Thursday, August 25, 2005

Back to school blues

Joey is going through his back-to-school transition.

First, he has had to wrap his head around the concept that he will not have Mrs. Brennan, his teacher from last year, for the rest of his academic career. This year he has the wonderful Mrs. Morgan. All the kids love Mrs. Morgan, all the parents love Mrs. Morgan. And even though we love Mrs. Brennan just as much, this is a new year. So anyway, every morning, I'd prep him by talking about the toys in MRS. MORGAN's room, and the kids, and the snacks. He would calmly tell me about what he was going to do in his old class. That went on for days, until yesterday when Mrs. Brennan was holding his hand at the curb when it was time to be picked up.

She ducked her head in the car and I told her in semi-code about his determination to stay in her room. She said that they had been talking about that when I drove up. She reminded him that the two year olds in his class still wore diapers. He yelled out, "Ooooh, Poopie!" and hasn't brought that up again.

Then there were the shoes. Last year, I learned the hard way, that for Joey, new shoes + first day of school was a recipe for disaster. Too much to scream about at one time. So this year we waited a day or two to go shoe shopping. At the store we looked at several pairs and he chose a cool pair of Chuck Taylor Converse shoes. Old school, black, with flames licking the sides. He put them on and became Dash from The Incredibles. That lasted until the next school day. Now he only wants to wear the old ones and he assured me that "they grew" and they fit him better now. Nut.

The day we got impatient and forced him to wear the shoes to school was another fine moment. All the way over to Good Shepherd, he told me he didn't like the new shoes and he wasn't going to school. I said it would be fine. Mrs. Morgan opened the door and I told her in code that shoes were a problem ... she said, "I have on new shoes too, and they are working out well". But Joey wouldn't budge. I was holding up the drop off line, so I had to pull the car up a little further. A different teacher opened the door the second time, and to make a long story short, she had to pull him out of the car while he held onto the door frame, screaming.

Good Shepherd is all about "honoring the child's emotions", but I know Joey, and it may not be pretty, but the faster they get him out of the car and I drive away, the better. His stubborness does not improve with time. So yesterday I pulled up and there were three staff members rushing to my car when it was our turn to unload. One was the Head of the School. With a curt, "time to get out of the car" he was extracted peacefully. He was wearing his old tennis shoes.

When I picked him up, I asked Mary how the day went.

"Fine", she said, "But there was this one thing to talk about....."


"In circle time, Joey and Christiane won't settle down." (That's nothing, I think thankfullly) She continued, "I had to separate them because they were touching their tongues together." (oh?)

"Thanks for telling me, I'll get right on that."

On the way home, I started the gentle lecture. "Joey, what happened with Christiane at circle time today?"

Joey said, "They took her away from me."

I almost wish it was the shoes again.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I thought I had deleted this photo from the camera! It is of the most amazing flower display I've ever seen on a person's house. Nestled among the apartment buildings overlooking the beach in West Seattle, there was a tiny house buried under all these flowers, it was amazing. Posted by Picasa

The last of the Seattle pictures

Due to technical difficulties, I'm just now getting the last of the Seattle pictures out of my camera. Our last day was so fun. We rode a water taxi (it's part of the bus system in Seattle, but it's a boat of course!) over to see our old priest, Chuck and his wife Courtney. They live in West Seattle, which is sort of disconnected from Seattle by a area of heavy industrial stuff. You have to take a long bridge to get over to it, and it actually looks back toward downtown Seattle.

Chuck and Courtney treated us to a wonderful lunch and then a ride to Alkai Beach. It was so much fun. The kids played at the shore, watched boats and collected sea glass and shells.

Later that night, we had dinner with old co-worker, Mark, his wife Betty and their kids. It was a perfect way to wrap up a great trip.

The night before that last day, I had a bad dream. I pictured myself at the airport in Fort Worth, standing at a counter, hot, and realizing that the cool air of Seattle was only a memory and now I was back in the hot home I chose. Waking up to find I had this whole last day, I was determined that I would only wear a short sleeve shirt, and shorts, and no matter how chilly it got (like it did get on Alkai) I would appreciate the kind of weather we wouldn't get in Texas until November. It was wonderful.

Our last full day in Seattle we rode a water taxi over to West Seattle, the day was perfect and the view of the city was wonderful.  Posted by Picasa

The kids got to visit the beach, here, Max and Joey are holding their shorts up so they don't get wet. Posted by Picasa

We had a wonderful day with Chuck and Courtney in West Seattle. Posted by Picasa

Joey and our favorite Good Shepherd Preschool teacher, Mrs. Morgan. She is the first teacher to have had all three of my children and whenever I describe her, it is that she is like a female Mr. Rogers. We love her! Posted by Picasa

Emma and her third grade teacher Mrs. Howell Posted by Picasa

Max and his first grade teacher Mrs. Sharpe Posted by Picasa

Max and Emma just before walking to school on the first day with their new clothes, new back packs and lunchbox. Max picked out these Buster Brown shoes for the year because they looked like hiking boots. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

oh my...

Today is the first time in eight and a half years that I will be alone on a school day. When I drop Joey off at 9, all three of my kids will be at school and I will be ...... alone!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Orcas Dream

I wanted to concentrate when I posted photos of our three days on Orcas Island. I still don't think this does the experience justice, but I'll try my best.

We have two good friends, Steve and Butch, who live in heaven. Butch is Emma's godfather and back in the working days, he sat just between David and me at Mahlum Architects. For years, he had to hear us bicker around him, so it only made sense that he should become one of the family by being godfather to our first born.

