Monday, September 29, 2008

Busy Season

A couple decades ago (if only I was exaggerating) I worked for one of the 'big 8' accounting firms ( I think they are down to 3 due to merger-mania). Their business revolved around Busy Season.

Busy Season started in January as the
auditors were getting busy with audits of the businesses with December 31 year ends. All available students were assigned to audits. Students at the bottom of the food chain counted inventory while those more senior might check bank reconciliations.

Around mid March resources were applied to tax. Tax returns waited in four drawer cabinets for students to prepare. Most professional staff and certainly most students enjoyed few weekends without work and certainly no vacations would be approved. Great disdain was taken for anyone who had the poor sense to get pregnant or to impregnate their wife with a due date in Busy Season.

You only had to work Busy Season to earn you entire vacation entitlement for the year. It was a busy time when personal lives were put on hold, but there was camaraderie and predictability in knowing what Busy Season would bring. And every year there was an 'end-of-Busy-Seaason' party in which all those crazy accountants cut loose.

I have discovered that our family our own Busy Sason. September to December. I think most families have a time that is busier. Some have a crazy time in spring when two sports overlap which means multiple practices or games every night of the week.

he start of the school year is the starter's pistol for us. Getting the kids settled in school and getting field trips and special day noted in the calendar which invariably leads to rejigging of childcare arrangements. While still writing cheques for school photos, hot lunches and planners, S's birthday is upon us.

With party, family celebrations and school cupcakes all sorted, Husband has a conference which has every year been the weekend after her birthday. If I manage to survive a weekend of solo parenting, I have another solo weekend while Husband traipses off to another conference, either immediately before or after Thanksgiving.

This year I also have a conference a week after Thanksgiving which is often the only easy week all fall. Then then the nuttiness of Halloween starts. This usually means a couple of birthday parties in addition to school celebrations and trick-or-treating.

November, one might expect some relief, but I take a course every fall which has a final exam and final project due in November. We generally celebrate Husband's birthday with an overnight in a downtown hotel and a Canucks hockey game in early November. We have an abudance of family birthdays, this year is my Dad's 75th.
All this is on top of regular activities, appointments which always manage to fall in October/November and other commitments.

J's birthday is late November and brings more celebratations and we could let our our breath and congratulate ourselves on a job well done, only it's Christmas, which means shopping, letters, baking and celebrations...

Husband and I take the approach of trying not to look too far ahead and just keep our eyes on the week ahead. Not entirely easy when I need to be planning meals, figuring our Halloween costumes, buying birthday presents ...

I'm not sure whether this will mean more or less blogging in the next couple months. Obviously time is limited but when I'm busier I have more fertile material to mine.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Truth About Consequences

I cannot be accused of not trying to figure out the mysteries of parenting early. I went to my first parenting class when J was 6 weeks old, though I was really just looking for an excuse to get out of the house.

My obsession with parenting books is unparalleled in my circles. I've tried to inform myself on my children's sleep habits, eating habits and potty habits.

I have read or skimmed almost every book written (or so it feels) on discipline/behaviour management. Most of the books fall into 2 camps:

set firm boundaries and expectations and follow through without exception
don't have too many rules and don't try to impose your will on sensitive, hungry, tired child or you will get what you deserve.

Clearly by necessity we have gravitated, or really been thrown, into the latter camp but it has been no panacea, no magic bullet, no key to the kingdom.

We have tried every strategy to deal with misbehaviour as some point. Time-outs/naughty stool/thinking chair have been an unmitigated disaster with one of our children. Not only does it escalate things in the short term, it neither acts as a deterrent nor even curbs poor behaviours in the long term. Sticker charts have occasionally worked in the short run but with no lasting benefits result so when the reward is earned we feel we are no further ahead.

We have tried ignoring behaviour, talking about poor behaviour, lavishing praise on good behaviour. In our less enlightened moments we've used bribes, threats and swatting the odd tush. In a more enlightened moment we called a meeting and Husband and I roll played some of the behaviours we expected and some that we didn't. While we did get some laughs the comical skits did not yield any more success than anything else.

