Thursday, August 25, 2011

First First Day

Before I say anything else I have to thank you guys for all the support you offered after I posted my back-to-school worries. It is one of the handful of times (others - parties/holidays!) that I get really on the verge of panic over the food allergy situation. I know that I'm not a big target in the bloggy world - but you should see the kinds of comments that often pop up on allergy articles/blogs. Let's just say many of them are less than supportive. It means more than I can say that all I got was care and concern from my lovely webby friends.

I don't know that many of them read here, but I also have to say that the parents of Harper's friends have stepped up in a HUGE way this week so that she had someone (or two someones!) to sit with every day (at her peanut free table). The whole, "It takes a village," thing has never felt so true.

Harper herself was a complete wreck on Monday, the day before school. She was whiny and weepy and cycled from thinking first grade would be awesome to first grade would be awful about 368 times throughout the day. By lunch time I was hearing the siren song of boarding school. Because it (fortunately) doesn't happen too often, I kind of forget that this is how my dear girl works out her anxiety.

Are you surprised that everything has actually gone really, really well? :-)

All summer long I heard Harper say she didn't want to go to first grade because she loved kindergarten so much and didn't want to leave it. I had a hunch it would only take about five minutes in first grade for that feeling to dissipate and I was correct.

Harper, so far, is very chatty and forthcoming about her school day - especially if I don't press her about it all at once. She will wander in and out of the kitchen, dropping details like breadcrumbs, as I get dinner ready or do some cleaning up - I love it. And I LOVE what I'm hearing about what they are doing in school - I think she was placed with a great teacher for her personality and I hope Mrs. B is enjoying Harper even half as much as Harper is enjoying her!

We are so lucky.

File this under a problem I never thought I'd have...
Harper has suddenly decided that she loves reading more than TV (which is a huge turn-around, that child was TV obsessed by the time she was 18 mos. old). This, of course, is not a bad development but it comes with some unexpected (for me) issues. The primary one being that she keeps disappearing into her room in the morning  to "get ready" or going down the hall to brush her teeth, then, when I check on her, she is just sitting on her couch and reading instead of whatever task I sent her to do!

I have actually contemplated whether we're going to need a, "No Reading Before School," rule, to go with the, "No TV Before School," rule - how crazy is that?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Big Sigh

Okay, so, Tuesday is the first day of school. The first day of first grade. Which means our first experience with all day school and lunch at school. Lunch in the school cafeteria where peanut butter and jelly is a menu choice every single day. Deep breath.

I'm going to do my allergy fretting/freak out right now in an attempt to let go of it before that first day.

The people at Harper's school have been great partners in this endeavor - setting up a peanut free table and making time for the children to wash their hands after lunch before going back to the nut free classroom. Harper will always have her EpiPens with her for any time that those other precautions aren't enough. Still, it is going to be mighty difficult to let her go and trust that everything is going to be okay.

Some people with food allergies have to ingest their allergen to have a reaction - others can react from the presence of their allergen in the air. Harper, to the best of our knowledge, falls somewhere in between these two extremes. We know she has had contact reactions in the past - so she is affected by merely touching peanut residue - hence the table and the hand washing. One frustrating question I have repeatedly been asked, by very well-intentioned people, is how far away Harper has to stay from peanut butter to be safe. I don't know the answer to this - since we have spent much of the last five years avoiding peanuts as thoroughly as possible. You can imagine, then, why it feels so crazy to send her into an environment where she'll be sort of surrounded by people eating peanut butter on a daily basis.

Every allergic family has a different comfort zone based on a combination of instinct, medical advice, and personal experience. On the spectrum our comfort zone is pretty tight.  We proceed with fairly extreme caution in most circumstances and are constantly weighing the desire not to limit Harper's life with the desire to keep her safe. (We're really all doing that all the time, aren't we?)

Preschool, kindergarten, each new step has felt terrifying - but we survived.

First grade is next - I guess it is time to take a deep breath and jump.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wish List

Some things I would like, in no particular order*:

-a cure for food allergies

-my children to get along w/out screaming for more than 5 minutes at a stretch

-the ability to function on 4 hours of sleep or less (w/ no physiological/psychological effects)

-if my kids aren't going to eat what I prepare for them, I'd at least like them to stop preparing speeches about why they don't want to eat a particular item

-self-cleaning floors

-to know the right answer to the work vs. stay-at-home question (for our family)

-to recognize the right job opportunity when it presents itself

-a successful school year for my children

-a modest lottery win

(*This should not be considered a comprehensive list.)

