Thursday, September 15, 2016

Greta's First Week in Pre-K

There were no tears from Greta on the first day of pre-K! As I said in my last post, I really thought it could go either way--no tears or big tears. But she was excited to go, and joined the children in the pre-K line with nary a backward glance. And it's been like that all week. She's talking about new friends, the pre-K kindness cheer, and center time. At the end of the day, she plays on the hill outside the school with her friends.

There's something about the pre-K teachers that's truly magic. Even after just one week, I see a change in the little miss. This makes me happy....and sad. She's my baby!

One of the things I've had to talk to L&G about a lot lately is tone. From school and YouTube videos, they'd picked up "Duh!" with its attendant insolence and eye-rolling. I explained that saying "duh" isn't polite, that it is, in fact, rude, and they took it to heart. If they slip, they theatrically clap their hands over their mouths. And now it's gotten really hilarious because they'll pounce on each other for doing it--"MOM!! GRETA SAID 'DUH'!!!" Lucia will yell. And Greta will immediately defend herself: "I didn't say 'duh.' I said...'suh.'" "MOM, GRETA SAID 'SUH'." "Greta, you shouldn't say 'suh.'" Now and then, they'll look at me and say, "We can't say 'duh,' or 'suh,' or 'buh.'" 

We have some funny conversations these days.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

One Week Down

We made it through the first week of the school year. Lucia has settled into first grade with nary a blip. She seems very happy. She was also very happy for the weekend, when she and Greta could just stay home and play. All weekend they played with Shopkins, ponies, and Magna Tiles. Lucia also requested we do a craft: she wanted to make homes for her toys. So we made a few box-homes with wallpaper and carpet scraps.

We did have some disruption on Saturday because we're doing a facelift of our bedroom, and the workers were in our house all day replacing the windows in our bedroom and my office. Tomorrow, they'll paint. We're trying to find wallpaper for one wall of the bedroom but have so far failed to find anything we like. This is proving to be difficult. But the new windows look amazing.

Today I went to yoga and then we just stayed home and relaxed. Andrew made fried chicken for dinner--our summer favorite, made in a cast-iron skillet on the grill. We're gearing up for Greta's first day of pre-K tomorrow. It's impossible to predict how it will go. Sometimes she seems excited about starting pre-K; sometimes (today) she says she just wants to stay home with me. It may be a rough beginning...or it may not be. She's becoming more predictable, but school is big, and it's a big change from the summer.

To her credit, she had her first swimming lesson of the fall on Thursday, with new teachers, and she did great--whereas in the past, I had to resort to Shopkins bribery to get her to have a good lesson. And on Saturday, she had her first gymnastics class of the season--again, a new teacher, and a chaotic crowd of kids. But she went right in and did a great job. So, progress. Five years old was a real turning point with Lucia, so maybe we're getting there.

I'll be heading out of town this coming weekend for Aunt Joanne's funeral--a sadly sudden loss. I haven't talked to L&G about it yet, though Greta was home on Friday when I got the news and hugged me when she saw I was crying. She also kept asking who died, who died, and a little wash of fear went over her face when I said it was my aunt--she thought I was talking about Aunt Molly. The "aunts" in her world are Molly and Katherine. So many scary ways for kids to try to make sense of overheard adult conversations.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Lucia's First Day of First Grade

Lucia was so excited about starting first grade. Without all the unknowns of last year, she was a little freer to just enjoy the excitement of beginning a new school year. We all walked to the bus stop, and then, once she was on the bus, we drove to school to meet her. We got to see her classroom and meet her new teacher. She has a few friends in the class, which is great. She was a teeny bit sad when we left, saying she'd miss us, but she got off the bus at the end of the day happy. She told us she knows she's in real school now because there's no rest time and no play time. Just work.

I had to go to Target yet again after bedtime for still more school supplies. I don't even know how many times I've been to Target over the past week. I threatened to just buy a tent and set it up in the parking lot. Sigh.

Summer Day 9/5: Labor Day

Last day of summer. We spent the day close to home, and made a trip to Pier One to buy new bedroom furniture. Fall brings two home renovation projects: a small renovation of our bedroom, with new windows, paint, furniture, and carpet; plus a larger renovation of our basement, involving a full demo and brand-new everything, including a bathroom and laundry room. Nothing will be as disruptive as our kitchen renovation, so we're excited to get these started.

Otherwise, the girls just played. Last day of summer. By evening, Lucia was jumping up and down with excitement about starting first grade.

I'm very glad I did this (more or less) daily blog this summer. In June, the summer seemed like it stretched ahead endlessly--the first couple of days really threw me for a loop, with both kids home all day, and no time to myself at all. But we hit our stride as the days went on (though I never did get any time to myself). The first half of the summer was somewhat of a trial, with lots of bickering and Greta's insane "fisherman" whining; we reached our nadir during our week in Connellsville, with the Pinkie Pie Sweet Shop debacle. But that proved to be a reckoning, and our summer from that point on was markedly different.

Now the "fisherman" is kind of a family joke--now and then Greta will pretend to whine, and we'll theatrically say oh, no, the fisherman is coming, and Greta very forcefully orders us not to say it--not to say "fisherman." As though speaking the name will summon him/it. Still super, super strange and vaguely disturbing. But on we go.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Summer Day 9/4: Storm King

We continued our Ocean City makeup weekend by taking a day trip today to Storm King Art Center, something I've been wanting to do for ages. It's about an hour and fifteen minutes away, an easy drive, and so worth it. We had a great time. Storm King is a sprawling sculpture park, 500 acres, with gigantic sculptures by Calder, Serra, Maya Lin, and many many more. It's a beautiful place, and walking through the enormous fields, with sculptures towering overhead, was stunning. We'd brought lunch and had a picnic under some trees. L&G had a lot of fun too, not least because I'd let them each bring a small purse with four ponies. The ponies came out to play whenever we stopped to take a break.

