Monday, August 30, 2010

Burning Question, Need Answers

So, in teaching Chuckles to tie his shoes, Mr. Long-Suffering and I seem to have come to a disagreement. He says I tie shoes backward. I say there's more than one way to tie a knot. (And also, he is wrong.)

Tying shoes involves making a loop and pinching it with one hand and then twirling the lace in the opposite hand around the loop and then pushing through the gap you just made.

Which hand makes and holds the first loop? Left? or Right?

You must tell me so I can be the winner, or I mean, of course, we don't keep score in our marriage, just let's clear this little situation up so we can move on to more important things.


nej asked whether I gave any consideration to skipping Chuckles ahead to first grade. And, yes, of course, I did give that consideration and dismissed it almost immediately. (My consultation of Mr. Long-Suffering in these kinds of decisions is more a formality than anything. It's more like informing him of the decisions we made.)

Indiana has some crazy rules about birthday cut-offs. For many years recently, the birthday cut-off was as early as June 1st. As in, you had to be 5 by June 1st to start school in August, so there were kids with June, July, and early August birthdays who were fully 6 before starting kindergarten. The birthday cut-off day was slowly moved to August 1st, but that June date has left a legacy of people holding (boys mostly) back a year.

In fact, Chuckles's kindergarten teacher had a son with an April birthday who she thought about holding back but didn't (and it worked out well) and twin boys with July birthdays who she gave the gift of time (and that worked out well too). With a May birthday, if we moved Chuckles into first grade, he could wind up in class with kids who were born in 2002. That is a huge social and physical difference at this age. The classmates could be 1 to almost 3 years older than he is.

So reasons not to move Chuckles ahead:
  1. He's just a little kid who still needs to learn impulse control.
  2. I'm not ready for him to be in all-day school. (I know, it's not about me.)
  3. I don't want my kids to be 5 school years apart in age (totally arbitrary reason).
  4. I don't want to short-change any of Chuckles's childhood. He needs more time to kick around poking worms in the dirt.
  5. I don't want to push him too hard. (And no one at the school has mentioned moving him ahead, so I really don't want to be that pushy mom.)
  6. I would rather he be a stand-out in kindergarten than be middle-of-the-pack in 1st grade (because I think success here would set him up for success down the line).
  7. I think our (suburban, well-funded) school district might handle this welll, and I want to see how it goes.
  8. He might only be doing so well because he went to kindergarten with Mrs. Marie at his day care last year. I mean, it's not like he picked this knowledge up through osmosis of his superior somethings. He might be totally average as far as intellect goes and just have these specific skills because it's stuff he's learned already. Maybe he's not innately smart, just well-schooled.

Friday, August 27, 2010

More Kindergarten

So, Chuckles finished up a full week of kindergarten today.

They had a fire drill, and when he came home that day, he didn't even mention it.

They take six specials: music, art, gym, computers, library, and science lab. One each day except two on Mondays. Each are a half-hour long and they walk to them in single file with mouths shut and eyes forward.

Our PTO is crazy active and they have promised never to try to sell me over-priced wrapping paper. The only thing they ask that we sell is The Entertainment Book. They do have Market Day and there are some 50-50 raffles (more like 75-25, I think), but I'm cool with that.

Our PTO is crazy active and they begged for volunteers. I've asked Mrs. Marie to be Chuckles's room's Art and Music "Mom". It's some national program to bring fine art and music to schoolkids. I can't remember its real name, but she's excited to get back in a classroom in front of kids. They'll see real/hear art, hear about the artist/composer, and then do an art or music project. It's about a half hour once a month. Mrs. Marie is making lesson plans for Bobo. He's coming along nicely (slowly, but nicely...I think about him going to kindergarten in 4 years, and boy, am I glad he has a November/early birthday).

We did/do have an issue at school. I'm hesitant to talk about it, but here goes. The teacher is currently trying to assess the kids to assign reading groups, etc. I guess there is at least one kid in the class who cannot identify his or her letters. Chuckles is currently reading somwhere around a 2nd grade level (if the guided reading books from the library are accurate).

