Monday, May 30, 2011

Come Monday

A quick low-down on our busy, exhausting, fun Memorial Day weekend. Which is mostly just an excuse to show you some more photos without writing much text. Because this grossly hot weather we are having has completely melted my brain, or at least my ability to think of interesting things to write.

We had dinner out at Red Robin Friday night to celebrate a whole week of green circles at school for Finn. The guest of honor chose to eat, per usual, pizza. Though it is a burger restaurant.

Finn got a summer haircut:

I am loving that he has some excellent self esteem as far as his looks go, but this kid has been staring at himself in the mirror nonstop ever since the clippers came out. He thinks his haircut is absolutely beautiful. I of course agree, but I'd prefer he not interrupt all of our meals to stand up on his chair in order to look in the mirror we have hanging in the dining room.

In a flash of inspiration that combined with an ideal weather forecast, M. and I decided on the spur of the moment to scrub (Saturday) and stain (Sunday morning and Monday afternoon) the deck. I have no pictures of that experience, but I feel I must mention it because my muscles are still complaining. As is my husband.

We went to a winery north of Baltimore Sunday afternoon and spent hours picnicking, drinking cold white wine (quickly, so it would not get warm), enjoying the company of good friends, and listening to a Jimmy Buffet tribute band. To prepare the kids, we indoctrinated them with a Buffet "Best of" CD so that they would enjoy the performance. Ever since, Finn has been walking around singing smatterings of "Cheeseburger in Paradise" ad nauseum.

While at the winery, we attempted to get a family photo snapped:

As you can see, the kids weren't too on board with that plan. Especially Lucy.

Here are a couple of photos of my hot husband looking particularly hot (at this point, given the weather, probably both literally and figuratively):

Our wonderful friends, Margo and Leif (hi, guys!):

This guy (at his insistance) was my partner on the dance floor (not pictured). He loves shakin' his booty! This kid would KILL at a wedding. Now we just need one to bring him to. Any takers, unmarried cousins or brother...?

He'll grow into this, I'm sure. Go Pack!

The Boys

Margo and a rare sighting of Lucy in front of the camera with her eyes open.

Somehow Lucy managed to come down with an ear infection WHILE WE WERE DRIVING home from the winery. Not sure how she managed that one, since she hasn't had a cold lately. But she suddenly started in with lots of tears and complaints about her ear hurting, after zero indication that anything was wrong.

Which brings us right in to today, Monday. It involved grumpy, tired parents (from sipping on wine all day yesterday and not being able to properly sleep it off, what with the ear-pained child who kept WAKING US UP during the night), a quick trip to the doctor's office (LOVE our pediatrician, who fit in an office visit for us even though the office was closed), sundry errands, M. trying to kill himself by finishing up the deck staining process in 98 degree weather, a three+ hour nap for Lucy once the antibiotics started kicking in, and the typical mad scramble that is the night before the work week starts anew. But even though today wasn't all that remarkable or even all that fun, it was nice just having an extra day to spend with each other. It made the fun we had yesterday even more relaxing, knowing we didn't have to kill ourselves to get back early to get ready for work and school.

And it means that this week? Is a 4-day work week. Woot!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Cousin Birthdays and Crash Dancing

Yesterday marked the one-year birthday of Finn and Lucy's cousin, Josephine (JoJo). In tribute, a birthday serenade:

Toward the end of the video you can see Lucy's own Baby JoJo - her new baby doll that she is IN LOVE with. I think mostly because I had the brilliant idea to name her Baby JoJo, whom she is also IN LOVE with.

While I'm here, a bonus video of the kids having a rockin' dance party, with more falling and crashing than actual dancing:

Watching these two play and giggle and hug and hold hands is just so, so wonderful - my favorite part of parenting.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Green FTW!

Hello from a decidedly more relaxed, less panicky state of mind. That last post was, as advertised, a vent, and it did it's job - helped me get all my angst out so I could start the next day with a fresher attitude. But thank you everyone for the reassurance and kind comments. We are all doing well, and things are looking up - we've just had a wonderful weekend, and take a little look at Finn's behavior chart for the week:

Started off quite poor (hence the vent), but finished with lots of green circles all around! We are tracking the color he gets when he's at school, and then also giving him another circle depending on his behavior at home after school (on the weekends, we just kind of divide the day in half). That's why he has two circles for every day - we are trying to reinforce the school's system (and encourage good behavior at home, of course). Finn has been insisting and insisting and insisting that he CANNOT get a green circle - the best he would try for is a yellow (yes, there are yellow circles, too, for the "so-so" crowd). Hopefully the latter part of this week has convinced him that he can, indeed, behave well enough to get a green circle. And it's given us lots of opportunity for positive reinforcement.