In that early parenting class, the instructor recommend the Barbara Coloroso book Kids Are Worth It where consequences for behaviour are advocated as the way to teach children self-discipline. The consequences, to my memory, are to be naturally flowing from the infraction, I mean the choice the child makes. They are to be immediate and a measured. So when a child leaves a bicycle outside in the rain, the bicycle is taken away for a time as the child is apparently not mature enough to properly care for his possessions. When a child carelessly knocks over a box of Rice Crispies, she has to clean it up. Sounds simple enough.

I have tried the consequences. I don't have a problem with immediacy. I was blessed with an abundance of impatience, so I would be willing to apply consequences before any intended action if I thought it would do any good.

I don't think I have been able to come up with natural consequences most of the time. What is a natural consequence for kicking the back of Mommy's seat in the car 273 times after being told not to 272 times? Duct tape the feet together?

And I think I may have a little problem with "measured" consequences. The following I have threatened, I mean offered, as consequences:

1. Do that one more time and I will never let you have a play date again.

2. Take one more step and you will never have another treat in your lifetime.

3. Put that down or you will never do anything fun again.

However my parental skills, or perhaps planet alignment, have recently led to a couple successes such that I feel something of a wunderkind to the consequences school of thought.

Last week we planned to go out for dinner for S's birthday. Usually this is not a hard sell for the kids. But J was in a mood and refused to go. He informed us that he would only go if we could get there in 71 seconds. The restaurant is 5 or so minutes away but I told him I wasn't sure how long and he should count and see if we could get there in 71 seconds. He reluctantly agreed and inferred from what I was saying that it was about 71 seconds away.

He was at 15 seconds before we got out of our driveway and I knew we would be in trouble. I did encourage him to count more slowly. I tried to distract him for a while so he would stop counting as I knew we were headed for a showdown.

Sure enough at 71 he pronounced that since we hadn't arrived, he would not be coming to dinner. I told him in an actually calm voice (as opposed to a voice that I am pretending is calm only because I am not screaming) that we celebrate family birthdays together. If he would not come in to celebrate S's birthday, we would not celebrate his birthday (which fortunately is 2 months away and on his radar screen).

It worked. There was excessive complaint, some moaning and complaining but I am all about results. We were all in attendance for dinner. I ordered his favourite appetizer and blinked in Morse code to our server that he better get the food there soon for the common good. The pita sticks arrived in record time.

A few days later J was frustrated with something computerish. Though I am well able to help him with his elaborate power point presentations, there's a lot about the computer that is Husband's department. J decided at 5:29 pm on that fateful day that he needed to sort something out. I told J that Daddy gets home at 5:30. I opened the front door to see if Husband was in eye-shot. I stepped outside to better scan the street and I heard the door close behind me. And the deadbolt turn.

I didn't give J the satisfaction of hearing me pound on the door and threaten him with previously described unmeasured consequences. I went into the house through the garage. I summoned up actually calm voice and told J that he didn't find a very good solution to solving his computer problem. As a result he was banned from the computer.

He didn't even complain, which is quite un-J-like.

A friend was once telling me that any parenting triumph, especially those in which one celebrates, is invariably followed by unparalleled defeat. And so I wait for the other shoe to drop.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Teachable Moments

I'm in the middle of a weekend of solo parenting, Husband is "on holidays" as S pronounced. Really he is at a work conference in Toronto. I've been trying harder than usual to be calm and not sweat the small stuff.

I'm actually feeling a little proud that I had not one cross word when we arrived home from school yesterday to find J's backpack had not made the trip with us. While I wouldn't have cared if he had left it in his class, I knew he had it on the way to the car and I did not relish another search for the world's best backpack if this one went missing. We returned to school and found it in the parking lot right beside where the van had been parked.

I think I proved I was beyond flexible when I acceded to a "request" that popcorn be made available for an after school snack instead of with a Friday night movie.