They are requried to do sight words (and they want me to drill him with flash cards). The first three sight words came home. I AM RED. No, really. The words were I, am, and red. The next day, the teacher asked the kids to raise their hands if they went over their sight words the previous night. Chuckles did not raise his hand and felt bad. Poor kid. So, the next night, I asked him to spell them instead of flash cards, but I, am, and red are a little bit too remedial for him.

We had a meet-the-teacher and curriculum night. I learned that they are doing handwriting from the Sunform method. It's not stick-and-ball. It's letters with tails. I'm not a fan because I feel like the kids never actually learn how to print. They do pre-cursive, but it will be fine.

So, after all the other parents left the meet-the-teacher night, I explained to her why he hadn't done the flashcards, but she had figured it out already. She got him the reading books from the end of the year. Which he read with ease. So, she is having the HA teacher come up with a lesson plan for him.

Reading is not his strength, though. Math is. Two engineer parents, no wonder. She was trying to do a pre-test to show how far the kids went by the end of the year. She asked him to count as high as he could. He asked whether he should count by ones, twos, fives, or tens. Then he counted to 147 and stopped. It only took us to 147 to get to day care, so we rarely practiced counting higher.

He can tell time and do greater than and less than. He can add two-digit numbers without carrying. He can do subtraction without borrowing.

He cannot tie his shoes. He's definitely not ready for first grade.

We mentioned that he's a bit, uhhh, willful (my word) and stubborn (Mr. Long-Suffering's word). So, they are going to come up with open-ended curriculum (no deadlines and due dates). He'll either love it and do it non-stop until it's all complete, or show no interest. He comes and goes. Right now, he is obsessed (just a little bit) with origami, paper airplanes, and building things out of crap in our recycling bin. I find myself saving toilet paper rolls from all over town so he can make more hamster tracks (I don't know if this is some knock-off Zhu-Zhu pet thing he has going on or what).

But, he's following the rules, which is good, because he's willfull. His behavior has been exemplary. He got to be line leader one day and hold the flag for the Pledge another. Every kid gets a chance at helping and jobs. Someone is snack leader, folder helper, etc.

This weekend, we're going to work on shoe tying. He gets a keychain of a tied shoe to hang off of his backpack once he joins the Tie Team. He's oddly motivated by this. I guess the school does a lot of backpack fobs for skills and rewards. It's cool.

We got a blank copy of the first semester report card (that that gave us since they are changing format/forms to align with state standards) so we would know what skills needed to be mastered. He has most of them now. He's not so good with the skipping, so we'll do some of that as we walk to school. He knows his full address but not his ZIP code and his phone number but no area code. And the shoe tying. Other than that, we're good (recognize letters and their sounds, write letters, count to 20, identify 12 colors, and a couple of other things that I would hope most pre-schoolers know).

At the Boo Hoo Breakfast today, the school nurse came in just to tell us how they do things, and I asked how they handle lice (just in case). Gross. I feel all itchy just typing it.

The social worker came in to tell us what she does (conflict resolution, mediation, Banana Splits (for kids of divorce), anti-bullying curriculum, and making good choices for kids with behavior issues).

The lunch lady came in to tell us how they've overhauled the menus. I'm not that impressed with the menus, but since we're half-day, I won't have to worry about it until next year (or I'll just pack lunches).

They do a modified stop light for behavior and starting in a week or two, his color will come home every day so we'll know whether he's green, yellow, or red. I hear that some parents give a prize if you're on green for the whole week. I'd say maybe a special activity (like a Thomas video or a trip to the far-away good park) with mom or dad for a month of green.

Chuckles is trying so hard to be good during the day at school that he's been a bit of a terror in the afternoons. But it seems to be dying down. The first half of this week was rough.

And kindergarten and the transitions, new vocab I need, and the new faces, routines, etc are kicking my arse. I haven't had any contact with grade school since I was in one, so I don't know all the new things. Indian Style is now Criss-Cross AppleSauce Hands in Your Lap. Show-and-Tell is now Show-and-Share. And the Power Parent Portal Password/PIN thing is all new, but there are broadcast emails to parents and twice weekly automated phone calls to update you on events at the school. I don't know how much of this they had when I was a kid (newsletters and whatnot), but I don't remember my parents ever having a clue what went on in school when I was a kid (possibly a combination of lesser communication and my parents' self-selected lower level of involvement).

