to do.  I helped her clean it up, not wanting to have bad feelings creep in when the day had been going so smoothly, but still she spent the rest of snack time looking like she was about to burst into tears.

She made it through, though, and even had the forethought to go potty before they all headed outside to play on the playground!  Honestly, watching her be so self-sufficient made it feel like she was growing up before my very eyes, or at least faster than usual.

Playing on the playground was a big hit with her, and later on she named this as her favorite part of her first day of preschool.  She played by herself the whole time and managed to try a few new things, namely sliding down the fireman's pole again and again.

She really had a knack for it, and once she has pants on to prevent her thighs from sticking to it every couple of inches she'll probably look like a pro!

Nothing can really follow up playing outside for kids of this age, so after a quick book and some impromptu new-school-folder-show-and-tell we headed home for the day.  As soon as we got out into the parking lot, Mollie informed me that, 1) she was hungry (having not eaten her snack and all), and 2) she wanted to go OUT for lunch.  After some debate, we decided on Mr. Burger and promptly headed over there to avoid any "hangry" behavior.  She walked in like she owned the place, even grabbing a tray to start up the whole ordering process.  Best part of the meal?  She got to have pink lemonade as a special treat!

Okay, the fries and chicken strips didn't hurt either.

She ate her meal in dramatic fashion, tilting her head back as she slid her ketchup-soaked fries down her gullet one after another.  It was epic.

We made a quick trip to the potty before heading out to pick up some potential birthday treats for school for Baylor to choose from.  While we were on our way out of Mr. Burger, my mom called to see how the day had gone so far.  As I was regaling her with the awesome details of the morning, I started searching through my purse for my keys.  Soon enough, I found them ... in the cup holder by the driver's seat inside the car.  (It is at these times - as well as many others, of course - that I find myself very, VERY glad we live in the same town as our families.)  Thankfully, my mom was available to drive to our house, pick up the spare key, and run it over to us in the Mr. Burger parking lot.  (Did I mention my mom is awesome?)

While we waited for my mom to bring the key, though, Mollie used that time to burn off some extra energy.  I don't know how she managed to dance around so freely while the asphalt basically cooked us from below, but she did.  Oh, she did.

Mollie can be so wonderfully dramatic sometimes.

Once we were rescued (Thanks again, Mom!), we headed over to Party City to find the aforementioned potential school treats and then made a quick stop at Pet Smart to indulge Mollie's weird love/hate of animals.  From there we went home, dropped some stuff off, picked up some distractions for the pickup line, and went to Baylor's school to pick him up.  He reported having a "good" day but didn't seem to want to give up many details about it.  He was, however, very glad to hear Mollie had a good day at school!

As the afternoon dragged on, I gathered up bits and pieces of their days that I will now share with you ...

When asked, Mollie reported that the best part of her day at preschool was "playing on the playground" and the worst part was "when that teacher (Mrs. Fillman, the preschool parapro) had a talk with us about not taking our shoes off after we got back from the playground".  I pressed her on why that was her least favorite part, and she said it was because it was "boring".  Awesome.

Baylor came home with an incredible amount of sand and dirt caked under and around his fingernails, and he told me that he had played in the sandbox for all three recesses.  Because he then launched into a story about how some kid had knocked over the sandcastle he made, it didn't dawn on me until an hour or two later that the "three recesses" meant that he had actually played before school!!!!!  At that point, I couldn't contain my happiness and walked over to him for a massive hug.

Baylor was not only okay walking into school by himself but also commented that he preferred it and noticed that it took "a lot less time".  I really hope he still feels this way tomorrow!

And that was that.  Really, I'm not sure I could have asked for today to go any better than it did.  Hopefully the positivity from today will help make Friday's solo preschool day a success.  (Knock on wood!)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Baylor's First Day of First Grade! (FIRST grade?!)

Seriously?  My little buddy, my Baylor, is in first grade?  Preschool and kindergarten first days seem like not that long ago, and in my head he looks the same now as he did then, but the fact remains that he's now in first grade.

Okay, enough with the disbelief, right?

He woke up this morning full of nerves and convinced he got a terrible night's sleep.  All that quickly dissipated, though, when I asked if he wanted to wake up his sister, something he was all too happy to do.  Once we got downstairs, my two kiddos commenced their daily breakfast-eating-procrastination-and-distraction in spite of my pleas for speed.  Eventually expediency kicked in with Baylor, and he hurried up and got ready.  He chose to wear the same Batman shirt he wore for his kindergarten first day, along with some comfy shorts and Star Wars sneakers for PE.

I asked Mollie to hold off on jumping in on the picture until we got outside, then apparently I took too many pictures.  (Notice the "Seriously?  ANOTHER picture?!" look on Baylor's face.)

We got to school and apparently in the rush of last year's drop off I hadn't noticed how insanely busy it gets on the first day.  Needless to say, we had a bit of an issue getting a parking spot, but I made it work.  (Either that or I was THAT parent today.  Oh well.)  Mollie, Baylor, and I made our way to the back of the school to find the spot where he was supposed to line up, saying hi to some nervous-looking friends here and there along the way.  Upon finding the line, he stood there, not willing to put his backpack down but not crumbling under his worries either.  I was so proud of him!

