Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kids'-Eye Science

At breakfast, Elisabeth noticed the sun streaming through the window. She started the observation, but her big sister sure did finish it.
Elisabeth: “Look at those ‘sparkles’ in the light.”
Amanda: “Those aren’t ‘sparkles,’ they’re dust mites.”
Benjamin: “Will they bite me?”
Amanda: “No, dust mites don’t bite. They just float around on the air and eat up our dead skin cells. You know, we are constantly shedding skin and replacing it with new cells, so the dust mites just eat the old ones.”
Elisabeth: “Yeah, I know.”
LATER, Amanda: “Mom, do dust mites really eat your dead skin, or do they eat alive skin? Because I saw it on TV that they eat dead skin cells, but, if they eat live skin that’s very gross, and I feel kind of creepy-crawly right now, thinking about it.”

In the McDonald’s parking lot, Benjamin noticed a bird. He is still very interested in birds.
Benjamin: “Look at that pigeon.”
Mom: “No, that’s a gull.”
Benjamin: “What’s it doing here?”
Mom: “It’s looking for food. It’s hoping someone will give it a French fry.”
Benjamin: “No, Mom. Birds can’t each French fries. They don’t have any teeth to chew.”
Mom: “Yeah, but a bird can use its beak to break up food.”
Benjamin: “Nope. The beak is the bird’s nose.”

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Picture Day

Today is School Picture Day. It’s an especially dramatic day here in Krinkeland, because the little loves are allowed to wear something other than their school uniforms. Believe it or not, once the girls have gotten to school age, I really have stopped buying them much for clothes. Since they wear uniforms every day, it’s really just t-shirts and jeans for play clothes and a few nice outfits for church and birthday parties. Of course, Grandma keeps them in duds and Libby has enough hand-me-downs to stock her own garage sale.

We did go a few rounds on the outfit choices. I did not go out and buy anything new, but each girl had a couple new things hanging in her closet, for just such an occasion as school pictures. I tried to steer Amanda toward a simple sweater and pants, because I knew there was no wrestling her into a dress. She tried to steer me toward a wrinkled summer blouse and embroidered jeans, but she didn’t put up much of a fight when I held out for my choice.

Elisabeth, on the other hand, gave me a run for it, as always. I had suggested she wear one of the new dresses Grandma had given her for her birthday. She tried it on, and then Libby told me she would keep it as an option, but would like to keep looking through her closet. She then proceeded to bring me, over the course of an hour, every ratty t-shirt and too-short sundress she could find, and grew increasingly frustrated at my repeated “Nos.” Finally, she chose an embroidered velour top and a pair of soft dress pants, an outfit that, interestingly enough, closely resembled what her big sister was going to wear. I consented and peace was restored. Then, I got busy with making supper and shoveling rice cereal into Madeline and didn’t notice that Libby kept on the outfit through dinner. Of course, she spilled chocolate milk and tomato sauce and who knows what else down the front. I was prepared to wash the top to maintain peace in the home, but Libby told me, “I’ve decided to wear the dress you chose, anyway.”

All the kids had baths and we even blew dry the older girls’ hair, so they would not wake up looking all kitty-wompus. Still, at 20 minutes till bus time this morning, both Amanda and Elisabeth asked to have their hair curled. I do not do hair, but I did it. I had to drive them to school, and by the time we arrived, Amanda was telling Libby, “Your hair is all flat.” I realize I damaged the quality of Amanda’s school photo by giving her a black eye.

As each girl got out of the car, I whispered in her ear, “You are the most beautiful girl in (your grade).” Amanda smiled and whispered back, “Thanks, Mom.” Elisabeth scowled and said, “No, I’m not. Tell that to Amanda-- she'll believe you.” I pray this day Libby does see just how beautiful she is, and how beautiful she can be.

Cereal Eater

I love feedin' me some babies. I consider the baby food stage one of the many small joys of motherhood. Yeah, the bonding from breastfeeding is great, I guess, but there's nothing more fun than shoveling a spoonful of mush into a little pie hole. Since a baby masks her expressions as well as, well, my seven-year-old, it's so fun to watch her reaction, good, bad, or otherwise.

So, I held out as long as I could, but yesterday was a darn long day, and I decided it was time to break out the baby cereal. I dragged out the high chair and cleaned it. I dug around in a cupboard for a bowl, a drawer for a spoon, and another drawer for a bib. Elisabeth sensed something was up. I let her in on the development and she went into a tizzy. Big Sister announced up the stairs to the others, "Madeline is going to eat cereal!" She had to choose the best bib and tie it around Madeline's neck. She went into the pantry and came out with the box of Cheerios. I showed Libby what baby cereal was, and she put the box back.

We settled Madeline into her high chair-- no propping necessary for this well-built Chub of Love-- and assembled the peanut gallery. I had a lot of help, a lot of questions, a lot of advice, a lot of offers to take over. What you can't see from the photo is the bib pocket, tucked underneath the high chair tray, which Libby had stocked with: three strings of sparkly beads, a ribbon bracelet, two "Monsters vs. Aliens" action figures, and a giant super ball. Prepared for any occasion.

I think Madeline liked eating cereal. By parenting book standards, I did everything wrong-- gave her too much at once, made it too thick, fed her on an empty stomach instead of first nursing her. She made a horrible face with each bite, but kept opening up for more, so I kept giving it to her. I will follow the pediatrician's guidelines and keep up with the cereal just once a day for a couple weeks, until Madeline's six-month appointment. As with all the other kids, and contrary to those parenting books, the cereal did not help Maddy to sleep longer at night. It did make her smell worse.

After supper, we hit another milestone, taking a bath sitting in the bath ring in the tub. I had to put away the little infant tub once Madeline became larger than the actual tub. The past couple weeks, I had been holding her in the shower, a slippery, slippery job, or just laying her in the bottom of the bathtub with hardly any water. So, this was a big improvement. Again, I had a lot of help. Suddenly, everyone else felt the urge to bathe. There are no photos from this leg of the adventure, as even I know it would have been mighty unsafe to let go of the babe. Plus, I would never post photos of my kids in the bathtub, so, creepos, just surf on by.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Peanut Butter Boy, Baked Goods Burglar

Benjamin and I had apples with peanut butter for lunch. Things didn't start out that way. First, he turned up his nose at the reheated chicken alfredo. Then, he asked for peaches and cream instant oatmeal, but ended up finger painting with it. He was on to lobbying for a cupcake. In the meantime, I polished off the leftover pasta and thought, "One of those apples would sure be good."

