preschooler

Thanksgiving 2013

child, christmas tree, thanksgiving

Daniel in front of the Christmas Tree on Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving morning saw all 6 of us – three humans and three felines – awake at 4 AM.  Jimmy has been on call this week.  He usually ends up on call over Thanksgiving because he is the team lead and takes one for the team.  In prior years, it wasn’t a big deal and didn’t prevent us from hosting.  This year, however, was different because it was the first time he had been on call since the merger of his utility with another went through. He had heard on call under the new regime was awful and when he realized it would impact Thanksgiving, he issued dire pronouncements about what it would be like a la “winter is coming.”

And yeah, it has kind of sucked because he has had many issues to handle, and they come at all hours and sometimes at the same time. The one at 4 AM this morning set off a chain reaction. I was already slightly awake, but I think the activity woke up Daniel, who called out for me. I tucked him in and gave cuddles as well as locating AWOL cuddlies. Jimmy was back asleep by 5. Daniel by 5:30 and me, 6. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

We had a low-key Thanksgiving. I still wanted to celebrate the day, even if it were only in a small way.  Jimmy’s mother invited us over, so we had Thanksgiving lunch at her house. Instead of becoming extremely well-acquainted with the most intimate parts of a turkey and making a zillion sides, I had only one side to make this year. It felt a little weird, honestly.

But we had a good day. Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, mustardy – balsamic green beans (my contribution), sweet potatoes, cauliflower casserole, rolls, cranberry sauce, apple pie and eclairs! Daniel was adorable (of course!), and it was nice to be able to sit back and not be the rainmaker in the kitchen for the day! The weather cooperated, and it was chilly, but clear with a gorgeous blue sky. I can’t remember the last time it was that chilly on Thanksgiving in North Carolina.

child drinking tea

Drinking tea with dessert

And best of all, Jimmy received no calls. We had worried whether he would be able to participate, especially when only a few hours before, he had calls at 9 PM, 11 PM, 1 AM and 4 AM. We drove separately in case he needed to leave to tackle an issue. Honestly, we were a bit stressed about the situation. But it turned out great and much better than we dared hope.  We were home by 4, giving Daniel much-needed time to play outside before sunset and then we seamlessly moved into our normal evening routine. And I don’t have mountains of dishes to wash!

house, afternoon, thanksgiving

Late afternoon on Thanksgiving

***

A few days ago, one of my Twitter friends commented about the appearance of the obligatory “what I’m thankful for” posts that had started to appear.  I tweeted back, tongue in cheek, that I wasn’t thankful for anything, and he seemed a little shocked by my reply.

I am thankful for many things. I know I can try to present myself as or come off as a snarky, impervious, ungrateful bitch sometimes, but I am well aware of the blessings we have.

I’m thankful for Daniel, and he is the sweetest, most wonderful little boy.  I’m thankful for Jimmy, who supports me and has my back unconditionally and whom I’m afraid I don’t take care of as well as I should. I’m thankful for my family. We may have a small family and slightly dysfunctional at times, but we take care of each other.

I’m thankful for my job. I know I’m lucky to have a job when so many don’t, and I’m fortunate to work in a good environment and have the flexibility to attend Daniel’s school functions as well as to do interesting work. I’m thankful for my friends offline and on. Seriously, you all are awesome and I never, ever feel alone because I have you all.

I’m thankful we have a nice house and functioning cars and that we can afford food. I’m thankful that one of my biggest worries right now is how I’m going to lose weight so I don’t have to buy a new wardrobe. I’m thankful for my three crotchety cats who make me clean up more poo and pee than when I had a newborn but whom I adore and allow to sleep on my head.

I’m thankful to live in this state, in this country.  They aren’t perfect, but compared to other alternatives, they are pretty damned good.

The bottom line is that I am aware of the many blessings in my life and I am extremely thankful for them.

Happy Thanksgiving. I can truly say we had a great Thanksgiving.  I hope yours was the same.

Teeth and Tires

child at the dentist

A little polish, sir?

For some reason, I thought that scheduling a dentist appointment for Daniel at 8 AM today made perfect sense on our first day of vacation.  Our previous visit, while not unsuccessful, hadn’t been without difficulty. We had barely prepped him for this visit, and I worried how he would handle the cleaning since teeth brushing can be frustrating for us.

