Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I'm huge with the preschool crowd

Last year I worked in Anna's classroom and got to eat lunch with her every day. This year is different and so when I was packing her lunch for the first day of school I got a little sappy and put a note in her bag, written on a paper towel and printed as neatly as I could manage.

I hope you are having a great first day of school! I love you, Mommy. She liked it so much she refused to throw it away and kept it tucked into a pocket of her lunch bag for two weeks.

I didn't want to start doing it for every lunch - too much pressure. Like I need one more thing to remember to do every day. So I've made it an occasional thing, once every week or so. Sometimes I include a little reminder, like swimming lessons tonight! or play date tomorrow! She always keeps them.

Yesterday after school I was cleaning out the lunch bags and found the note I'd written that morning. I called Anna over to see if she could read it to me.

"Dear Anna," she read slowly with a tiny bit of assistance. "I love you so much! I hope you are having a good day. Love, Mommy."

"And what about this down here?" I asked, pointing to another line of writing next to a silly sketch of a fairy.

Anna smiled and rolled her eyes. "Eat your lunch!" she quoted. "The kids in my class LOVED that! They really laughed."

What can I say? I know my audience.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Take Us Back In Time Tuesday - 9/29/09

I sort of can't believe I haven't already used this picture for Mrs. Schmitty's Take Us Back In Time Tuesday project.

Because it quite simply is one of my all time favorite pictures, ever.

There are so many things that make me smile when I look at this picture, which was taken in the summer of 2007. Anna's bedhead, Rachel's toddler potbelly, those sweet little jammies with the tiny satin bows at the necks.

Mostly I love that Rachel is watching her big sister's tearful reaction to this odd scene with a curious expression, like "What, he totally had it coming. Plus, he fits."

In later months I'd begin to worry that Rachel had some hostility issues with Elmo as I came across several other gruesome scenes, including a near-suffocation with her overturned snack bowl but it must have just been a phase. I'm pleased to report that Elmo is well and still residing - now peacefully - with our family.

If you would like to take part in this project - and I highly recommend that you do - the participation rules are
here and the Mr. Linky link can be found here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Then and now

While looking through my archives I discovered further proof of my whack blogging skillz. Specifically, I never posted anything at all about my girls first-ever day of school. LAST YEAR. Not one word or picture. How awful am I?

Of course I love to find the silver lining and I quickly realized that this is a perfect opportunity for a comparison photo situation and everyone knows how much I love that. And so I give you First Day of School 2008:

The apprehension in Anna's eyes is palpable. She loves adventure and new experiences but is very cautious in the transition phase. She's just waiting to see what this preschool thing is all about exactly. When I look at her careful little face my heart just swells a bit.

And when I look at Rachel I just want to giggle. Not even three yet, so little with her unruly pigtails and experiencing another milestone with her big sister. Just happy.

It was an awesome school year. It took about three months for Rachel to stop screaming every time I got more than two inches away from her but once we got past that little bump in the road it was golden.

By comparison we have here First Day of School 2009:

Sometimes I wonder why they have to get bigger at all. But then the universe drops me a nice little reminder that the getting bigger part - getting to watch our helpless little babies grow and gain confidence and overcome fears - that might be the best part of all. Even if it occasionally makes you cry.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Take Us Back In Time Tuesday - 9/22/09

This week's entry for Mrs. Schmitty's Take Us Back In Time Tuesday project features four generations of women from my mother's side of the family. In a good way.

Rachel was several days old and still in the NICU but Grandma Edith was not waiting until we took her home to get her hands on her newest great-grandchild. So she and my mom came to visit and I swear we did not plan the blue-gray color scheme. I'll blame genetics on that fabulous style choice.

If you would like to take part in this project, the participation rules are here and the Mr. Linky link can be found here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


The preschool my girls attend - and where I work - is part of an orthodox Jewish synagogue. Out of respect, Orthodox Jews traditionally do not speak or write God's name (which is why you will sometimes see it written as "G-d") and in our synagogue we teach the children to say "Ha-shem" (literally, "the name").

Over the weekend our synagogue had a big fancy event and when we arrived on Monday there were several large exotic flower arrangements left over from the centerpieces. I was practically ordered to take one home.

It looked kind of silly on my cluttered kitchen table, surrounded by baskets of laundry and lunch bags waiting to be cleaned out and re-packed. It held Anna's fascination though and she sat gently touching the long fronds and brightly colored petals as the usual litany of questions spewed forth. I did my best to answer but I know very little about plants and flowers. I really was an awful biology student.

Finally Anna declares that the plants feel fake. I reminded her that they were not fake and that is why we put water in the vase.

"Are they really real Mommy?"
"REALLY real? NOT fake?"
"Really real honey."
"Wow. Hashem is good!"

Sunday, September 13, 2009

First Five

I could seriously make this a daily post but I barely have the strength to live through it every morning, let alone write about it. These are the first five questions Anna asked me today. All asked before I was out of bed. Of course.

Why are fairies the only people who have wings?

Why when people get married do they have to have kids?
(Note: it doesn't seem to matter if we have discussed a particular question and its answer at length or how many times we have done so. In Anna's world all questions are up for re-presentation to Mommy.)

Are these drawings of sparkles or real sparkles on my pajama shirt?

Why does Rachel always come to your bed in the middle of the night?

Did I get bigger today?