I'm not sure apples and peanut butter qualifies as a main course under any reasonable dietary guidelines, but, some days (like Mondays) we take what we can get here in Krinkeland. Even this took some coaxing. I got out one of the beautiful Honey Crisps we picked at the orchard this past weekend, washed it and cut it into wedges. Ben grabbed at one slice and gobbled it up. I took the others out of his reach and spread peanut butter on them. Ben shook his head, clamped shut his jaw, and covered his mouth. "No way!" he told me. "Gross! I'm not eating that!" I shrugged, pretended to ignore him, and bit into one of the apples with peanut butter. Pretty soon, Ben picked up one and tried it, too. It was love at first bite.

To this day, I've been unable to get Elisabeth to eat Ants on a Log. Remember that childhood treat-- a celery stick spread with peanut butter and raisins stuck on top. Celery, peanut butter, and raisins are three of Libby's favorite foods, but she just can't bring herself to put them together. Makes me crazy.

Now, Ben, more than the other kids, enjoys a wide variety of foods. Still, he always has to be "tricked" into trying them. I've lost count of the number of times I've heard Todd ask, "Do you think Mommy would make it if it wasn't good? (Well, not on purpose.) Do you think I would eat it if it wasn't good?" Eventually, he tries it and wonders how he ever lived without it.

After the peanut butter was polished off, we did get to the cupcakes. There were two left in the box my friend Heidi and her son brought from Cupcake. Ben hemmed and hawed over which he would like. He also narrated to me about his original selection a couple days back: "Remember that cupcake with the big raspberry and the lime slice (a candied lemon wedge) on top?" I nodded. "The frosting on that cupcake was allllll butter, Mom. Butter, butter, butter. I licked it and I thought, 'This is soooo buttery.'" Then, he said, "When the girls get home, let's tell them there were two cupcakes left and we ate them."

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Rotten Elastic

I got out the flannel PJs tonight. The temperature has dropped 20 degrees in the past 24 hours; there's a gale force wind knocking around the furniture on the deck; a driving rain sent me back inside before I even began my evening walk. It's a good night for flannel, EXCEPT-- my drawers bit the dust.

When I got out of the bathtub, I first put on the pajama top, all well worn, soft, and faded, and this set still has all its buttons. Then, I picked up the pants, and, as I separated the cloth to step in, the waistband crackled. The elastic just went. I caught my reflection in the mirror and I looked like an "after" picture in a weight loss ad. "Todd," I called, "Come in here and get in my pants with me."

It is such a bummer when the elastic goes. It happens with undies from time to time, and bras, too, I suppose. Did you know you are supposed to change out those things, like, every six months? Does anyone actually do that? I mean, I toss out a bra once the elastic fails, and I find one of my breasts stuck in my armpit and the other tangled in my belt buckle. But, otherwise, bras are too expensive to replace every few months.

Back to my jammies-- these things should definitely go in the trash. The pants are pretty much useless without the elastic. Yes, Mom, I know I could take out the rotten elastic and replace it, but I also could join an organic farming cooperative or become Tom Colicchio's mistress. In the meantime, what to do, what to do? I already had the top on. I was halfway warm and drained of the necessary energy to start over. So, I just took the pants by the rotten waistband, wrapped them half again around my body, and secured the folds of fabric with a safety pin. I look ridiculous, but I'm warm... and Tom seems like the kind of guy who can appreciate a good flannel.

Toto... We're Not in Kansas, Any More

I haven't posted in a couple days I guess because we've been so busy: school stuff, family stuff, church stuff, friend stuff. Todd and I did take a little break Saturday night. The babysitter came and we headed out to a nearby bar, to hear a country band. The frontman (who has a different stage name) was one of my schoolmates, and I thought, "Why not? This guy is living his dream; the least I could do is show up to support him."

Todd and I do love to hear live music-- it would pretty much always be my choice for a night out. The bar was dark and seedy, the clientele questionable, and, I must confess, all the songs kind of sounded the same. I had the nursing mom's single drink, made a few attempts at yelling-over-the-music-catch-up conversation, and flashed photos of my kids from my phone. There were other classmates there, faces from another time. Mostly, I learned, I am definitely NOT in high school any more... and I'm OK with that.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

He Can Speak (More) Clearly Now

Something strange and unexpected and wonderful and awful has happened. I noticed it while speaking with Benjamin (following my own advice for a preschool-pick-me-up.) I asked him about snack time at school and I heard something unusual in his description of "goldfish crackers." I tried another angle, teasing him about something, and Ben responded, "Come on, Mom!" Then came the ultimate test: I asked Ben, "Where is that place you like to visit to see the gorillas?" And the brilliant Benjamin answered, "Como Zoo."

Do you see the pattern here? Suddenly, Ben can pronounce the /k/ sound; he doesn't substitute /h/ any more. Now, I still hear that combination /w/ and /r/ for /l/ but that's a more advanced letter sound, I do believe. This is a major development in Krinkeland. My little boy is no longer going to call to me, "I'm humming, I'm humming!" I'll miss that.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Wednesday is quickly becoming my favorite day of the week, because it's when "Glee" is on. After reading a review last spring in "People" magazine, Todd and I recorded the pilot and then laughed so hard watching it we almost wet the bed. Since the actual series began this fall, it has gotten quirkier, with plot twists that are way-out-there, bizarre and absurd, but I maintain the writing is sublime. The characters are over-the-top, yet lovable or fun to hate. It's just a fun show to watch. I've been humming this little ditty since last week:

Three Times the Fun

I just checked on Benjamin, who is supposed to be taking a nap. He was up, roaming around his room, and when I walked in, he pointed to the bed, where he had taken off the pillowcases from the pillows and giggled. "Why did you do that?" I asked. "We wanted to. We were playing with them," he said. I looked around, "We? Who is 'we?'" "Me and Fluffy Bear."

I really like three-year-olds. They are always good for a laugh. Naturally, being my kid, Ben really cracks me up. While cooking, I told Ben I was going to take out the garbage. He said, "OK, Mom. I'm going to hide in this closet and scare you when you come back." I told him it ruined the surprise for him to tell me he was going to jump out of the closet. He said, "Oh, OK. I'll go hide in the pantry, instead."

Three-year-olds are still little enough to baby some, like when Ben's preschool teacher carried him back from the playground because he fell down. But, they're so big and independent, too. Ben dressed himself yesterday, but then cried when he got to school and realized his underpants were on backward. He tells me things using way too many words, like, "It's really very much more better," and he tacks on "trust me" to anything requiring emphasis. Other times, he uses too few syllables and I start to think he's lazy. For example, he calls my dad "Gramps" and Madeline "Mad." I'll sometimes find him dancing, holding his crotch, and he'll tell me, "I gotta go 'pod.'"

