Saturday, March 28, 2009

Some Things That Didn't Go As Planned

This morning I broke a light bulb and shut the kids in the living room while I cleaned it up. When I came back, this is what they were doing:
Please note that I had not left the television on. I also didn't leave the drawer empty and open. There's no need to comment on how dangerous this is. It's a very sturdy chest of drawers and we arranged the structure to be as stable as possible, but I was still horrified. We will be installing child locks on the drawers and tethering the furniture to the wall.
(As a side note, aren't you sick of reading disclaimers like this on blogs written by mothers? I'm sick of writing them and would like to assume that anyone who knows me or has read my blog would have enough faith in me to realize that I'm not an idiot hellbent on letting my children kill themselves. Still, there always seems to be at least one commenter who's available to let me know that should my child eat a pound of the flowers pictured behind her, she could be poisoned!!!! In fact, after creating this post, I almost deleted the picture of the kids in the drawer and the picture of Norah with paint on her mouth because I didn't want to have to deal with anyone thinking I was putting my kids in harm's way. At any rate, I'm going to try to stop explaining my actions so much. I'm a decent mother and I'm doing my best to keep my kids safe. On occasion, when they do something ridiculous but not imminently dangerous, I take a picture before I fix the situation.)

Then, because our floors were just way too clean, I decided to help the kids make a painting. It started out pretty well - shirts were removed ahead of time, a towel was beneath the canvas.

Then Atticus and Norah took it upon themselves to show me I still have some things to learn in the area of organizing craft projects for children:

Friday, March 27, 2009

Like a Very, Very Expensive Car Wash

We got our Matrix back from the body shop today. Because it had been damaged on both the front and back bumpers and had a lot of broken glass inside, it has been repainted and basically detailed on the inside. The dent someone put in the rear hatch door the week after we bought it is gone and the hubcap that fell off sometime in 2007 has been replaced. I'm eternally frustrated by having to drop a ton of money on auto repairs and then not being able to notice any appreciable difference in the car (replacing the danged tires last year for example). On the flip side, I'm delighted by our shiny rebuilt Matrix and am thinking it was $5,300 that State Farm spent well.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Four-Letter Word

Atticus started saying "fish" today when he looked in the tank - except instead of pronouncing the "f", he uses "b" and the "sh" comes out "ch".

Friday, March 20, 2009

True Confessions

In honor of all the other mommy bloggers who have recently brightened my day by coming clean about the less-than-perfect moments of their lives...

I sent my kids to daycare this morning in the same socks they wore yesterday. All of their other socks were apparently in the same load of wet laundry this morning. I'm happily anticipating summer for many reasons, but high on the list is the idea of not having to deal with teeny-tiny socks for several months. I'm completely serious about that and reflect upon it at least once a day. I do try to buy all white socks (If I could find black socks for toddlers I would stock up because white is not a convenient color for our lifestyle) and I pair them as I fold the laundry, yet somehow those suckers never seem to cooperate with me.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

