Friday, September 5, 2014

Back to Preschool!

Everyone is officially back to school!

Charlotte went back today:

Her first day of 3's! She will go three mornings a week, Monday and Wednesday and Friday.

And Anneliese went back yesterday, her last first day of preschool:

Most of the "old 4's" like her are going five days a week (which is a new option at our church), and she is totally ready for that if we had wanted her to (she's actually ready for kindergarten, in my opinion -- and desperately wants to go to kindergarten -- but just after she was born they changed the NC schools birth date deadline from October 15th to August 31st, so she misses the deadline now), but now that I have seen what it is like to have a kid gone all day every weekday, I'm in no hurry to rush it for preschool -- so she's only doing four mornings, Monday through Thursday. On Fridays she will be at home with Ali and me, and I am glad for it.

Can I point out here how much it delights me that my children happily bound up those steps outside church and grab that rail and smile for pictures now? What started as a random photo of Nathan as a toddler has turned into a legit first-day tradition, complete with Starbucks. (All the best traditions come with Starbucks. True story.)

Anyway they each had their first days, and next week starts our new routine. Nathan is in school most of the day every day, of course. And all the girls will be home every afternoon. But the mornings will be more scattered:
- Mondays I will have just Ali,
- Tuesdays and Thursdays I will have Charlotte and Ali,
- Fridays it'll be Anneliese and Ali,
and Wednesday mornings (while Ali is at mmo) will once again be MINE ALL MINE. Those four hours are precious, y'all. Not because I have anything important or pressing to do (although it's nice to have a go-to window to schedule things I don't want to drag any kids along to), but simply because, like most people, even chatty extroverts, sometimes I like to be ALONE FTLOG.

I have big plans for giant coffees, and long showers, and reading under my covers, and I might even poop with no one talking to me. It's going to be awesome.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The End of This Summer

Well since labor day is over and Nathan started back to school last week and the girls start back to preschool tomorrow, I guess it means summer is over... and I feel complicated about that. I don't know whether to feel relieved that this season is passed (because it kinda sucked), or cry because it isn't what I wanted to be and I don't get to go back to re-do it, time being one-directional and kind of a bummer like that.

I am trying to think less about Mark traveling so much, less about the sad screamy-baby months, less about the best friend goodbye, less about the largely-untouched bucket list of family fun -- and think more about the lovely moments (yes! they were there! swearsies!) and fun trips and and new memories. I'm trying. I am! But I'm having trouble shaking that overall, it wasn't what I wanted it to be, and now it's over.

Blah.

At least we did up our last day of summer in style. And by "in style" I mean in a frenzy. Although you would never know it from this here, right?

Besides Charlotte being halfway out of the picture (even after I tilted the camera to accommodate her), and Ali working on her poetic Thoreau-contemplating-Walden gaze, we look like a completely together and un-frazzled lot, yes? Right? SAY YES.

So anyway our frenzy involved taking an extra friend, Beatrice, for the morning (there was a fifth kid) (of course there was a fifth kid) (she is a friend of Anneliese's and her mom needed to work and she is a dream to have around, and after a few days of Anneliese being weepy, she needed some happy distraction so I have never been gladder to have a fifth kid, actually) and then getting Nathan on the bus and Ali to her first day of MMO (see, that's how the fifth kid thing balances out, you send two others to school).

Also, it should not be called MMO, not only because I'm an aunt, not a mom here (and isn't it all about me?) but because I am not the only non-mom who might want or have a kid in the program, and the language around it is gross, and I will begin my campaign to change it shortly.

Like after some more coffee.  Several weeks's worth.

So Ali went to church and I took the big (big?) (middle?) girls out for coffee treats, which was really fun and cute until Anneliese spilled hers and then even Beatrice couldn't quell the weepies. Sigh.
Starbucks with outdoor seating + September = RECOMMEND.

