Sep 042012
 

So, the first day of kindergarten happened, and we survived. Henry and Eleanor LOVED it! I only cried once!

They got up this morning, got dressed in their new back-to-school outfits, gamely went along with Mom’s insistence of “just one more photo.”

They rocked out to the White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army in the van (Henry on air guitar, Eleanor and Mom on air drums), and then breezed right into school like rock stars.

As she settled into the classroom, Eleanor turned to smile and wave at me. My heart jumped into my throat and I *almost* lost it. But I held it together, thankfully sparing myself from being known at school as That Weird Mom Who Started Bawling and Yelling MY BAAAAYBBBEEEEEES.

I came home and allowed myself a few tears, because, well, KINDERGARTEN, but also celebrated the return of Time To Myself by blasting Kanye on the drive back to school.

Henry proclaimed that kindergarten was “fantastic,” and that he wants to be a teacher when he grows up. When Eleanor got mad at him interrupting her kindergarten stories, he told her, “I’m just too excited.” He proudly showed off his stamped name art and said he loved playing Star Wars with his friends.

Eleanor proclaimed that kindergarten was “great,” and excitedly told me that “there was a paper with our name on it, and we wrote over it, and then you know what we put on it? GLUE! and then you know what we put on it? BEANS! Like, the beans you don’t cook.” She loved playing dress-up princesses and wearing a headpiece with ribbons all around it.

To say they liked it is an understatement. To say I’m proud of them is an understatement, too.

Sep 032012
 

This past month has been a steady stream of getting-ready-for-school activities. Class meetings and orientations, our teacher home visit, settling into my new class rep duties, shopping for school supplies and backpacks and new clothes. We’re staying at our co-op for kindergarten, so no biggie, right?

Wrong. The inside of my brain looks like this at any given moment:

How did they go from stem cells to students in what feels like two blinks?

Henry and Eleanor, for their part, are fired up for kindergarten. They felt like such Big Stuff choosing their backpacks and going outfit shopping with Grandma and Grandpa, and have been asking, “how many days until kindergarten?” for at least the past week or so.

And Andy and I, for our part, are fired up for it, too. We’re excited for them to have a great teacher that will encourage them, and to watch them learn and grow and explore. And, truth be told, I’m also a wee bit excited to have time to myself most days of the week (I can finish a thought! I can pee in solitude!). But that hasn’t stopped me from random bouts of tears over KINDERGARTEN HOW DID THIS HAPPEN.

I know that at this point, I should just go ahead and add a Jennifer Is Freaking Out Again Over How Fast Her Kids Are Growing Up category to this blog, what with all the whining I do about it. I mean, I started crying about kindergarten in JANUARY. I’ve figured out by now that this growing-up stuff happens too quickly for all parents, so I should just get over myself about it. But I don’t think I’ll ever have an easy time accepting it. The beginning of their school years means the beginning of Henry and Eleanor not 100% belonging to us any more. And with twins, this transition is going to hit us all at once. They’ll be spending more of their week with their peers, and will start to have more influences from outside our family. Which is, like, the whole point of growing up, but who knew that watching it happen could be so hard?

But as wistful as I feel as we move out of Little Kid Era and into School Kid Era, I feel so grateful to be along for their journey. Even after five years, I still have a hard time believing they actually happened. Blessed doesn’t even begin to describe how Andy and I are.

These two? Are gonna ROCK kindergarten.

And their mom? Couldn’t be prouder. Really. Henry and Eleanor are terrifically wonderful awesome children and I know we’re in store for a great year. And I promise I’ll quit crying about it. Promise. Eventually. Kindergarten, man, KINDERGARTEN.

Aug 142012
 

In our continuing Jennifer Is Just As Surprised As You Are That She Might Actually Be A Hoosier adventures (see also: month of May), the kids and I headed to the Indiana State Fair yesterday, courtesy of Indiana’s Family of Farmers. I thought we’d have a rainy but fun morning, see a few sights, say hi to some fellow bloggers, and call it a day.