How To Make Teachers Love You

We had parent-teacher conferences at my school tonight, so I'm in the mood to reflect a little. I've had several friends ask me for advice recently about how to handle problems they're having with their kids' teachers or schools. Since these friends are all intelligent individuals who navigated the educational system successfully themselves, I assume that many parents may struggle in this area. The following is my list of things parents can do to help facilitate their children's school experience. Please note that this comes from my perspective as a high school teacher - some of these will probably seem very obvious or non applicable to parents of younger children.
1. Introduce yourself to your child's teachers! Do this as soon as possible, even if your child isn't having any problems. If a teacher knows that you're a supportive parent, he or she if far more likely to contact you when he/she begins to have concerns instead of waiting until there is a full-blown Situation on your hands. Also, teachers like meeting their students' families. Complimenting our students is fun! Please give us the opportunity to say nice things about your child! Don't you want to meet the adult your child spends many hours with per week? One mother at my last school could never make after-school events, so she would come at the beginning of each year during our lunch hour to introduce herself and let us know she was available to talk about her son. I loved that.
2. If you suspect your child is having a problem, contact the teacher! This is a great way to make sure your child gets the attention he or she deserves. I have 125 students. Hopefully, you have fewer children. You are the expert on your child and are more likely to notice a problem first. In addition, it's invaluable for teachers to hear a parent's perspective about their child. What is he like at home? Does she have any special talents or interests that I can be referencing in class to make it more interesting for her? Is he being too quiet/too loud/too social/too withdrawn in all his classes or just mine? Do you have any suggestions that could help us to solve this problem?
3. If your child comes home complaining that the teacher is mean, unfair, racist, sexist, or lazy, ask your child for specific examples and then contact the teacher. Please try to discuss this in the least confrontational way possible. Explain what you're hearing. Give her a chance to respond. There are some mean, unfair, lazy, racist, and sexist teachers out there. I'm sure all of us can think of an example from our own educational career. I'm also sure, however, that most of us can recall a time when students ganged up on a perfectly good teacher and decided to "sink her" or spread rumors about her. I know I participated in those types of activities (oh, the guilt!). I'm sure your child is a perfect angel who would never stretch the truth or exaggerate it to keep himself out of trouble. You should, however, still give the teacher the opportunity to clear the air before deciding to hold a permanent grudge against her for scarring your precious baby.
4. If you have a legitimate complaint about the teacher or class, voice this in private to the teacher or administrator. Telling your child that you don't like Mrs. Jones or have never understood the point of algebra is not going to improve your child's attitude or performance in that class.
5. Go to the school's parent-teacher conferences! I have 125 students. Tonight, 22 of them had parents stop by my room, which was a huge improvement over last semester's record of 10 parents. Of the students whose parents came tonight, not one has a grade lower than a C+. Chicken? Egg? Cause? Effect?

I know that many other teachers read this blog. What have I forgotten that you'd like parents to know?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Monitoring Other Peoples' Kids?

My question of the day for other adults: When do you step in and "discipline" other peoples' kids at the playground? When a couple of grade schoolers are calling each other n***ers in front of your toddler son? When teenagers are playing a rambunctious game of tag on the toddler playground while it's full of little kids and their parents? When two four-year-olds shove your daughter and yell, "We don't like you! Go away!" When said four-year-olds start a mulch war and your own son immediately copies them? So far, the only time I've stepped in and said something was when Norah's safety was being directly threatened by the shoving (even though the kids' parents were sitting on the sidelines and saw their kids pushing my toddler). "Disciplining" is the wrong word - I just told them Norah was too young to play like that and they needed to leave her alone.
I would certainly hope that another adult would step in and kindly correct my kids if they were misbehaving out of my sight. I don't see that happening often on the playground though and I don't really know what the unspoken rules are. As a teacher, I'm used to assuming that it's my responsibility to monitor large groups of kids, so letting bad behavior go feels weird to me. At the same time, I spend my work days policing large groups of kids and sometimes alienating them in the process, so I'd rather not have to do it during outings with my kids. What is your rule of thumb?
Happily, we've had plenty of fun at playgrounds recently. The weather here has been phenomenal and we've taken advantage of it. Here are a few more pictures:
This mulch was not fun to get out of her hair.
An upside of our side-by-side double stroller is that the kids can hold hands and exchange hugs whenever they want. The downside is that only Norah gets these impulses and Atticus doesn't appreciate her infringing on his personal space.
Finally, a picture of Norah "coloring" since I don't have many good pictures of her from the playgrounds.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Quick Notes