There's no inhibition in a three-year-old. Ben will proclaim first thing in the morning, "Mom, come and see this huge poopy I just made!" On the other hand, Elisabeth is already locking the door and denying copious flushing. Ben spent most of mass last weekend turned around to see an elderly man with a hook for a prosthetic hand in the pew behind us. He just looked, fascinated. I finally told the man, "You are definitely the most interesting thing my son has seen all day." The man just smiled and shrugged, "I can't help it."

Ben is so fascinated by his world, and the simplest things interest and entertain him. We picked up my dad from the hospital following a test. Ben occupied himself in the waiting room by dispensing small streams of water from the water cooler into a paper cup. Over and over and over again. There's a pigeon hanging around my parents' place (a story for another day) and Ben started up the walk toward the bird and said, "I just want to hug it and give it a kiss." On the way home, we parked and watched small planes taking off from the airport near our house. There was a "Red Baron" bi-plane doing stunts, and Ben sat open-mouthed, watching the takeoffs and landings, listening to the roar of the engine.

It's not only Ben who amuses me. My three-year-old nephew Solomon was here and the two boys were playing "babies," Krinkeland's version of "house." Ben said, "I'll be 'Ruke.'" (When the older girls play, the babies are always "Luke" and "Leia"-- there's no doubt they are their father's children.) Solomon asked, "Who's 'Ruke?'" Ben argued, "No, 'RUKE.'" Sol asked again, "Who's 'Ruke?'" I explained, "I think Ben is saying 'Luke,' Solomon." Sol said, "Oh. Well, then, who's 'Ruke?'" Later, they were playing "grandmas & grandpas" and Sol called my dad "Grandpa Pop-Tart" (which does kind of sound like his name,) and Sol cracked himself up and had to hold his sides while laughing.

I also love the way three-year-olds talk back to the television. You know how characters on some children's programs ask questions of their audience? Ben will shout back, "No!" or "Three!" or "It's right there!" We have a friend whose son, at age two or three, was really into Dora the Explorer. The dad would comment, "My son is going to make an obedient husband someday, because that little dictator Dora is already beating him into submission: 'Get the map! Watch for Swiper! Find the treasure!'"

I'll be a little bit sad when Ben figures out the TV characters are not actually talking to him. Luckily, I'll have another nephew and then another daughter following in the ranks. Take some time to talk to a little kid today. It's a guaranteed pick-me-up.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Another Month Gone By

I was so occupied earlier, seeing the world through yellow-colored glasses, I forgot to mention this:

She is still delightful and delighted, not to mention the CUTEST BABY EVER, if I do say so myself! And, today, Madeline is five months old.

The Peeing-Standing-Up Thing

When we were trying to potty train Benjamin, one tactic was to take him to my sister's house and have him watch her boys go. She tried the floating Cheerios and everything. He would stand at the toilet bowl with his cousins, holding onto his little unit, and grunt, "I'm trying! I'm trying!" But, he could not make it happen. I didn't know if it was a psychological thing or a physiological thing (you wouldn't believe the stuff they blame on low muscle tone,) but I was somewhat relieved. I already knew how messy it was to have two little girls on their own in the bathroom; I wasn't ready for the tinkle sprinkler, too.

However, once we finally did get Ben trained, peeing in public became a problem. He was too little to climb up onto the toilet, and he was not strong enough to hold himself on the big seat. What would happen when he went to school and there were 19 other three- and four-year-olds waiting to go? (By the way, Ben never goes to the bathroom during preschool hours.) We have a friend who has boys about the same ages as our older two girls, and we were out to lunch one time when Amanda had to use the bathroom. My friend offered to take her, and came back horrified at how much contact a little girl's body has with public restroom surfaces compared with a little boy's. I mean, you do what you can-- cover the seat, wash hands with soap, use a paper towel on the door handles-- but it's all pretty gross.

Remembering this, we again started working on the standing-to-pee method. Ben would watch his cousins and his friends. He would watch Dad. He would stand on a stool and try different positions around the toilet. Finally, necessity was the mother of invention: We were at the park one evening when Ben suddenly had to go. There was nowhere to go, so Todd took him off behind a tree. Soon, I saw a stream shoot out from between the branches and Ben shouted, "I did it!"

That's when the new problem began. All you mothers know what I'm talking about: Pee. Everywhere. I just finished scrubbing the bathroom for the third time today. This time, Ben admitted it, "I missed a little, Mom." Missed? A LITTLE?! There was pee on the toilet, pee on the seat, pee on the toilet paper roll, pee on the floor, pee on the wall. There was pee on the bathtub, and it was BEHIND HIM. There was also pee up the front of his shirt, and his briefs were on backward.

I've asked Todd to coach his son in this issue, because, as much as I complain about my husband, he is fastidious and clean in the bathroom. Maybe it was the result of growing up in a house full of women. If so, Ben will get beaten into submission; I'm sure of it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Doctor, Schmoctor

I told you Benjamin was sick last weekend-- put on an antibiotic to treat tonsillitis. He immediately got better and had a good week, until Friday, when he developed a rash. It was pretty mild and localized on Friday, so I didn't get too concerned. But, by Saturday evening, it was everywhere and he was beginning to complain it itched. Why do these things always happen on the weekend?!

I was still irked by the medical attention we received the previous weekend. Todd took Ben to our community hospital, where they triage patients in one area, and determine whether they should be seen in the Urgent Care or Emergency Department. Well, they took one look at Ben and his fever and somehow thought he had "H1N1" written all over him and insisted he stay in the Emergency Room. That was dramatic and ridiculous, caused a longer wait and a much higher copay, and was totally unnecessary. So, after Todd and I examined the rash (not chicken pox, not hives; measles, roseola?) and took photos, we gave the boy enough Benadryl to knock him out and sat down at the computer to diagnose. A handful of Google searches and a call to the nurse line later, and we were fairly confident Ben had a non-allergic amoxycillin rash. Yes, more than a week after he began taking the antibiotic (his first ever, you'll recall,) Ben broke out from it. But the nurse urged us to take him to his regular pediatrician for confirmation.

So, this morning, I took Benjamin and Madeline, along with my temporary charges Solomon and Oliver, to the clinic. If you think I get looks when I'm out with four children aged seven and under, you should see the stares when I'm out with four children aged three and under. But, what's better is the looks I gave back. Within five minutes of entering the clinic's doors, we passed two kids wearing face masks to guard against flu symptoms and one carrying a barf bucket, Oliver's nose started running like a faucet, and Madeline sneezed twice at the receptionist. The clinic is a yucky place.

