To My Daughter- For Her First Day of Kindergarten

I am NOT a Poet – but what the heck …

You’re off to Kindergarten, and you’re quite well prepared.
Your Tinkerbell backpack is fully packed
With classroom donations of paper and paste,
And a shiny new lunchbox to hold every snack.
The princess’ new clothes are laid out with lace socks,
New shoes and a polka-dot frock
A headband with a bow is the final touch.
Kiss your dolly goodbye; you’re out the door with no muss.

Off to Kindergarten

She’s off and running!

Kindergarten is a doorway, beyond its threshold your classroom awaits
With chunky pencils, glue sticks, safety scissors, and crayons of every shade.
You will write, your will draw, you will cut and you will paste.
There will be learning centers to explore how things work,
From lego-built forts to clock hands to shoelaces and boots.

Just a few words of advice before you bolt through that door,

Stand neatly in line; don’t push and don’t shove.
Try something new, each day
Don’t give up, ‘til you’ve mastered the task.
Share your pencils and snacks
Ask questions – your friends might just be glad that you asked.
Be daring and bold, and unafraid to fail.
Stand up for yourself, and for your friends too.
You know right from wrong, remember that too.
Solve problems; don’t start them.
Be patient. Don’t whine, some things just take time.

Don’t forget – your teacher will teach, but the learning is up to you.

The School Bus

Kindergarten – Watch Out!

A Tomboy Raising a Princess via Pink Hat Sports

Over on my other little blog, Pink Hat Sports, I’ve added a post about taking my 5-yr old daughter Fenway Park for the very first time. I had no expectations that my little princess would have any interest in watching the Sox battle the Indians, but to my delight, she loved it. She’s officially hooked … please read on!

A “Challenging” Morning – Who am I Kidding? A “Craptastic” Morning!

Today, I had “just one of those mornings”, and really I have no one to blame but myself. Here’s how it went down.

  1. “Thud!” That would be the sound of my feet hitting the floor 30 minutes later than they should have, also the sound of the first domino in the chain-reaction-disaster that was my morning.

  2. I beg and plead with my almost-7-year-old son, and my almost-5-year-old daughter to pretty-please hop out of bed and get themselves dressed in a flash. (The background here – my husband has been away for 2 weeks on an overseas trip, and I am playing the role of single-parent. This means dragging the kids out of bed at 5:30 a.m. during the week to shuffle them off to Grandma’s and school, so I can start my 90-minute commute to work. Fun times.)
  3. I hop in the shower. Just as I lather up my hair, my daughter walks in to argue with me about what she’s wearing. The weather forecast is for 84 degrees and she wants to wear her fleece pants, rather than the “weather-appropriate” outfit we picked out the night before. I am in no mood to argue, and a tantrum ensues.
  4. Still washing my hair, I give her some other clothing options just to get her out of the bathroom. The tantrum lingers, and I “sternly” tell her to go get dressed, and remind her that she is letting all of the steam out of the bathroom.
  5. BIG MISTAKE. My son hears the comment about the steam. NOT good. (More background – the kid has legitimate, real anxiety about fire drills, and steam from our shower has, on occasion set off our smoke alarm.) So now, my son is standing in his underwear, in my bathroom in a full-blown panic, sobbing and hyperventilating. He won’t leave because he thinks the smoke alarm will go off is he opens the door. I BEG him to leave the bathroom – promising him up and down that the smoke alarm will not go off. I won’t get out of the shower with him there, either. (I figure a smoke alarm going off would be much less traumatic than having him see is Mom in her birthday suit.)
  6. In the meantime, my daughter’s tantrum continues on. The next thing I hear is her little voice, through tears saying, “Mommy, I peed.” Of course she peed! She just woke up, has a full bladder, and is having a tantrum.  So now I have both children in the bathroom with me, one with pee running down her leg. Me, I’m stuck in the shower trying to think of an escape plan.
  7. So I use the only tools I have: My Lungs. I stick my head out of the shower and YELL!  (Thank goodness we don’t currently have tenants living in our upstairs apartment.) I order my son OUT of the bathroom! I manage to grab a towel, and begin to clean up my pee-coated daughter.
  8. I regain my composure, and ask my daughter if there are any pee-puddles I need to address. Just “a little bit in the hall” she tells me. So, once I’ve thrown on my clothes, I go to inspect. Yep, there’s a little one in the hallway by her bedroom, and six more little puddles running down the hallway to the bathroom.