  • My daughter is very determined when she decides to give hugs. Apparently she's been tackling some of the kids at daycare - which doesn't surprise me since she holds onto her brother and the dog far more frequently than they'd like.
  • I think our counting-down strategy to lessen tantrums during transitions may be beginning to work with Atticus. Yesterday, he got into his end-of-bathtime-tantrum position (trying to climb the shower wall furthest from us) the moment Paul started to count. He wasn't screaming, just prudently getting himself ready to react at the right moment.
  • We have to watch him when he's on the sidewalk because he tends to try to lie down and slurp puddles off the ground. Not to be outdone in the yucky category, Norah frequently tries to scoop handfuls of Vaseline into her mouth.
  • Our Swiffer and Steam Shark are the most popular toys in the house right now. The broom was also a favorite until it started losing bristles all over the place and we caught Norah trying to clean her ears with one she'd found. The broom is in hiding now.
  • I love toddlerhood. The baby stage was sweet and I miss it sometimes, but it's so much more fun now that they interact with us.
  • Both of the kids are talking up a storm. I've lost count of how many words they're using, but it seems like there's a new one almost every day. One of Norah's favorites is "wall" - she likes to walk around the house touching every wall and identifying it.
  • Atticus has rediscovered the Ergo carrier and now brings it to us to be carried. Norah bit me on the back last weekend while she was in it, so I think we'll keep her on our fronts where we can see her teeth.
  • I've been teaching The Secret Life of Bees in my ninth grade class and it's gone quite well. It's a great book and my students have been very enthusiastic about it.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Baby Name Lust

At the library today I was perusing a display and came across the book A Is for Atticus: Baby Names from Great Books by Lorilee Craker. I love baby names, so I had to share this great find - especially since Paul no longer wants to be interrupted from his work to discuss names for hypothetical children that don't exist yet. Also, if you've never checked out Baby Name Wizard, I would highly recommend it as another resource that will suck your time away and inspire you to have a dozen children so as to use all of your great name ideas.

P.S. I know it's been awhile since I uploaded pictures. My laptop is in the shop, but hopefully will be fixed by the end of this week.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Munchkin Mom

We visited the pediatrician this morning. We've been lucky enough to avoid seeing him since our last regular checkup in August. Nevertheless, Atticus began to scream the moment he saw the office nurse and didn't stop until she said goodbye at the end of our visit. I couldn't believe he remembered his last set of immunizations, but apparently it made an impression on him.

Norah was pretty easygoing throughout the visit and even took a spin streaking through the office hallways with no clothes on. (Clearly, that's one of the things you risk if you're one adult taking two toddlers - one of whom is clinging to you and screaming - anywhere.) Miss Norah, who weighed seven and a half pounds at three months, is now in the ninety-fourth percentile for height and in the middle of the chart for weight. Atticus is also solidly in the upper half of both charts. Since I'm only 5'2", it looks like my kids will be looking down on me sooner rather than later. Way to grow babies!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


My friend Kim posted about our visit last weekend. Norah and Atticus loved hugging her baby Sebastien, but they liked chasing the dog even more. I don't think they'd ever seen a little dog before and it was infatuation at first sight. They did an excellent job of preparing Kim for what life will be like once Sebastien is mobile and gave Kim's mom some tips about things she might want to baby-proof before that time comes. We didn't charge them for our services.

Also, there are 11 weeks left of my school year. Not that I'm counting.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Communication Is a Beautiful Thing

Stop the presses: I was able to reason with Atticus today to stop a tantrum!

During their bath today he was having a wonderful time filling a cup up with water and then half drinking/half dumping it over his body. When Norah was ready to get out, he continued to keep turning on the faucet. I set the spigot as cold as it would go, figuring it might entice him to stop his games and be ready to get out too. Instead, he loved dumping himself with freezing water and laughed the whole time. When he finally got out, I put his diaper on and then the tantrum began to ramp up. He did NOT want to put on clothes.

This kiddo can throw impressive tantrums. Every limb shakes with rage, the body gets thrown on the ground, the voice is raised into an ear-piercing No!No!No! My mother-in-law, who has been a daycare provider for twenty-some years claims he's very advanced for his age in the tantrum department. Don't get me wrong, he's a delightful little guy, but he lets us know immediately when he's not happy about something.

Anyhow, today when he screamed there was a variation to the chorus. No!No!Cold!Cold! He actually told me what the problem was! I explained that putting on the clothes would make him hot and he wouldn't be cold anymore. Then...wait for it... he stopped throwing the tantrum, sat down in my lap, and let me dress him. It was one of those moments I've been telling myself would come and it was fabulous.