Friday, September 21, 2012

Books and Covers

At first I dreaded the extra trip to school each day.  Last year, I had a carpool for Adam, and it was great.  But last year, Adam and I got the drive home to hang out and chat.  Since Aunt Michelle is picking him up from school this year, we've replaced our afternoon time with morning time.

Each day, he reads aloud from my Kindle.  He reads one article from The Friend, then gives me a two to three sentence summary of the story.  I enjoy listening to him read, and I love starting off my day listening to simple gospel reminders.

We usually don't chat much.  When he finishes his article, he likes to play math games on the Kindle, trying to beat his time on math facts.  But today the Kindle battery was dying, so I got a little extra time with him.

Not "too cool" to take pics with his mom... yet.
(Backstage at Beauty and the Beast)
Today's article was about a boy who had been in a car accident and was struggling to be positive with scars on his face.  His friend gave him a piece of quartz, and together they smashed it open to reveal a beautiful interior.  Of course, the friend helped the boy to see that his scars had not changed what was inside him.

"That's just like this week's 'saying and phrase'!" Adam said.  (At NPA, the students study a phrase like "don't cry over spilled milk" each week.)

"Really?  What's this week's saying?"

"Don't judge a book by it's cover."  I loved his correlation to school, so I didn't require a summary today.  Grasping the moral is way better than a play-by-play anyway.

That gave us even more extra time, which he eagerly filled with a discussion on stratus, cirrus, and cumulus clouds (if he can remember all three, he gets a special privilege in class tomorrow).  We ended our drive listening to Billy Joel's "Storm Front" to hear the word "cumulonimbus," and I sent him off to school.

Instead of eagerly counting down the days until an extra trip is no longer needed, I'm sadly checking off the chances to spend time with just Adam.  He was born old, so even faster than the standard, his childhood just flies by.  I imagine there will come a time when I will be willing to trade anything for a few quiet moments with my son.  I'm grateful that for this school year, those moments are scheduled in five times a week.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Letting it Go

I just made a decision.  A pit-in-my-stomach, will-I-regret-this decision.

I'm going to stop building the pages of my kids' scrapbooks from digital scratch.

Why, when I love doing it?  Because I'm two books behind per child, and Alex asks me at least once a week, "Mom, when I am going to get my stree-years-olds book?"  (Someday, we'll learn how to say "three" around here...)

My boys LOVE their books.  They love to sit on the couch side-by-side, pointing out their favorite pictures and telling each other the stories they've heard over and over again.  "Mom, will you read me the racetrack story?" They'll sit for an hour, perusing each page of each book. 

But it's not the carefully custom designed layouts they love!  It's the chance to see their little lives laid out in a two-page spread.  And there are easier ways to do it.

So I see two choices:
  • Let the books go by the wayside in favor of just printing a family blog book, or
  • Continue the books in a way that will allow me to tell their stories and showcase their photos.  Without having to devote several hours a week.
It hurts to give up the design, because I've always loved doing it.  But these books aren't for me anyway.  It's time to get the memories down on paper before I forget the details.  It's time to take the easy way out in order to do what's really important.

It's time to let it go.

{A few layouts that will never make it to print}






Friday, September 14, 2012

Help Wanted

I just had a frightening realization. 

If I want my counters to be washed off before Kirk returns from his business trip this afternoon, I'm going to have to do it myself.  {insert horrified look here}

Let's be totally clear on the issue.  I almost never wash off the counters.  I hate washcloths.  They are gross to me.  Even a clean washcloth gets my hands wet, and I don't really like that either.  Plus, I just have my priorities, and the counters rarely bother me before Kirk grabs a rag and wipes them off.

But lately, Kirk hasn't had to wash them, either.  And I know that's been a big relief to him.  And I've gotten used to seeing the clean counters, and now I kind of actually care a little about them being that way.

You see, I've hired a nanny. I knew I wouldn't be able to keep up with everything this year, so rather than paying to take Dylan to someone else's house, I opted to pay to bring someone into my house and help out with a few light chores while watching Dylan. My sister wanted the job, and she is amazing!

Every day when I get home from work, the kitchen counter is clean and the dishwasher is empty. I can leave a note that, for example, says, "Michelle, please iron the uniforms in the laundry room," and I return to ironed uniforms. She even tries to anticipate what might help us out in the evening, and I will return home to find the kids appropriately dressed for their evening activities. 

