Wednesday, January 30, 2013

An Explanation

So, I know I haven't been very good lately about posting. Ok, so my posts have been pretty sparse for the last few months. I'm sorry about that. If you're a loyal reader of this blog (and I know there aren't a lot of you, so I'm even more appreciative of your loyalty), you might have been wondering what's so important that I don't have time to write.

Well, I've been a bit low on energy, and high on nausea. I've been spending my spare time sleeping. Or craving odd foods. Or just lying on the couch, feeling cruddy and trying not to complain.  I've been quite busy.

Pickles and ice cream! Yum!

Growing a new little person can be an all-consuming task, especially for the first trimester. It certainly has been taking up quite a bit of my life, lately.

But there's hope. Despite the fact that I spend most of yesterday evening horizontal, I cooked a real dinner for the first time in weeks. (Maple-glazed salmon and mustard potatoes.) Despite sleeping late this morning, I woke up thinking of things that needed to be done around the house, and those things did NOT involve sleeping while the girls watched Sesame Street. So I think I'm turning the corner. I'm starting to consider and attempt the things I did BEFORE I turned into a blob who lived on the couch and fed her family sandwiches and pre-prepared food every night. I think I might be getting back to normal. Whatever "normal" is for me...

So I have high hopes that the blogging will pick up again in the near future. At least until mid-August, when the new little one is supposed to arrive, and life will implode for a while...

Friday, January 25, 2013

Daily Gratitude

Many life coaches recommend that people start gratitude journals, a place to list things that they're thankful for. Increased gratitude has been linked to increased happiness and success.

Christians have known this for a long time. Our girls already are in the habit of finding things to give thanks for in their nightly prayers. I don't need to keep a gratitude journal, but I will share my latest source of gratitude...

I'm thankful for mousetraps.

I'm even more thankful for a husband who will empty them.

Hope your day is full of things to be thankful for!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lucky Dogs

We hosted one of BestestHusband's co-workers and her family for dinner tonight, and boy, was it a great night. 

BestestHusband attempted a Julia Childs recipe for boeuf bourguinon. Not only did he attempt it, he succeeded. It was fantastic. And I didn't cook a bit of it.

The visiting family brought their 4 year old and 14 month old girls. Our girls were over-the-moon excited about having a playmate. And they really did have a fantastic time together. They played very well, especially considering MeToo didn't get much of a nap. But the shrieking and giggling was loud and non-stop. I consider that a success, as far as 4 year old playdates go.

The girls sat at the little table, and the grownups got to chat at the big table. We really like the co-worker and her husband, and it really was nice to sit and catch up. And when the kids needed supervision in the girls' room, we all relocated to the rug, and continued the chat. Peepee accidents, wine glasses, toddlers, dogs, nudists, and toys are all part of the fun when you get families together. Normal hospitality flies out the windows when a group of little girls gets together, and apologies become unnecessary.

Our guests brought a salted caramel apple pie for dessert, with ice cream, and cookies for the girls. Heavenly. And I didn't cook a bit of it.

Our dogs served as doggie ambassadors to a dog-nervous 4 year old. They were on their best, most charming behavior. And the visiting 4 year old did very well too, actually petting and kissing them at the end of the night.

We changed 3 out of the 4 girls into jammies, and read a group bedtime story before parting ways. It really was a win-win for us all. It was a novel story for our guest, and a quicker way of getting our overly-amped girls closer to bedtime. It was perfect.

And our lucky dogs? They got to clear off the plates of two under-appreciative preschoolers. The dogs got their own plates of boeuf bourguinon. There was a lot of wine in that sauce. Should be interesting...

I hope your weekend is full of small pleasures, and I hope you get to be a lucky dog, too.

Friday, January 18, 2013

School Report #7

The second school we visited last Friday was the Philbrick School. It was a smaller school tucked into a neighborhood on the other side of Roslindale. My GPS had a tough time getting me there, it kept trying to send me the wrong way down one-way roads. Transit getting there would not be a pleasant thing, as the neighborhood streets are tight, and the parking is minimal-to-nonexistant.

But the school itself was another classic cozy, cheerful Rozzie elementary school. It's another "single-strand" school, with one class per grade. I was a few minutes late, thanks to the parking situation, but was greeted by two cheerful students who opened the door and led us to join the group. The student gave us a quick tour on our way up the two floors to get to our destination. He did a great job for a (3rd?) grader. We got to interact with a lot of the teachers, which was great. I was impressed by everything I saw.

Here are some of the details I managed to write down:

  • The school takes 8 - 15 field trips/year
  • They have a partnership with the Boston Nature Ceneter
  • The before- and after-school programs start at age 5. 
  • The school has a big emphasis on technology, with carts of iPads and laptops that travel between classes and are used regularly. 
  • The parent council focuses on community, and hosts a big social in February, and other monthly events.
  • The parent council typically raises $20K in additional funding/year.
  • The 4th and 5th graders start music lessons in trumpet, violin, clarinet, or flute.
  • The 5th graders take a 4 night trip to a nature center on the beach.
  • The K2 room appeared more play-based than the Sumner.
  • Students get science 2x/wk, and art 2x/wk.
  • There was a separate cafeteria, auditorium, music room, science room, art room, computer room, etc.
  • The school does not offer AWP. Of the 25 children that were tested, 16 were accepted for the Advanced Work Program, but only 5 students left the school to participate in the program.
  • The playground was large, and Playworks was not offered.
  • Language instruction was not offered.

Unfortunately, there is a K0/K1 class with only 4 available seats (after siblings). I don't think we'll be attending the Philbrick.