So, in summation, Chuckles is doing great and I;m overwhelmed.

I'll keep you posted about whether they actually teach Chuckles anything. If we don't get anywhere with this, I might have to figure out whether he needs an IEP, and I really (really) ((Really)) don't want to go there. First grade does have a pull out gifted program, so maybe then. Who knows. Maybe his classmates will have caught up by then and he won't seem so out-of-synch.

Good Luck.

Friday, August 20, 2010

By Special Request

Jacquie asked for some details on kindergarten. Her oldest is about to start kindergarten too.

Here, by special request, is the first two days of kindergarten in detail.


So, kindergarten. Well, where shall we begin? I think I should set the stage and the background.

At this time last year, Chuckles was enrolled in a 5 day/week day care center that offered a Pre-K curriculum. I did not care for the people in that room. I actually had thought about changing entire day care centers because I was just not comfortable with the situation. I then talked to someone who also had a 4 year old in that center, and she had her daughter moved into the accredited kindergarten classroom becaseu of some social issues. I absolutely LOVED one of the teachers in the kindergarten room.

I called the center director one day to talk about whether it was possible for Chuckles. She kind of tried to talk me out of it. She said that it was a rigorous program, there would be homework, and there would be no naps. I kind of laughed because Chuckles hadn’t reliably napped in years. Chuckles had been begging me to teach him to read. I don’t know how to teach a kid to read and I didn’t really have time to devote to it since Bobo was still small, still sick, and I was still nursing. In fact, I am pretty sure I made the call to the center director while Bobo had the chicken pox. I felt terrible that I didn’t have the time to give to Chuckles to help him learn to read (when he really wanted to, clearly would be able to, and was so motivated). I signed Chuckles up for kindergarten but I was a wreck (as I always am when I make a decision).

It turns out the homework was sent home on Monday and not due back until the following Monday. Sometimes we did it Sunday night and sometimes it was done by Tuesday. It just depended. It wasn’t bad at all. I found out later that only 2 kids in his class turned in every single homework packet that was given and there were only 4 or 5 out of 20 who returned any homework packets. They had popcorn words and spelling lessons, phonics, whole language, and after a few months, Chuckles could read with me. He started spotting words on billboards and at the grocery store. They did number lines and addition, subtraction, and greater than and less than. He can count by fives, by tens, by twos. He did some rudimentary multiplication and division. He started to tell time. They hatched butterflies from cocoons.

The decision to put him kindergarten at 4, could not have turned out any better. Mrs. Marie was his teacher.

Fast-forward through Bobo’s various illnesses and Chuckles is still chugging along with Mrs. Marie teaching him anything and everything he or she wanted. I think she taught specifically to him and his strengths since he paid attention and caught on quickly. We kept Chuckles in kindergarten until the graduation ceremony (the one during which Bobo spiked a fever) and a week after that too. It was a natural time for him to leave. He took it well (though the part where I went back to work after the month at home with Bobo was hard on him).

We had always planned on keeping both boys at our day care center because they offered before and after school care, fed the kids breakfast, and had a bus to drop them at school (plus would hold them on snow days and breaks). Mrs. Marie drove the bus. I had signed Chuckles up for all-day kindergarten at the public school as it was less expensive than full-day day care plus he was clearly ready for the academics of kindergarten. I was more worried about the social aspects (being responsible for his own potty, finding his classroom on his own, being independent, etc).

Once we had Mrs. Marie in place, though, we no longer needed all-day kindergarten. So, I fretted and ultimately switched him to half-day. I was not worried about separation for him at all. We’ve been apart a lot. I’m not worried about him getting the entire curriculum in kindergarten since he’s already gotten that and more. I still had concerns about his independence, but he’s a young 5 and coming along.