So, my over-sleeping managed to turn a normal morning of getting the kids up, dressed, teeth brushed, attending to the dog, and out the door, into a thoroughly CRAPTASTIC morning – full of tantrums, panic attacks,  and unexpected janitorial duties.

Thankfully my kids, for the most part, are rock stars. After all the stress of the morning, this evening could not have been better: not a single balk at doing homework; they cleaned their rooms without asking, and were just plain delightful. I also rewarded myself for getting through this day with a big ol’ dish of ice cream and chocolate sauce. (Yes, for those of you who follow this blog, the giving up chocolate for Lent thing went right out the window today!)

empty ice cream dish

Glad that my day is like this bowl of ice cream - DONE!

A Shameless Plug for a Brand New Blog: Bad Parenting Moments

A couple of very smart, funny, witty and creative Moms (who just happen to be related to me) just started a great new blog.

Bad Parenting Moments Logo

 

 

 

 

Bad Parenting Moments is a blog full of refreshing stories from parents who try their best 100% of the time, and who, like me, sometimes fail miserably.

You should check it out … Really!

Keeping Dinner Easy With “Happy Turkey Taco-Pizzas”

Dinner just isn’t the same when Daddy’s away. It’s hard to muster up the motivation to make a big “family dinner” for just me and the kids (especially when one of them takes the prize as a picky-eater).

Nevertheless, we still have to eat but the kids still must eat right? So, I try to keep it simple, easy, and kid-friendly. Tonight’s dinner was the perfect blend of their favorite foods –  I call it Happy Turkey Taco-Pizza.

Happy Turkey Taco Pizzas

Smile - It's Pizza Time

Here’s the super-simple recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1/2 jar of salsa
  • small can of corn
  • 8-10 flour tortillas (fajita size)
  • 1 package of shredded Mexican cheese
  • 12 grape tomatoes (cut in half)
  • Salt & Pepper (a pinch of each)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Brown the ground turkey with a bit of salt and pepper, and drain off any fat.
  3. Stir in the salsa and corn, and simmer until liquid evaporates. (No one wants a soupy pizza!)
  4. On a foil-lined cookie sheet, lay out 4-5 tortillas.
  5. Spoon a bit of the turkey salsa mixture onto each tortilla.
  6. Cover the mixture with cheese, and then top with tomato-halves (in the shape of smiley faces, of course!)
  7. Bake for about 10-12 minutes in the oven, or until cheese is thoroughly melted.

Voila! A happy dinner with the kids.

 

Olive Oil Brownies, and Other Things I Blame on Daylight Savings Time

I love having more daylight in the evenings, but I sure do hate losing that hour of sleep. It’s jet lag without the upside of an exciting vacation. The time change throws me off for the whole day. So, I’ve decided to blame all of today’s mishaps on the clock:

First, I stubbed my toe first-thing this morning on the barely noticeable bump from our kitchen threshold. Ouch!

Next, I was baking brownies for a church dinner in my bleary-eyed state this morning. I accidentally replaced vegetable oil with olive oil. The brownies were surprisingly good. (Thank goodness!)

Lovely brownies

Olive oil in brownies, ain't half-bad!

Of course, I was also late for Mass this morning, despite the fact that the kids and I were all up and dressed, with an hour to spare.

My car wouldn’t turn over this morning (leading to the late arrival at Mass). I guess my car doesn’t like Daylight Savings Time either.

I could not get the through the day without a mid-afternoon nap. Thank goodness my kids, were completely engrossed in “Puss ‘n Boots” and let me snooze on the couch for an hour.