Eventually, I squeezed my brood into an exam room, showed my child and the photos to the pediatrician, and got confirmation that yep, it was an amoxycillin rash. Stop the antibiotic, she said, and continue the Benadryl. The most interesting part, though, was when I relayed the events leading up to the rash and how Ben got to be prescribed the medicine in the first place. The doctor just rolled her eyes and shook her head about "tonsillitis." She said there are all kinds of viral bugs floating around, and Ben probably never needed an antibiotic. Ugh.

I tell you, and I mean this, if kids didn't get sick, I'd have a hundred of them. This is the part of the job I am not cut out for. We left the doctor's office and I bathed all four children in hand sanitizer. "Let's not leave anything behind, and let's not take anything with us," I told the kids as we were scrubbing up to our elbows. I'm pretty sure I heard an "Amen, Sister," from the charge nurse.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fish Friend

Ever since we brought home that blasted thing a month ago, my husband has been cleaning out the fish bowl. No one asked him to do it. I don't think he's trying to score points with me or teach the kids a lesson. I think he just feels sorry for the fish. Now, those of you who know Todd know he is not a very observant person (I'm not being mean, just truthful,) but it's hard to miss the haze-covered, scum-filled fish bowl. So, every few days, he scoops the fish into a little dish, dumps out the cloudy water, washes the sides of the bowl, the treasure chest, the plastic "jewels" that line the bottom, adds fresh water, adds those clarifying drops that do nothing, and returns Goldie home.

Why am I telling you this? Well, there are a number of reasons:
1. I truly am grateful. I hate cleaning out the fish bowl.
2. I'm quick to point out when my husband does something that drives me nuts, so this is a small attempt to balance the scale.
3. It's a reminder for all that any small act of kindness does not go unnoticed.

Friday, September 18, 2009

All Decked Out

In some parts of the world, a deck can be built in a week. In Krinkeland, it takes four months, three weeks. (I know, exactly, because construction began the day we brought home Madeline from the hospital.) I do not know who is more relieved this project is complete-- me, because I no longer have to worry about my kids plunging to their deaths from the second story; or the builder, who is done dealing with us, at least for a while.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Stranger Things Have Happened

It's only the second week of school, and, already, she comes home with a note from the kindergarten teacher:

In case you can't read it, allow my proud Mommy fingers to spell it out for you:
Good News!!
To: Elisabeth & Family
Just a quick note to let you know how happy I am that: Libby was such a great listener and helper today. She loved participating during a game of Charades & helped tie more than a few shoes. So, she got a prize bag pick.

My Elisabeth. In one week, she is truly a different girl. She is so grown-up and independent. She is excited about doing new things and learning new things. She speaks up for herself and she is starting to ask for help. She ties her own shoes (as well as, apparently, the shoes of others) and remembers her hot lunch code number. I know all mothers of kindergartners marvel over their children this way, so I'm sorry if this is nauseating. But, I am just too pleased to let it go unmentioned. I should have sent Libby to kindergarten years ago!

By the way, Libby's "prize bag pick" was sunglasses with heart-shaped lenses-- must have been fresh out of chewing tobaccy.

By the other way, I happen to know Elisabeth's kindergarten teacher occasionally reads this blog, so this is for her: I'm glad my child is well-behaved in school. I expect she will be, but I have no idea what goes on when I am not around. Thank you for taking the time to share such positive sentiments. My jaw dropped. Daddy jokingly asked who the note was really about. You brought joy to the dinner table (which was much needed on child-loathed stir fry night.)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It's a Big "Butt"

Live and let live, that's my motto. OK, that is totally not my motto... I have pretty strong opinions on how most people should do most things, and I'm not very skilled at keeping those opinions to myself. However, when it comes to home ownership and maintenance, I say, "Can't we all just get along?"

I thought it was so dumb growing up in a neighborhood where the homeowners were only allowed to paint their homes certain colors. When we built our first house, there was some conflict with the developer because our plans were just under the minimum square footage outlined in the "covenant." Of course, I later learned covenants are totally non-legally enforceable, and, when the developer wasn't selling lots quickly enough, he changed his tune any pretty much let any prospective builder do whatever he wanted.

Now, living on the lake, we see plenty of the good, the bad, and the ugly. I still have my nose out-of-joint about the city not letting us build a screened porch, especially when we troll the shoreline and see plenty of lake sites that look like something out of "Deliverance." So, mostly, I think, "Let's all be reasonable people, respect each others' properties, but do what we want, and be happy where we are."


I mean, really. Some people up the street from us bought this house that sits back in the woods, really a beautiful setting, and they decided to jazz it up with this mailbox. Is it like the easy benchmark for directions: "Turn at the life-sized deer decoy on a stick?" How do you think the mail carrier feels every day, putting the letters in the deer's rear? I looked online for a stock photo of this thing, and I wasn't even sure how to search. What do you call it? Where would I find one if I wanted to order one of my own? I never did find anything like it-- I'm thinking it's one-of-a-kind (I hope) and I finally had to have Todd drive by, so I could take my own picture. By the way, Todd thought it was wonderful.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

More Milestones

It's been a banner month here in Krinkeland, and we're only halfway through.

Elisabeth has finally taken on the two-wheeler, and mastered it!

It took A LOT of coaxing and coaching from Daddy before she would even get on the thing. But, a day-and-a-half after lessons began, she was doing laps in the driveway. In typical Elisabeth fashion-- and I do mean fashion-- she rode in a dress and mary janes. Following through with one of those family traditions that seemed like a good idea when we had only one kid, Dad immediately took Libby to the store to pick out a new bike.

Beginning the next phase of treating what-may-or-may-not-be-wrong-with-Benjamin, Ben started adaptive physical education. It's a one-on-one class, 30 minutes a week, with a specialized phy. ed. teacher at one of the elementary schools. Ben met Pam a couple times last spring, and he was raring to go this week. I can't tell you much about what went on, because I didn't sit and watch. Ben told me they practiced jumping and climbing stairs and walking up ramps. Oh, and he asked Pam where she lives and seemed surprised to learn she lives in this town.

