all kids; IN SCHOOL
me; doing all the things
weather; making me wish I could be outside
Just when you feel like things are starting to roll in the new schedule and it flips the table. Last week was actually really nice, the timing was off, but you can’t have it all.
I have the compulsion that when there is a break that I MUST make it memorable and special. There are just too few opportunities to waste 5 days off on a massive netflix marathon, however, I do have fond memories of just watching TV and movies. This time I let them have some binge netflix and I got all the costumes done. We also went out all over the place and kept busy overall.
On a bigger scale, I feel like I just got this ‘little kid’ thing figured out just in time for them to grow out of it. For the first time I’m going to skip the un-scary Halloween because it is for ages 5 and under and with Zoe on the ‘other’ side of 5 she tips the scale. It is a fun event for little little kids and I’m comfortable there but I need to let it go. Ironically, Fiona didn’t go last year because she was pitching a massive fit. Anyway, letting go of little little kid things opens the door for the next phase. This weekend we went to a fun night time parade where all the floats are lit up and semi-spooky. We brought friends and it was a good time but it was filled with ‘notes for next time’ because we all were clueless as to what to expect. For future reference, and, if you are looking for real mom tips, here are my notes for the Anoka Light up the Night Parade;
- Although people do get there really really early to get spots, we got there an hour early and felt like we were too early. Next year we will aim to arrive at 6:30.
- We stood at basically the middle of the route, not the best plan, all the bands were just finishing a song right before us and in the rest phase as they walked by. Next year we need to shift up or down.
- Bring light up toys! There were endless vendors selling light up doodads that I seriously didn’t want to pay parade prices for AND we already owned 50% of them at home.
- Yes; Costumes on spectators. We didn’t know… but yes, plenty of costumes.
We also went to another event sponsored by Kris Lindahl RealEstate, the Great Pumpkin Give away. The man may have my next real-estate purchase because he is definitely successful. The event itself was crowded and I heard from a mom I know from preschool that this year was incredibly more popular than other years. There were long lines for all the things, but, it was all actually free so hard to complain. Again, notes for next year because while we did have fun, we could totally optimize;
- Get there later. We arrived about 30min from the start and it was packed. I was worried that there would be about 100 pumpkins and we would miss it but there were thousands.
- Dress more warmly than you think. It was a nice fall day at my house, sweater weather, but the event was a giant open field and the wind was cold. I’m glad we had gear in the car but there were whines from the peanut gallery.
- Not a costume event. Nobody laughed or pointed, but, we were in the minority and it made the bouncy houses etc harder.
The take away for me about these events, and the week in general, that I want to highlight for myself is that the kids are OK with a more lax schedule finally. Fiona was unwinding when lunch was 3 hours later than normal but in general we did ok. Kids ate when food was given, and, asked for food when they were hungry and when they had a giant late lunch they were all ok with a really small dinner. They are getting to be like real people! Not infants who need precise feeding schedules or food on demand. I’m always going to carry emergency granola but I don’t actually need to plan around meals and naps anymore.
Weather – awesome, this is why we live here
School – everyone still likes it
Cat – getting a check up next week
Workouts – need to get better, I’m hopeful
Schedule – full throttle already
I don’t know how long it will take me to get used to my new schedule but right now I’m filling every moment with things that have been patiently waiting their turn forever. I estimate I have a year worth of projects in and around the house and that isn’t even counting walls I want to paint or demo (or both!). This week the focus was on getting some of the computer things done so all day today and most of Monday I plugged away at reports and writeups and reviews and research and I think most of Friday I’ll be here too. I did at least book tickets to Hawaii to see my sister, that only took me 6 months to actually do. I also got all my Pennsic task list done so that is in the books.
On the flip side, now that I have some day time, I actually have more time for the kids when they get home. This is augmented by the new awesome homework policy (that is NO HOMEWORK!) so over the past few afternoons, we have tackled the bike situation. Niamh was so dependent on her training wheels that she was actually bending the frame of her bike because she was torquing it so oddly riding sideways. We should have made this happen years ago but she was not overly interested in biking and we always just had other things to do. I just took them away. I also lowered her seat and told her to pretend it was a sit on scooter so she could just learn how to balance. I also figured that I should not make the same mistake twice so I also took away Zoe’s training wheels and told her the same thing. Both actually got into it and since we live on a road with a slight hill it was easy enough to get the balance trick.
The only problem with ignoring petals is that they don’t go away. I know there are fancy balance bikes but I was not investing anything but time in this project. So, because of frequent whacks with the petals to the shins, both girls choose to put their feet on them. What do you know, 2 days of half an hour or so of walking with them and they got it. Niamh is mad Zoe did it, but, Niamh is actually getting better 10x faster and Zoe is about where a 6-year-old should be. She needs to learn about breaks, not just going up on a lawn but on the plus side, all those years of jujitsu falling down is not a big deal for her.