And as usual, I shouldn’t have worried.  He was in a great mood even though he hadn’t eaten anything, and I had rushed him out of the house in order to get there on time (although we were still 10 minutes late).  The hygienist told me I could sit down in the parent area several feet away, and I did with a little trepidation.  Daniel did a great job. The hygienist was able to polish his teeth and floss them – with a few interruptions.  Even better, the dentist said he was doing a good job brushing his teeth and had no cavities.

I’m so used to being by Daniel’s side for everything that it caught me off guard that he was old enough and mature enough to handle a routine dental appointment without me. I suppose this is the first of many times that I will be ushered out of the way or able to stay in the waiting room. My baby is growing up.

***

On Tuesday, I did something I had never done before. I put air in my tire. More accurately, I attempted to put air in my tire. Yes, I’m 36-years-old and had never put air in my own tires before. Jimmy had declared it a necessity the night before but was unable to do it because he is on call, so with much trepidation on both our parts, he gave me the tire gauge, $1 in quarters and drew me a diagram.

I promise I’m not as helpless as that makes me appear.

So I dutifully turn into the BP and head to the air area Tuesday morning. I read the instructions, get out my gauge, take the pressure and insert the quarters. I hook up the air nozzle thing-y. As instructed I keep checking the pressure every so often. The gauge hasn’t budged. Perplexed and convinced there is some sort of user error, I scrounge up another 4 quarters and try again.  The gauge still doesn’t change.  I’m frustrated, but I’m sure that the sight of me bent over my tire for 5 minutes was fun for the BP customers, especially since I was wearing a skirt.

I’m forced to conclude that either I’m a moron who cannot manage to put air in her tire or there is a leak.  Truthfully, I’m not sure which scenario is the better one because while I will feel like an idiot if I somehow failed to properly fill my tire, I’m not great talking with mechanics either, and either way, I hate looking and feeling like the stereotypical clueless girl.

In between my 4 meetings on Tuesday (ugh), I squeezed in a visit to a mechanic near work who Jimmy had vetted. I asked them if they could look at my tire.  It was pouring and chilly outside, and I was afraid that instead of coming off as an idiot, I came off a little bitchy. Isn’t it fun being female?

20 minutes later, the mechanic informs me that I have a nail in my tire. Hallelujah! They are able to patch it for $15 and I’m on my way, relieved it was a legitimate nail and that I was not a moron.

Although I think we will practice putting air in my tires this weekend 🙂

Less Than Stellar Service But a Stellar Little Boy

Today was a busy day. My mother and stepfather were coming up for the day so we could go to the Angus Barn to celebrate my mom’s birthday, so after Daniel got up at 6:30, it was time for me to clean a little more after I had shocked my system with copious amounts of pumpkin spice coffee.  Litter! Toilets! Floors! Oh my! My mother and stepfather were originally supposed to arrive at 10:30 but didn’t actually arrive until noon, giving us time to play outside before lunch.

sidewalk chalk alphabet

Practicing his letters

 

sidewalk chalk

The young artist

 

The afternoon passed quickly.  Daniel had lunch and then “quiet time,” which is anything but quiet.  Jimmy and my stepfather worked on a house project, and my mother and I chit chatted. Before long, it was time for us to get ready to go eat.

Child and starfish

He has nicer clothes than I do

We are big fans of the Angus Barn but alas, tonight it didn’t live up to its reputation and our prior experiences there.  The service was very slow. We had made a reservation for 5:30 to ensure we were able to get home reasonably close to Daniel’s bedtime and to ensure that my mother and stepfather were able to get on the road at a decent hour since they couldn’t spend the night. We didn’t leave the restaurant until after 8. The food was just OK, and we were frustrated by the slowness.

We’ve eaten there many times before and 9 times out of 10, the experience is top-notch.  I know that any restaurant can have an off night but it was frustrating that it was tonight of all nights. I worry that it made my mom’s birthday dinner seem less special since the meal was expensive but may not have been worth it tonight. Everything seemed a little off.

