Sep 122013
 

at the supper table tonight

JENNIFER: So, if somebody asked you what Daddy did for work, what would you tell them?
HENRY AND ELEANOR: He works at the paper, he helps make the newspaper.
ANDY: And if somebody asked you what Mom did, what you would say?
ELEANOR: She stays home…and does nothing.
HENRY: She drinks Diet Coke!

Aug 212013
 

We live just down the road from our grade school, and pass it often. I’d look at it and try to imagine Henry and Eleanor being old enough to attend, and then tell myself, “well, at least we’ve got 6 years.” But then 6 years became 5 became 4 became 3 became 2 became 1 became Henry and Eleanor began their lives as big-kid grade-schoolers two weeks ago Monday.

This school year is one of many transitions for us. After lots of discussion, Andy and I made the decision to place the kids in separate classes, their first major separation since the petri dish. We were leaving our MUCH-beloved, tight-knit co-op for a school with 700+ students. Henry and Eleanor would be in school seven hours instead of kindergarten’s three or five. Things like free play would be replaced by new rules about voice levels and hallway behavior.

Henry and Eleanor expressed nervousness the weeks leading up to their first day. I assured them they’d be fine, but I was pretty nervous, too. We all had butterflies that first Monday morning, as we hurriedly took a few photos and went to drop off the kids at their new adventure.

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Andy and I walked the kids to their new classrooms, right next door to each other. I managed to make it back out to the parking lot before I started crying. (I wasn’t the only one crying *coughcoughANDYcough*.) Aaaaaand I pretty much cried the rest of the day, with a 2-hour break for breakfast with a co-op friend who had sent off her kids that morning, too.

It’s been a way harder transition than I thought it would be, this “I’m a housewife while my babies are away for seven hours” thing. We don’t have any daycare experience, and I was in class regularly at the co-op, so this is my first experience in handing my babies over to relative (albeit highly-trained) strangers and trusting them to take good care of my kids. Luckily our grade school is highly regarded and one of (if not THE) best in the school district, so I know they’re in good hands. But STILL. MY BABIES.

And it’s taking me a while to get in my groove of managing all things household-related during my newfound child-free time. It’s been nice to get errands and cleaning over with during the week, freeing up weekends for family time. But OMG I never thought I could spend SO MUCH FREAKING TIME thinking about and acquiring groceries. And scrubbing toilets and cleaning kitchens in a seemingly endless cycle sometimes has me questioning why I bothered to get those college degrees. But overall, I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. Sure, I occasionally wonder why I don’t have more career ambition. But I can’t imagine any office fulfilling me more than being the first face Henry and Eleanor see when they get off the school bus. I’ll get in my groove eventually, and still feel like I’m where I need to be.

But enough about me and my “being a SAHM is SO HARD GUYS, I had to go to Costco like TWO TIMES last week” ways. How are the new first graders doing? Henry and Eleanor settled into their new school culture faster than I thought they would. They’ve complained that the days are too long, and while inwardly I’m all “NO SHIT SHERLOCK” I’ve reminded them that every experience they’ve had has been new, and that’s a lot to get used to. They both seem to love their teachers. They talk favorably about their Chinese and art classes. They think they’re big stuff getting to ride the school bus home. Homework quickly lost its new-experience sheen. They get to see each other at lunch and recess, and we’ve avoided any separation issues. We’ve forgotten lunchboxes at school twice, and almost didn’t get off the bus once, which I think is a pretty good record for such a steep learning curve.

So tl;dr: transition hard, first grade good, my babies still keep growing WHY WON’T THEY STOP.

Jun 062013
 

On Tuesday, I got ready to drag the kids along for a morning of errands. As I gave them outfits to change into, Henry asked me, “Mom, can I wear my Bumblebee costume?” Why not? I thought. “Sure, kid, that’d be great.”

So Eleanor, a Transformer, and I headed out. I wondered if he would get embarrassed from the attention and want to take off the costume. But nope, us girls enjoyed the protection of an autobot at the post office, Lowe’s, the library, Target, and the plant nursery. Autobots also enjoy surprise Happy Meal lunches, we learned. Everywhere we went we got lots of smiles and comments, and didn’t have to correct too many people that no, he wasn’t a Power Ranger.