So, yesterday was his first day at Big School. Mrs. Marie, Bobo, and I walked Chuckles to his classroom. I took some photos. Mrs. Marie met the teacher. She left with Bobo and I stayed behind. Eventually, it was time for the parents to leave. It was a little after 10 am. I ran an errand, came home, made lunch for everyone (grumpily and so I would feel like I wsa doing something), and by then it was time to head back to the school. I watched Chuckles get on the bus, and then I took off running for home so I could greet the bus (all that running training has not been for naught), but I didn’t make it. I called Mrs. Marie and told her to head out and meet the bus. I ended up getting there just as the bus pulled up. I got some photos.

There is a little boy in his classroom who has some physical limitations. There is a paraprofessional working with him. That means there is an extra set of adult eyes and hands in the classroom. If there ever needs to be a sub, at least someone will know the routine.

Chuckles had a fine first day. They sang the R-E-D red song. They did not say the Pledge of Allegiance. He had art class in the art room and they walked single file there. They heard a story at circle time. It was someone’s birthday (and he didn’t know whether the girl was turning 5 or 6), so they had cookies (with nuts as it’s not a nut-free school, which is OK since no one in the class has a nut allergy and the cafeteria will give you PB&J if you forget your lunch or money). They colored a sheet and it was time to come home. Chuckles thinks they need to play more while at school. They have toys, and he wants to use them.

Because he’s half-day, there is no recess (but it’s less than 3 hours) and there isn’t as much time for play as there would be in the all-day program (but he can play all afternoon at home). The half-day kids get weekly homework packets. The state-mandated curriculum is the same for half-day and all-day students, so they have to cram the same amount of learning into a shorter time frame. I think that will help him because transitions aren’t his best suit (although I think it’s because he has a long attention span and isn’t ready to move on in 10 minutes). I talked to the teacher about play time, and she devised some ways to do the reading groups so that two groups of kids are playing in the areas while the third group is doing their reading lessons. Ingenious.

Today was good too. Mrs. Marie put him on the bus, then drove up to the school to make sure he got into his classroom OK (he did). Then she came home to wait for the bus. He got off happily and told her all about it (and me too…they called me). He had gym class. His jumping jacks were crooked. He forgot to change his shoes before gym class. He played with little legos and put bad guys on the legos and found a boat and put the bad guys on the boat. Today was bring-your-own-snack day so I sent a baggie of grapes and a juice box. When we talked on the phone, he begged me to come home right then. But I know he was having a nice time with Mrs. Marie, but he just loves me so much (it’s exhausting).

The morning bus is K-5 on the bus. He won’t take that all the time. But the after-school bus is just the one room of half-day kindergarteners. There are 15 kids in his class and only 7 of them take the bus. We’re the closest house to the school, so his own private charter basically just dropped him home. School lets out at 11:45 and he was home on the bus about 11:50 today (yesterday was closer to noon). I have no qualms about the noon-time bus. They open the door to the K classroom right to the bus and escort them and do name-to-face to check them out of class and onto the bus. I’m not as keen on the morning bus, but on Speech Therapy days it’s going to be necessary.

So, my panic is over (but I lost my Power Parent Portal Password, so I need to call and get it back). School has started. Yesterday was the first day of the rest of his life. Mrs. Marie and I both shed a couple of tears, but I wasn’t nearly as bad as I could’ve been (like if they’d read The Kissing Hand while I was present).

Oh, his teacher sent home a questionnaire asking about strengths and weaknesses and what we hoped to get out of kinergarten. I couldn't really think of anything other than independence and getting used to the school for 1st grade. I have very low expectations for what I want him to learn in kindergarten (though, truthfully, he went through kindergarten last year and learned a ton so he doesn't need much with respect to that).

Oh and he'd normally be considered a young 5 in kindergarten (with a May birthday and a mid-0summer cut-off), but there are at least 2 kids younger than he is, so I think he's just fine.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Takin' Care of Bidness

Sure, I could tell you all about how I'm hyperventilating about Chuckles starting kindergarten tomorrow (tomorrow!), but you don't need any more proof of my neuroses.

So, instead, I will tell you about an unexpected side effect of the running. Yes, yes, my cardio is improving, my muscles aren't getting sore any longer, my stamina is increasing. In a month, I'll be jogging that entire 5k (3.12 miles). Whatever! That is just not that interesting. What is interesting? I'm having a most unexpected, but not unwelcome, side effect from the exercise. Let's say I am (how to put this delicately?) libidinous. So, if you were wondering how I was finding the time to run, the answer is Mr. Long-Suffering is going above and beyond to carve out the time for me, to his benefit.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I suppose I should fess up about the whole couch-to-5k thing.