The bright spot was Daniel.  He was wonderful. He was charming and sweet the entire night. Despite being tired and hungry, he behaved beautifully and we resorted to videos on my iPhone only as a last resort when we were waiting for the entree and he began to fidget.  We didn’t get home until almost 9, an hour past his bedtime, and we still managed to brush teeth, read stories, do the starfish chart and the bedroom routine without any meltdowns.  That little boy was out within minutes of his head hitting the pillow.

grandparents

Daniel and his adoring public

 

Mother and child

Daniel and his adoring mommy

 

May we all sleep well. I know I’m looking forward to a very quiet day tomorrow.

How is your weekend so far?

Unexpected Sick Day

sick preschooler

Sweet Boy resting

Today did not go at all like I thought it would. I had prepared to give a somewhat engaging presentation (culminating in doughnuts for bribery) on what I do at work for Daniel’s class, expecting that I would be at work by 9 and at my favorite Pho dealer by 11:30 to quench the craving I had based on watching too many episodes of No Reservations. Instead, I spent the day at home.

I was making coffee and getting breakfast together this morning when I heard Jimmy yell, “KEANNE! Get in here!” I ran in to find that Daniel had thrown up a bit on my side of the bed (always the favorite for cats and kids alike) and was bent over the toilet coughing. OK, one incident of throwing up when he had been coughing earlier that morning was not reason to panic or change plans. He threw up again about 10 minutes later. OK, it is practically clear; again, maybe it is mucous.

I was determined to keep to our routine because I am mission-oriented in the morning, so I thought happy thoughts, and we bundled Daniel into the car and we set off. About 5 minutes later, he threw up all over himself, and I turned around, asking Jimmy to email his teacher.

Our poor, sweet boy looked pale and lethargic, yet tried to play. About every 30 minutes, he threw up until around lunchtime when whatever was agitating his tummy left and he was ravenous.  We kept meals very light and thankfully, everything stayed down.  I knew he was feeling better when he refused to attempt to nap at quiet time and instead played “quietly” in his room. Oy.

Sometimes I stress about missing work, but today, I was OK about it. I had been talking with coworkers yesterday about how we were ready for the holidays and here I was barely into the working week and already needing a sick day to take care of a sick child when I was going to be out the rest of the week at a local conference and out on Friday because of a teacher workday. And I regretted not a moment. Yes, I answered the occasional email that needed my attention, but for the most part, I was off the grid. I was thinking of items to tempt a delicate palate (yes, we did go through half a pack of applesauce). We watched a billion episodes of No Reservations because Daniel asked to watch “Anthony Bourdain” and how can we refuse such quality television?

Most of all, we thought of today as an extension of our weekend.  I washed more laundry, did dishes and straightened up, but the pace felt slower and more manageable than during the weekend when there is so much pressure to get everything done ASAP.  It was pleasant being able to do those tasks at my leisure (who am I?).

We cuddled. We did chores. We watched a billion episodes of No Reservations. We cleaned dry erase marker off of Daniel because it amused him to draw on himself.

Sometimes, you get what you need, even if it is not what you want or expected.

Brought to You by the Letter “G”

Monday nights are homework nights in this house.  Daniel’s class has a letter of the week and on Monday, the dreaded piece of paper comes home.  In addition to everything else we are juggling, we have to have Daniel think of things that start with that letter, find pictures, have him cut them out and then glue them on the sheet. And on Tuesdays, each child presents his or her homework. Are you tired? I know I am.

The first time the assignment came home, it was a surprise and I groaned because I was solo parenting while Jimmy was on a business trip and had to tackle “A” in addition to making dinner, eating, getting out clothes, teeth brushing, stories, etc. in about 90 minutes.  I admit that I located, cut out and glued the pictures myself, making sure Daniel could identify them the next day in class.  The next day I confessed to his teacher that I had done the assignment because I have flashbacks to my 6th grade science fair project and the beautiful display my mother created and hearing classmates AND their parents comment how I had obviously had help.  I didn’t want to be “that mom” already.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve managed to hit our stride on Monday nights.  Once we confirm that we have homework this week, we start asking Daniel to think of things that start with that letter.  Then we find pictures and print them.  Daniel cuts them out (and does a great job by the way; his skill with scissors has improved immensely since he started school; also our cutting skills are roughly equivalent) and writes his name on the paper (a skill which has also improved dramatically).  I glue them on for now only because sometimes the pictures need to be trimmed to fit.  It’s a team effort, but I truly feel the final result reflects Daniel.