We regrouped and went back to church to do preschool orientations, which were all fine and easy. Charlotte's teacher is one we already know well (both Nathan and Anneliese also had her, but at different ages). Anneliese's teacher is new to us, but seems like maybe the most on it preschool teacher I have yet to encounter, so I'm pretty thrilled about that match.

Anneliese found her coat hook and she loves it.

She also took posession of a rainbow nametag.

Charlotte danced in the hallway with no one watching, as she is wont to do, and then stopped and got all smiley instead when I wanted her to do more.

Then Beatrice and Anneliese climbed on her, because we are the dream family to have lingering in preschool hallways when teachers are trying to do orientations.

Seriously you want us around. We are delightful. And definitely not loud or anything.

And then we skipped grocery shopping to swim in the pool because y'all, the schedule only had so much room.

Also it was hot as the blazes outside. Is it September? It was like mid-nineties today. I literally sat under a bush by the pool like freaking Jonah, just for a tiny spot of shade. I took a picture but it ain't pretty so you don't get to see it.

And then we went back to church to pick Ali up from Aunt's Morning Out™ because apparently three round-trips in one morning is how much I needed to drive to church today. Oh wait! I also did two more, for children's choir in the afternoon, after Nathan's carpool! Yay! Five round-trips! My life is full of meaning and purpose. Wait, what? Anyway.

Ali did just fine at church this morning and was smiling and happy to see me after lunch and she napped hard after her big morning.

But not before she pooped all over me and then (after I took my shirt off) spit up all over my back and down my jeans so I got to do extra laundry and get an extra shower today! I also got to change not one but TWO sets of poopy underwear, AND wait in a carpool line that was longer and slower than it would have taken the bus to get home. Sigh, again.

MEANING AND PURPOSE.

But actually it was not a bad day, just a frenzy. After a few sad no-Another-Nathan tears, Nathan had a fun first children's choir of the year, and he and Anneliese were giggly and playful all evening, excited for her school tomorrow reading books together and practicing writing. Anneliese wanted to write a letter, so Nathan showed her how to write hi and I love you, and I think the love might have just been a heart shape, but it still totally counts. Also she wanted to dot all her i's with hearts, which I would have (probably patronizingly) discouraged, but Nathan sweetly told her "okay just make them as tiny as you can," which is why he's a better person than I am.

(Queen poopy crabbypants went to bed early. If you pretended not to hear her tantruming upstairs, watching Nathan and Anneliese together was lovely.)
Whoever tells me to *cherish every moment* gets a chair to the face.

Hm  it occurs to me (brace yourself, obvious epiphany coming up) that sometimes real life tedium and lovely tender moments happen all at the same time, and maybe my disappointing summer can be disappointing but also okay too? No happy ending needed. No brilliant closure better-next-year takeaways required. Just letting it be what it was, missing what it wasn't, and now starting the next thing.  I think I will try to be okay with that.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Last First Haircut

Charlotte got a haircut today! Her first haircut. Yes, she is three. Yes, I waited longer with her than the others. Yes, I am babying her. No, I am not sorry.

It's not that her hair looked too scraggly or bad, it was just very uneven and I want it to be able to grow out better, so it was totally time to get it cleaned up. And also she has been asking for months and months, so there is that too.

She was sweet and adorable and hopped right up, and then these little long wisps were no more.


Yes, I cried. Right there in Great Clips. Parenting, man.

It was fast and easy and suddenly done and now she has a cute little bob that looks much healthier than before, and will grow out more evenly. I thought she would look older but she almost looks... younger? But still my booler.

(Once they gave her a lollipop she basically refused to look at me for pics again til we got home.)

Here's the before and after! (And she thought this new Daniel shirt would be the biggest part of her day!) (Well, for her, it probably was.)

Happy first haircut, baby girl!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Some Things I Have Been Mulling

Here are some things I have been mulling in my head this week (brace yourself, this is bound to be profound) (*shakes head no*):

---

I do think overall, I like my iphone better than my android phone, but that is MOSTLY because of imessage. And it isn't that imessage is inherently better than anything else, it's just that everyone else is on it, so it is therefore convenient. Herd mentality something something. And the stream/cloud photo sharing feature is also kind of great. I find myself using that a lot with various people.