(In case you are wondering, the arrow behind him points to a hole where bees have made an impressive hive for themselves.  One of Baylor's little buddies informed me it was a bad idea to stick my finger in there.  Good to know!)

The bell finally rang, and I gave Baylor a quick hug and kiss before stepping back to let the rest of his classmates get in line.  Mollie and I watched as his teacher greeted each of them one by one, her smile working overtime trying to soothe all the worries so evident in many of their eyes.  Once it was their turn to walk into school, Baylor fell in line with almost a nonchalance about him that I was thrilled to see.  Even when he looked back and saw me still standing there, he didn't get upset or flash anxiety at me, he just gave me a small smile and went on inside.

I was, and still am, crazy proud of him for how he handled the morning.  (And I let him know as much at dinner tonight, a fact that was met with the most wonderfully genuine smile I could ever hope for.)

Mollie and I then went about our day, trying not to think about missing Baylor or lamenting his absence.  We tried to do things that we couldn't do with him there, like shop for his birthday presents or attempt to let Mollie ride her bike without training wheels (he's always very concerned that she is going to get hurt if she takes off the training wheels).  After we finished our errands, we had an awkward amount of time left before school let out, so we sat in the parking lot at school, at the front of the pick-up line, for forty minutes, my left side baking in the afternoon sun.  I willed the car to start again, unlike the other time I was first in the pick-up line, and, to my delight, it did without issue.  It took a while for Baylor to get out of school, but when he finally did arrive he was all on his own, no adult behind him coaxing him to find our car. The art teacher stepped up to help him get in, and time stood still for a moment while I enjoyed the seconds where I felt relatively comfortable that school had gone well just based on how the morning went.  Soon enough, though, I asked him, "So how was first grade, buddy?" to which he replied, "It. was. AWESOME!"

Be still my heart.  Talk about music to the ears.

He went on to tell me about how there were three new friends (students) in the class, how "the most hilarious" thing to happen at school was that he found out they are allowed to sit in laundry baskets during reading time, and how he was happy playing by himself at recess.  At dinner, as we played the bad thing of the day/good thing of the day game, he said that his good thing was "everything else that happened" (besides the one bad thing he named that happened at home after school), and at bed time he said he liked his teacher a lot and even joked around about how relieved she might be if it took her a week to explain how the class works, adding a brow sweep and "Whew!" for effect.

Don't get me wrong; there were a lot of stressful, sad, anxiety-riddled moments today.  He piled on the worry like it was his job, so much like I often do in my head it hurt my heart.  He had huge blow ups over little things, like which Wild Kratts episode to watch or which book to read before bed.  (It was Mollie's choice day, and everything she selected was wrong/scary/bad/etc.)  Before bed he cried so much over all the worries he had heaped upon his shoulders, and my heart broke as his little tears ran down my legs as he laid his head in my lap and sobbed.  All I wanted to do was make it better for him, surely like my parents wanted to do for me when I struggled with back-to-school for years on end.  (Mom and Dad, I am so incredibly sorry.)  But the best I could do was redirect his attention to what good I could get him to admit to about his day, mainly the good being that he really likes his teacher.  He and I ended the evening with hugs and kisses and hopes for a better day tomorrow.

Then I came downstairs and unleashed the torrent of tears that had been building up under the surface all day long.

One of the toughest parts for me was that when he was happy he could so easily remember all the great things about the day, but when he was sad he couldn't see anything happy and piled on worry after worry, many of which were trivial (i.e., "What if I get REALLY hurt at school?" and "What if someone lies to my teacher?") and easy to address quickly, but still ... all that good had been there just a moment before the grey cloud descended.

The thing is, I know today is over and done, and there is nothing I can do about how things went.  All I can do is learn from it, and try again tomorrow.  So I'll hold onto the good and try really hard to leave the bad here, preserved but out of mind, in hopes that I can be free to embrace tomorrow morning, with all of the challenges I know are ahead (Mollie's first day of school, Baylor's first time walking to the playground before school all by himself), and have hope in my heart for a better day.

For those of you that had kiddos going back to school, I hope everything went as smoothly as possible.  Best wishes for a happy, healthy school year!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Last Day of Kindergarten, Baylor!

(Yes, I know it is almost the first day of the new school year, but better late than never, right?)

Friday, June 6th marked the end of kindergarten for my dear boy, and though he was really sad about leaving his teacher, Mrs. Murphy, he was excited to start up summer break.  I mean, just look at that smile!

He has come a long way since that first day of school, and I am so proud of him for all he's accomplished and all he has become.  It wasn't always easy, but he made it through and, overall, enjoyed it so much!

At the end of school that day I taught the kids the chorus to the song my dad used to sing to my sister and I on our last days of school, "School's Out" by Alice Cooper, and smiled as I watched them rock out in the back seat of our minivan.  It was awesome and the perfect start to a wonderful summer!