School Report #6

Last Friday was a day of school visits. Two visits with two preschoolers is just a lot for those two preschoolers. And their Mama. But we persevered, even with an over-tired 3 year old who napped on my shoulder for the first 5 minutes of the second tour.

The first school we visited was the Sumner School, in the heart of Rozzie square. It's literally one block from the hubbub, and the best walking distance of all of the schools. It was also a very large school by local standards, with 540 students. Most of the Roslindale elementary schools are "single-strand", with one class per grade. Sumner has 2 classes of K1, 5(!) classes of K2, and a decreasing number of classes for grades 1-5. The school, like the other schools I've visited, was OLD. The ancient brick construction came with large windows and spacious classes, like the other schools. I'm consistently amazed with the ability of the schools to make old and dreary buildings look positively cheerful and full of life. The school boasted separate rooms for a gym, cafeteria, theater room, and visual arts room.

Here are some of the detailed notes I took:

  • They have a full-time nurse.
  • Frequent teacher and Principal calls are to be expected.
  • The school has many partnerships, including music with Berkelee School of Music, and drama with Brimmer and May School.
  • Music opportunities were plentiful, including violin lessons in first grade.
  • The school has won awards for innovation.
  • Each Kindergarten class has a full-time teacher and a full-time paraprofessional.
  • The school does not provide Advanced Work Programming, but does offer less-formal advanced work for appropriate children. Out of 20 kids who qualified for AWP, only 3 left to go to the official program. 
  • Each class gets 45 minutes of "special" every day, including art, PE, science, etc.
  • The gym teacher historically takes the kids next door to the community center for swim lessons. (But this year, it's being renovated, so he's teaching other things instead.)
  • Staff longevity is good, with many teachers volunteering after formal retirement.
  • Uniforms are standard, and the local Rozzie uniform shop gives a donation to the school when people buy their uniforms there.
  • In 4th grade, students begin a Friday "double-block", where 90 minutes are devoted to specials, including music, woodworking, gardening, knitting, computer, etc.
  • The play yard is small, but structured Playworks programming keeps the kids moving.
  • The before and after-school program takes 4 year olds, unlike many other programs.

The Assistant Principal did an amazing job of selling the school. The parent coordinator helped with the tour, and made friends with MeToo. The two of them held hands for the last quarter of the tour. Yet again, I left the school with the notion that we'd be very happy there.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Miss Information

Here are a few things I've learned from the girls lately:

"I keep hearing ribbits in my head. That means I have a frog in my throat."

"Know what sharks and pentagons both have? Big teeth."

You can't make this stuff up. Well, I guess they did...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Art vs. Industry

Here's a conversation heard in our household this afternoon:

Me:  "Then you can go fold your laundry."
Me:  "That's fine, but then HeyMama will fold the laundry and she will get a dollar."
Me:  "Then you go fold the laundry."
Me:  "Ok, it's your choice."
(intermittent whining while coloring continued)

Very few artists get rich. It's a hard lesson to learn at any age. 

HeyMama's saving up for some penguin slippers. She's become a laundry-folding machine. I'm confident she'll have them before the winter's over.

And yes, I stoop to child labor. Especially when laundry's involved.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Holiday Letter I Never Sent

Epiphany Joy to you and your family!

The holiday season is drawing to a close, and BestestHusband is taking down the Christmas tree as we speak. We hope that yours, like ours, has been full of family, friends, quivering hopeful anticipation (“Look, there’s another gift under the tree!”), and celebration. We’ve all eaten too many goodies, enjoyed family traditions, and spent much-needed time with people that we care about.

The 12th day of Christmas, while now associated with “12 drummers drumming” actually kicks off the traditional celebration of Epiphany, when we celebrate the Magi, or Wise Men, visiting the Christ child. Many think there were 3 wise men, although the Bible never gives them a number. But we do know that they came from very far away, searching for their new king.

The story of the Magi in the book of Matthew is one that describes a “leap of faith”. They saw a star that was supposed to foretell the birth of a great king. They followed that star until they found him. What a leap of faith! They had no confirmation that the king was really there. There was nobody on Facebook to “like” the prophecy of the star. How were they sure that this was THE star at THE right time? The travel itinerary was a bit uncertain. “Follow a star.” They had no confirmed flights, no travel insurance in case of sandstorm. The travel was dangerous. No state troopers were around to keep bandits off the road. There was no AAA to call in case a camel broke a leg. There were tricky politics involved. Herod wanted to use them as spies in order to assassinate the newborn king. Yet they followed that star until they found him, and even though they found him in humble circumstances, they worshiped him as king, and lavished him with exotic gifts.

As we look forward to 2013, it’s likely that we too will face many decisions requiring a leap of faith. This will be the year that HeyMama starts school, and in Boston, that involves a lottery process, or perhaps even the beginning of private school. Where HeyMama goes to school will affect where MeToo goes to preschool. That will affect where and when Joy works, and could hasten career changes. This could affect if we stay where we live, or look for greener yards elsewhere. The stock market could impact BestestHusband’s job, and whether or not we can afford greener yards elsewhere. There is much that is uncertain. But thanks to Christmas, there is much that we can count on. We place our faith in a God that loves us enough to send his Son to us in human form to save us from our sinful nature. The daily events and conditions of our lives will change, but our faith can rest on the unwavering love of Christ. And with that in mind, we can take our leaps of faith, with a calm confidence in our future.

We pray that your 2013 is full of peace, love, and joy. We pray that your leaps of faith this year are as richly rewarded as the Magi’s were.

With love,
BestestHusband, Joy, HeyMama, and MeToo