The F word

Friday, September 28, 2012

What IS it about potty words that send kindergarteners into fits of giggles? Now, it is true that we saw something similar in preschool, where these words were much desired, probably because they were considered taboo to them. But I swear, the appeal of these words has increased exponentially in kindergarten, particularly with the word “fart.” The Big Sis has taken this to a new level that I’d almost be impressed with, if it weren’t so annoying.

Sometimes it’s used in name-calling. You’re such a fart.

Sometimes it’s used in a more straightforward manner. If you don’t do that for me, I’m going to fart.

But most often right now it’s used as a word substitute, ala the Smurfs’ “smurfy.” I went to fart class today. I was talking to my fart in the cafeteria. I took my fart on the bus.

Believe me, there is no end to the creative uses of the word.

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Overheard

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Husband (to me): I have “Art Is Dead” stuck in my head.

The Big Sis: What?

The Husband: Oh, just this song that got stuck in my head. Have you ever gotten a song stuck in your head?

The Big Sis (singing): It’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all, it’s a small, small world…

Touche, Big Sis. Way to default to the biggest earworm in the world!


Wordless Wednesday: The eyes have it

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

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The letter

Friday, September 21, 2012

Want to know how you DON’T want to find out you’ve lost your job?

Via FedEx overnight letter received on a Saturday morning.

Yet that’s exactly what happened to me last weekend. The overall company that owns my magazine decided to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy on our smaller company, but they didn’t have the decency to tell anyone — not even the founder/editor — in person beforehand. No HR sent our way to answer questions. No company owner coming to talk to us. Nothing. Just a FedEx letter that I had to read in front of my two young girls.

Not cool. (To say the least.) I can’t say that the job loss itself was too much of a surprise, as things have steadily gone downhill over the past four or five years. But the method of delivering the news certainly left a lot to be desired.

I could go into a lot more detail about what a mess this is and how the trustee is looking into several red flags in the bankruptcy filing (basically the owner seems to be declaring himself a creditor through a few of his other entities that have nothing to do with our company). But I really shouldn’t get into the details here, so here’s the bottom line:

*I still don’t have my personal belongings from the office, as we’ve been locked out since this happened. (There was even a security guard on duty there 24/7 for most of the first week.) I still don’t know yet when I’m going to be allowed to go to the office and GET my personal belongings. I’ve heard an estimate of late next week, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet.

*I will receive no severance pay, and my final paycheck and the pay from my unused vacation time are tied up in the courts now, meaning the latest estimate is that I won’t receive those until at least February, and even that’s still a guess. I was able to apply for unemployment, but with the delay in that, plus a one-week delay to get benefits in my state, that first benefits check will be for just one week. All of this means that I will go a five-week period with just one week of pay. Ouch.

*We don’t know how long this unemployment will last, so we need to take steps now to save money. I think we’ll be switching to Internet phone and cutting out cable completely (basically the few things we watch are available online, so really not a big deal for us). We put in our notice at The Big Sis’ after-school program and her last day there will be a week from today, after which point she’ll ride the bus home. (She’s excited about that for sure!) We also decided to switch The Little Sis to Tues/Thurs at daycare, and I’ll keep her at home with me the rest of the week. My first instinct was to take her out completely, but for a variety of reasons, I’d prefer to keep her in if we can, so we’ll give this a try for a while and re-evaluate later if necessary. Hopefully it won’t come to that, though.

Overall I’d say I’m doing okay. I’ve taken this week to kind of refresh and regroup. I’ve kept up with my morning bike rides, and between that and dog walks during the week, I’m at about 30 miles for the week so far (and would still like to get out some this weekend if possible). I’ve read. I’ve napped. I’ve done some piddly things around the house. A break is what was definitely in order. Hopefully I find the motivation to get serious about job hunting soon, though I’ll admit that so far my motivation is lacking at the moment. In the meantime, I’ll certainly enjoy the extra time with my girls and hope that something good comes along soon.


Reaching new heights

Friday, September 14, 2012

This baby toddler is a climber.

It’s kind of taken me by surprise, to be honest. I would have thought that The Big Sis would have been my little climber, but that interest didn’t develop into her until the past year or two.

But The Little Sis. Oh, how she likes to climb. Basically everything she walks up to she hikes up that leg and tries to mount unless caught with an urgent, “Unh-unh! No climbing!” admonition.

The couch. The futon. The bathtub. The coffee table. The activity table. The babies lying on the floor at daycare (for reals!). If it’s raised off the ground, chances are pretty good she’s going to attempt to climb it.

And that wouldn’t be so bad except for the fact that, you know, once she conquers the feat, she is unsteady and can’t get herself properly down from said object. Of course, SHE doesn’t think that — the kid has no fear thus far — so she’s all gung-ho … until she loses her balance and topples to the floor, a little stunned at the impact.

But does that stop her? Oh no. No, it does not.

I’m currently taking bets on whether I get gray hair or have a heart attack first.