Not sure if this is coincidence or not, but the green circles made their appearance the same day that I called the daycare director and asked her for some suggestions on how to deal with Finn's napping abhorration. For now, Finn's teacher is going to let him look at books on his mat while the other kids sleep. This is a bit tricky, as it's possible the other kids will see him doing this, and try to get out of napping, too. And there is still potential for Finn to create a ruckus, as he doesn't necessarily have the attention span to flip through books for a couple of hours, what with his inability to actually read yet, his innate desire to be active as many hours of the day as possible, etc. But it's an improvement, I think, and when the center's summer camp opens in three weeks, he'll be able to go hang out with the camp kids during nap time, avoiding the situation entirely.

Then we just have to figure out how to deal with nap time once again when summer is over. But we are thinking of moving daycare centers by the fall, anyway (for several reasons, several of which are logistical and meant to set us up for the next year when he attends kindergarten), so who knows what the situation will be by then.

M. is out of town for the next couple of days, and I need to get myself to sleep so I can power through the morning rush without him. I'll wrap this up with a few new photos - good night!

Finn was wearing boxer briefs last weekend, so he had M. wrap his hands with blankets to look like boxing gloves.

And then he boxed.

We went to an event at the NASA Goddard center last weekend, and had to park and take a shuttle to the campus. The shuttle was a school bus, and it was Finn's second time on a school bus - but he doesn't remember the first. So he was very excited.

The outing took place right after swim lessons and during nap time. So Lucy slept (on me) through her first bus ride. She was pretty confused when she woke up after the drop off. But she did manage to stay awake during the return trip.

The next few pictures were taken yesterday:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Consider Me Good and Vented

I'd like to vent. I know I said I wasn't going to post negative stuff about the kids here, but M. is working and I can't watch the interesting TV shows we have recorded without him, and I've pretty much read the whole internet now, so I'm left with blogging. And I could write some nonsense, as I had planned, about things I like lately (to make me feel better?), but I just don't have it in me. I'm feeling crappy, and I don't want to post about my new obsession with large dangly earrings (though I do, in fact, love them). So instead, I'll just go ahead and vent.

About how my son is the worst-behaved kid in school, (there's a tracking chart, so I've seen proof), and how that frustrates me and makes me feel like a terrible mom and also, shamefully, embarrasses me. I'm embarrassed that my kid is now THAT KID. The one that causes trouble and makes his teachers growl when I ask how his day went. Has them sighing and giving me dirty looks when I inquire about what, exactly, Finn did to earn him the shameful red circle on the behavior chart.

It's my scarlet letter, though, not his. He could care less that he's the only kid in a class of 17 that got a red circle instead of a green circle.

Maybe it's better that he doesn't mind.

(Circles are stupid.)

(I don't really mean that. It's a fine shape.)

I'd also like to vent about how Finn doesn't like school, and how that's likely 90% due to the fact that he is forced to "nap" (not that he sleeps) for 2 hours a day, and this kid doesn't have any desire to nap AT ALL anymore, so he tries (or doesn't try, in many cases) to repress wiggles and noises and talking and he CANNOT do it. Not that I am trying to make excuses for him and say that is normal kid behavior, or that no kid could do that. It's just that my kid? Apparently cannot do that.

And he is doomed to nearly a whole year and a half more of weekday "nap time," until he can reach freedom and Kindergarten.

Tell me, are there daycare centers out there that allow some of the kids to NOT nap? Maybe take the non-nappers to a separate room and give them SOMETHING TO DO TO QUELL THE NOISY MIND?

I don't know that eliminating the napping problem would help with all of Finn's behavior issues, many of which involve, as documented here in the past, NOT LISTENING. Like, at all. And showing off. And being firmly in the "follower" camp when classifying people as followers vs. leaders. As long as the leaders aren't grown-ups, in which case Finn does NOT follow. Or rather, listen. Or whatever. Point is, it's damn difficult to get him to do what you want him to do, if YOU are a GROWN-UP. But if you're a kid with some kind of sneaky kid plan, he'll follow you in a heart beat.