Finally, Mr. Right is 37 years old today. For a bit of perspective, we began dating about six weeks shy of his 21st birthday.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bye-Bye, Baby, Bye-Bye

In the past week, I have had to pack up and move out the bouncy seat, the baby swing and the infant bathtub. They all became hazards because the Stay Puft Marshmallow Baby would sit straight up and try to buck herself out. She is a very strong girl. I feel confident Madeline will soon be rolling over, and that's no small feat for someone as bellylicious as our girl. Madeline is growing up (and out) right before our very eyes! It's equally exciting and heartwrenching. Oh, and Maddy thinks it's funny:

Parties for a Princess

Well, we are finally done celebrating Elisabeth's birthday for another year. Turning six brought with it considerable pomp and circumstance: treats at school; a Barbie house at home; a jewelry-making party with her new classmates; swimming at the pool and dinner with one set of grandparents and aunt; swimming in the lake and dinner with another set of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. We've wrapped things up just in time, because Todd's birthday is tomorrow! I was waiting for all the celebrations to be complete before posting photos. However, though I sent the camera with to Grandma and Grandpa's yesterday, someone forgot to use it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Preschool, the Petri Dish

Benjamin has tonsillitis. Not a big deal, really-- inflamed, puss-covered tonsils; sore throat; fever. Todd took him to Urgent Care yesterday after the boy fell suddenly ill, and I do mean suddenly, as in, playing perfectly fine all morning and then in a span of twenty minutes becoming lethargic, showing glassy eyes, heating up to 102 degrees and complaining of neck pain. The strep test came back negative, but Ben was put on antibiotics, anyway.

Would you believe this is the first time in Ben's three years of life that he has required medication for an illness?! That makes one prescription for each kid (except for Madeline, who has had none.) It's the truth. Amanda had pneumonia as a toddler, Elisabeth takes a prophylactic medication to prevent urinary tract infections, and now Ben is on amoxycillin. So, I'm not trying to jinx us, but we've been pretty darn healthy here in Krinkeland.

The luck continues, because Ben is actually taking his medication. All the kids have incredible gag reflexes and dispensing something as simple as Tylenol can become an all-out battle. But, Todd told me Ben sucked right down the Motrin given to him by a nurse at Urgent Care, so, I had the pharmacist flavor the antibiotic suspension with orange cream and crossed my fingers. Todd, who we all know is much more positive and infinitely more patient than I, administered the first couple doses, with NO PROBLEM. Today, Ben was volunteering to squirt the syringe into his mouth on his own. Not the best behavior to promote, I know, but I was so happy I could have cried.

Now, Ben is back to his usual scheming, whining, demanding self. He and I are staying home to hopefully hinder the spread of this bug. But, good luck. I mean, he got it from someone, somewhere. Now, I'm not saying some other parent sent a sick kid to preschool. I'm just saying in three years of NOT attending preschool, my kid never got sick.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Little Darlings

My children are friendly, outgoing, engaging... but that can also border on obnoxious, offensive, and embarrassing. It's not the kind of behavior we foster at home, but it must be in the genes, because they never miss an opportunity to speak up and to act out. Here are some recent gems spewed by my angels:

We were in the car, on the way to a picnic at the home of some friends, when I ran down the rules of decorum and pleaded with the children, "Please don't embarrass yourselves, and don't embarrass me." Amanda asked, "Can we embarrass Dad, then?" During the first 45 minutes we were there, Benjamin screamed at all the children in the bounce house: "Guys, just STOP JUMPING!" Amanda asked three times for something to drink and/or eat. Elisabeth asked for two drinks. Madeline pooped on Todd's lap. Ben wet his pants.

Benjamin: "Mom, why do you have all those red lines in your eyes?"

Elisabeth (making jewelry at her birthday party): "Give me those beads! It's MY BIRTHDAY!"

Amanda (making jewelry at the birthday party): "Isn't someone going to take these pliers away from me before I accidentally kill myself?!"

Elisabeth: "Does everyone get long hairs in their nose like that?"

Amanda (on being reprimanded in class the first week of school): "I was so excited, I just couldn't control myself! You know how I get, Mom."

Friday, September 11, 2009

Support This Bag Lady by Sept. 13

Some of you already know about Bagolitas, a small business begun by Todd's high school friend and now my adult friend, Janice. I use Bagolitas bags myself, I buy them to give as gifts, and I keep a link to the business website on this blog. Obviously, I want to support my friend. I also think they are cute, quality products. Above all, I love how the company gives back to its community and its country.

Over the past four years, her business has grown from Janice sewing custom handbags in her basement to a full-fledged company, with consultants and parties nationwide, a website, and, above all, a dedication to help others. This is something I have always admired about founder and friend, Janice. So, when this opportunity arose, I wanted to help. Plus, I kind of owe it to Janice. You see, I attended her first home party in my area back in year one and I asked, "I'll buy a purse, but can you make me one without all that girly fringe around the top?" That "girly fringe" is the signature of Bagolitas style, so asking the question was similar to kicking Janice in the gut. But, Janice handled it with class and style, and proceeded to construct for me the world's only "plain" Bagolita.

Anyway, Bagolitas has an opportunity to be featured on NBC's "Today" show, which is teaming up with American Express to honor small businesses doing great things. The owners submit their stories for the Shine-A-Light promotion, but the winners are chosen based on the number of fans who endorse their stories. There are cash prizes and, of course, the recognition, all of which I know Janice and the folks at Bagolitas would use to do great things. If you feel so inclined, please click here, read the profile, and log in to endorse the story.

I admit, it is a little more than a one-click process; you must register and agree to some terms, but it would be so worth it to see Bagolitas recognized as a Shining Light. Act quickly and spread the word-- the deadline is September 13. Thanks.

McMovies and McGenders

Thing Three, Thing Four and I went on the monthly pilgrimage to Costco and then stopped at Daddy's office to take him to lunch. I was surprised when Todd suggested McDonald's. For how much he eats out, Todd really does not like fast food. And he really does not like McDonald's. I, on the other hand, really do like fast food, and though Mac & Crack is kind of on the bottom of the fast food chain (in my estimation just above Taco Bell,) I do like it, too.

Anyway, once we arrived at the McDonald's down the road from Todd's workplace, I saw why he liked to go there. This is an upscale McDonald's. Yes, Todd could still get his "bacon ranch salad or whatever it's called" and Benjamin ordered his typical "hamburger with cheese." (He won't eat a cheeseburger.) But this joint had wood-beamed, coffered ceilings, actual cloth upholstery on the booths, and a central lounge area, with leather seating, a gas fireplace, and flat-screen televisions with surround sound playing a movie. Sure enough, Daddy and Ben parked themselves front and center, while I alternated shoveling bites into each of their gape-mouthed, "WALL-E"-watching faces.

There was just the one Happy Meal issue. McD's is in one of those phases where the Happy Meal toys are different for boys and girls. I learned long ago to have my kids look at the marketing signs before they order and just tell me which thing they want, and then I try to get all the same. Today, Ben pointed to the sign aimed at his gender and said, "I want that, because it's for boys, and I am a boy." Thank goodness, he does know that. In a house full of girls, I sometimes wonder. But, the relief was short-lived. After he finished his meal, I opened the Hot Wheels toy car and handed it to Ben. He looked up at me, confused, and asked, "What is this, anyway?"