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Bumblebee

There’s no real point to this post, I guess. It’s just that Henry and Eleanor seem so on the cusp of Big Kid-ness lately, as they act more independently and we look towards the start of grade school later this summer. Running errands with Bumblebee was a wonderful reminder that they’re still little, and I need to cherish it every chance I get. I won’t always have an autobot to pick out my petunias, so we’re going to make the most of it while we can.

 

Feb 282013
 

in van, kids discuss what Olympic sports they want to play
HENRY: Mom? You know what sport I’m glad’s NOT in the Olympics? Shark wrestling.

•••••

discussing his first loose tooth
JENNIFER: Soon you’ll start getting your teeth in that you’ll have forever.
HENRY: Man, I can’t believe I’m starting to be a grown-up already.

•••••

JENNIFER: What would you do if I just kissed on your face all day long?
HENRY: I’d run away…(in lower voice) into the deep, dark forest.

•••••

during our morning snuggle
HENRY: Mommy, if you were a wall, would your life be really boring?

 

Dec 102012
 

Henry and Eleanor play with Legos
ELEANOR: (rummages in bin) And Henry! THIS one  is called the Big Lego Bin of Deepness, because it’s biggest and stuff.

•••••

at supper table, talking about what we saw at the Jingle Rail exhibit
JENNIFER: …and there was Old Faithful, and the Golden Gate Bridge, and Mount Rushmore.
ANDY: Do you know who’s on Mount Rushmore?
HENRY: Phineas and Ferb.

•••••

kids play outside, Jennifer works inside
*doorbell rings*
JENNIFER: (opens door)
HENRY: We’re playing Power Rangers, so can we call you Zordon?
JENNIFER: Um, sure?

•••••

watching TV, “every kiss begins with Kay” jingle plays
HENRY: (singing) Every poop begins with me…

Dec 032012
 

We joined the whole elf-on-the-shelf brouhaha last year, and Henry and Eleanor loved it. They had fun searching for the elf every morning, and randomly named him Ted.

They’ve been asking if Ted was coming back this year. Yesterday Andy told them that they could ask the Christmas tree, that Santa could hear them through the most Christmas thing in the house. I wish you could have seen them standing two inches from the tree, asking Santa if Ted could come back.

And voila! Ted made his triumphant return this morning, bringing a treat for breakfast with him.

I love this age, where they’re so smart about so many things, but also so quick to believe. Eleanor’s asking more questions this year (“is Ted just a toy?”) but still trusts our answers or makes them up herself (“he looks like a toy but changes into a real elf after we’re asleep”). I know we don’t have many years of this left. At some point the questions will overtake the faith in the answers. So for right now we’re trying to soak it up as much as we can. Because two five-year-olds’ excitement over elves who deliver Pop-Tarts? Pretty magical.

Nov 272012
 

I didn’t post much of substance last week, was too busy with Thanksgiving prep and celebrating. So why don’t I go back and tell you what I did?

Thanksgiving prep was a couple days of cleaning, which is boring to tell you about. I scrubbed my kitchen floor on my hands and knees! I think I just won a blogging award for that story!

My parents and aunt and uncle came to Indy for the holiday, which was great. Having them around bumped me down to “kid” level, which means my contribution to the Thanksgiving meal was a veggie tray. Score!

The long weekend was packed and went by quickly. Thanksgiving morning Andy and I did the Drumstick Dash (more on that Friday). That afternoon, the whole family ate ourselves silly at my cousin’s house. I wasn’t going to do much shopping, but somehow found myself at Target late Thursday night, and out at Macy’s and Kohl’s and the mall for most of the day Friday. On Friday night Andy and I took advantage of free babysitting and snuck out for dinner and a movie. Saturday entailed one last round of shopping while Andy and my dad worked on stuff around the house. So in a nutshell, Thanksgiving = eat + shop.

Also in a nutshell, Thanksgiving = I didn’t really need to be there, when my kids and my parents are together they don’t need anyone else. I love the Constant Admiration Society the four of them have formed. As my parents packed up to leave, it dawned on me that we took zero pictures of their entire visit. I think that’s a first for my family. I quickly moved a stool out into my garage, threw a black sheet at Andy and instructed him to “go stand back there and hold this up,” and snapped a few photos before my parents left. So no action shots of Thanksgiving, but that’s okay, it’s the people we celebrated with that are important. And these four are really important to me.