I admit I raised my voice when S ignored my pleas, request and outright command NOT to run away from me at tae kwan do and she ran right behind some 8 year olds learning to use numchucks. I did acknowledge that is was hard for her to sit still through tae kwan do plus the tae kwan do picture taking session. More good Mommy marks.

At bedtime last night J was determined not to go to bed. I knew he was exhausted from a week of school, tae kwan do and the school Terry Fox run, but he was less likely to admit he was tired than John McCain is to admit Sarah Palin has a short foreign relations resume. I stayed calm for all three rounds of I'm-not-brushing-my-teeth and several rounds of I'm-not-tired-you-can't-make-me-tired. It all climaxed when I said he could not stay up and watch TV with me. He collapsed on the floor and screamed "I'm tired and want to go to bed and you won't let me." It's the stuff twilight zones are made of but I just quietly put him in his bed.

If you ignore the fact that I'm mentally exhausted, the house is well beyond disaster zone and it's not even a day into the weekend, I'm feeling pretty good about my parenting triumphs.

Fast forward to this afternoon. J had been invited to a birthday party and S could neither understand nor accept that she had not been invited. I told her we could do something fun and she chose to go to Toys R Us to buy J his birthday present. J's birthday is not until late November but she was most excited about the gifts J had given her and she wanted to buy him something special. (by "she" and "buy", she means ME). I am touched though, and agree to go.

At Toys R Us we are getting out of the car and she is wearing her Cinderella sunglasses which she clips onto her she shirt, she is carrying a cell phone transformer in one hand and she also wants to bring a stuffed dog in with her. I suggest to her that bringing THREE things to the store is pushing it and odds are she is going to put one of them down when she looks at something she wants to buy. I let her bring all three things in knowing I'll be the one to keep track of them. If I keep this flexibility up I'll be qualified to teach yoga!

We are in the store about 40 seconds when I notice her cell phone is clipped onto her shirt in place of the sunglasses. Her glasses are missing. We retrace our steps all the way back to the car, then wait in the customer service lineup to check the lost-and-found and retrace our steps again, all without success.

I'm more than a little pleased with how non-judgmentally I said "well that's too bad." She is a sensitive flower so I don't want to crush her spirit but am hoping she can understand the the consequences of her actions and perhaps she won't need to haul 3 things into every store. It's a teachable moment, not a time to use my well honed "told you so" voice.

She says nothing. I repeat myself out of habit as the J boy needs a few attempts before questions or comments penetrate his grey matter.

She says to me "Mommy, let's just forget about it."

She is not getting my life lesson here. Or maybe she is?

"Do you feel badly about losing the glasses?"

"I just want to enjoy buying J's present."

Ouch. Her gesture of generosity is almost squelched by my pathological distaste of losing things.

"Okay, let's just forget about it." I say, finally seeing the big picture.

We don't get J a present and I manage to abort the mission when her eyes get fixated on Bratz dolls. Don't get me started on that.

As we're leaving the store, I can't help myself "it is too bad about the glasses" I say with the slightest sigh.

"Mommy, you said you'd forget about it. That's not forgetting about it."

Teachable moment indeed.

Postscript: The Cinderella glasses were in the van!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Birthday Number 5

In our house 5th birthday's mean inviting a few friends in addition to cousins. For S we invited her best friend V and V's 2 sisters in addition to cousins rounding out the party to 8, not coincidentally the minimum number required for a party at Crash Crawly's, one of those tunnel and slide places.

Last night as Husband was cleaning up the tornado of mess I left behind me from the Cinderella cake, we were more than a little grateful that the people at Crash Crawly's would be hosting our party, leaving us free from tidying and cleaning the house, making food and entertaining children.

Crash Crawly's is 15,000 square feet of chaos, crowds and noise sufficient to bring on migraine headaches of every adult in the place IF you elect to go when it's busy.

In fact when I was booking the party, the party-booker said to me "You know it's going to be crowded on a Saturday, right?"

"But not first thing on Saturday morning, right?", I pleaded.

"I don't know, I refuse to work on Saturdays because I did once and almost went mental."