My kids and I were generally cranky all day. There was plenty of bickering, toy-grabbing, whining and “she’s touching me!” complaints to last until we “fall back.”

The tough part about today, is that it takes a good few days to really physically work through the time change. I am gearing up for a couple of grumpy bears to greet me tomorrow morning when I pull them out of bed for school before the sun rises.

Here’s hoping we all catch up on our sleep by next weekend!

PS: At first I thought that adding olive oil to my brownie mix would be sinful, and barely edible. Not only did they taste pretty good, I’ve found that some people actually do this on purpose! I found a lovely recipe for chocolate, olive oil brownies over at the Cooking Madness blog. You should check it out.
Maybe my lack of sleep actually inspired genius! (I doubt it though)

12 Days of Christmas Countdown – Day 6 – The Christmas Pageant and the Reluctant Shepherd

My first grader participated in his first Christmas Pageant yesterday at our church.

I was a little surprised that he volunteered for this gig. As of late, he’s been pretty vocal about how shy he is. (That actually seems like a bit of an oxymoron, doesn’t it?) He announced that he wanted no part of Christmas caroling with his Cub Scout Pack over the weekend, as it meant singing in public and no six-year old in their right mind would want any part of that. When I take him to Mass, at the Sign of Peace, he refuses to greet anyone he considers a stranger. I’ve seen him stare down one or two senior citizens who have offered their hands. One afternoon, as he and his sister were belting out “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” in the back seat of the car, I suggested that they sing it for Grandma and Grandpa on Christmas. “No way Jose!” He promptly announced that he would not sing, if his sister sang, he would hide in his room until her little concert was over.

So when on Sunday morning, he got up bright and early and was ready for Church on time (and was even pretty chipper about going off to meet his Religious Ed. Class), I was pretty proud, but a little surprised.

Alas, his sunny attitude was short-lived. As he was lining up with the other shepherds to make their way into the church, I saw him start to get a little antsy. He was even more edgy when I told him I needed to leave to sit in the audience. I crossed my fingers.

Mary and Joseph reached the altar first, followed by the cows, the shepherds, the angels and the Magi. About 20 children assembled in front of the altar, sweetly singing Christmas carols. My little boy sang too, or at least I saw him mouth the words. That is, until I pulled out the camera.  Once he saw me, I had no chance of getting a photo of a smiling little cherub this year. Instead, I got this:

Reluctant Shepherd 1

"Mom, do you HAVE to take a picture?"

The Reluctant Shepherd 2

Maybe if I just move behind Joseph over here...

Reluctant Shepherd 3

The Full Disappearing Act

Oh well, I’m sure there’ll be more photo-ops next year.

12 Days of Christmas Countdown – Day 7 – An Apple for the Teacher?

With only a week til Christmas, and 5 school days, I am working my way through the Christmas list. As always, I still struggle with the gifts for the teachers. I’ll be honest, I never quite know the protocol for this. 
 
Depending on how you look at it, the teacher/day care provider list could be as long as some people’s family list. My pre-school daughter has two regular teachers, my 1st grader has only one teacher, but then there’s the art teacher, the gym teacher and the music teacher. He also has a bus driver and bus monitor. My children also have regular babysitters for after school care. 
 
So, if all teachers make the gift list, we’re looking at 10 or more people who are getting gifts. Each of these folks certainly deserves our appreciaton; they spend several hours each day molding our kids – covering everything from spelling tests, to ensuring playground time doesn’t resemble “Lord of the Flies” to reminding them to wash their hands when they use the bathroom to giving spelling tests.
 
I always finding myself wanting to give them each a personalized gift, that’s unique and thoughtful. After all, how many mugs embossed with “World’s Best Teacher” can one person have? Alas, I am neither creative, nor resourceful, and I’m running out of time. 
 
I’m fairly certain that the teachers on my list are all getting gift cards for the local coffee shop. I figure that they all probably need some caffeine to make it through most days with my children (I know I do). Here’s hoping they love a good cup of coffee as much as I do!