But it's Friday.  And I don't work on Friday, which means she doesn't work on Friday.  And that means if I want the counters clean, I'm going to have to put on yellow gloves (yes, I am that high maintenance) and do it myself.

Which brings me to another realization.  My awesome nanny-sister is having a baby sometime around October 23rd, and she's going to need at least a couple of weeks off.  I am going to need someone to fill in for two to four weeks doing all the awesome stuff she does for me:

- Arrive at 10:30 am
- Keep the kitchen clean
- Read for 20 minutes with Alex
- Feed Al and D lunch
- Take Al to school (at noon)
- Hang out with D and complete any additional tasks
- Pick up Adam and Al from school (at 3:00)
- De-paper Adam and Al's backpacks, leaving papers in a stack for me to peruse
- Pass the child-watching torch to Kirk around 4:00

For this, I pay $40 per day, Monday through Thursday.

I just can't bear the thought of washing my own counters while she's busy bonding with my first niece on  my side of the family.  Please let me know if you have any recommendations for the job!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture

I talked for weeks to anyone who would listen about how excited I was that Kirk asked me to go with him to a formal dance at Granger.  It's the last year at the old school, and the class of '97 was kind enough to invite all alumni to come to a dance at their reunion.

According to Kirk, I am the first girl he's ever asked to a dance.  According to me, I'm not sure, "Hey, honey... Granger's doing this thing with a dance," interrupted by my quick, "Yes, I'd love to go.  Wait... when is it?" really counts as asking a girl to a dance. 

The preparations kind of reminded me of sitting in Bill's AP Stats class discussing dance preparations and being informed by one of my guy friends that "girls don't go to a dance with their date.  They go with their dress."  And I was definitely excited to get to dress up.  Thanks to a new friend (costumer for Beauty and the Beast and mom of one of my EYT kids) who was kind enough to fix the zipper on an old prom dress of my sister's, I was good to go. 

I added the silver shoes I bought for last year's Empress Theatre Gala (worn only to keep the dress from dragging on the ground - I was still too short for anyone to even see the shoes) and a new cute jacket from Maurices.  And my favorite accessory: my awesome husband in his newly repaired suit and blue tie to match my dress.

We didn't splurge for corsages or the pictures offered at the dance, opting instead to pay for a babysitter and to have Adam snap a few pics in the backyard just before departure.  And we headed off.


In retrospect, I'd say I placed too much emphasis on the dress and the chance to go on a fun date with Kirk and too little emphasis on "what's going to happen once you get there."  Somehow, I neglected to remember that I never liked school dances, always feeling particularly unskilled on the improvise-as-you-go dance floor.  And that was with friends.

My desire to hear the current Madrigals sing meant we were one of the first couples there - certain social suicide.  It also meant that while the few alumni couples stood awkwardly on the sidelines, this year's seniors enjoyed themselves without inhibition, rocking out to the horrid music selection.  (The reunion committee had opted to begin with sixties music, hoping to make the older crowd feel welcome.  The overall effect was devastatingly mood-killing.)

Oh, how I wanted to go be an idiot with the teenagers.  I truly do wonder if that urge will ever leave me?  But I didn't know these particular teenagers, so I resigned myself to trying to be an adult.  Bored and hot and put off by the lame music, Kirk and I decided to a lap around the building.  Thankfully, when we got back, Kirk's friend Liz and her husband had arrived.  And the music had improved.  And the gym had filled up.

So we danced.  Well, we tried to dance.  They stilled played a lot of music I didn't know (come on people... where was the 90's music?!) and it was far too noisy for any conversation.  My feet started to blister, so I took my shoes off, only to have Kirk pull his standard dance-with-Andrea-on-my-knees-because-she's-so-short bit, which made the nearby crowd chuckle. 

Once they started a tribute to the ages, we started to have a pretty great time.  My abs still hurt from doing the twist, and I also got to enjoy a few great line dances - always my favorite moments because they are choreographed!  I got Kirk to dance with me to "Zoot Suit Riot," and even taught him a few real steps. 