I’m not doing it because I’m some kind of martyr or better than anyone else. In fact, I am doing it because I am not as good as everyone else.

I’ve never really been in particularly good shape…at least not since I gave up playing outside and riding my bike around my 6th grade boyfriend’s block just hoping he would come outside and “bump” into me. (If you “bump” into Dave tell him I said, “Hi.”)

In high school, we had to do the Presidential Fitness Test each year and Run The Mile. I was more likely to win the Presidential Academic Fitness Award than any physical fitness anything. I only ran a mile all the way through once without walking and that was after a 6-week track unit in gym class junior year. My time was like 12 minutes. This last Sunday, I ran an entire mile without walking (according to my GPS) in 12:30. My first mile in 18 years. And then I walked for one minute and subsequently ran another ¾ mile.

There are a lot of things going on, and I will list them in fancy numbered points for you.

1. I have weaned, but I still like to eat. To keep from turning from the milk cow into just a plain old cow, I need to do something to burn off the Breyer’s Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream. I mean, it’s not like I am going to give up ice cream. Ergo, I have taken up running.

2. I don’t want to die, and I hear that cardiovascular exercise is good for you. I do not generally speaking do exercise. I wouldn’t say I’m sedentary, but well, butt.

3. I want to be a good role model to my kids, so I want them to see me being active, which is why I take them with me when I run (sometimes). I want them to see an adult exercising and having “fun” so that someday they will take up exercise or just stay active as they get older.

4. I want to be a good role model to my kids. I am not naturally good at athletics. I’m good at Sudoku. I’m good at math. I like puzzles and trivia. I don’t like sweat. But, I am running. And a little more each day, and with practice, I might get good at it. Chuckles has a bit of a perfectionist thing going on. He won’t do handwriting practice because his letters aren’t perfect. I am trying to teach Practice Makes Perfect by example (and directly stating it because sometimes kids are dense).

5. I want to be a good role model for my kids, and I am fitting this exercise (small time commitment, really…1.5 hours per week) into my already-full life. I guess I am making it a priority and getting it done.

6. My 35th birthday is fast-approaching, and I always told myself that I was young and didn’t need to worry. I would be fit when I needed to be like when I wanted to start a family or when I wasn’t pregnant or when I was done nursing or done having kids or when I was older and it was more important. Well, I guess, that time is now.

The couch-to-5k plan has been very forgiving. You’re supposed to run 3x per week for about a half hour each time (really more like 25 minutes in the beginning back when I was timing myself with a Shrek watch because it was the only thing I had with a digital second hand). I routinely take 8 days to get my 3 runs in, and that’s OK. It’s still working. I’m seeing improvement.

In the beginning, you’re only running for 60 seconds at a time. And by the 55-second mark, my lungs were begging me to STOP. They were on fire. They felt like I was running through a forest fire inhaling burning, acrid smoke. STOP already. My legs were like, “meh”. But here I am in week 5 or 6 and my lungs are A-OK and fine. But my muscles have gone all “WTF?” on me. My legs and hips would like it if I would just stop and stretch them for a minute now. They beg me to STOP and s-t-r-e-t-c-h, but I just keep going. Sometimes Chuckles can’t keep up and begs me to STOP, and for him, I will run in place until he catches up.

Last night, the PLAN told me to run 20 minutes non-stop or two miles. Now, I know from my mile time that 20 minutes is not equal to 2 miles. 2 miles would be more like 25 minutes or more. So, which do I do? Do I run for 20 minutes straight or do I go for the two miles? I went for the two miles and it took 29:00. Which is pretty slow, but I did it. I ran (jogged, really) the entire two miles without stopping to walk. I’m ridiculously proud because I am doing something I am not very good at, practicing, working hard, and getting better.

So, that’s what I’m doing….slowly.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Got Therapy?

So, would you like to talk about Bobo’s Speech Therapy?