BUT I will say these things about the iphone vs my old android:
1. The camera is not better.
2. The battery frankly sucks.
3. The auto-correct on the keyboard thinks it is super smart but it is not as helpful as it could/should be, and not nearly as smart as the android spelling corrector.
4. I am about to have a big ol' fight with my home button, because I have one of those glass screen protectors on it, which means I need a button cover, yet good button covers (which go flush against the curve of the button DO NOT EXIST. Can someone please get on this?
5. Why can you not purchase content from within the kindle app? (Or even link to the mobile site to do it?) (Or purchase downloadable content from the Amazon app?) Stop forcing me into Safari! Just whyyyy?
6. I have this new chevron case for my phone (my other one got dyed blue in my jeans pocket and I keep forgetting to run it through the dishwasher), which is cute but cheap and hmmm I'm still deciding.

---

These are all very first world housewife problems, so I should share here with a pic what I already told facebook: Charlotte dropped a crayon in the potty while she was pooping the other day, in case you think three-year-olds don't have problems too. (Like... nine seconds after I took this pic.)

---

Nathan has been asking a lot of questions about coffee recently. Like, how to make it. And what is that brown dirt stuff in the bag? And then trying to clarify it all -- so, the brown stuff is the coffee, and the water you pour over the brown stuff is just water that tastes like coffee, but that's not the actual coffee, just the coffee you drink? When I told him the coffee itself was actually ground-up beans that had been picked and then cooked, it blew his little mind. We had to look up a YouTube video. Coffee comes from farmers! So does chocolate! It's also beans! And they look very similar as a plant but then they make foods that look very different by the time we eat and drink them, and isn't that cool mom? And sometimes you can put coffee in chocolate! -- so anyway, now he calls it my liquid coffee which isn't actually coffee, just water that tastes like coffee because you poured it over some ground up beans. "Are you going to drink more coffee mom? Like the liquid kind." Yes, sweetie. People know what you mean when you say drink coffee. In related news, BUDDING PEDANT UP FOR GRABS, LOVES WEEKEND VISITS.

---

Also, those look like children who need their own tervises, yes? They want to drink coffee "coffee" like mommy, which is sweet and I will indulge it forever, but maybe I don't want my cups all dirty every day, and maybe we should find some kid-sized ones and splurge, finally? I think I shall procure them for Christmas maybe.

---

Everyone else is using the Timehop app, right? This app really speaks to my soul, since I have basically been my own walking Timehop for years. I've been using it for some time, like (I assumed) everyone else in America. But then I mentioned it to a friend, a very smart friend (who is sometimes admittedly clueless when it comes to the thumb of pop culture) (like, maybe once he asked me who Taylor Swift was? I can't remember the details) (*cough*) and he had never heard of it so maybe other people haven't either?

Anyway. It's a simple premise. It tells you what you were doing x number of years ago today. If you're thinking this is information you might not want or need, let me help you understand something: YOU ARE WRONG. Because of this app, I know that seven years ago today, my current second-grader was exactly a month old, and looks like this:

So. It's an app you need, is what I'm saying.

That's all I got today. I will go have some more liquid coffee now.

Monday, August 25, 2014

First Day of Second Grade

Nathan started second grade today, y'all. SECOND GRADE. Every year I am all-caps shocked that he is a year older, a grade ahead in school, etc etc, and I am going to go ahead and assume now, three kids and seven years into this parenting thing, that that will never stop.

SECOND. GRADE.


(He spilled hot chocolate on those yellow shorts he was so insistent on wearing for his first day, which he also insisted on putting on before drinking said hot chocolate, even though someone super smart *ahem* advised against it, and fifteen minutes before we took this photo, there was a little bit of eye rolling and laundering-by-baby-wipe-and-hair-dryer, but it worked out okay. For his shorts. Which he loves. So.)

