Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Oh Dear

First of all thank you for all of your suggestions accompanying my last post. I will try to remember to update you when we actually take action on any of those items. Right now the nesting/cleaning out has slowed because the plague going around these parts finally landed on our house.

Matt was sick at the beginning of the week and is finally back at work today, though he may have to work from home this afternoon if I don't feel like I can pick Harper up from school. I can officially say that he was totally justified in acting miserable, now that I have been felled by the same bug. I cannot wait for my OB's office to open so I can call to find out which drugs I am allowed to take in some attempt at relief, although I'm afraid I'm not going to like the answer. In case you are wondering the specifics of this virus are fever, sore throat, coughing, headache, and feeling like you might have whiplash. Fun!

I am totally kicking myself because I told several people yesterday that surely Harper and I would be feeling sick already if we were also going to get it and it looked like we had dodged this one. I started to eat my words around 5:30 last night. And now I'm thinking I should basically never be allowed to speak again.

I was also all set to write more about school, which is going swimmingly for Harper, but instead I should probably go get her ready. Don't worry, she is not symptomatic (yet) or I wouldn't send her. And, for some unknown reason, they are off tomorrow so she'll have time to get sick and get better before things start up again on Monday.

I'll be back when sitting up makes me feel a little less like my head is going to fall off.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Thoughts/Questions Re: Organization, Finances, and Donations

Okay Internet types, I need your help!

Item the First: Organization

Littlest's due date seems to be approaching at a fast and furious rate since we turned the corner into 2008. As a result we are in the thick of rearranging and shifting to move Harper into the "guest" room and spiffy up the "nursery" for the next kiddo. Not surprisingly this has turned into cleaning out many of the spaces throughout the house. We have a bunch of rarely used sleeping bags on a shelf in the family room closet and they are being demoted to the basement. So do we store them in large trash bags (which has me thinking, "Ew! They will be so accessible to bugs and mice, and moisture.") or do we invest in a couple of humongous plastic bins and store them thusly? Past experience has me inclined to vote for bins, but Matt, the more frugal of us except in the part of his brain that desires a Wii, says trash bags. Thoughts? Opinions?

Item the Second: Finances

Okay, to call this a financial question is probably a little extreme, sorry. Here's the thing - I live in a pretty constant state of fear that Blogger will go kerfluey and all these stories of mine will be lost. Which may not be a tragedy to the world at large, but would make me sad because of all the hours lost, all the memories that won't be as vividly recalled, and I think that Harper might get a kick out of reading this stuff someday. I have recently learned about a service that allows you to download blog content into a template and have it printed as a book. I know we are in the digital age and all, but I would feel so relieved to have a copy of all of this that I could hold in my hands. So my question is: Do you think it's worth it to pay for something like that? Would you do it, you know, if you were me? Or do you have another way of preserving things? I know I could cut and paste most of it into Word and save the files on a DVD, but it just doesn't translate well that way.

Item the Third: Donations

Inevitably, with all the aforementioned cleaning out and shifting we are doing, we are coming across a multitude of things that don't feel so much worth saving. Now some of it is in good shape and donating it seems like a no-brainer. But then there is an entire category of items that I just don't know what to do with. For example a Consumer Reports book about baby stuff that has been handed down several times and has a copyright of about 1999. Is that worth anything to anybody? Or am I just passing my problem along to the Salvation Army (or whoever) by donating it?

We recently took a bag of videos to a local library branch after Matt had called and asked if they could use them. He was told they would either catalog and use them or put them in their used "book" sale. However, when I showed up with the bag to drop them off, they were not well received. Oops.

I find outdated books, like the Consumer Reports thing and old textbooks, and video tapes the most troublesome. Can I recycle paperback items? Can I tear the pages out of hardcovers and just throw the covers away? Is there someone somewhere that might actually want my math methods for elementary school textbook from 1997? How about VHS copies of 37 different Disney movies? I don't know!!!

I should probably clarify by saying that I'm not looking to sell the stuff, I just want to avoid adding unnecessary junk to the landfill if it isn't just to someone else.

Your turn. Please use your collective wisdom to guide me. Or at least let me know if you are interested in my old textbooks.

Bowling Baby

A little while ago Matt and I decided Harper was old enough to appreciate the introduction of Family Night. Certainly we are not as busy as some families, but we are busy enough that it makes sense for us to schedule one night a week that is set aside for all of us to do something together. And whatever the activity, we all give it our total focus, no multi-tasking allowed. We've made Friday night our Family Night, and change it with very few exceptions.