Nov 252012
 

We ended our whirlwind Thanksgiving weekend tonight with segueing right into Christmas. The tree went up, the stockings went up, too.

It’s SO FUN to see the kids so excited for everything. Henry and Eleanor could barely stand waiting for Mom and Dad to get the tree set up and ready for decorating. They hung most of the ornaments themselves this year. Eleanor in particular flitted about, wanting to get out every! single! thing! in the storage containers and talk about where it should go and place it there herself. There’s a reindeer candelabra on top of their play kitchen, and a stuffed snowman perched *thisclose* to the edge on the top of their dresser, but that’s where she wanted them so that’s where they’ll stay. She even drew a picture to add to the decorations, complete with Santa’s HO HO HO, that she wrote without any help.

Maybe Santa’s an owl? It’s the cutest thing ever, so nobody tell her it’s wrong.

After decorating, we had hot chocolate and cookies while we played games and talked about our Christmas lists. Henry and Eleanor were so fired up, over the hot chocolate, over the toys they want for Christmas.

Since Henry and Eleanor’s toddlerhood, every holiday season I start out feeling Scrooge-like and then they get all excited which makes ME excited. I can’t wait to plan a fun month for these two.

Nov 102012
 

While Andy and I did yardwork this afternoon, Henry kept us entertained with impromptu dance performances.

“Are those cool dance moves?” he’d ask. Yes they are, kid. I hope you never lose your self-assurance and confidence in your abilities. Plus I have a feeling you’re going to be really fun in college.

Nov 082012
 

This week Henry and Eleanor have been obsessed with marking all the toys they want in various Christmas-related ad inserts.

It’s been so entertaining to watch them for various reasons: seeing what their interests are and how they’ve started to be so very different, remembering my own fun in poring over every page of the JC Penney Christmas catalog and marking all my favorites, too.

So we’ve had a fun week of dreaming about Legos and ponies and looking forward to the start of the holiday season in a few weeks, right?

WRONG! Last night I took away all of their toys.

Yes, really. ALL of them.

For what seems like forever, we’ve struggled with getting Henry and Eleanor to pick up their toys. At school, they’re expected to pick up after themselves, and they’ve never had a problem. At home, though, it’s like they lose all ability to take care of their things. Our house doesn’t have a dedicated playroom; their stuff is housed in an offshoot of our family room. Which means it’s dragged out and left everywhere in our communal living space. And so “picking up toys” gets caught in my endless “clean kitchen pick up toys put away laundry pick up toys clean kitchen” loop that dictates my time at home and makes me realize why all the 1960s housewives popped Valium like candy.

I’ve threatened for months that “if you can’t take care of your things and help put them away, then you won’t have any toys to play with” but never was consistent or followed through. Last night I declared that I’d Officially Had It. I announced to a surprised Henry and Eleanor that I was taking away their toys. I assured them that no, we weren’t going to throw or give them away, but they were getting put away and only one toy was coming out at a time until they could prove to us they could help take care of their things.

After they went to bed, I finished clearing off the bookshelves in their play area, moving everything to the guest room closet. And prepared myself for the Great Epic Meltdown of 2012™ that I was sure to occur in the morning when Henry and Eleanor realized that Mom was for real not kidding.

And then they woke up this morning. And proceeded to be totally okay with it.

I explained the rules to them again: they could each request a toy, but had to clean up that toy and put it away before requesting the next one. Which is what they did all day. And it was WONDERFUL. They didn’t fight or complain about the new rule. They seemed really focused on their activity after having to think about which toy to request. Our family room stayed clutter-free all day. We got to enjoy our time together instead of fighting over having to pick up after themselves (kids) and yelling at them about it (me).

At suppertime tonight, I praised Henry and Eleanor for how well they did, and told them if they kept up the good work for a few more days, we’d increase the number of toys they could have out. And once again, no complaining, just happiness over Mom telling them they did a good job. Honestly, I’m still kinda shocked at how well today went.

Hmmm…turns out if you set boundaries for the kids and carefully explain your expectations, while actually being consistent and following through on consequences, your family is happier. It’s like all those thousands of articles in basically every single thing you could ever read about parenting are actually RIGHT or something.