We first saw their Orcas life at a little cabin knicknamed the Hilton. But then Butch and Steve got lucky and moved to Eastlight Farm. Our last visit to Eastlight was when Emma was five months old. We had a picnic in their meadow and decided she would be married there, pulled up in a horse drawn carriage. I would have many years to plant the idea in her brain that a nice summer wedding in that magic place would be perfect. I am currently working on that mission.

Anyway, since that visit, the place has gotten even better. We arrived to perfect weather, a wonderful dinner, and good company. During the next few days, we sat on the deck, played in the meadow and watched deer families coming up for an evening feed. We swam in the little pond, hiked at Moran State Park just down the street. We had cookouts, farm fresh eggs and sausage for breakfasts, and two of us ate an entire batch of homemade peanut butter cookies. We had a campfire and told ghost stories and roasted marshmallows, and it was like being in November in Texas. My back was chilled in the cold night air, while my face was warm by the fire.

I rode in a convertable, listening to loud music while the stars blazed overhead.

I sat still in the woods and heard absolutely no noise except the wind in the trees.

I played Battle (the most boring card game invented) with Max while sitting at a window seat with a million dollar view.

I sat in a hot tub the last night and wondered how I was so lucky to be right there, on the most beautiful night of the year.

It was heaven, thanks Butch and Steve.

Hiking in Moran State Park, around Mountain Lake. This was almost a four mile hike, and all the kids handled it great. It was so quiet hiking there and the lake was so clear we could see all the way to the bottom where logs had fallen in years earlier. Toward the end of our hike, we stopped for a sit by a rope swing. Soon several people stopped by for a swim and we saw the terrifyingly high drop they took off that big swing into the icy cold water of the lake. Texans aren't equipped for water like that, trust me. Posted by Picasa

Emma and her godfather, Butch. Posted by Picasa

My kids begged for rides on Steve's hot rod. Posted by Picasa

Mommy preferred to ride in this hot rod.

I got a deluxe tour of the island in this beauty. One night Steve and I took her out for an errand with the seats heated, the heater blowing on us and the top down. It was a cold night (50's?) and I looked up to see the whole sky loaded with stars. The Milky Way was very visible. And it occurred to me that it had been years since I was out far enough from a city to see so many stars. I rode all the way home looking straight up. Posted by Picasa

Swimming in the pond. Posted by Picasa

Butch and Steve have lots of friends who operate small farms on Orcas. We stopped at Ruthie's farm for a nice visit with Ruthie and eggs straight from the chickens' nests. We got homemade sausage at another farm and ate all that good food for breakfast the very next morning. Posted by Picasa

The view from Butch and Steve's deck. It is heavenly. Posted by Picasa

San Juan Islands. Posted by Picasa

Freezing on the ferry to Orcas Island in the San Juans. Posted by Picasa

Volunteer time.

OK, for all my working friends out there, let me clue you in. Once you become a stay-at-home mom you will have a target over your head. One that tells every group you are in contact with that you are a potential volunteer. Preschool, Elementary School, Girl Scouts, Church have each bid for my time. I love all my groups, I want to help, the tasks sound interesting and fun, and you make new friends working on these projects, but if you are not careful, you will once again have a 40-hour a week job. You just won't be getting a salary any more.

I used to look forward to the start of school as the time when the teachers helped me shoulder the load of childcare during my week. Now I cringe as the last minutes of summer drip through the hourglass. My email is already buzzing with tasks and requests for the Fall activities. The big one for me is the Silent Auction at the preschool. The Auction is a major event, a major fundraiser and may I say, a major pain in the butt. The good thing about it is that it is over by the end of October and then I am off the hook for volunteer work at preschool for a whole year. But right now, it is a mountain of dookie I am about to climb.

I helped with the first teacher luncheon at the elementary school today. That's my big task there. Only 8 more lunches to go and I share a partner for that job. But as I was walking to the car, a friend pulled up and said those innocent words, "Can I ask a favor?" I was flustered with the kids in the line of traffic, and a big dump truck was waiting for my friend to move her car down the road. I asked what she needed and she said, "Room Mother?"

"Which Kid?" I replied.
And I said, "Sure".

One word. So easy. Why did she find me first? Why did I say "sure" instead of "NO"?

I already miss summer. No wake up time, no homework, no volunteer work. But it never is as bad once you start tackling the work. A bit here and there. Pretty soon it is May and you wonder how it all sped by so fast.

And this Friday is another Mommy Book Club where my pals will hang out and sip margaritas and tell dirty jokes and funny stories. I met all those funny girls by volunteering for PTA Art Fairs, and Girl Scout troops. One is my partner for the teacher luncheons. We all have those targets over our heads and anyway, what would I have done if I wasn't busy working on the projects? Watch TV? It's time to get to work. Brush the summer cobwebs off my phone and keyboard and get crackin'.

A new school year -- Bring it on.

Emma's love of all things Asian was allowed to bloom in Seattle. Besides the Japanese Garden, we made at least three trips to the International District for shopping . Emma's trip souvineers included a set of chopsticks, a Chinese soup spoon, a rice farmers' hat, a tea set, and Japanese Animae dolls. Posted by Picasa

Carp at the Japanese Gardens. Posted by Picasa

The Fremont Troll Posted by Picasa

Emma finds a nose to pick. Posted by Picasa

Rocky, Kathy and Butch Posted by Picasa

Rocky's party again. Posted by Picasa

Rocky threw a wonderful dinner party for the old office pals from Mahlum. Posted by Picasa

My favorite photo from the trip! Posted by Picasa