Most of our family nights so far have consisted of popping popcorn and watching movies. We make popcorn and "yemonade!" and then all snuggle together on the couch as Harper asks questions and chats her way through one Disney movie or another. Watching movies together might not be the best choice for family bonding, but night life for three-year-olds is a little slim in these parts, especially mid-winter.

Last night we decided to try something different.

I should preface this by saying that, in his earlier life, Matt was a competitive bowler. A good competitive bowler. He owns his own ball and his own shoes He has actually bowled a 300 game.

I stink. I actually bowled a 27 once, and I wasn't trying to be funny. Matt and I have never been bowling together. Let's not talk about it.

Anyway, Matt has been excited to take Harper bowling for quite some time, while I have felt that age three is perhaps a little young for bowling. However, feeling, as we were, that we needed to have a family night that did not involve singing princesses, we made some phone calls to see if bowling was a viable option.

Much to my surprise, it was! So we bundled up and headed out into the cold Ohio winter to spend Family Night at a bowling alley.


I did not bowl myself last night. Given the fact that I am suddenly feeling very noticeably pregnant and having trouble not running into walls, running toward a slick lane in funky shoes while attempting to hurl a ten (or more) pound ball didn't seem like the best choice of activity. I appointed myself camera-operator and cheerleader for the evening.


Matt walked Harper up to the lane and showed her how to push the ball toward the pins. Do you know how long it takes a bowling ball pushed by a three-year-old to get all the way down the "yane"? A very. long. time.

Harper bowled the first frame, then watched Matt take a turn, and then didn't want anything else to do with it for a couple of frames. As with most things, we found it better not to force her, and after Matt had a couple of turns, she was interested again. By the end of the one game we played she was marching up to the ball-return, carrying the ball up to the lane, and pushing it all by herself.

So we'll call the first bowling outing a successful one!

And now for some video -

Harper's thoughts on bowling:

video

The final frame:




(I had to use Google for that last video because Blogger can only upload up to 100MB and the video was 102MB. I wish Blogger would have told me that to begin with when I tried to upload the thing!!! Instead I had to go look it up while the wheel that would seem to indicate progress just spun and spun and spun.)

Did you notice, if you watched to the end, that Matt was upset when he only knocked down eight pins? It happened once or twice, but I don't believe he ever knocked down fewer than eight on his first throw. Sheesh!

Did you notice that bowling shoes for even tiny children are just as hideous as the grown-up versions?

I'd also like to mention that I was so disappointed in the appearance of the "bumpers." I obviously haven't been bowling in quite some time. I remember them being like big inflatable tubes that went in the gutters, now they are just these little rails that pop up only for the child's turn. It's all computerized and stuff. I was hoping for more of an old school bowling experience. And I was also hoping that eventually, when I feel balanced enough to bowl again, I would also reap the benefits of the bumpers because I don't think the inflatable kind went up and down between one person's turn and the next.

Pending

I'm going to tease you to say that I am working on a post, with pictures and video, about bowling with a three-year-old. Blogger is being slow about uploading my exceedingly large video so you'll have to wait just a little longer to enjoy it. I think it will be worth the wait. Stay tunned.

(You are probably wondering why I even bothered writing this little nothing of a post at all. Here's the thing, it drives me crazy to know I have something to share with you and not be able to post it. Even if none of you are worried about when my next post is coming, I am, and I like to pretend you are.)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Further Thoughts on School

(The pictures in this post are a "honey train" that Harper made by linking her corn popper and a chair with a hula hoop. The train part I understand; the honey part? Not so much.)

It is Thursday evening which means we successfully survived the first week of preschool. And using the word survived is probably a little dramatic because, after the gut-wrenching tearing myself away from Harper the first day, it was pretty much smooth sailing. The whole experience became easier much more quickly than I expected.

I had fairly low expectations for what I would accomplish while Harper attended school this week, figuring I would be distracted and have a difficult time concentrating on much of anything.


Today I got out to do a couple of errands and then sat down in a local coffee shop for a little quiet time. I had my notebook with me (an actual paper notebook, not a notebook computer*) and I sat down to write a little which I obviously enjoy and getting to do it uninterrupted in the light of day is a real treat. I plan to give myself one of the school mornings each week to either read or write with a good cup of (decaf) coffee; at least until the baby comes because then, let's face it, I'll be lucky to get my hair brushed every day.

Writing, for me, has lots of therapeutic benefits and today, as I was working through all my feelings about Harper being in school, I kept getting all choked up. Of the two of us, I am by far having the more difficult time with the transition to preschool.