Sure, we work on speech and say things really slooooowleeeeee and draw all the sounds out and repeat the same few key words and phrases over and over again. But, apparently, the parts of your brain that make speech can get developed doing other things, so we are to encourage crossing the midline (having the child reach across the body to get something…like using the right hand to pick up a ball on the left side). We are also to encourage using two hands to do a task like using the right hand to stabilize a shape sorter while the left hand puts the block in or using the left hand to hold the paper while the right hand scribbles with a marker. That sort of thing.

We’ve also been talking a lot about whether Bobo is sensory seeking or sensory defensive. He probably is neither although he does love to rub soft blankets across his face (but who doesn’t?).

It turns out through all of this we have discovered that I am a bit sensory defensive. I don’t think so, but my husband and the therapist keep laughing at me. I can’t help Bobo with all of his therapies because I cannot touch a Koosh Ball. I also, for the record, cannot touch peaches (so we eat a lot of nectarines instead). I can touch kiwi, but it is a challenge and they absolutely must be peeled (apparently, there are some people who eat the kiwi skin, but you have to be kidding me, right?). I have a thing about comfy shoes (and clothes and tags and ZOMG, ick, wool) and I like to rub soft blankets across my face too. So, there you go. And don't even get me started on velvet.

So, in conclusion, Bobo is doing fine, but his mother is a whackadoodle.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Big News from Big School

Yesterday was registration for Big School. I was pleasantly surprised that they had evening hours during which you could do this as I’ve been less-than-impressed about their accommodation of working parents on other things. I left work a few minutes early so we wouldn’t be rushed. Mrs. Marie was staying late so Mr. Long-Suffering could work late. The plan was that the kids and I would walk to the local school. It’s only about 2 or 3 blocks away (maybe 4 if you walk around to the front of the building to enter the main door) and do the registration then play on the playground. Mrs. Marie offered to stay with Bobo, but I assured her I was fine.

Well, just as we were getting ready, I realized I was out of checks. Like completely out. No more checks in the checkbook and no more in the box of replacement checks. How did that happen? I hardly ever write checks. Well, I had cash and a different account’s checkbook, so crisis averted.

We started to get shoes on. Bobo pooped. OK, shoes off, change diaper, “Chuckles go potty before we go”, etc. Chuckles went potty, so did I, we all washed our hands, then Chip took a tumble down the stairs and came up crying. He hit his legs on the ceramic tile floor. He might have bumped his head. He needed some special snuggly time with mommy, and he needed his blankie. “I want my DING.” He hasn’t cried for his ding in months.

At this point, I decided that maybe he was in no condition to walk to the school, so we drove. That’s right. I drove my SUV 3 blocks. I did.

Smartly, I had thrown the umbrella stroller in the back of my not-a-mini-van before we left so I’d have some way to contain the whirling dervish while I filled out paperwork. And boy, was there paperwork to complete. They had stations set up. You went to the first station and got a packet to complete, then on to the gym for stations 2 through 6. I had to sign a waiver of photography release, an acknowledgement of receiving the code of conduct book, I had to attend a 5-minute lecture on how to drop off and pick up students if I drive them with my car, sign up for bus, look at Spirit Wear, the PTO, review getting a cash back credit card that pays your school money, ability to purchase kits of school supplies, Boy Scouts, and go through a criminal background check in case I want to volunteer at the school. Then, on to the cafeteria to look at menus and talk about pre-paid lunch cards.

I am now a member of the PTA. Heaven help me, I hope it’s not clique-y. The meetings are at 9 am on Tuesdays once a month so I feel like maybe they don’t want my help, but I volunteered for a team already since they kind of encouraged you to do that. There were choices like 5th grade graduation something, talent show, DARE graduation, selling popcorn at something, Market Day coordinator, field day picnic, and others. I’m going to be sorting, counting, and bundling Box Tops for Education. I think I will be good at that. It seems like a solitary and math-oriented activity.

There will also be a lottery to see who gets to be room party mom. I did not volunteer for that. A party fee will be assessed for all students during the first month of school. OK, then. I also signed my living heart up to ride the bus. He won’t need it all the time, but there will be days he will have to take the bus. And WHAT AM I DOING? My baby! Ahem, anyway, are my neuroses showing?