I remember bikes being a giant part of my childhood and I hope they have the same positive experience too. I’m also glad that I could teach them something that didn’t come naturally to either one… Zoe asked today if we could ride bikes this afternoon and I’m happy to say yes and I’m happy that she asked.
Oh, and this maniac on 3 wheels is now teasing them both that she can ride circles around them. She can actually, for now, but not for long!
The day has finally come! 3 kids in school….
At 9:04 the car looks like this
at 9:08 it looks like this
Today and Wednesday (Fiona is home Tuesday and Thursday still) I’ve already got pretty full this week. With school comes a new group of people to work with on crazy things like billing and the beginning is always a mess. I am glad I could go to the office and fix it in 5 min rather than endless emails to try and explain the yes… she is in this class… no she is not in that one… sorry I have no answer for why she seems to be in both – please don’t bill me for both. I also have the stack of things that could wait until I had time to talk on the phone and that stack is now addressed (and some even solved!).
The exciting thing for the day is a new client meeting at 2. I can take a meeting at 2!!! Hopefully, we can get lined up on the project and I can start for her. An additional client is just what I need right now to fill in. Between now and 2 I still have all the normal Monday things, it isn’t like I did nothing but parent all the other Mondays in the past 4 years, but this time, I can do them without interruption.
For posterity, here is Fiona on her first day of PreK.
She didn’t want a sign, she wouldn’t write her name because she was too excited to go. Maybe she will for the scrapbook when she gets home (maybe not). She is wearing the outfit she picked out last week, I can’t believe it is so tame. Last night her anxiety came out with a 40min fit about nothing in particular but I think was mostly because school was in the morning. Since she is #3 I have done this 2 other times and she was with me for all three, but, she was always the one waving goodbye to her sister, not to her mom. I think it hit her Friday at orientation that this was her turn. With Niamh we made a half dozen trips to the school to get used to things, and, she was a year older since she started with Kindergarten, not preK. Zoe was just ready, I think she is actually ready for college if she could just master what direction b and d go. Fiona got swept along with this and I am pretty sure she will do ok. By the end of orientation she was making friends and playing and this morning she looked a little skeptical but ready.
Me, I’m ready. I think. I’ll let you know next week after the shock of 3 days a week wears off.
You turned 4 on May 31. Right now we call you Fiona, FiFi, Feefers and you also like Fi-yonce. I should add that if we call you anything but those names you object and announce the list of acceptable names. In the last month you saw your sister’s birthdays and have a good concept of what was going on this time. When we asked who you might want to invite to a party your exact words were “the people in this house” and to clarify you said “You, daddy, Niamh and Zoe”. I suppose for you the world is very full of your sisters and parents and while you enjoy time with friends you never really ask to go play with anyone (yet).
Speaking of sisters, you spend a vast amount of time and energy trying to get them to notice you and you have not figured out yet that being mean or loud won’t really help. You steal the ball and run away, you tag along when they try and run and if they out run you, you cry loudly. Cry loudly is still your #1 offense and defense and fall back position when tired or hungry or just woke up or the stars don’t align…
On the positive side, you are probably the most housekeeping minded of all 3. Maybe I don’t remember your sisters at 4 clearing their plates or putting things away but you are actually quite good about it. I doubt you remember when all three of you were home all the time and the majority of your memory has Zoe away at school too and you and I spend our days together doing things. You mimic my cleaning, you help me fold, you are still in love with watching the washer fill and spin, and I have a feeling you could probably bake a cake given the number you have helped make. Like a cat and the can opener, you hear me take out the kitchen aid and you are at my side with your stool ready to pour, watch and most importantly lick. When we make other foods you taste all the way too, including uncooked rice and other things I tell you won’t taste good. If I’m being slow about things you go smell all the spices in the cupboard (learned about tasting those at least). We spend the most time together alone, more than either sister, because in your entire life I’ve only worked from home during your rest time.