Sending Harper off to school has made me realize, in a completely new way, how little idea parents have about what goes on in school all day long. When I was a teacher I tried to communicate with the parents regularly. We had a newsletter every week. I sent lots of notes home (mostly about good/celebratory things and not just when there was a problem) and even tried to touch base by phone every so often. The last school I taught at had mandatory conferences three times a year and was a very open place in general so I saw many of the parents on a daily or at least weekly basis. And yet. . . so much happens in the course of a school day that I could never possibly communicate all of it, especially when you consider both the social and educational aspects of what is going on. Harper is only at school for two and a half hours and I feel like trying to figure out her day is akin to putting together a puzzle with only one-third of the pieces present.

I wouldn't have the first idea what to think about it if she were either less willing or less able to verbalize what goes on at school.


I always figured there would come a time when I didn't know every intimate detail of Harper's life. However I wasn't expecting it to hit until age thirteen or even adulthood. The idea that, from this point on, there will always be a part of Harper's life that is seperate from me made me so sad. I know that is what is supposed to happen eventually, from the moment they are born, parenting is about helping your children learn how to be apart from you.

It's just I really wasn't prepared for it to be this difficult.


*I would love to have a notebook computer, so if anyone out there wants to, um, sponsor my non-existent professional writing career by gifting one this way, by all means. . . Because I'm really quite certain the only thing standing between me and the piles of money I could make writing professionally is some sort of portable computer. Lack of talent? Lack of time? These are all issues that I'm pretty sure can be immediately rectified by a keyboard in a pretty package made by Apple. Right?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

First Day of School

Today was my baby's first day of school. Over the last couple of days, Harper has been alternately excited and worried about attending. The worried/not wanting to go voice was usually expressed if we mentioned anything about listening to her teachers or pulling up her own pants when she used the bathroom. . .

Come this morning she awoke bright and early and said she was scared about going to school but acted so, so excited. Here she is modeling her new backpack in the kitchen this morning:




And then a final shot of her outside the doors of her school.


The preschool is inside one of the local elementary schools, so it seemed like a big place to leave such a little person.
*******

Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~Elizabeth Stone

Until this morning I never fully appreciated the above quote. Harper was a little shy but didn't show any signs of distress until I actually got ready to walk out the door. The preschool teachers pick the children up outside the office, so I wasn't even able to go to the room with her. Once a teacher tried to take her hand and help her say goodbye to me, she fixed a monkey death grip on my coat and would not let go.

As a person with a long history of both teaching and babysitting, I knew that the very best thing I could do was to just leave. I knew that she was in good hands and would probably forget to miss me once she was in the room with toys and books and other children. I pried my coat free from her hands as Miss D got down to her level and suggested waving goodbye to me. One last kiss and a promise to be back soon and I was outside. I have never felt so much like my heart was being torn in half as when I saw Harper's huge eyes pleading with me through those glass doors, "Please don't leave me Mommy."

I burst into tears as soon as I turned to walk to the car.

I went to pick up hot chocolate and meet Matt's mom for the morning, knowing I would get nothing accomplished on Harper's first day of school, and not wanting to go home and cry for two hours until I could turn around and pick her up. I spent most of the time with my breath half held, waiting for them to call and tell me she was inconsolable and that I needed to come back and retrieve a child who was clearly not ready to come to school.

Of course that didn't happen and, eventually, I got back in my car and drove a long ten minutes back to school to pick up my little girl.

Harper ran over to me as soon as she saw me, a huge smile on her face, and exclaimed, "I had chocolate milk! And I peeled my orange myself! I had a great day!" And I was so flooded with relief that I almost began crying again right then and there.

As we drove home and ate lunch, these are some of the details I learned about Harper's day, in her words:

We cut out circles. I cut mine out all by myself, but a teacher helped me.

After snack time was book time.

We read Frosty the Snowman.

One of the kids is my best friend who really likes me. (Me: What is your friend's name?) I don't know.

I didn't cry at all.

I did everything my teachers asked me.

We yined (lined) up for bathroom time. Then we yined up on the wall when we were finished. Then we yined up for yeaving (leaving) time.

The number of the day was two and two. (That's twenty-two, I figured out after some discussion.)

My teacher is Miss J_. Hey! I remembered my teacher's name!

I hope we do the same stuff tomorrow.

*****

So I think we can safely call the first day a success. As we finished reading stories tonight and I got ready to tuck Harper into bed, she had some final thoughts about school. "Mommy," she said, "I was angry when you left me at school. I didn't tell my teachers or my friends but I felt angry with you." (Oh, just go right ahead and take my heart out!) "But tomorrow I will be happy when you leave because I really like my school."