Not reassuring.

However, J had been to a party in the 10:00 a.m. Saturday time slot and I knew it was not too crazy so we took our chances.

It was the right decision. I think we had the sizable place to ourselves for 15 minutes until the next birthday party group arrived. At 11 a.m. 2 parties started and two groups of giggly screeching girls plus a decent amount of parents seeking to escape the downpour outside but the noise level was tolerable.

We forked out for the medium deluxe party meaning tokens for rides but NOT laser tag. So the kids enjoyed train rides and a surprisingly good ATV ride which I think revealed whose parents will be paying for a lot of Driver's ed in about 11 years (you know who you are).

By the time we were rushed out of our enclave to make room for one of the groups of screaming girls we had to make the way through the throngs of people it was beyond words. The noise was seizure-inducing. While Husband shuttled gifts to the van, I happily paid my money and got out of dodge.

Happy Birthday Girlie-goo.

A Princess for my Princess

The whole cake business was a little trying. I successfully baked a second cake. I had a few cross words when the second cake threatened to stick to the pan like its predecessor but a long metal implement managed to convince the Pyrex pan to relinquish it's grip.

At about 8 p.m. I summoned up the energy to head to the kitchen whip up a double batch of icing. Not that I need that much icing for the cake. I need vats of it because food colouring can be very unforgiving and a tiny bit too much red in the flesh-coloured icing and and Cinderella looks like she used way to much of those early self-tanning lotions. So I have learned from experience that I need plenty of icing to make attempts at the right skin-tone.

It was then that I saw the butter that should have been in cake #2. It's a miracle the cake didn't either meld to the Pyrex or come out in crumbs. Baking cake #3 was not an option. Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead.

Parenthetically, I realized that even though the cake might be inedible, the icing is the real treat and for insurance I brought Smarties and chocolate ice cream. No kid would say not to that (though I may still receive some parental complaints for the amount of sugar consumed)

The actual creating of Cinderella goes surprisingly well. I struggled a bit with getting the icing to stick to the sides. Cinderella's face was a bit of an issue. I first tried a tube of red gel icing to make the lips but it bled badly and she looked a bit like a cheap hooker. Then I tried red sugar which gave her a clown-like mouth. My first attempt at making the eyes creating a semi-alien look or at the very least a princess with a frat party hangover.

Then I remembered the piping bag I purchased last year for the Ms Spider cupcakes and managed to resurrect the face. She does look like she has a bit of a double chin, but she was enough to impress S, so mission accomplished. Here is the final result:

Friday, September 19, 2008

Cake Walk

Many Moms I know have one thing that they do for their kids. Like to an extreme. Some of them make baby books where every event is chronicled with lovely borders, photos, statistics and cute comments giving a perfect history. Others have memorable birthday parties with many friends and clowns or magicians that spellbind the assembled kids.

I do cakes. Birthday cakes that is.

Every year I've made a theme cake for the kids' birthdays. Until their 5th birthdays we just had family parties so I reasoned that I could spend the time on making a custom cake. I picked a random theme for their first birthdays. The second I picked on based on their favourite TV show. Around three I asked them leading questions to let them think they picked their own theme and by four I let them pick, no restrictions.

Most years I'm working on the project late at night. Husband with his 3 plus degrees in science gets appointed the task of trying to get the colour right after I've attempted and am cursing and near tears from trying to make flesh coloured icing or trying to make deep red with the 'red' food colouring which really should be labelled fuschia (you need to add a drop of blue to get red).

At some point in the proceedings I start to lament "I'm going to run out of icing" and Husband dutifully puts on his jacket and tries to remember what store would sell icing sugar at 11 p.m. He'll usually say "how many years are you going to make the cakes for the kids?"

For J's 1st birthday I made Winnie the Pooh, probably my finest creations.

Bob the Builder, J's 2nd birthday cake, was probably the trickiest. It was my first attempt at making flesh coloured icing and who the heck thought giving Bob a plaid shirt was a good idea?? My efforts were rewarded. J took one look at the cake and said "CAKE!!!!", the first time he had used the word.