In so many ways you get babied still, but, you are pretty accomplished. There is nothing you can’t climb if you can even reach it at all and if you can’t reach you are very good about finding something to stand on. Your legs are super long, they just sprouted over night rocketing you from 24m to 3T completely skipping 2T size. I think your legs (or sisters) make you a good runner too, but, you walked early and ran before you were 1 so you had no place but faster to go. We often walk a mile to the park and you are just fine with that. Physically you can also mix, stack, build, use the remote for easy things, operate the iPad and Kindle, and navigate netflix no problem. Some days you watch a bit more tv than I wish, but most times you will choose to play with your babies or ponies or barbies – of which you have co-opted every one in the house to live in your room but you have no problem with sisters joining (until they feel you are not following their rules and then please see the screaming section of this note)
You can spell, write, and recognize your name and you have about half the alphabet actually known (you sing the song no problem). Memorizing stuff is a cool feature of 4 and you can sing the entire Frozen “Let it go” song pretty well and you will often have a factoid that you tell everyone like when we were going to Texas you would tell everyone “its a state”. Since before you were born you have heard the state song I sing and a few months ago it became clear that you knew the words but not the meaning so that leads to some cute mispronouncings like ‘Clover’ Deleware and ‘indi-apples’ Indiana. You speak well enough that everyone understands you no problem but you still have a few baby words here and there. You can’t say pancakes, you say something like pampams and you are absolutely positive that Gatorade is pronounced AterGater and has magical properties (we even gave you a bottle for your birthday). Zoe actually made up the word ‘snoot’ as her word for the male organ, but you have taken it and ran. The topic of snoots come up way too often in conversation so we had to ban it as a ‘potty word’. Funny story, you decided that potty words were ok to say in the bathroom so every bathroom we enter you immediately start yelling POOP! among other, as you exhaust your potty word stockpile. I applaud your finding of the loophole and I’m pretty glad your vocabulary in that area is limited enough not to be super embarrassing!
Since we are home together you remain a snuggle bug. You want to sit on me all the time and that’s just fine with me. I’m not keen on your ninja ability to sneak into my bed at night but we are working on that. Bedtime has gotten pretty easy recently and unless you get over tired you are ok with it. Earlier this year was a horror and if I never hear the “I have to tell you something” phrase after 9pm again it will be ok by me. Bedtime over the year of 3 started good, declined to bad, spent a month or two in terrible, and after some retraining and long talks got back to ok and now are actually good. Good thing you are not my first, I had some tricks prepared, but you still conned me into sitting and watching you fall asleep and I still end up cleaning your room singing all the songs while you drift off because the entire thing takes about 7 minutes now so I don’t mind. I sing you your ‘I’m a little tiger’ song and then ‘Wonderwall’ and often both sisters songs too and occasionally you want the states song but then you are out like a light for the night (or 3am). Back to the snuggle, being the youngest you claim my lap and since nobody forced you out so you end up being held or sitting on me 110% more than either of your sisters.
It is hard to say what your personality ‘is’ right now because you are pretty different depending on the situation. You are goofy, adventurous, outgoing, independent with regards to helping yourself to snacks or playing alone, easy going when the mood takes you and you know what to expect, loving and even helpful. You actually do a decent job at finding things and follow directions pretty well. Tantrums have more or less degraded to anger or frustration fits but you can be talked down in under 5 minutes and unless you have a good audience or are at the end of your rope, you get over things pretty quickly *only to bring them up many many times in the future*. Places are defined by what we did there or if something happened to you.
This is getting long but you are only this age once… You like dancing and dance to lots of music. You adore the movie Home and Shark Boy/Lava girl. You read every night to your babies and babies are still the toy you go to first. Next year you will go to school 3 days a week and you are both excited and scared. You are just starting to realize that I won’t be there to wipe your bottom…. (oh, 100% potty trained day, not so much nights). You reluctantly gave up your crib this year and we are talking about a big bed soon. Naps still happen but you fight them hard, however you like the down time at 1 and request it still. Tomorrow is your well child and I expect you to be 50% finally for height and probably low for weight but thats ok by me.
We love you all the times. Even when I’m sleeping and you whisper, because I’m sleeping, and ask me questions that you expect answers to. You changed our lives, all of ours, and we are super happy that you are here.
Mom and Dad
ps. I forgot your fashion!!! you look adorable in everything, your short hair is because you twirl your hair and break it but it looks perfect on you. Basically every day you wear a skirt but you also want layers and have no fear of mixing every color or pattern. Unfortunately your only real issue is with breathing and allergy but they don’t keep you down, you can even do the breathing machine alone now and we zertec every night.
You are now 8, have been for a few days but I think you are still really happy to be 8 just like all your friends in school.
Friends in school are a big deal to you. Daily you are happy or upset based on who is nice or mean. I tell you all the time to ignore the mean people regardless if they are being nice that day but I remember the quest to be liked by all too. You will learn who your friends are eventually.