So he was very excited and easy about his first day, but he did want me to drive him. And then he wanted me to come in with him (Mark is out of town so that meant parking several blocks away and schlepping all four kids inside, which went better than I expected, actually), and then he was a little teary and wanted extra hugs, but then he was excited and fine again.

He has a desk! Inside which he can put books and notebooks and and and! (Not just a table.) His favorite friend from last year is in his class again, and his teacher-to-be is on maternity leave, but I am trying to have faith that the interim situation will be sorted out and he will be none worse for the wear. And in the meantime, desks!

So we got him settled, and then I buckled the other kids into the minivan, instagrammed a picture of him, and drove through starbucks with my back-to-school tears, because I am a mom cliche.

SECOND! GRADE!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Yesterday Today Tomorrow, Aquarium Version - With Bonus Existential Overthinking and Also (Possible) Crab Sex

Yesterday - Ali went with Nick and Barbara down to Lake Wateree, and Mark was off work, so we had a rare free Friday as a family! Nathan's last free weekday of summer! We decided to make the most of it and drive to the beach, not for the beach itself (it was hot as the blazes) but to see the aquarium. Just because. So we did, and it was fun.
It looks like they're looking at a painting but I swear
this is a normal fish tank with real fish inside.

Praying this doesn't result in more turtle nightmares.
This is a megaladon jaw. Did you know a megaladon is a shark? Not a dinosaur?
(I did not know this.) (Three guesses who *did* know this.)
(Yes he is wearing a shirt full of sea creatures to the aquarium.)

Nathan told me these horseshoe crabs are mating. I don't think he knows what
mating means, nor do I know if it's even true, but if it is, then hey! horseshoe crab
sex! on my blog! you're welcome! (Hi there spammers.)

We went to a talk about sharks. There were lots of facts.
Some of us loved the talk about shark facts more than others.

Our outing ended with a big ol' gift store tantrum (from Anneliese! not a store-tantrumer! I do not know what happened! I mean I do, but I was still surprised) and me putting my foot down and dragging her from the complex sobbing (yes I was That Mom), feeling frustrated and hurt that we can't just do something NICE together without some kid wanting MORE instead of just being THANKFUL, but true to Anneliese, she was calm and happy and non-pouty within relatively few minutes, despite having not gotten her way, and all was well for the drive home. There was even iced coffee. (For me. Not Anneliese. In case that wasn't clear.)

Today - I napped, basically all morning, because I have been sleeping terribly all week and I can't seem to turn it around. Normally I am pretty emphatically not a napper -- both because my body rarely even wants it, and when I do it makes me feel worse anyway -- but this past week I took a nap at 8:30 almost every morning when Ali went down. My nights have been anxious and exhausting, and I have just needed more sleep, come morning. Although, I guess if you're taking a nap at 8:30 in the morning, it is less a nap and more... going back to bed. Whatever. I needed it, and lots of My Little Pony was consumed in my living room, and I did it again today, and I am not ashamed.

I also finished another delightful book (lest it sound like I am only reading awesome things these days, please know I abandoned like four books in a row earlier this month because I hated them all).

I have no idea how a book about liberal arts majors playing baseball (there is a lot of baseball in this book) could have sucked me in so fast and kept me rapt for the very few days it took me to read it, but it did. It is full of complicated friendships, and codependency, but the kind that feels good even in its unhealthiness. And one totally inappropriate sexual relationship (legal! just inappropriate, age-wise) so if that kind of thing offends you, don't read it. (I thought it was sexy. For what that's worth.) Anyway, five stars. I even cared about the sports part! RECOMMEND.

Other than that, we just sat around the pool today (the kids are swimming better and better! jumping into the deep end without fear and swimming to the sides, like people who like swimming are wont to do!) then went and ate Mexican for dinner. We joked that we should re-enact this horrible family photo because if anything, we looked even worse than that today.