Go ahead, I'll give you minute to catch your breath.

Here's hoping for another good day tomorrow.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Distracted

There are so many things I could write about tonight, not the least of which would be our fabulous weekend with Erin and Calum (go look at her great pictures of their visit!), but I simply can't concentrate because tomorrow we are sending Harper off to school.


Deep in my heart I know that Harper really needs this new level of interaction and emotional and intellectual engagement. I am 99.9% sure that school is going to be a wonderful experience for her.

But tonight?

Tonight I feel a little like I signed a contract to feed her to the wolves.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Baby Name Time

Who's ready to talk baby names?

This is the fun part, at least for me. For all you know, this coming baby is already named. Whether that's true or not, I'd still love to hear your input.

So here is what you know:

-the baby is a boy

-his sister's name is Harper

-that's about it

At this point I am not going to say anything about our preferences for traditional vs. nontraditional names. Let's just go ahead and pretend we have no preconceived qualifications for naming this little guy. I will say that our last name ends with and "s" sound so maybe a first name that also ends that way is not a great choice, otherwise it's wide open. Our last name is not difficult in terms of how it sounds in combination with other names.

I am looking for first and middle name suggestions!

Oh, and if you know us in a non-online way, make sure not to use our last name in the comments.

Go!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Dispatches from the Insane Asylum

First a disclaimer:

I am thrilled to be pregnant. Seriously. We wanted to have another baby and now we have a baby boy on the way and we'll be a family of four and I honestly think all of that is wonderful.

So having said that, I will reiterate that this pregnancy has come with a much larger bunch of crazy-inducing hormones that the first one did. Especially in the last couple of weeks I feel alternately weepy and hostile. What a fun combination! I know I have not been an easy person to live with, for Matt or Harper, and I'm not even crazy in any of the good second trimester ways (no frantic nesting here, just feeling frustrated with myself that I'm not doing it). I feel anxious and overwhelmed by all we have to do to get bedrooms switched and various other household areas in order before Littlest arrives, and yet I am about zero percent motivated to actually get up and do anything about them. Not to mention the laundry, cooking, cleaning up, dusting, vacuuming, etc. that I am running about seventeen steps behind on at any giving moment.

Sigh.

So.

Posting has been light because wouldn't it get old to hear that paragraph over and over and over again each day?

It is not that I'm crying or fuming during every single moment of my life, there are certainly days (hours/minutes) that are better than others.

On Saturday my diploma arrived in the mail, making me realize that I failed to ever appropriately celebrate here. Yay!!! I finished graduate school!

This Friday one of my dearest friends, Erin, will be headed here for a visit. I am so blessed to say that Erin has known and loved me long enough that it won't even matter to her that I am completely off my rocker right now. And it will be fun to watch Harper and Calum play together.

So we're alive over here, moving ahead, and there will be one more of us in a little less than four months. It could be worse.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Flashback


The above photo is Harper at about 2 1/2 months, taken in January of 2005. By July we'll be able to compare/contrast photos of Harper and Littlest. (Although, being a boy and a girl, they probably won't be quite as good as Erin's.) Won't that be fun?

Perhaps you are wondering where we've been? I could tell you that I made a resolution to update the blog only once a week in 2008, but that isn't actually the case.

It seems as though this pregnancy has come with a big batch of crazy hormones that I somehow side-stepped when I was pregnant with Harper. That, or being pregnant and having a three-year-old makes you crazy. Either way I've been having a hard time figuring out how to write without spewing very personal boatloads of insanity all over the Internet. I try to be fairly candid on this blog, but I feel there are some things that are just a little too personal or may go beyond the boundaries of what my family is comfortable having shared online.

So how are you?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Ringing in 2008

Hello from cold, snowy Wisconsin, where we've spent the last week eating well and relaxing at Mugga and Grandpa's condo. We drove up last Thursday and it snowed a good six inches on Friday; perfect timing, as we would not have wanted to be driving in that.


Mugga was a great sport and took Harper out in the snow to catch snowflakes and try to keep boots on in the deep, deep snow (well, it's deep, deep snow for us Ohio folks).


Tomorrow morning we'll pile, with all our holiday goodies, back in the car, and head for home and the realities of 2008.

Many wonderful things are in store for us in the next year, particularly Baby Boy's arrival, and - sheesh! - we have a lot to do to get ready for the changes. Most of what needs to happen has been conveniently put off by saying, "Oh, we'll get to that after the holidays of course."

Time to get to work!