Instead, we got home TWELVE HOURS LATER, sunburned, covered in dirt and grease, and so tired it was hard to recount to Andy our tales of two-day-old cows and MC Hammer. And it was AWESOME.

Let’s back up to earlier in the day. Indiana’s Family of Farmers hosted a group of local bloggers, and I brought my friend Amanda and kids as my date (it was Amanda’s first trip to a state fair ever!). We started the day with some breakfast and a tour of the cattle barn. All the cows were so gentle and patiently let a herd of children pet them. Luckily we had fellow blogger Leah as a tour guide; as a former dairy farmer she knew all the answers to my questions. I ended up learning a ton. Like the fact that if a diary cow has boy/girl twins, the girl twin will never be able to be bred. Let’s all pause a moment to be grateful that Eleanor is not a cow.

After the tour it was back to the Dairy Barn for lunch. As we ate, we made sure to thank the cows we just saw for our grilled cheese and milk and the milk that the factory workers drink so they have energy to make the mommies’ Diet Cokes (okay, that last one was a bit of a stretch.)

The rain was holding off so our group did a loop around the fairgrounds for some other experiences. We pretended to harvest crops and I tried to teach the kids about seed caps and farmer waves.

We saw big ugly prehistoric-looking fish, ate popcorn while pretending to drive a combine (or corn-bine, as Henry calls it), went on the Perry the Platy-bus, saw a huge cheese sculpture, and headed back to the Dairy Barn one last time for milkshakes.

Our last stop with our friends was the poultry and rabbit barn. We oohed and aahed over chickens and baby bunnies, and then parted with a group hug. Which, yes, our kids do every time they leave each other, and yes, we might have to tease them about it when they’re teenagers.

Henry and Eleanor had been begging to ride the rides, so I caved and bought them ride wristbands. Which might have been the best money I’ve spent all summer. Is there anything better than big huge smiles of joy on your kids’ faces?

After a few hours of rides, I made the kids take a break for some food and the free MC Hammer concert. Except—*sad trombone*—as I stood there trying to coax Henry and Eleanor to take a photo, my iPhone battery decided to die. So I have no visual proof of any Hammer time, not even when he passed by like eight feet from us. Let me reenact the concert for you:

MC Hammer: WHAT’S UP INDIAAAAANA IMMA DEDICATE THIS NEXT SONG TO TUPAC REST IN PEACE

Jennifer: OMG KIDS IT’S MC HAMMER I SAW HIM IN CONCERT WHEN I WAS A TEENAGER AND NOW I’M BRINGING MY KIDS IT’S THE CIRCLE OF LIFE WHY AREN’T YOU EXCITED I’M SHARING THE HAPPINESS OF MY YOUTH WITH THE NEXT GENERATION

Henry and Eleanor: CAN WE GO BACK TO THE FAIR THIS IS THE WORST CONCERT EVER I WANNA RIDE SOME RIIIIIDDES

Needless to say, we stayed for three songs.

We headed back to the Midway for some more roller coasters and such, and finally I had to tear the kids away. We made it home twelve hours after we left, and promptly collapsed in a heap.

Henry told me yesterday afternoon, “I like this place.” And I agree. Chalk it up as another thing living in Indiana has turned me into a fan of. And as a granddaughter and niece of a whole bunch of farmers, I’m glad to give Henry and Eleanor the chance to learn about and appreciate the way of life of the majority of their relatives. Now I just need to work on their appreciation of their mother’s taste in 1980s music.

Jul 252012
 

A year ago, Eleanor refused to wear a dress. Like, last summer I had to lie to her and say that those skirt-with-shorts-underneath combos were really just shorts. If I said the word “skirt,” she’d immediately take it off. She would never play in princessy type dress-up clothes, and probably didn’t even know what a bracelet was.

So imagine my shock when, this winter/early spring, that’s suddenly all Eleanor wanted to wear. I wondered if it would be a short-lived phase, but it’s continued on through summer: dresses and skirts almost every day. She also added jewelry and hair bows and headbands to the mix.