And you?

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Well Then

Not so long ago I was in the library with the children. I think it was during one of the summer puppet shows (Michael was not a fan) because I was reading with Michael in the children's room while Harper attended the show. That day we happened to be reading Biscuit books.

As Michael and I were reading and discussing the pictures, an adorable little girl kept edging closer and closer, clearly interested in our story/conversation. At the conclusion of one book I asked her, "Do you like Biscuit?  We're big Biscuit fans in our house."

She smiled at me and said, "My mother says they're twaddle."


Um, I mean Biscuit stories aren't intricate but they are beginning readers so they really aren't supposed to be. They are sweet and easy to read to a squirrelly three-year-old who can feel competent as he chimes in to familiar sentences.

This little girl could not possibly have been more than five. It made me wonder what her bookshelf at home looks like... What else does her mother consider twaddle?

I can't argue that Biscuit books will go down in history as some of the greatest-ever contributions to children's literature, but I will happily allow my children to enjoy them for as long as they'd like.

Do you know Biscuit? Is my pointed disdain for Barbie books the same as this girl's mother calling Biscuit twaddle?

Please discuss!

Also, twaddle, I kind of like that word. I'm quite certain I'd never typed it before today.

Monday, August 08, 2011

My Children Are Not in This Post...

-but my siblings are!

For some reason I have posted very little about any of the fun things we've done this summer (outside of my brother's wedding, and the usual, local stuff). Have I mentioned the fact that I spent not a single June weekend at home?

I think I was feeling a little extra, I don't know, cautious (?) about advertising our various trips away from home. Because so many of you readers are likely to run over and steal our one or two valuable possessions when we flee the coop?

Anyway, we've had a lot of good times this year and I wanted to share some of them before September descends, and then it will be holiday time, and before you know it we'll be taking NEXT summer's trips... ahem.

Back in June Matt and I were fortunate enough (let's here it for in-laws!) to attend my cousin Andrew's wedding in Wisconsin - without the children. There were various reasons for going child-free, one of them being the 10 or so hour drive we had to make on Friday, then again on Sunday.

One of the best parts of the weekend was having time with my siblings and all of our significant others...

I'm related to the blond people.

Here are Andrew and Marika leaving the ceremony:

At the reception, my sister and I got in some good time with our goddaughters. For several years we were the only four female grandchildren out of twenty. Now there are twenty-one grandchildren and five are girls. (Quick rundown of the family history - two boy grandchildren were born, then me, then my sister, then 12 boys, then Nicole was born 18 years to the day after my sister, then Natalie came along, then two more boys, then the youngest, Nora, who is younger than my son Michael. Got that?)

I think my eyes get progressively squinty-er as the night went on - due to excessive drinking dancing.

Aw - it's my mom and dad! You know what's great about having a wedding reception in the hotel you are staying in? Dad can run to the room and put his jeans on after dinner. We're classy like that in Wisconsin... some situations just call for party pants.

The other nice thing about the reception location = hotel was that Matt (who planned on driving Sunday) could choose to go back to the room and sleep after the reception, while I took the party bus with my dad (and assorted other family members) to a college bar to keep the dancing going into the next day. True story. I totally forgot that I am in my mid-thirties, and no one told my dad he's going to be 60 this year, we just kept right up with the young whippersnappers.

The above picture might be my favorite of the entire weekend - the bride, post-post-reception bar run, ordering pizza from their college after-bar hangout. And in case you're curious, yes I also had a slice at about 1:30 in the morning. It was great fun!

(It was less fun when Matt woke me up at 5:25 a.m. later that morning and asked me if I could sleep in the car while he drove.)
My liver respectfully requests that we bring the children to most future weddings and act in a manner more becoming for people of our age...

Sunday, August 07, 2011

End of the Summer

Whew - every time I sit down to post these days I can't believe how much time has slipped away. When the summer began I was nervous about how we would get through all of these unstructured days but we've been so busy that the handful of unstructured days we've had have felt like pleasant little breaks (well, except for the many many minutes my kids spend screaming at each other and refusing to clean up their messes).

Tomorrow we begin two more weeks of swimming lessons for Harper (four for Michael, but he only goes twice per week). The week Harper's swimming ends, school beings!

So I'm spending the next two weeks gathering and filling out forms, getting doctors' signatures, labeling supplies, etc., as well as spending plenty of time shuttling kids to swimming lessons, parks, the library, and maybe one more zoo trip.

Is your summer going out with a bang or a whimper?