A member of the class of '97 who was pathetically less cool than he seemed to think he was acted as emcee for most of the event.  I rolled my eyes and threatened to go outside when he announced an acapella Lancers tribute via Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire."  I'm glad we stayed in, though, so I could enjoy lines like, "We didn't go to Hunter.  We went to Granger High; we're lucky we didn't die." 

We danced a bit more, talked to a few of Kirk's acquaintances and finally called it a night.  So the only question that remains is "was it worth it?" 

My husband asked me to go to a formal dance, and I got to wear a pretty dress.  So, duh.  Yes.





 


Saturday, September 1, 2012

In the Middle

On a topic completely separate from that of today's post (but look for it soon...), I recently got a Kindle Fire, and it's awesome.  One perk is that I've been able to listen to articles from the Ensign while I complete mundane tasks like applying mascara or shaving my legs.  I particularly enjoyed last month's First Presidency message by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Always in the Middle."  As an homage to that article (highlight: "Being always in the middle means that the game is never over, hope is never lost, defeat is never final.") I'm going to start in the middle of the topic I really want to address:

Back to School
> Pictures
> Homework
> A funny observation
> The end

On Day 2 of Kindergarten, Alex came home with a bit of homework to do.  He easily completed the section of lines he needed to trace, but his pace slackened as he struggled to color the three animals printed on the paper.  I gently pushed, only to have his big, brown eyes droop as he explained, "But Mom, they're spirits.  They're supposed to be white."

Some kids would invent this idea as a way to get out of the work associated with coloring the pictures.  But that's not Alex.  In his mind, these pictures just are spirits.  And spirits are white.

One of my biggest concerns as Al's mom is how to simultaneously protect Alexland while helping him find a way to fit his fantasies into the constructs of society.  If the teacher says the pictures need to be colored, then they need to be colored.  But I can just imagine each "you have to" chipping away at the colorful paint in Alexland, and I worry about formal schooling destroying that wonderful part of him.  In this case, that balance was bribery and chocolate.

I stated simply, "I know they're spirits, but your teacher would really like to see them colored.  If you can turn that cow into a red spirit or a blue spirit, I can give you an M&M that matches whatever color you choose," and Alex was back to happily coloring and jabbering.  "These spirits just have their bodies sticking out.  Like humans do."  When I responded with a chuckle and a quizzical, "We do?"  His quick response of, "Yep.  Right under our knees," let me know that in this instance, the borders of Alexland are safe.


Back to School
> Pictures
> Homework
> A funny observation
> The end

It went down something like this...

Me: "Adam, let's go outside and take a couple of pictures before school."
Adam: {whining} "Mooooom..."

So we skipped the before school pics, since I knew I was going to subject him to some after school pics with Al anyway.  When Al was ready (he's in p.m. Kindergarten, which means he gets to sleep in), the conversation was a little different...

Me: "Al, let's go outside and take a couple of pictures before school."
Alex: "Can I pose?"


D wanted in on the picture action, and I'd dressed him in NPA blue and khaki for just such an opportunity.  I can't believe how red his hair looked that day!

I never did get any pics of just Adam, but I cropped Al out of a few group shots to get documentation of my first 2nd grader.


But my favorite pics are those of my two boys, brothers and friends, both excited to be attending school together.



Back to School
> Pictures
> Homework
> A funny observation
> The end

The University of Phoenix class I am taking right now is on Classroom Management, and it's a pretty great class to be in right at the beginning of the school year.  My professor (whom I miraculously don't seem to hate) prepared a PowerPoint outline of the week one subject matter and included this picture:



 I laughed as I noticed one student near the lower left labeled as "hallucinating," and thought that described Alex pretty well.  I showed the picture to Kirk a few days later, and asked him to identify Alex.  I laughed even harder as Kirk said, "He's all of them!  Repeatedly sharpening pencil, making faces in window, daydreaming, carving up desk, playing imaginary harmonica, making cat noises, banging pencil rapidly between teeth, giggling, forgetting to bring pen, pencil, or notebook, belching, whistling, ripping paper out of notebook and crumpling it, singing, setting off fire alarms {think Dickens Festival news promo for those of you who were there}, making faces.  They're all Alex!"

Back to School
> Pictures
> Homework
> A funny observation
> The end

"Whatever our age, whatever our location, when things occur in our lives, we are always in the middle. What’s more, we will forever be in the middle."

I can't think of a better life to be in the middle of!