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Inside the Box

At my class this morning, one of the other women asked me my kids' ages. I rattled off, "Seven, five, three, and four months," but then I corrected myself, "Wait! She's SIX today!" My babies' birthdays do sneak up on me, though this one should not have, since Elisabeth has been asking me for two weeks, "Did you really not get me any birthday presents?"

I waited till yesterday to wrap them, and I did Todd's at the same time. This morning, Libby spied the piles and asked, "Is that big one for me?" I responded, "No, it's for Daddy, but all those are for you." Elisabeth did not believe me, accused me of tricking her, called me a liar. Where did that box come from? What was inside the box? Was the box truly meant for Daddy? Why was it wrapped in High School Musical paper? (All we had.) I said, "Libby, you didn't even ask for anything that would come in that large of a box," (which was true.) But she retorted, "Well, I would like a Barbie Dream House and that would fit in that kind of box." But, tee, hee, hee, the Barbie Dream House was hidden away upstairs. Me and the Mister assembled it last night. I did the first half, and he took over once the swearing began.

Elisabeth actually squealed with delight when she saw the huge toy. I don't believe I've ever heard her respond to anything that way. I know it's just a thing... but it was such fun for all of us-- for about four minutes. Then, the wailing began when Amanda declared she had "broken" the elevator on Libby's new house. Both girls were in tears by the time Daddy came to the rescue. He was able to make the repair, but not before Amanda slunk off in search of arsenic.

The drama subsided and we sat down to a family birthday dinner. I have continued my mother's tradition of making for supper whatever the birthday celebrant requests. Actually, my mom still does that for us on our birthdays. Except this year, for me, she didn't. If I remember correctly, she made my brother's favorite meal on my birthday. That doesn't make her old and forgetful-- I think she just likes him better. Anyway, Libby requested pancakes and sausage for her birthday supper. And, who doesn't like a little brinner now and then? The only problem with this "now" is the "then." The girls had pancakes and sausage for their school lunch yesterday, and I also made it as the ceremonial first-day-of-school supper on Tuesday. So, Mrs. Butterworth is doing overtime in the Krinkeland kitchen. The other exciting thing about supper was that Todd, after biting into a chunk of fresh pineapple, declared he thought it was tainted with cyanide and then asked me whether his tongue was turning black. Ah, good birthday times.

We had the called-for Dairy Queen ice cream cake for dessert. Libby actually threw in that request at prayer time last night. And it had to be a Hannah Montana Dairy Queen ice cream cake. I stopped when the store opened this morning and they first told me "no way" could they make it the same day. But, seeing the panic on my face, they decided to make an exception. All three older children cheered for the cake; then, each took approximately three bites, declared "done!" and ran back to the doll house. The more interesting part of that segment of the evening was after we got done singing and told Libby to make a wish. That girl sat for so long, as the flames burned on. Finally, she blew with all her might. I so wonder what she wished for.

Oh, I forgot to mention I delivered birthday treats to Elisabeth's class this afternoon. There is just nothing better than a gaggle of kindergartners stuffed full of cake.

Thanks to everyone for their well wishes today. Elisabeth truly felt like the princess she is. Oh, and one more congratulatory cheer for my SIL Kristin. She finally got up the guts to take her anesthetist boards and passed. That means she can now officially start passing gas.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Easy Breathing

So, I began my new exercise program this week. I had my first session of "boot camp" on Tuesday at 6 a.m. I was going on three hours' total sleep, it was still dark out, my workout clothes felt tight, and I couldn't figure out how to open my water bottle. On the way there, I was delayed by a whole fleet of fire trucks and the world's longest train-- both signs from God, I am certain. All that pretty much set the stage for fun.

I had a feeling I would be the fattest, flabbiest, most out-of-shape person there... and I was right. I've been on the planet too long to feel embarrassed by any of that. I just kept thinking the others were paying to be there, too (though I looked at them and I couldn't figure out why they were there-- if I looked that good, I'd be back home in bed,) and I didn't want to hold them up, or to hinder the challenge of their workouts. The trainer was very nice and helpful, and I managed to do some modified version of all the exercises the others did, if more sluggishly and with fewer reps. Plus, I did not die.

I did, however, go to the clinic this morning, to get a new prescription for an inhaler. I was diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma way back during my college days. I treated it religiously for about five years. Then, I changed attacks and decided to self-medicate, namely, to stop moving. Being sedentary caused very few asthma attacks. I saw a wonderful, young physician's assistant, also an asthmatic, who set me up until I can get in to see the specialist.

However, I doubt I will ever see the p.a. again, because, after examining me, she began fawning over my baby and telling me how much she wanted one of her own. Then, she explained it hadn't happened yet, because she hasn't been able to convince her boyfriend of 11 years to give her a ring. I said, "Honey, 11 years may be a sign. If he wanted to marry you, I think he would have done it by now." Her kind and helpful demeanor changed at that point, so I took my prescription and my baby, and walked. (I would have run, but I didn't yet have the inhaler.)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First Day Jitters (Mine!)

Well, we got everyone off to school this morning, and it was easier than I anticipated. It probably helped that I was actually awake and getting ready before the children, due to my first day of "boot camp." That's a story for a different post.

I was really worried after spending part of the night up with Benjamin and part up with Elisabeth. Ben started screaming around 2 a.m., just after the entire city fire department sped by his bedroom window. And, I have to ask, were you fighting middle-of-the-night traffic on our residential street, or is it just really fun to blare the sirens? Then, Libby got up around 3:30 and whispered in my ear, "Mom, I have a 'seal cough.'" I had not heard her coughing, certainly nothing that sounded like croup. But, I got her a drink and a cough drop and then wrapped us both in a quilt so we could cuddle on the porch in the cool, night air. I think she needed one last bit of mommy time.

But, the three older children all awoke at reasonable times and were excited to get dressed. Then, they all bounced their way through breakfast, school bag preparation, shoes and hair, and out the door. Amanda was her usual excitable self, hardly standing still for pictures and calling to her friends as she boarded the bus. Elisabeth bounded right behind her sister, though they did sit together for the first stretch of the trip. I volunteered to meet buses at the public elementary school, to help funnel the private school kids onto their shuttle. By transfer time, Amanda had changed bus seats to be with her friends, and Libby also found classmates with whom to sit.