I also never imagined we’d have homework in Pre-K.  And I could write an entire other post on how I need a calendar to keep up with Daniel’s various activities and deadlines for school: field trips, buddies, parties, parent career month, weekly newsletters, behavior reports, etc. Oh my! I consider us doing well if we remember which uniform he is supposed to wear that day as well as whether he needs a full lunch or morning snack only because we paid for hot lunch. Does it only get worse from here?

Daniel is learning a lot, and that’s the important thing.  I just wish school had come with a huge binder and calendar for me to keep up!

This week was the letter “G” 🙂

Yes, that lower right image is a picture of God. Appropriate, right?

Yes, that lower right image is a picture of God. Appropriate, right?

Sunday, Sunday…So Good to Me

I’m not a big fan of Sundays because they are usually, hands down, my busiest day of the week. Grocery shopping, getting Daniel’s lunches and snacks ready for the week, preparing his uniforms and hopefully preparing a multi-day meal of some sort that will see us through any “what are we having for dinner” angst that might crop up.  It’s a busy day and that doesn’t even include if we get wild hairs and decide to clean, do yard work or straighten up.  After all, chances are good that there is a basket of laundry to put away. Always a basket of laundry to put away.

Today was no different except that I decided to go the extra mile and sweep the house and put all the laundry away.  Jimmy did yard work.  I was honestly dreading the late afternoon/early evening because I was certain the adults would be exhausted and the 4-year-old would be as well because he had been awake since 6 AM and no longer naps.

But I was surprised. Yes, we were all tired, but we headed back outside to enjoy the late afternoon sun.  It was a truly beautiful Autumn day in Raleigh – not a cloud in the vivid blue sky, the temperature a perfect 60 degrees and everything looked like it had been diffused through a soft gold filter. Daniel ran around, picking up leaves in his dump truck and then ran up the slide into his clubhouse. He was in heaven. It was a joy to watch him and a reminder that we had longed for so very long to see a wee one run through our expansive back yard, purchased for such a reason.

When we went inside, Daniel requested to watch a No Reservations (my burgeoning foodie!), and he colored while Jimmy and I watched and chopped, preparing for the week ahead. The sky dimmed, and it was truly a moment of calm I had not expected. It rejuvenated me while I chopped melon and berries for snacks and lunch.

And now he’s been tucked in and is hopefully drifting off to dreamland and sweet dreams of starfish and wooly worms. Daniel is such a good boy, and he has been working so hard on his behavior chart and doing what we ask and expect of him.  He is still sassy, but the tantrums of a month ago seem to have dissipated. He’s a good, sweet boy. He slams into us to give us hugs and kisses. His joy is everything.

I didn’t expect today to be a great day, but it was.  I know that every minute and hour means he is growing up and away, so I am grateful that we had our perfect hours this afternoon and our hugs and kisses and sweet mood tonight. One day he won’t want us to tuck him in and sing songs. He won’t want his billion cuddly starfish or his Toy Story pajamas. I’ll remind myself of that every night when I’m tired and worn out and ready for bedtime.  I’ll give him one more kiss and a huge bear hug and store up each moment for my memory bank.

The Pre-Kindergarten List

I have a post in my drafts folder on which I have worked daily since Tuesday. I have another post I want to write this weekend. Instead, you get this, my “hello, I’m still here” post, which smacks of desperation and hubris.

What is it about summer that makes it difficult not only to post but to form a coherent thought?

I suppose it is OK. In the South, summer seems to suck the lifeblood out of you until all you can do is see to your basic bodily needs.

I went to a gun show today. That will be a separate post. Daniel is amazing and contrary and infuriating and delightful in one 42″, 36 LB package. How we love him, even when he makes our blood boil 😉

We received the list of things he needs from the Pre-K he starts later this month, and Jimmy and I are practically shaking at the thought of our baby starting “real” school earlier than we anticipated: large backpack, lunch, uniform, no cuddlies/toys, etc. I think Pre-K will suit him, but I am as nervous about it as if I were the child in the class. I hope he likes his new class. If so, it’s likely he will be with them until 8th grade. I’m trying to keep an open mind. We are flexible, right? And no shame if it doesn’t work out and we need to find a different place, right?