Also, the big kids decided they are now old enough to sit on their own side of a booth. Like, not next to Mark or me. They were very whispery conspiratorial about it. And then they sat and managed their own food which is actually totally normal and I don't know why we haven't been doing this for a while, but there you go. NEW RESTAURANT BOOTH ERA. (It is possible I make note of too many Eras.)

Tomorrow - Frankly, I am dreading church in the morning. I'm feeling very disillusioned about things over there right now, which has many layers, most of them far more than I would ever say on the internet (when it comes to church leadership, it gets political doesn't it?) but most of it boils down to low energy (our pastor being gone for a month, and Another Nathan being gone - those things make a big difference, we are learning), and all of us slogging through the end of the summer, and my choir (which is normally my favorite thing about church) has just been sort of... down? off? - which makes me miss Nathan very acutely. It's funny how when he was in the process of leaving, people at church kept asking after our family and how we were doing, etc etc, which was nice on some level but also struck me as weird -- knowing that I would miss him at church, of course, but that he's so much more to us than a choir director, sometimes the church part felt like an afterthought in our friendship, like any close friend's job might become just a peripheral thing about them -- that missing him as our friend would surely be so much worse. But NOPE. Turns out he is still very, very present as my friend (he is still in my phone! we talk and text all the time! we know about each other's days! it is very fine and normal actually, or getting there), and very very absent at church.

And anyway so all of those things, plus the looming of a new school year and ending of a hard season, are adding up into some miniature spiritual/existential crisis about whyyyyy I am feet-draggy about church, and basically I have spent a lot of time trying to remind myself 1- I love God, 2- it is okay to miss my friend as my friend and as a faith leader, 3- I do not need to sleep through church tomorrow, right? Right? I just feel super-checked out, and super overthinky about why, and also so freaking tired. (See again: terrible week of sleep = exhaustion = overthinking = self-doubt = existential crisis = hide from the world. But I won't.)

Anyway! So that I don't end on a churchy blah note, here is a cute picture of Charlotte! She climbed in the pews and waited patiently for Mark to clean up and sort things a few weeks ago when he was the deacon in charge, and people kept checking on her and making sure she was okay sitting there alone, but she just wanted to sit her bum in that pew, and smile, and go church, as she says.

So, some things are still churchy lovely as always.

And even if I am dreading tomorrow, and with it, dreading (longing for?) (no, dreading) the end of summer and the start of a new year, I am so glad that we had some easy family fun this weekend. We terribly needed that time together to be out and be summery, and I feel happy about it.

And now I shall go seek out my next hopefully-delightful book, and pray for good sleeping.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

One Normal Week of Summer. Including Shopping.

Well, here it is. Our first "normal" week of summer. Between camps and work trips and grandparent visits and church trips and road trips and such, every week so far this summer has had something, and this week doesn't, and it has been delightfully uneventful. It is also, incidentally, our last week of summer, and I am trying not to be sad about the fact that it has been so much crazyness that summer kind of happened not the way we wanted it to, but whatever, *brisk clap* this week has been good.

Want some mundane details? (I have been informed life is in the mundane details, and those are sometimes the things most worth remembering, so... say yes.)

Charlotte wore this shirt the other day and proudly proclaimed it her cello shirt! Uhhhh, no, little sister of an orchestra kid, that is a guitar. But nope. She will not be deterred. It is a cello, on her shirt, TELLO ON MAH SHIRT MOMMY. Okkkay then.

Anneliese came home from Lake Wateree with an old toy of Aunt Emily's, a Rainbow Brite sidekick named Puppy Brite, and she luuuuuurves him. This thing's tag says 1983 y'all! She has a like-new toy from 1983! But it is covered in rainbows and comes from her favorite 80s DVD set (yes we have the DVDs) and I will never sway her from this love, because it's adorable, and Rainbow Brite kicks ass. I'm glad she likes her. Also Puppy Brite, who is tackydorable and very Anneliese. I'm glad Emily was apparently never very attached to this thing! (Yet they somehow kept it anyway?)