For S's 1st birthday I picked a relatively easy Rubber Duckie and even made her her own personal cake to cover her face with.

For J's 3rd birthday, I made Blue's Clues and learned not to water the icing down too much. It wasn't my best effort.

For S's s 2nd birthday I made a Wiggles cake and didn't put the time into it because I didn't have the time due to girlfriends' weekend - still processing the guilt from that. I cut out the Wiggles' head from a paper plate. S and the other kids of course didn't complain about the excessive amount of candy on the cake.

For J's 3rd birthday he chose Dora the Explorer. This time I learn from my mistake of overly watery icing the year before and made the icing too goopy. It was a high in stress for my cake-making career. I look at it know and can see the goopy blotches on poor Dora's face.

S chose Buzz Lightyear for her 4th birthday. Since J had picked Dora, a more traditional girl's choice, the year prior I thought the boyish space adventurer evened the score. I was a little disappointed with the results. Too goopy again.

I had thought I would stop (or rather that Husband would make me stop) after J's 5th birthday after a particularly tricky late night session making a Lightning McQueen cake.

But last year at 6 J asked for a gymnastics cake for his gymnastics party. I tried to talk him into a store bought ice cream cake or even cupcakes. But he insisted and since I created the monster I found it hard to say no. So I searched google images and found probably the easiest cake I've made and it looked not bad.

For S's 4th birthday she chose Miss Spider and I broke with tradition and attempted Miss Spider cupcakes which were too squishy and not terribly close to the warm-hearted Miss Spider S had come to love.

As I write this I am experiencing another first for S's 5th birthday cake: I'm making a second one as the first one fell to pieces. I am summoning up the energy for what might be an all-nighter. The cake has to freeze before I can attempt to make the cake of S's dreams. Stay tuned for final photos with the party report.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Domino Effect

Every September, we experience the domino effect.

Husband or I will muse "what should we get S for her birthday?". This leads to a discussion of what we might buy, how much we might spend. So far, pretty insular.

Invariably, there is some item that J might also enjoy. J has, in his view, the disadvantage of having his birthday two months after his sister's. So we'll ponder whether we should get J the item for his birthday as well and how much we might have to pry said gift from his clutches at S's party.

This then leads to the discussion of Christmas gifts. If there is a gift they would both enjoy, perhaps it would be better to give them each one at Christmas? Christmas is a more complicated discussion because we need to consider gifts from Santa, gifts from Mommy and Daddy (not to be outdone by Santa, of course). We always exchange a gift on New Year's eve.

Quite apart from that with 2 plus weeks off school and at home we know that we need a variety of gifts to keep the kids entertained. So some computer game or DVD is usually required, a building type toy which will hopefully engage them on some snowy or rainy December mornings, something really fun that appeals to whatever they are into. It is all a delicate balance even before putting on some very real budget constraints.

So every September we are talking about Christmas shopping. The domino effect.

This year we had some trouble deciding what to get S for her birthday. At 5, she is a little to old for the preschool gifts but seems to young for some of the older gifts. She fell in love with a newborn My Little Pony set which I actually bought for her in June though she doesn't know it (though she does remind me frequently). Husband and I weren't coming up with many ideas (though the Christmas list is settled) when S and I were wondering through a department store and she saw a Tinker Bell watch. She was so taken with it, I bought it for her birthday with her knowledge.

So I was hoping to find one more gift that would be a real surprise. Husband noticed her looking longingly at a just-released Barbie DVD advertised on TV. I put aside my Barbie issues and managed to find a rare copy downtown and was pleased at how surprised she would be.

Yesterday S and I made a trip to Starbucks. I had her sit at the only free table while I joined the long snakey line. I took my wallet and left my wheelbarrow-sized purse on the table with her. I noticed how little she looked sitting quietly at the table. She is about the size of my purse.

She sits there looking at my purse and I marvel at her adorableness. I think everyone must be in awe of just how adorable she is.