Lately, every morning when she wakes up, she picks out her own outfit and dresses herself, popping out of her bedroom with a “do you like my outfit?” She usually insists on doing her own hair and takes care in choosing a matching headband. Jewelry will get changed throughout the day; this usually results in baubles scattered all over, so I’m excited to surprise her soon with her very own grandma jewelry hanger that I recently picked up at Goodwill.

The way that she proudly showed me her outfit today made me realize she deserved her own WIWW post. This is all Eleanor, from head to toe and even her own pose (she was anxious to show off the jewelry):

Striped top: Circo/Target, Goodwill, $1
Orange skirt: Circo/Target, Goodwill, $1
Headband: Children’s Place, $3

Check out her jewelry:

Made all by herself during our polymer clay craft session!

This girl has been nothing but surprises ever since she was born, her sudden and instant evolution into a girly-girl is only one example. So happy I get to be along for the ride! Like Andy commented to me tonight, she’s just all kinds of awesome.

 

Jul 142012
 

The kids are at THE perfect age. The lake is the warmest I’ve ever felt it. I have a feeling this will be our best year at the lake yet. And also the most over-documented.

Here’s today, as seen through my iPhone lens.

(not pictured: the trip to the library, where Eleanor checked out one of her brother and sister’s memorial books; the first time we’ve ever spent the ENTIRE afternoon in the water; Andy throwing the kids into the lake with a big splash and huge smiles and shouts of “do it again, Daddy!”; Henry’s ears sticking out from his mask strap; Eleanor floating on her back for 37 seconds; Henry turning the dock into a spaceship and putting it on autopilot through a meteor shower; Eleanor looking for shells and swimming with Grandma; swimming AGAIN after supper which the kids declared “way funner than a bath;” Andy and I wondering if our children had sprouted gills; a tired family conking out, ready to do it all again tomorrow)
May 172012
 

Yesterday was bike day at school, one of Henry and Eleanor’s favorite days.

And while I was gone, apparently this happened:

Luckily Eleanor agreed to give me a demonstration so I could get it on film iPhone. I heard she had it down pat by her second try, and she’s been asking ever since to take the training wheels off of her own bike.

These kids! Why won’t they listen to their mother and quit growing up so fast?

Apr 122012
 

In about a ten day span, we crammed in the twins’ birthday, spring break, Andy’s birthday, and Easter. Crazy-ass busy? Yes! Lots of fun? Affirmative! Am I going to tell you about it? You know it!

I’m sure a lot of you trekked all the way to Florida for spring break, and I’ve just got two words for you: HAHA SUCKERS. We drove less than five hours to southern Illinois, where we had multiple days of temps pushing 90. We were hot and a little miserable and it was FABULOUS. We even hit the (neighbor’s) pool for the first time this season.

Of course, loving grandparents meant more birthday celebrating.

We arrived home the evening before Andy’s parents came to visit and celebrate Easter/Andy’s birthday weekend. We ate queso, I introduced my mother-in-law to the wonders of Goodwill, the kids opened yet more presents. Sunday was both Easter and Andy’s birthday, so it was a fun mash-up of egg seeking, kite flying, cheesecake, and Empire Strikes Back viewing.

And then everything was over and we went back to our normal everyday routine and I tried to get caught up on things and failed. The end.

Have you had spring break? What was your favorite part?

 

Mar 312012
 

Cards and presents.

A trip to the bakery that turned into a surprise trip to the bike store.

Two unexpected, out-of-the-blue brand new bikes.

An actual trip to the bakery for cakes.

Lunch at Steak n Shake.

First library cards to go with the made-by-Mom book bags.

Bike ride.

Bike ride.

Pit stop at the soccer field.

Bike ride.

Bike ride.

Bike ride.

Games and more games and pizza at the arcade.

Bike ride.

Cake and candles and “Happy Birthday.”

Bike ride.

•••••

As Henry and Eleanor jumped up and down at the realization that the bikes just wheeled out were theirs, Henry declared, “This is the best birthday ever!”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.