They can’t tell me whether he gets half days, and they don’t know why I didn’t contact them sooner. Uhhhh, let’s see, I called every half hour all day for three days and no one ever answered the phone. I definitely have a tuition-paying spot in the all-day program though. I did not bother signing up for the lunch card thing though (apparently, there is no cash to be carried so they get these photo ID cards that you load with's all very plastic, debit card carriers of the future...divorcing spending from actual cash that they can see seems like setting them up for huge credit card debt later).

Obviously, this was boring for the kids, so Chip was pushing Bobo around the gym in the stroller. He was being a little wild, but all was well. I told him to get all 4 wheels back on the ground. When we went into the school office to pay the bill (almost $200, all told), Chuckles couldn’t take the large turns with the stroller he had been, clipped a corner, and tipped the stroller over crushing my baby (all was fine…it was the umbrella stroller so it was more of a figurative crushing). If we’d have walked, we would have taken the good (heavy) stroller. Then I wouldn’t let him push any more (or made him push while I also held the handles because I am a mean mom who tries to rob fun from life). Meltdown ensued. We still had to drop forms at the school nurse.

Chuckles refused to look at anyone and when asked questions, turned his back on people. I have a hard time with this shyness thing. He is painfully shy and takes a LONG time to warm up to people. Even people like his grandparents (although, tellingly, he warms up to Mrs. Marie within 2 minutes of her being at our house). So, I want to give him the space to warm up to people on his own, but at the same time, turning around when asked a question is RUDE. I mean, that’s rude. I don’t want to force him to answer, but at some point, he’s going to need to speak to people.

On the way out, I distracted him with the playground. There were other kids there! They played, they ran, they climbed, stooped, and jumped. He ignored them and then complained that kids were talking to him.

Good news: the secretary from the school just called me and left a message. I returned the call (and she answered after one ring) and we got half-day and they’re refunding our $200 deposit for the all-day spot. Woo-Hoo.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Get Your Boobs Here

It’s (National? World?) Breastfeeding Awareness Week, and I’m here to say YAY BREASTFEEDING. I’m like a borderline lactivist. I don’t judge people who don’t nurse though (much). And I found Giselle’s comments distasteful, at best. I mean, because being a supermodel makes you an expert on how to hold your chin when posing for a cosmetics ad - not how to feed a baby so it grows and thrives. (And I really want someone to ask Christina Applegate why she's not going to nurse her baby...answer: because she had a double mastectomy now don't make her cry. I hope she comes out swinging if anybody gives her sass.) Ahem.

I nursed both of my kids, BUT I felt like a failure while nursing Chuckles. After infertility, I was strangely invested in nursing as a way to prove my womanhood.

It was never easy, he woke up to eat a lot, I had trouble keeping up with his bottles for day care while pumping at work, I let the hospital nursery give him 3 ounces of formula when he was a day old (why couldn’t I resist?…I mean I had just spent 13 hours in labor, 3 hours pushing, and had a c-section…why would I let them do that to him?), and by 7 months, I was near a full-on raving lunatic.

I hadn’t slept more than 4 or 5 hours in almost a year. I was like little shards of glass held together with piano wire. I was nuts. But if someone had said to me that I needed sleep and why don’t I let someone give the baby a bottle overnight (not that anyone offered or that I knew to ask), I would have freaked out. Don’t you think I can feed my own baby? What I really needed was for someone to acknowledge that it was hard and offer to bring the baby to me to nurse so I could stay horizontal and possibly only marginally disturb my sleep. And my goal was to nurse him a year. I failed. I nursed 05-05-05 to 04-12-06. Not that I’m counting or anything (and that was not exclusive by the end…there was some formula started right around that fragile 7 month mark).

Fast-Forward. Anyway, by the time Bobo came along, I had resolved that I would make it a year. They tried to give him formula in the hospital but being a seasoned pro (who had a c-section without the labor and pushing and thus had more mental and physical energy), I resisted.

And they didn’t badger me about it since I was a second-time mom and had some very good arguments, which I had practiced in advance knowing that the nurses would push formula in the wee hours when no one was watching them guilt new moms. I ended up nursing Bobo for 13.5 months (pretty much exclusively, possibly exclusively, I don’t actually remember because the stakes seemed lower after a year). I nursed him 11-16-08 to 01-01-10.