Then she opens my purse. She reaches in for something. I don't mind, though I am a little worried she might pull a tampon out and yell over the calls for venti-nonfat-decaf-sugar free-half sweet-hazelnut-latte "what's this Mommy?"

But she doesn't pull out a feminine hygiene product. She pulls out something much worse: the birthday Barbie DVD. I had forgotten to stash it in the closet. She looks closely at it and then slips it back into my purse. She seems to know that she shouldn't have found it. A minute late she takes it out and reexamines it. She walks over to me. I can almost hear her thinking to herself "Mommy didn't say I couldn't look in her purse so it must be okay for me to find this". She is, above all, a rule follower.

"What's this Mommy?" she asks sweetly.

I am forced to 'fess up but secure a promise that she will not only forget that she saw it, she will act surprised on her birthday. So far she has denied any knowledge of every seeing it. She might just be a good politician with such a John Edwards ability to block things from her consciousness.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Racial Bias?

We thought we were raising our kids to be neutral as to race or ethnicity. We have friends, acquaintances and even family of different skin colours. It was not a matter of teaching them to be neutral, we just tried to be ourselves. Occasionally, the kids would notice someone looked differently and they might remark on it but they would be just as likely to remark on someone extremely tall. We would say with, we thought, neither too much nor too little emphasis, that people were all different in many ways, some you could see and some you couldn't.

Last year J made a remark to a girl he knew with darker skin. It was neither mean-spirited nor teasing but rather descriptive. He mentioned a "brown face". In my view, he might as easily have referred to blue eyes or blond hair. The girl, who had been the subject of teasing, was upset by the reference to her skin. J was spoken to by the supervising adult and told this wasn't a polite thing to do. He was upset by what he perceived to be 'getting in trouble'.

It was a shift in his, and consequently, our thinking.

Before, we did not make any distinction between the various differences in people. People come in different sizes, shapes and colours. More importantly people are different on the inside: shy, outgoing, energetic, calm, impulsive, predicable.

Never did we think to tell J not to make reference to another child's skin. Had we done so, I don't know how we would have explained how the difference in skin is a different thing from the difference in hair or eye colour. I guess we might have told him not to mention things about people that might make them different from anyone, but that would seem to deter even a compliment.

The weekend after the incident, we were playing Guess Who?, the game where kids are trying to guess who amoungst a group of people is on the opponants card. Questions are asked to eliminate some of the people: Is is girl? Does he have a beard? Is she wearing glasses? One of the distinguishing features is skin colour. A hard thing to reconcile.

Last week I asked S who she had played with at school and she told me "one of the China boys". Just this morning I asked S who the helper was in the class yesterday. I was really just seeing if she was starting to learn her classmates' names. She said "the brown girl". Panic struck. I still haven't figured out what to say to her. Were we going to get a reputation?

"We shouldn't refer to people by the colour of their skin. Do you remember her name?"

"Mommy" she said in disgust, "her shirt was brown."

Gender Bias?

Amongst the sheeves of papers, forms and requests for money flowing home in my kids' backpacks, we received a form requesting some information on S. The kindergarten teacher wanted to know her students a little better. We were asked some basic demographical information and who would be picking S up. I had to use the back of the sheet to list the 4 different sets of people are scheduled for pick up, the days and their cell numbers. As I told the teacher "it takes a village...".

The last item on the list was "strengths and weaknesses". This should be easy. This is the list that came to mind for S's strengths:

1. Extreme adorableness as evidenced by her cute demeanor and her use of grown up phrases such as calling me "You Crazy Woman".

2. She still has the baby smell especially in her bedroom in the morning. Intoxicating.

3. Loves to go to Starbucks and not because she gets to drink hot chocolate - she doesn't know they serve it there ... she drinks "Starbuck's water", which is tap water in clear Starbucks cup and costs me nothing, yet lets me have an Americano Misto- easy milk and only buying her a cinamon straw for 60 cents.