It’s August. We are 75% through the year (Note: OK, so not exactly 75% but close enough!). How did that happen? I was in Michael’s last week and they already had out the Halloween/Autumn displays. I was delighted. But that’s not right. Part of me was thrilled while another part was in shock. Too soon!

It seems like only yesterday we brought a tiny newborn home from the hospital. The next year, we had a little one who could run easily. From then on, every milestone has passed with warp speed.

D is a sweet boy and we love him very much. He has learned so much already and amazes, astounds and confounds us daily. Hopefully he will have a great year in his new school.

Have a great weekend 🙂

Changing of the Guard

Daniel moved his plate to be next to daddy.

Daniel moved his plate to be next to daddy.

Daniel prefers Jimmy right now.  Jimmy is his playmate of choice, and Daniel grins and runs to greet him when he comes in the door.  Daniel’s greeting to me is a bit more aloof: a smile, but he doesn’t run to me and throw himself on me.  Truth be told, our relationship is a bit antagonistic right now.  Daniel likes to boss me around and tell me to stop talking or not say certain words.  He commands me, and I swear, if he could snap his fingers at me, he would.  He’s actually quite rude to me. Sometimes, he’ll ask a question, and I’ll reply, and he’ll say, “Mommy! I wasn’t talking to you. I was talking to Daddy.”

Daniel and I also argue in the car. He informs me that everything is unacceptable and that I will NOT argue with him. He challenges me on everything.  Yesterday he told me:

Mommy, I love you, but I don’t always like you.

Ouch. Although I could honestly say, “ditto.”  When I tell people some of the things he says, they wince and tell me it breaks their heart when they hear their kids say that sort of thing.  Jimmy looks at me apologetically when Daniel states or demonstrates a preference for him.

The truth is that it doesn’t bother me that much.

First of all, I know that Daniel’s rudeness to me is a sign that he feels safe with me. He doesn’t have to be on his best behavior with me because he knows I love him and won’t leave him. Don’t worry – we do correct him when he says those things.  But I understand that he is being developmentally appropriate and that it is giving him a safe way to work through complex emotions. Or at least that’s what the parenting books say 😉

Daniel also went through an extreme mommy phase for around a year that spanned the second half of his second year and first half of his third. I never thought my nerves would chafe to hear “mommy” said over and over in a sing-song voice.  It was frustrating to have him literally hanging off of me everywhere I went. Cleaning? Cooking? Sitting? Forget it.  He absolutely positively did not want his daddy and would go so far as to tell Jimmy that he didn’t like him and cry upon seeing him.  As a result, I had most of the hands-on parenting tasks because he would not tolerate Jimmy. Being your child’s everything sounds great until you experience it. It was a very frustrating time.

So now, I love seeing him run to Jimmy. I love seeing how patient Jimmy is with him and how Daniel responds to him because frankly, Jimmy can talk to him in a way that makes sense to him in a way I cannot. I love that Daniel adores his daddy. I don’t begrudge them any moment they spend together.  I want Daniel to have a good relationship with both parents.

Besides, I’m the one Daniel calls out for in the middle of the night when he wakes up from a bad dream 🙂

Four is…

Daniel turned 4 almost two months ago, and I cannot believe I didn’t write a commemorative post (that sounds odd) or a recap of his birthday party or anything. June was a busy month, and the entire summer is zooming by.

Daniel’s birthday party went very well. Eight preschoolers jumped, climbed and bounced to their hearts’ content, and then we threw pizza, cake and ice cream at them.  Daniel was thrilled with his garbage truck cake, and he, Jimmy, my mother and I were all exhausted when we got home (although no naps were had by anyone).

I feel like I need to knock on wood as I write this, but age 4 has been so much easier than age 3…so far. I wrote several times last year how unprepared I was for the huge changes and challenges age 3 brought almost overnight, and we’ve been waiting and watching, but so far, so good. I’m not saying it’s an easy age.  Age 4 has its own delights, but we can reason with him and are beginning to be able to use logic. We can have conversations with him and that helps SO much.  He’s funny and sweet and delightful and infuriating, often simultaneously.