I figure if I had a third baby, I would do like I did with Bobo. I have very few regrets about how things went with him and the nursing. I would have like to have kept nursing a little (maybe once a day) until 18 months, but he was ready and biting, so it doesn’t feel important.

And sure, it might seem like I’m pro-breastfeeding because I was ‘successful’. My kids knew how to latch (eventually), and I made milk (eventually). With PCOS, this is not always the case.

I would like to mention that post-c-section with Chuckles (who lost 11% of his birth weight), the only time I took narcotics was before nursing because the pain was excruciating (literally toe curling and eye-closing), but by 3 weeks it had mostly dissipated. For the first 3 weeks, I would curl my toes and press my eyes closed and just wait for the piranha to latch. I would have Mr. Long-Suffering double check to make sure the latch was good because I couldn’t open my eyes right away.

A few times I had cracked and bleeding nipples and wound up pumping blood. Nothing says love like milk tainted with blood (it separates out in the refrigerator into a blood layer on the bottom, then the clear-ish milk part, and the cream on top). I always had a fear he would wind up part-vampire after that.

And I had none of that with Bobo. There were a few days of discomfort in the beginning, but my body kind of remembered what it knew from Chuckles and toughened up quickly. The milk came more quickly, I pumped early and often and froze a lot of milk to take the pressure off when I went back to work (and supercharge the supply). It was like awesome wrapped in chocolate.

So, if you nursed the first time and it wasn’t great (or couldn’t nurse at all), Keep the Faith and know that things can be unicorns pooping rainbows the second time around.

And if you're a nurse, lay off the new moms, OK?

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

I did not actually fall off of the face of the earth

Life has just been...calm.

So, Mr. L-S is perfectly healthy. Apparently, all the wonky test results in the world are just wonky and there is no fatty liver, no cancer. Which is good. He's being retested a few times this week.

Only 4 days until I go to the Bon Jovi concert. I’m going with another mom. When I bought the tickets at the beginning of December, it seemed so far away and here we are. We are staying up past our bedtimes. When we bought the tickets, we both had babies. Now, we have toddlers. Little walking people. ( I wrote this last week. Since then, we went to the concert, screamed our little hearts out to Livin' on a Prayer and noticed that the entire concert looked like Moms Night Out. Good times. We were up way too late and the kids didn't get the memo about letting us sleep in the next morning, but when you play, you have to pay.)

I’ve been doing Couch-to-5k. I’m training training training. I take the kids. Bobo in the stroller, Chuckles on his Big Wheel. It’s not ideal, but it gives Mr. L-S some breathing room. I also sometimes go out in the morning before they wake up or in the twilight hours after they go to bed. I am now lusting after a Baby Trend double jogging stroller with disc brakes, air shocks, pneumatic tires, and a hand brake. But my kids are probably too old for that now and I’m not a serious enough runner for it to matter. I may search the interwebs for an ad for a used one. Nothing wrong with used. Oh, I found a couple of ads, but still a wee bit out of my budget…really a hundred bucks for a USED stroller!

We’ve decided on the kindergarten thing. If I am allowed to change him, I am going to change Chuckles to half-day kindergarten. And I'm signing him up for the bus because of law changes in Indiana. They aren't allowed to charge for bus service any longer. So, even if we only need it occasionally, he'll be signed up for it.

PCOS be damned…I fear I might be ovulating right now because having a third baby sounds like a simply fantabulous idea. And it is not a brilliant idea at all. My life is full and busy and delightful and complicated, but I don’t need a third baby. A third bonus baby would be great, but let’s not go out looking for trouble. Fortunately, the mirena is up to the task. My long-term appreciation for it is great. It’s been everything I ever dreamed it would be since I weaned. (It wasn’t terrible while I was nursing, it just was kind of a bummer.) It’s convenient, no hassle, no fuss, no remembering, no bleeding – ever, and cost-effective. (And I wrote this last week too. The ovulation must be past since it no longer seems like a great idea to have a baby.)