4. Always willing to cuddle, sit on laps, give hugs.

5. Looks adorable in all clothes, even the mismatched half tomboy half princess combinations she puts together.

Hmmm. Not too long ago I filled out a similar form for J. Here was my list for J:

1. Curious

2. Imaginative

3. Bright/ fast learner

4. Likes to try new things

5. Energtic

My list for S seemed a bit .... girlie. Could it be that I expected less or different things from my daughter than from my son? Was I quick to notice that J was creative while relishing S's wardrobe??

I have concluded, if only to preserve my feminist principles, that the differences in my list stem from S being my baby going off to school and I am enjoying my time with her knowing that she'll be dishing out the attitude soon enough. I only hope she keeps the baby smell for a bit longer though she likely won't let me get close enough to her to notice.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Week 1

An entire week of school has gone. 39 glorious more weeks to go.

In the world of grade 2, J had 3 days with his temporary teacher, who by the way he fell in love with. "She doesn't mind if our desks are sticky so I can clean up faster after lunch". To all the 7 year old girls out there, the way to a boy's heart is to tolerate a little mess.

J will be in a 1/2 split class, or "combined grades" as the hip educators call it. He has the same lead teacher, more than half the same kids and the same classroom. So he has a great teacher, with kids he knows and in a familiar place. This is all good news for parents used to navigating the J boy through transitions much like leading a bleeding fish through shark-invested waters.

In the world of kindergarten, S had three 45 minute sessions with half of her classmates. She took a particular liking to "the twins", a pair of adorable girls, who I don't think are identical but you have to look back and forth between the two of them to notice the differences. I am trying to get her to remember their names and then try and figure out which one is which. The twins' nanny did tell me that one of them always wears a necklace. Her English is not yet her second language so I may have misunderstood her asking me for the time.

S asked me every day this week if she could go to kindergarten in the morning. Sister, if only I could make it happen.

It was a slow week because her summer playmate (J Boy) had 18 hours on campus so S had a lot more time to fill. The extra 16 odd hours she used to talk to me about every known subject to an almost 5 year old. When she ran out of topics, she whined that I didn't cut her sandwhich correctly, her new pants felt squishy or she wanted to go swimming. We ran errands together, went shopping, played babies, played games and watched much more TV than recommended by respectable pediatricians. We won't have this problem next week because she'll be up to a full hour of kindergarten on Monday and Tuesday or only 5 hours a day for her to make my ears bleed.

For my part, I finally managed register the last two summer activities (my course and S's gymnastics) and I got the calender completely filled in only to find that the flight I booked for a conference in October might be changing. I did NOT get the main floor of my house, tidied, decluttered, cleaned and scrubbed as I had planned.

I made excellent use of my 45 minutes daily of S-free time and went walking with friends. Three days of excercize in a row is a streak unattained in far too long. I walked two of the three days with Moms who have both their kids with both of my kids. Which is amazing because they are my kind of people.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First Day Back

It was time to put the back to school wardrobe to the test. In triumphant Suzie Homemaker moment, I actually made pancakes for the kids for their back-to-school breakfast (well by "made pancakes" I really mean "added water to pancake mix").

They were both excited to go to school though determined to torture me by the usual delay tactics in loading into the van.

S was a little shy to go and a bit put out by the fact that another girl in her class has the same name. I knew this would happen as I always wanted my kids to be the only ones in their classes with their names. In stroke of good luck the other S will use a nickname.

J was excited to be in his temporary class (as in the rest of this week) with some kids he knows. We wait till Friday to know his final class assignment.

So we are 30 minutes into the school year (that's how long they went today) and so far no major upset.

We then made a trip to mall to get J a new backpack as we discovered this morning that his went AWOL over the summer. Good news is that everyone else shopped on the weekend so the mall was not too crowded. The bad news is the everyone else shopped on the weekend so there was only one backpack in the entire mall that met J and my specifications except that it was more than I wanted to pay. Since it was the last place I had to check, I dropped my requirement of it costing less than all of the rest of J's school supplies put together. Fortunately it was actually on sale and in striking distance of what I wanted to pay.