And now for Mommy's question: where is my coffee? I'm going to need my strength today.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A rule with many applications

I am sitting in my chair with the computer on my lap trying my very hardest to finish an article I am reading. The four-year-old sits beside me on a little ottoman pulled right up to the arm of my chair. Although the term "sits" is wholly inappropriate because this child does not sit. If she has even half an ounce of energy left in her gangly body she is squirming and bouncing and wiggling and finding some way to get one of her razor-sharp elbows into my side.

At any rate she's there, sitting and yet not sitting, giggling and trying to catch a small leather ball that is being tossed erratically in her direction. The pitcher? The three-year-old of course. This one seems to think that yelling "catch" at the top of her lungs is a substitute for actually aiming her throw.

The two of them crack each other up. Rachel gets louder and Anna gets higher-pitched. It's a brain-piercing combination. After about five minutes of this, the little leather ball goes whizzing past my laptop screen and I open my mouth to try to move this scene to another part of the house.

Before I can speak a word my brain does me a favor (this is banner news as it does not happen often, particularly before words leave my mouth). I mentally flash through the next few minutes: request, resistance, insistence, whining... enough said. I stopped at whining. I closed my mouth (more banner news) and repositioned the laptop.

When Anna was a very fussy colicky six-week-old baby, Dan got some excellent advice from his best friend, himself a father of two girls. This piece of advice came with a title: The Happy Baby Rule. In any given situation we were to ask ourselves, is the baby happy? If the answer was yes then we as parents should sit down, shut up and do nothing to change the situation. Period. It didn't matter if it was time for the baby to eat or she should be napping. Happy baby equals happy parents.

I hereby adopt this rule for my preschoolers. Maybe it is due to the temporary (ha! I hope so) increase in bickering that occurred when Anna came back from her vacation (there will be more on that soon) (and by the way can I use any more parentheses in this post?) or the fact that school started again today and I am now surrounded by many more preschoolers every day but I just do not have the energy to try to run the show right now.

So now I am living by the Happy Kid Rule. Are they happy? Are they safe? Then they can be as annoying as they want.

You can drop that parenting award in the mail at your convenience.

Take Us Back In Time Tuesday - 9/8/09

I missed a week but I am back in the saddle!

Continuing with Mrs. Schmitty's Take Us Back In Time Tuesday project, I give you this sweet little gem:

July 1, 2006 and Rachel was in the jumpy seat for only the second or third time. This is the kind of seat that attaches to the door jamb and gives a good jumper some serious air. I remember Anna giggling like crazy as she watched her oh-so-recently-immobile sister fly into the air and back down again, her chubby little thighs working to go higher.

Even as an infant Anna would never fall asleep if there was anything around to grab her attention. She never dozed off in her highchair or under her play gym. She most certainly would not fall asleep in a jumpy seat. So I was slightly stunned to realize that Rachel had just jumped herself to sleep.

If you would like to take part in this project, the participation rules are here and the Mr. Linky link can be found here.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Rachel's chart

Our Anna-less week ends tomorrow and we are all excited for the Muffin's return. In the meantime I thought I'd share a little tool we used for Rachel to keep track of the week.

By day three Rachel was complaining that she "thought Anna would be home already." I almost pulled out a calendar for her but I only had a monthly one and I thought it might be too overwhelming to see all of those boxes, even if I highlighted the ones that signified Anna's vacation. So instead I drew eight boxes on a piece of paper to represent each day Anna would be gone, including the two travel days.

No mocking my lack of art skills please! At the end of each day Rachel and I put something in the box to represent what we did that day and then write a description. She is then able to get excited about her week as well and see that she got to do some special things too. And it's an easy way for her count down to her sister's return.

This picture was obviously taken before last night, so for the record: we baked oatmeal raisin cookies yesterday. This is especially significant because Rachel loves raisins and Anna usually won't eat them. I almost took another picture but my cookie drawing really was pathetic.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Passing the halfway mark

Anna has been gone for five days now and won't be back for another three. Not surprisingly the adults are taking the separation harder than the children.

I spent the first two days marveling at how quiet my house was and the third day an emotional teary mess. Luckily for everyone I was much too busy yesterday to go running into bathrooms for sixty-second cry breaks.

Staying occupied does seem to be the key to resisting the inclination to mope, for both me and Rachel. While we have gotten plenty of quality relaxation and cuddle time together, I seem to feel calmer and less anxious - and yes, less sad - when I am actually doing something.

Of course Anna is everywhere and I've still had a few moments where the intensity with which I miss my first born hits me full force. Like when I came across this:

Pingu. By Anna. I've never seen this before, which really surprised me because Anna usully announces it when she starts drawing something new and when she's perfected her new subject she demands recognition and finds a place for it on the refrigerator (where Rachel will move it or change the magnets and generally drive my little OCD 4-year-old nuts, but that is another post I suppose).

I found this guy in Anna's sketch pad near several other tries to get her favorite penguin just right. I took one look at the yellow outlining the white belly and all the other details she worked so hard on and I fell apart again. Dan and I just looked at each other and smiled as the tears welled up in my eyes and I was glad Rachel was in bed.

I tore the drawing out of her sketch pad and put it on the fridge for her return. Which cannot come soon enough. At least I have this to keep me company in the meantime:

And really, how sad can you be with that smile nearby?