A highlight for all of us was Maya Lin's Storm King Wavefield. We climbed along and over and down the grassy waves, feeling much higher up than we actually were.

We walked around for well over two hours and had just hopped on a tram to head toward the parking area when Lucia said, "I can't find Rainbow Dash." One of the ponies was missing. We'd made our way around a good bit of the 500 acres. There was a long moment of horrified silence. We got off the tram near where we'd come into the park, and discussed what to do. There was no way to retrace our steps; but Andrew had a suspicion that we'd find Rainbow Dash where we'd stopped for lunch. So he and Lucia went on a hunt while Greta and I hung out near the museum building.

Lo and behold, Rainbow Dash was found. Lucia decided Rainbow Dash's punishment would be not getting to join us when we stopped for ice cream on the way home.

This was a super-fun trip--definitely a place to return to, maybe in the fall. What a lovely way to finish off the summer.

Walking through the South Fields

A sculpture in the South Fields

Walking on the Wavefield

On the Wavefield

Summer Day 9/3

To assuage our disappointment over canceling our Ocean City trip, we planned a fun city excursion for Saturday. We drove in and went to the New Museum to see "The Keeper," an exhibition I've been wanting to see. I thought the girls might like it, since it's about collections and collecting, and I'd seen a writeup in the Times that there was a family event on Saturday morning--a teddy-bear-decorating workshop to complement the centerpiece of the exhibition, a collection of vintage photographs that all contained a teddy bear. L&G were thrilled when they were each handed a small white teddy bear when we got to the museum's workshop area, where tables full of art supplies had been set up, along with hot glue guns. They worked for a long time making things for their bears, less interested in making clothes and hats and more focused on making accessories--which I guess is no surprise.

Bears complete, we headed down a few floors to the exhibition, which was pretty great. L&G really liked seeing all the collections, and spotting the teddy bears in the photo collection. There was a group of photos of Holocaust children with teddy bears, and when L&G asked about them, I said that the children were prisoners and they had only one special toy. I tried to deflect their further questions about why the children were prisoners, who'd captured them, what happened to them, etc. Greta has asked about the "prisoner children" several times since then, clearly aware that there's more to the story.

After the museum, we had dumplings for lunch at a little place on the Lower East Side. That was really fun--L&G don't yet know how to use chopsticks, but they tried valiantly.

There was a small playground near where we'd parked, so we let them play for a little while before driving back home. It was a really perfect city day.

Saturday night, we invited six neighbors over for an impromptu gathering around our fire pit. We felt happy to have created a day that seemed like a perfect balance of city/suburb.

A museum worker photographed the kids with their bears

The teddy bear photos in "The Keeper" exhibition

Dumplings and noodles

Girls in the city. Note the knee socks.

Summer Days 8/30-9/2

Tues. 8/30 & Wed. 8/31

These days have kind of blurred together. There was more swimming at the pool on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the girls and I went to the zoo for our final trip of the summer. We had a lot of fun doing all our favorite zoo things--riding the zoo train, feeding birds in the aviary, riding the carousel. I definitely felt some end-of-summer melancholy.

We went swimming later on Wednesday afternoon. However, an hour into swimming, Lucia began complaining that her ear hurt--we headed home, and her pain quickly escalated until she was sobbing. Fortunately, it was walk-in hours for our pediatric practice, so after changing out of our swimsuits we rushed over for a checkup. It turned out to be nothing--just a tiny inflammation that a dose of Motrin seemed to take care of. Poor Lucia, though--she's not a complainer, so I really thought this was going to be a raging ear infection.

Thurs. 9/1

Thursday we had a regular day at home. We also went to Target, and I let L&G buy their final reading prize--a pack of Happy Places Shopkins. Greta chose the Bathing Bunny set, which has a miniscule toothbrush that she's been coveting. "The toothbrush wants to be with me," she said earlier in the week. Lucia chose Kitty Kitchen. They played with Shopkins and ponies for most of the remainder of the day.

I also dragged them to the mall on Thursday afternoon. The goal was new sneakers for L&G--I'd dismissed the idea as unnecessary until, in my back-to-school-preparation frenzy, I realized their sneakers are a mess and they can't possibly wear them for another school year. So, off we went to the Short Hills Mall, where we didn't find sneakers but DID find some cute sparkly light-up fun shoes that were on sale at Nordstrom. So they each got a pair of those.

The way I manage my back-to-school anxiety is to spend money, apparently, and along with Target and the Short Hills Mall I also placed a large order from Carter's for pj's, and Zappo's for the tennis shoes I failed to find at the mall.

Fri. 9/2

We were supposed to leave for Ocean City on Friday for our long-planned finale trip of the summer. We went over Labor Day last year and had so much fun we'd decided to do the trip again this year. Alas, Hurricane Hermine's imminent arrival convinced Andrew we should cancel. I pressed to still go, but as he read the increasingly dire weather advisories to me, it was clear we probably shouldn't go. Sigh. We were very very disappointed. L&G were unaffected--happy, in fact, to be able to just stay home and play. Which we did.