Academically you are doing well. You get great reports on behavior from your teacher Mrs. Larson. She says you are kind and respectful in school and play well with the other kids. You are very ahead in math, technically you finished the 2nd-grade requirements around Christmas and are working on more with a small group. Right now you are working on multiplication and division and moving right along with it. Reading is not your favorite. You can read, you do just fine until you get tangled up on a word and get unconfident… the fluency metric is not your best since it combines reading out loud, and, reading to a stranger and those are both things you don’t like. However, reading in your head you get the meaning of what’s going on and can answer the questions they ask so that makes me think you will do fine.
You are still the leader with your sisters. You contrive very complicated and long games with them and will play for hours. If they don’t want to play your way you can bend to a certain level but end up mad at them if they get disruptive (Fiona). We need ways for you to handle the anger but in general, you work with them well.
Over the past few months you have become very independent. You pack for trips, you know what we need and take care of it, you even help plan. Sometimes your plans are so details and (ahem) crazy that we can’t make it work but I can usually see where you were coming from. I’m going to say that you will have fantastic parties when you are older and I have no fear that you will forget to pack pants for a trip.
The independence is great but sometimes I feel like your moving too far away too fast. You do JuJitsu 2 nights a week and girl scouts 2x a month and we subtly dropped swim lessons (because you can swim fine) because we were running out of days in the week and you noticed and have not let us forget about it. Occasionally you get the urge to get up early and get completely ready for school before the rest of us are awake. You usually do this so you get first choice of shows but I also think you are proud of the fact that you can.
TV is still a major source of comfort. For years you hardly spoke to anyone and now you definitely do but you still like to retreat into watching a show. A time when you can be alone even if both your sisters are there since it requires no interaction. Talking to strangers usually does not bother you now IF you have a plan on what to say. You rocked selling cookies and you are great at asking for things you need but new people you don’t have a plan for still make you hide behind me (literally).
I don’t think you can hide behind me for long… you are past my elbows already and you can wear my crocs and not look ridiculous. Pretty soon I’m going to have to mind my sock collection or you will have it all. On the fashion side, you are pretty mellow. Compared to your sisters you almost don’t care at all. This, in my opinion, proves your ‘dress only ‘ phase was really because you didn’t want to bother with 2 pieces of clothing. You like to look pretty, you require a fresh Gi and freak out about a stain, but in general you wear a top and a bottom and its a good thing that power clashing is in fashion.
Skill wise you have taken a liking to making the loopy loom pot holders. We all have several but I keep you stocked with loops because you really like to do it before you go to sleep. You also like to make bracelets and chains from the tiny rubber bands and are getting interested in knitting. Once you figure out how things loop and bind on one thing its easy to translate. You can also cook at a basic level – you have come a long way in understanding how things cool and Dad has been very indulgent in letting you learn. We even got you special knives and you can dice an onion better than I can. Right now I would say you can microwave, make scrambled or fried eggs, and make spaghetti sauce. With just those skills I think I can send you into life.
At 8 you have traveled quite a bit and are actually good at it now. You are not the weakest link! As long as we keep ziplock bags for puke near by you are absolutely fine. Your lifetime state count is getting up there; MN, WI, ND, SD, TX, OK, FL, NY, PA, IO, IN, MI, OH, NJ, GA, TN, CO, TX, MO, KS, IL, AL, KY… 23:50 – not bad. Have not made it out of the country yet but we will. My dream of travel looks like it will be supported by my kids 🙂
As the oldest you have had to do more than your sisters and you get to do more too. I have to re align my expectations sometimes because you are *just* 8 but you are seriously able to do a ton of stuff. You are setting a high bar for your sisters but also leaving them room too. There are things you avoid, things you miss, and you still can’t find your backside with both hands! I have to apologize for the times I get frustrated because you are so good at some things, why can’t you just do everything?!? You told me a secret, you love your sisters, but you don’t want them to know. I think they have a good idea because half the time you are looking for ways to make them happy or do things they like and that extends to me and dad and friends and you are always looking for a way to make people happy. I hope that never changes, in fact, I kinda hope you just stay about the same just adding in a few more life skills like laundry.
ps. You are still absolutely full of wonder and believe in fairies and luck and Santa and have a very vivid imignation
Don’t worry, no Amber alert needed, I know where she is but she isn’t with us!
Zoe is on her very first Girl Scout ‘camping’ trip. Camping is a loose term here, they are at a camp with cabins and prepared meals and beds with mattresses and everything. By all accounts she is having a great time and I expect an exhausted little nugget to come home tomorrow but we keep looking for her.
Never say the middle child is forgotten! Every in or out the door I’m missing a head. Every car ride feels like we are short one. Today Lars and Niamh went to a practice and Fiona and I are home and while I know where Zoe is, she is missing from our daily dynamic.
She is with friends and adults I trust at a program made just for her level so I’m sure she isn’t missing us 🙂