Charlotte has been working hard on her pottying. Sometimes that means you need a quick break from the pool to poop with your goggles on. Wait is this the stuff we are supposed to, or we're not supposed to put on the internet for fear of embarrassing our kids? I can't remember.

Ali is doing just great, y'all. After a hard June/July, a few weeks away (for me), a new dairy-free diet (for Barbara), she is a sweet easy girl to have around, and I so love our morning snuggles while she drinks her milk and I drink my coffee and she grins at me and we both are secretly thinking thoughts along the lines of sweet nectar from heaven. Sometimes aunt life is just the best.

Daniel Tiger (who is not in our family but might as well be) has a baby sister! Even Nathan, who sometimes says he doesn't love Daniel that  much anymore because it is for babies (let the record show he is still obsessed with Thomas the Train, so....) was super excited for the new baby episode. And I don't have any shame in saying I cried and cried when that baby tiger was born. At a cartoon! For kids! I don't care, I love them. (My children were as riveted by this as they have been about anything on tv in a long time, which is probably why I love it too, and oh I don't care the reasons I just love that Tiger family.)

I did some back to school shopping with Nathan yesterday (I also got a slew of things for the girls last week when we were out of town), and he wanted to eat at K&W, which we did last year in a learning-to-use-a-cafeteria event, and he now apparently thinks is an every-year-school-shopping-day event, and he loved it and thought it was special, so I did too. He ate baked spaghetti, mashed potatoes, and blue jello, and if that's not a lunch of champions I don't know what is.

We also tried on lots of clothes for him, and he talked me into these brownish odd khaki-colored pants (he says they are the color of a train named Diesel 10) (see? Thomas obsessed) and also these lime shorts which he wants to wear for his first day of school. I have no idea what he will wear them with. I wanted him to pick a shirt for the first day of school, but he loves these shorts, so the shorts are what's happening. (I both love and hate shopping with him.) (Mostly love.) (And I do like the shorts! I do! Not that shirt with them though.)

Also yes I bought him a full-caffeine coke icee because back to school shopping makes me super indulgent, apparently.

Also look at his back to school supplies! Who doesn't freaking LOVE back to school supplies??

Anyway it's weird to me that he is starting second grade next week. (Wait, let me say it again so it sinks in properly: SECOND GRADE.) Weird because he is clearly still a tiny baby who was just born, who still sometimes falls asleep in my bed snuggling his tiger that used to live in his crib, and his stuffed Rex that has been his special animal for years.

(And also a sperm whale, naturally.)

How is this tiny baby going to SECOND GRADE??? Stay tuned for more sappiness next week when school actually starts okay? Okay.

Also, apropos of nothing, I still have wavy hair, which seems like I think I need to keep the internet updated about now (vain, what) and a fantastic new scarf full of my most favorite colors, from my most bestest friend, and those are things that make not-fun mornings way better. And also coffee.

And this is what my summer should have been like, all along. But at least there's this week.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Lake Wateree, Another August

Mark and the kids went to Lake Wateree to see his dad last week for his birthday (and also left Nathan for a long weekend). Ali and I stayed home and sorted bookshelves, which was its own brand of thrilling, and no that is not sarcastic. (We would have loved to have gone, but Ali isn't quiiiite sleeping through the night, and their house isn't quiiiiiite quiet enough for four kids, when one doesn't sleep through the night.) We were fine at home, but it means I have to live vicariously through Mark's pictures.

Nathan and Anneliese are still besties, of course, and this photo makes me melt.

This one too OMG I CAN'T STAND IT MAH BAYBEEEES, this is just so them.

Okay, also, Charlotte apparently went fishing:

And drank a sprite??? Who gave my baby SODA??? *side eye Oma*

Here's a thing I'm glad I didn't know was happening in the moment, because HASHTAG: TERRIFYING.

But Opa has a sweet gentle side too.

And the short version of this post is: my people are pretty cute on boats.

And also happy birthday Opa!!