Four is Inquisitive

Daniel: Mommy, do starfish have toes?

Me: No, they have feet but no toes (according to our starfish book)

Daniel: Why not?

Me: I don’t know.  That’s just how they were made.

Daniel: You do to know.

Me: ????????????

Four is Inquisitive and Chatty

Daniel: Mommy, what’s your favorite color? Do you like garbage trucks? Do you know I like Word Girl? What’s that, Mommy? Do you like Thomas? Do you like Percy? Do you like…<insert every train he owns>? It starts from the moment he gets up, to the moment I pick him up, until he finally lays his little blond head on the pillow and falls asleep.

Four is Inappropriate

Daniel: Mommy, do you wear underwear?

Me: Yes

Daniel: Mommy, what do they look like? Are they pretty?

Me: ummmmm we don’t really talk about our underwear

***

Daniel: Daddy! What’s in your pants? (reaches hand down Jimmy’s pants)

He was actually referring to what Jimmy had in his pocket, but we weren’t sure at the time.

Four is Bossy

Daniel: Mommy, do not argue with me. Do not say that word. Do not call me that name. I must be first! I own purple!

Four is Sweet

Daniel: Mommy, who am I married to?

Me: I don’t know?

Daniel: I am married to you, daddy, and Word Girl (he blushes a bit and my heart melts. I also suddenly hate Word Girl)

 

Four is Infuriating

Me: You need to finish your green beans.

Daniel: No.

Me: Yes, you do or you won’t get dessert.

Daniel: But I waaaaaaaaant dessert

Me: Well, who controls that?

Daniel: You.

Me: No! You do! (suddenly feeling like I’ve lost control of the conversation). Just eat  your green beans!

 

Four is Sensitive

Daniel: I’m a robot

Me: Are you like one of Toby’s robots? (from Word Girl. Toby is a bit of a punk)

Daniel: (chin quivering, face crumbling,  tears falling) I AM NOT TOBY. I AM NOT ONE OF HIS ROBOTS. HE’S A BAD BOY. NO ONE IN THE FAMILY IS TOBY OR ONE OF HIS ROBOTS.

Me: OK, OK, OK! (Maybe it’s time to teach him about similes)

 

There is never a dull moment around our house; that’s for sure.

“Shore” Do Miss Vacation

Let’s take a break from ranting and write about something more feel-good: our beach trip!

We had a great time. The weather was mostly good, and we spent a few hours every day on the beach. We never made it to the aquarium, but I don’t think Daniel minded. We ate great food; I think I had shrimp, scallops and tuna almost every day!  I was able to read 4 awful books from my book sale stash. They were Dan Brown wannabes specializing in conspiracy theories and though ludicrous, fun to read. I definitely taxed no brain cells reading them.  Never fear – I was able to visit the magical book store on the island (by myself!) and buy 3 new books for me and 1 for Daniel.  I call the book store magical because it has the most eclectic collection, and I am always able to find something unique.  The town house we rented was perfect as well with enough room for Daniel’s toys downstairs and two huge bedrooms and an amazing view upstairs.

It was the best beach trip our little family has had.  At 4, Daniel still requires constant vigilance on the beach, but he didn’t try to run off and was able to entertain himself playing with sand for short periods of time. Jimmy and I were actually able to sit at the same time and watch him play before he demanded to go to the ocean.   Daniel loves the water and he’s quite the water baby. We brought back an impressive collection of sea shells, and Daniel even found a few star fish 😉

The three of us returned home rested, yet exhausted (vacationing is hard work!).

We’re firmly back in the real world of work and day care, and thinking about our vacation fills us with longing and a bad case of the vacation blues. Seven days in which we shut out the world and did whatever we wanted to do. How we needed that.

So, we decided that going to the beach once this year is not enough. Last weekend we booked the townhouse for the week of my birthday in September. I can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday.

 

Beach attitude

Beach attitude

 

beach2

Beach selfie

 

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Eating at Amos Mosquito’s

 

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View from our enclosed lower patio

 

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View from our upper deck

 

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Daniel finds a star fish

 

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I’ll stomp your sand castle!