Chasing the Monster-Under-the-Bed

It’s payback time, and Mom and Dad are on the receiving end.
 
My six-year-old was, at one time, a great sleeper. He began sleeping through the night at 11 weeks, just in time for Mom to go back to work after maternity leave (Thank You!). He would sleep like a rock, hardly ever getting up for that obligatory glass of water, or trip to the bathroom like my younger daughter does a couple of times every night, between 8 and 10 pm. Nope, my son was a born sleeper, or so I thought.

Shortly after turning six, we suddenly had to contend with the typical bedtime torture that many parents face when their children are toddlers, or preschoolers: the dreaded “Monster-Under-The-Bed”!

My Monster
This guy is afraid of monsters?

We are not completely sure what triggered this new phobia of his, though I believe it is probably a perfect storm of change that he has experienced in the past few months.

Over the summer my son learned that “Papa”, his great-grandfather would be leaving our house (which was really Papa’s house for the last 50 years) to move in with his daughter, my mother-in-law. My son still sees him nearly every day; my mother-in-law picks him up at the school bus each afternoon. On the plus side: this life-change allowed us to give our son his own bedroom, but it was also an acute reminder that Papa will not be here forever. I think it weighs heavily on him.

He also started First Grade. If you think this is not a big deal, think again. He went from a 2 1/2 hour school day, to a 6-hour school day. Gone is nap time altogether, no matter how tired he is. He has homework everyday, and daily reading assignments. He has a new teacher, an excellent one by the way, but she has expectations that take some adjustments for a boy who would often rather talk about Star Wars all day. On top of it all, he has to endure fire drills at school…oh the fire drills! They are so traumatic for him, they deserve their own blog.

He started Cub Scouts. He loves Cub Scouts, but it is pretty demanding for a 6-year old. Den Meetings and Pack meetings three times a month, in addition to what seems like multiple extracurricular events and activities each weekend.

In between it all, he is making loads of new friends, and having as many play dates as he can fit into his busy schedule. It’s exhausting when you think about it.

So exhausting, you would think he would lay unconscious in bed each night just has his little head crashes into the pillow. But, NO. Right around bedtime, we start hearing about “The Monsters”. He is afraid of the monsters. They arrive as soon as we turn off the lights, usually. Sometimes he goes to sleep for a while, and the monsters wake him at 2 or 3 am. At this point, he runs into our room in a panic and BEGS us to sleep in his room with him. This fear brings out the worst in him. If we resist his pleas to go into his room, he does more than beg, he DEMANDS that we stay with him. He will stand by my bed, arms crossed, and not budge until I return to his room. If I try to sneak back to my bed before he is fully asleep, he chases me down.

It’s led to several sleepless nights for Mom, Dad and little boy. We have sought out suggestions from family, friends, and the Internet.

To date, here is a list of the tricks we’ve tried, and their level of success:

  • The Anti-Monster Spray: OK, really it was vanilla air freshened in disguise. It smelled lovely in his room, and kept the monsters away for about 1/2 the night.
  • Night Light(s): First we had a standard nightlight, but that was simply not enough. Then we allowed him to keep a low-watt bedside lamp on for a while, with one of his favorite books at his side. This worked for a few nights. Finally, my husband invested in a night-light that projects an image of the solar system on his ceiling. He thinks it’s really cool, but the monsters don’t care.
  • White Noise: we’ve tried various mixes of ocean waves, jet plane engines, fans, etc. We’ve even let him play Christmas music a few nights. Like everything else, it works for a while, but not for long.
  • Incentives: We’ve offered rewards for staying in his room for consecutive nights, everything from a piece of candy, to an extra present from Santa Claus if he keeps it up. Those prizes can’t match the hold of the Monster Under the Bed.
  • Consequences: We’ve let him know that without enough sleep, we will have to start cutting back in some of the fun stuff he loves: TV, playdates, even Cub Scouts.

Last night left me bleary-eyed again, and I only hope my little boy has been able to keep one eye open during school today.

If anyone our there has other ideas that we haven’t thought of, we’re all ears.

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