Wordless Wednesday: Climbin’ fool

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

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The accidental CIO

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Just as background for this story, I’ll say that I’m not really a fan of the cry-it-out method of sleep training a baby. I won’t go into my reasons why, as that’s not relevant at the moment, but I just want to establish that it’s an approach that makes me uncomfortable personally.

However, I found that when The Husband was out of town over Labor Day weekend and I had to put both kids to bed by myself, there were a small handful of times that I didn’t have much choice but to let The Little Sis cry while I tended to The Big Sis (otherwise The Big Sis would freak and I’d have two crying children on my hands). At no point did she cry for any longer than 10 or 15 minutes, which is still outside of my comfort zone, but it was necessary in this situation.

As additional background, I will offer up the fact that bedtime with The Little Sis often took at least an hour — I’d nurse her for probably 20 to 30 minutes then have to walk around her room rocking her in my arms until she fell asleep — and the concept of putting her down drowsy but awake (as you’re “supposed” to do ) was completely foreign to us. She had to be completely asleep before I could put her in the crib, and even then I risked waking her up when I set her down in the crib (especially since lowering the mattress).

But boy wasn’t it interesting that she went to sleep well each of those nights and didn’t wake up once overnight. Quickly I realized that when I was done nursing her, she was leaning toward the crib, so after The Husband had returned from his week away, I started putting her in her crib awake but drowsy. She protested with a couple of halfhearted cries, rolled over, and went to sleep nearly instantly. Huh. Interesting. But also: Yay!

Additional background: The Little Sis still used a pacifier for going to sleep at night and for naps. She never used it during the day (it stayed in her room), but she did require it to go to sleep. I was trying to figure out how to get rid of it, as I personally don’t care for older children with pacifiers, but I found it tricky to formulate a plan since I wasn’t comfortable with taking it away and making her cry for it, but she’s also too young to make up a “paci fairy” or something like that.

Last Wednesday night, I realized that I gave her the pacifier at bedtime merely out of habit; she hadn’t really asked for it that night. So I figured I’d play with fire and try to not offer the pacifier the next night. She fussed for about the time it took me to walk out the door after I put her in the crib, but she went to sleep fine and didn’t wake up for the paci during the night. (She didn’t much before, as she usually found it herself, but sometimes she’d throw it out of the crib and she needed our help retrieving it. Thankfully that wasn’t a regular thing, though.) The same was true for Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday night, and all naps over the weekend.

Looks like we got rid of the pacifier, as we just experienced night five of no paci last night, and we’ve met no resistance. Her bedtime now takes about 20 to 25 minutes total, with me nursing her for most of that time, snuggling with her for a few minutes, then placing her in the crib and leaving with her still awake (a couple times pretty wide awake). Most nights she rolls over and goes right to sleep, though sometimes she’ll lie there with her eyes wide open but she remains calm and quiet before finally zoning out and going to sleep.

So: Yay for The Little Sis. Even though we used it very minimally, I was ready to be done with paci use LONG ago. And it’s good timing too because she’ll be moving to the toddler room at daycare next week and I really wanted to have her off the paci by then.

Next up: Weaning her from nursing. Right now I nurse her when she wakes up in the morning and when she goes to sleep at night. Truthfully, I think she’s started the weaning process on her own over the past month or so, as she loses interest in nursing now pretty soon after she starts. I nursed The Big Sis for 14 months, and I’m still aiming for that with The Little Sis. It’s a complete mind game, I admit, but I’d like to hit that age so I feel like I did the same for both girls. Will it be a “failure” if we stopped with nursing today? Of course not! I’ve nursed her for 13 months, and what’s a difference of one month? Not much. I didn’t say it made logical sense, but I’d still like to hit that 14-month point if I can, if The Little Sis doesn’t completely lose interest in the next month. At this point, though, it seems like weaning is going to be a mutual decision, which I think is overall a good thing.


Movin’ on up

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Last week, The Big Sis kept coming home from kindergarten and telling us that she was going to another teacher’s room for the morning. The first day I brushed it off, but then when it happened a second and third day, I decided to e-mail the teacher and ask about it — I just couldn’t figure out if this was somehow a good thing or if it was bad and they were trying to separate her from another student or something. And I’m sure they didn’t really tell The Big Sis much about why she was moved, so I wasn’t getting many answers from her. All I knew was that she was going there for reading time.

Her teacher wrote: “[The Big Sis] has been going to Mrs. M’s room for Literacy block. This is from 8:00 – 10:30, she teaches kindergarteners and first graders that are moving at a faster pace in literacy.  We felt this was a good placement for her and she has adjusted well.  We would like to have her spend the entire day in the K/1 class and her homeroom teacher would then be Mrs. M. She will be getting all of the kindergarten curriculum but at a quicker pace and may go more into the first grade curriculum as the students are ready.”