Some of the other mothers followed the shuttle bus to school, but I figured my kids had it down, especially after Amanda vowed to walk Libby to her kindergarten classroom, "but only for three days." When we met for coffee later, however, a couple mothers commented how grown-up and confident Elisabeth looked, making her way solo to her room. I'm guessing the big sister ditched her at the second grade hallway turn-off.

Even Benjamin was ready to go. He was pretty calm all morning, and nothing really changed when we got to preschool. After a few photos, Ben walked into his room, found his name tag, and wandered off into the play area. I gave him a couple minutes and then walked over to say goodbye. Ben had just pulled a box of blocks off the shelf and he turned to me, his eyes suddenly welling up. "What's wrong, Honey?" I asked, fearing we were on the brink of a total meltdown. "Don't go, yet, Mommy!" Ben implored. "First, I need you to put these blocks on the table. They're too heavy for me."

After that drop-off, I met some other mothers at the coffee shop, and witnessed the tell-tale signs. We were supposed to be "celebrating" the first day of school, but I looked at one friend and thought, "What's wrong? Is she sick? Did she just wake up? Why do her eyes look so funny?" Nope, she'd been crying. Another friend confessed she drove her son to school because he'd overslept, and then she stood in the doorway to the kindergarten room and halfheartedly encouraged, "You go in and have a good day now, I mean, if you want to." Quite a few moms admitted sneaking out the back entrance of school, because they felt foolish being so emotional.

I really did not find it so hard to hold it together, but that was probably because my children seemed to have such an easy time going. Grandpa was at our house painting when I brought Ben home. Grandpa asked over lunch, "Were any kids sad today at school?" Ben said, yes, one boy cried. "Did you tell him it was OK?" Grandpa asked. "Did you tell him school is fun and his mommy would be back soon?" Ben replied, "No, I said, 'Quit crying, Doofus!'"

Of course, I'm wondering every minute what they're doing and whether they're OK. I do want to raise independent people. It just feels as though it's happening a little too quickly.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Plug Problem

As you already know, Madeline is the only one of my children to have a pacifier. All in all, I would say it is a great invention that gets the Krinkeland seal of approval. I mean, I don't think Maddy is one of those babies who can't live without one, but it is kind of nice, especially when it's time for her to sleep. I just lay her down and plug her in. Until last night.

Madeline has a new game. It goes like this: Mommy puts the pacifier in her mouth; Maddy pulls it out with one hand, then transfers it to the other; Maddy tries to put the pacifier back in her mouth, but can't get the right angle or the right part; Maddy cries. After skipping her last nap of the day, Madeline went to bed early last night, so I wasn't surprised when she woke up shortly after 3 a.m. to eat. I returned her to her crib around 3:35, and that's when the game began.

Madeline tortured herself over and over again. I tried to hold the pacifier in her mouth, but she swatted away my hands with hers. I tried to hold her hands to keep them away from her mouth, but she acted as though I was hurting her. I turned on her mobile and her fishy light to distract her. I even gave her one of those little lovey blankets, because she loves to rub soft things against her face, to occupy her hands. Nothing worked.

The plug-in-plug-out-crying game continued for more than 90 minutes. I started thinking, "Well, I should just pick her up and feed her again, because it's soon that time," when Madeline surrendered. It was a full-body flop, with arms and legs splayed against the mattress, eyes scrunched shut, and lips tightly holding that pacifier in place. I know, because I stood there and watched it happen.

So, can I teach Madeline to put her pacifier back in her mouth? (I did not teach her how to take it out.) Or should I just try to get rid of the thing now? Do those things come with directions? See, I'm like a first-time mom with this pacifier thing. When it falls to the ground or a grubby sibling gets hold of it, I even insist on washing the pacifier before putting it back in Madeline's mouth.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Sound of Silence

When I was a kid, my mom didn't like to have the radio on in the car. When I got to that age where I knew everything, I remember thinking, "It's so sad-- the music has died for Mom." When my friends and I asked, she would roll her eyes, but would turn on whatever pop station we requested, and, though Mom was constantly monitoring the volume, she would end up listening to the same four songs, over and over again, because that is what we loved.

I have always loved music. I sang in choirs in high school and college. I've done my share of music theater. I worked in radio for a while. Even now, given the chance for a night out, (ha!) I would always choose to go hear live music.

But this evening, I was out on an errand to finish birthday shopping for our soon-to-be six-year-old. I reached out for the radio button, but then I stopped. The quiet of the empty car was so nice. I sometimes tell Todd the thing I'm most jealous of in his work day is his commute-- some time alone in the car, time to think, silence. Of course, in Todd's car, it's never silent. He spends his drive time with talk radio yammering in one ear and his cell phone in the other. But, me, I'm typically driving a full bus-- and it's full of screeching, questions, whining, vacation bible school soundtracks, make-believe, and Hannah Montana lyrics.

As with so many aspects of motherhood, I now understand what was up with my mom. I still love music, as does she, but now we both appreciate the silence. However, when my kids are preteens and I become the chauffeur for them and their friends, I will always have the radio on. I intend to BLAST Prince and Def Leppard and Chicago, and I WILL SING ALONG.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Just Another Day in Paradise

We've had some fun-filled days here in Krinkeland, trying to cram in all the excitement we can before school begins again.

Thursday, I had a few friends and their kids over for an afternoon play date. The weather was beautiful, so we spent it on the beach. As you parents know, it can be a bit nerve-wracking to have small children involved in water play. In addition to each of us moms promising to keep our eyes on our own kids, we agreed to do periodic head counts of all the children-- just to be safe. The official head count: 17 kids, aged 10 and under.

Friday, aaallllll day, was spent at the State Fair. The kids loved it. Todd loved it. Grandma and Grandpa and Grandpa loved it. I survived it. I am still blowing out gray snot and had to hose down absolutely everything that and everyone who came in contact with the fairgrounds. But, again, the weather was beautiful, the crowds were tolerable, the food was plentiful, and I don't have to return for a whole year.

To top it all off, we added a hotel stay. We had one of those credit card bonuses for a free room that was about to expire, so, we cashed in some points for a second room. (I know I'm a Mommy Diva on this count, but I don't know how families with young children all stay in one hotel room. No one must sleep.) The joint was a bit too upscale for a clan with four little kids, but we broke it in well. Boy, did the young 'uns enjoy the heavenly beds, the saltwater pool, and the huge plasma TV. We did not give them a key to the mini bar. With a combined formula of extra-comfy beds and fair exhaustion, everyone did sleep well-- UNTIL 6:29 a.m. when Benjamin let out a cry. Todd hopped up and ran through the door to the adjoining room. The crying stopped, but soon I heard a whimper, "My shirt is wet, too," followed by running water and lots of scrubbing, lots. I had to investigate. Ben was standing in the bathroom, naked, getting a good wash down from Dad, as he announced to me, "I fell in the toilet." Of course, he did.