They continued doing the partial days last week and moved her full time to the K/1 room yesterday. To say I am proud of her doesn’t quite cover it. We knew she had the potential to do well, as she was certainly prepared well during preschool, but I’m so happy that she’s performing well enough that her teachers see the potential in her as well. One of the triggers for her challenging behavior is boredom, so I’m hoping this will help nip that in the bud. We haven’t met her new teacher but will have a chance to when we attend Curriculum Night tomorrow night. In reading through her classroom information, so far I’m happy with her new teacher and think she’ll be good for The Big Sis.

Her K/1 class will have weekly homework that includes a phonics worksheet, a rhyming worksheet, and a worksheet meant to teach them how to follow directions. Each week the class has five “wall words” — basically sight words — that the kids need to practice reading and writing. On Fridays, there will be a quiz to test the mastery of these words. (For example, this week’s words are: my, an, in to, come.) In addition, we are to dedicate at least 20 minutes of reading time per night, which can include us reading to her, her reading to us, or us listening to books on CD. (We do this anyway; last night we had 30 minutes, which is pretty typical.) Last night we also took things a step further on our own in an effort to reinforce the words and had her point out her wall words in our stories whenever she saw us read them.

The Big Sis is a little hesitant to move full time because she’s already made friends in her old class, and now she is sad she has to leave them behind and make new friends. I personally know this is a good move for her and that it’ll turn out fine and she’ll probably have a new BFF by the end of the week, but it’s hard for her at the moment. We will continue to reassure her that she’s good at making friends and will get to know the kids in her new class.

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In other school news, we let The Big Sis ride the school bus for the first time yesterday morning. The Husband will still probably drive her most of the time (especially once waiting at the bus stop means being COLD), but she wanted a chance to take it and see what it was like. I walked her to the bus stop and was pleased to see that there were probably six or seven other parents with their kids as well. (I wasn’t sure how it worked since I didn’t take the bus in elementary school. I was hoping I wouldn’t be the only parent there, but I definitely wasn’t.)

I think she was a little nervous, but her eagerness won that battle, and she lined up perfectly when the bus arrived. She found a seat with a neighbor who’d gotten on at another stop and tells me she had a great time. Not surprisingly, she’s asked to ride the bus more often, though we’ll probably make that a reward for good behavior.


Flying solo

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I did it! I survived!! Well, I figured I would, but now it’s confirmed!

The Husband went out of town this weekend, and by “weekend” I actually mean 6 nights. For Father’s Day, the girls and I had gotten him a ticket to his beloved geekfest over Labor Day weekend and he went down to enjoy the convention with his friends. Great for him, of course, but that left me behind to take care of everything. Now, I know that’s not a big deal to a lot of people — and single moms do it all the time (god bless them) — but I get a LOT of help from The Husband on an everyday basis, so I knew things were going to be more of a challenge than usual.

We had a couple rough spots yesterday evening (which I think was mostly the extended weekend getting to everyone at the same time), but setting that aside, I would say it was a rousing success. I made sure we stayed busy, but not TOO busy, and I confirmed that the key to dealing with both kids (especially on school nights/mornings and especially when one generally walks around the house as though she’s a mini hurricane) was to PLAN AHEAD. Each night I pre-made as much of the next day’s dinner as I could, set out everyone’s clothes (mine included), set out all the stuff to make breakfast, made lunches for everyone, made sure all the dishes were washed, etc. I try to do a lot of that kind of stuff anyway, but it was even more crucial this time around.

I had three school mornings to deal with on my own. When The Husband is here, basically he’s in charge of The Big Sis (including driving her to school) and I’m in charge of The Little Sis. So it took careful coordination to make sure everything got done each morning and I got everyone to the right place at the right time. Beforehand, I had resigned myself to just being late to work, but each day I somehow arrived at my usual time (or earlier!). Each day I got my shower, dried my hair and put on makeup, made The Big Sis’ breakfast, got up The Big Sis, got up The Little Sis, nursed The Little Sis, got The Big Sis dressed and ready to go, drove The Big Sis to school, came home, got breakfast for me and The Little Sis, got dressed, got The Little Sis dressed, dropped off The Little Sis at daycare, and got myself to work. Oh, and did I mention that I also had time to work out each of those mornings as well?? I am supermom, hear me roar!

Thankfully bedtimes went very well. Sometimes The Little Sis can take a while to get to sleep, but each night she did great, and The Big Sis read her library books while patiently waited for me to come out. I was afraid I’d spend so much time getting The Little Sis to sleep that I’d miss out on story time with The Big Sis, but that was not the case. Naps went perfectly each day with the exception of when we went to my parents’ house and she wouldn’t take her afternoon nap. Combine that with having to remove her from their stairs probably 100 times (they don’t have a baby gate; in fact, their house is so baby un-friendly it’s unreal) and she wasn’t a happy camper for much of our visit, but she did go to sleep well that night, so that’s something.

All that being said, I’m ready for The Husband to come home. (This afternoon! Woo hoo!) He is an integral part of our household and things run much better with his set of hands pitching in. He does so much for our family, and while I knew that and always appreciate that, I’m sure it was nice for him to get away for a bit, as he’s much less likely to take weekends away than I am. Hopefully he returns freshened and ready to tackle real life once again.