When we returned home today, I began to climb the mountain of laundry, and the little ones napped. Then, spying the afternoon sunshine and counting down the hours till the snow flies, we abandoned the chores and hit the beach again. Todd and Uncle Ted took the kids on a boat ride, complete with tubing and swimming in the middle of the lake. As the sun began to set, we finally dragged our wet, weary, sand-in-the-cracks bodies inside to heat up some leftovers for supper.

Now, all are in bed, the last load of laundry is in the dryer, and I have a cold Diet Dew by my side. It just doesn't get much better than this.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fairest of the Fair

There are two types of people in the world: those who love the state fair and those who hate the state fair. I am the latter. My husband is the former. Today, we are at the fair.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Church of Love and Hugs

From time to time, we get this kind of advertisement in the mail. The first couple instances, I was somewhat appalled. Then, I just started ignoring them. This one, however, really caught my eye... and Todd hung it up on the refrigerator. I'm going to make the photo as large as possible so you can study the details. What is it, you ask? This is a calling card for a CHURCH.

Some years ago, I coined the oh-so-clever but politically incorrect phrase "the church of love and hugs." In my world, this refers to one of those new age, non-denominational, our-doors-are-always-open-but-brace-yourselves-for-what's-inside kind of places where people carry on activities that are more like high school pep fests than what most of us think of as church services.

On one hand, what's the harm? Isn't it better that people are going to church, any church, gathering in the name of God, getting to know one another on a spiritual level, and reaching out for the common good? On the other hand, what if this goes too far? I fear that outrageous attempts to be welcoming and all-encompassing can be detrimental to the "church" community, to society as a whole. There may be a blurring of the lines between acceptable and unacceptable, tasteful and tawdry, right and wrong, moral and amoral. I would not argue that my church is perfect, or that any church is perfect. As my dad always says, "The church is human." But, does not this ad play on the emotions of the darker side of humanity? Did Jesus die on the cross to deliver us to "loud music, short services, casual atmosphere?"

The back side of the card encourages, "If a church experience has never been a part of your life, consider visiting us." It goes on to describe the dynamic multimedia experience, and it encourages visitors to dress casually in jeans or shorts. And, here, I've had the opposite approach. I've encouraged my church-going children to dress up and to sit quietly, OUT OF RESPECT FOR THE LORD.

Maybe I have it all backward. Maybe this is my intolerant side rearing its ugly head again. Maybe I'd feel differently if I visited this "church." However, when I look at this advertisement, I am reminded of two main reasons why this "church" is not for me: "No Perfect People Allowed"-- well, I'm out right there; and "Thank God for Sex"-- whatever.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

From the "Where Are They Now?" File

Time for some updates:

*Our friend, Chuck, is out of the ICU, but remains hospitalized, healing from the acute pancreatitis that ravaged his body. Say a prayer of thanksgiving, and keep him, wife Lisa and daughter Grace in thought.
*My adorable nephew Oliver is, thank God, the healthiest and most adorable little boy around. At 15 months, he crawls like lightning and stands when no one is looking, but refuses to walk. We all know he is capable, just testing us. To all who ask about him from time to time, I say, "Thank you" and "What a difference a year makes."
*Benjamin is slated to begin adaptive physical education, 30 minutes a week, this fall. This will be one-on-one, as is his physical therapy which will be cut to once a month. The goal is to continue to build strength, balance, and tone in Ben, so he can "catch up" to boys his age.
*Madeline has continued to sleep through the night, for varying lengths of time. The longest to date was, unfortunately, last night at a good 10.5 hours. I say "unfortunately" because yesterday we had a little "incident" that involved a fall for our dear baby, who was strapped into her car seat at the time. She screamed her head off, but soon calmed when comforted (until I accidentally set off the car alarm and started her screaming again.) It's still too fresh and scary to go into the details... But, I examined Madeline using my mom-of-four medical certificate and found no signs of trauma or head injury. Still, when she slept for TEN-AND-A-HALF HOURS, I became convinced she had a concussion. When Sleeping Beauty did decide to wake, she was her usual delightful self.
*The deck is still not complete, but the remaining parts arrived today, and I finally met our UPS man because I had to sign for the delivery. (Usually, he is halfway up the driveway in a dead sprint before I get to the front door.)
*The bike helmet we got Ben last summer does not fit on his head. I don't mean the fitting needs to be adjusted; I mean, I cannot cram the thing on Ben's head.
*I signed up for a boot camp with one of the trainers at the gym. I am already regretting it, but I am sick of carrying around extra baby weight, and I no longer have an excuse. I'm telling all of you because the confession makes it more real and will force me to stick to it.
*Ben has taken up some new sayings, namely: "You're driving me crazy!" "Don't make me come over there!" "What did I tell you?" and "Aaargh! This is giving me a headache!"
*I just walked past the older girls and Amanda greeted me, "Hi, Mom." Elisabeth followed with, "Hi, Mom, or, would you prefer it if we called you 'Mumsy?'"

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

School Daze

We are exactly one week from the first day of school in Krinkeland. While I am certainly ready to get back into some semblance of a routine, believe it or not, I am not actually ready to get rid of my children. I'll have Amanda and Elisabeth in school full-time, and even Benjamin is slated for preschool two mornings a week. None of that seems possible, especially since Ben still eats baby food and Libby just last week learned to walk. At least, that's the way it feels to me.

My nephew, Kazmer, had his first day of kindergarten today. It was kind of the best of both worlds for me-- all the excitement with none of the anxiety. Still, he's not even my child, and Kaz's day consumed my thoughts. I wondered what he was doing at different times, whether he'd warmed up and talked to anyone, whether he'd shared his sweet smile. I had to be at his house when Kazmer got home from school. He was like, "What's the big deal, Auntie? Leave me be and let me play."

This evening, we took Elisabeth to her kindergarten orientation. Though I suspect she will have a harder time than her older sister adjusting to school life, even Libby took off without a backward glance for her practice bus ride with the principal. Libby was so excited to meet her teacher-- the same one Amanda had-- and she was happy that she already knew some of the kids in her class. (It's really nice to no longer be a "new" family at school.)

So, the uniform shirts are embroidered. The new shoes are laced. The backpacks are hanging on hooks by the door. We even made a special grocery excursion for lunch box goodies. There will always be more items on the to-do list, but, mostly, we are "ready" for school. My mom always talks about being excited for her kids when we would enter new stages in our lives. I am excited for my children-- I'm just kind of sad for me.