And I realize that allowing Finn to not nap at school might not fix THOSE problems.

I don't know what will.



But maybe it will help him like school again.

I feel like all I do is yell at him. And I hate that.

I don't want to be that parent that complains about how the "system" is to blame for my PRESHUS SNOWFLAKE'S problems. I know we need to work on Finn's behavior, I just don't know HOW. How do I get him to show some respect for adults, to listen to me and M. and his teachers, without crushing his spirit? Because so far our tactic is to take away all the joy in life (if joy in life = watching TV and playing outside after school and family fun time which is no longer possible because we are too busy yelling at Finn for every little infraction to try to impart some knowledge about how to be a good person). And it's not working.

We can't even get to the point where we're rewarding good behavior, because there just hasn't been any to speak of.

He's such a sweet, smart boy. Granted, one who smacked his mama on the butt today for no reason, but still. Sweet and smart.

How do I keep that, and get rid of the not-so-good stuff?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Playdates and Pictures

This Saturday morning posting is brought to you by The Disney Channel and Honey Nut Cheerios, two things that are allowing peace to reign throughout the house despite Lucy's 6 am wake up nonsense.

Last night we attempted our first "Happy Hour" playdate of sorts with a couple of other families we know through daycare. I don't know about all of you, but our weekends are pretty much filled with trips to various retail installations (grocery, Target, home improvement-y stores, etc) and swim lessons and around-the-house projects and the random adventurous outing inspired by guilt that we never DO anything FUN with our children. Relaxation is hard to come by, as well as any spare time to plan a playdate. Friday night we are fooled into the false sense of relief brought on by the start of the weekend (until Saturday morning, where the weekend craziness is soon revealed to equal or exceed the craziness of the work week), and we take it easy - order a pizza, have a drink (or three), skip bathtime, and enjoy ourselves. I finally had the brilliant idea that maybe this is the best time to have a playdate. The kids entertain each other rather than begging us to be all interactive and interested in superhero sagas and whatnot, and the adults get to actually talk to other adults. Win, win.

All things considered (and by all things, I mean the utter meltdown Finn had by the end that followed on the heels of about half an hour of sheer brattiness, both clearly due to overtiredness), the playdate was a success that I think we'll be repeating. The one drawback is that by 7:30 pm on a Friday night, the kids (as Finn proved) are just DONE. But of course they don't want to admit it, they want to play! All night! So getting home was a bit rough.

The other drawback is that a Friday night playdate means I overindulge just before my Saturday morning Weight Watchers weigh-in, but I figure as long as I'm pretty good Monday through Friday afternoon, it all evens out. We'll see if that holds true in another hour or so...

It's been important to me to try to get some playdates in the works lately, for a few reasons. Partly because EVERYONE seems to do playdates, so it feels a bit lame when my kid does not, even when he ASKS for them. But mostly because Finn has been telling us lately that he doesn't like school (do they all do that? How seriously should I be taking this claim?), and he's been giving his teachers a hard time and fighting with his friends more than I'd like (is this normal kid drama? I DON'T KNOW!). I want to give him an opportunity to socialize with kids that I know he likes outside of the school environment. Yes, we have some neighborhood kids that he plays with when we are all outside together, but not in a scheduled or conscious "let's be friends" way. What are your thoughts on this? How do you work playdates into your busy schedule, or do you? Do you think playdates are an important part of childhood socialization, or are they just something that parents with not enough to do to fill the day have successfully pushed on us?

I'm not saying *I* think the latter, of course. It might just be an opinion out there.

Enough blathering, now for a few photos:
What could be more fun than a big box, am I right?

Lucy in her new birthday sweater from her great-grandmother Mimi. Looks smashing with her eyes, no?

A Mother's Day morning cuddle from Lucy

We cleaned the kids up a bit for Mother's Day, which called for an attempt at a decent picture of the two of them together. This was marginally the best of the lot.

Or possibly this one. As you can see, the subjects remained uncooperative per usual, but still cute.

Finn at my Mother's Day lunch.

And Lucy, too.

This is the type of thing that can happen when you skip a nap, I guess.

My bounty from M. and the kids - beautiful flowers and a card.

My bounty from myself - an outfit from the Loft. I couldn't resist, though I perhaps should have. White linen pants is pure folly - I am rather well known for my propensity of staining all things white, and I hate ironing. But they looked so cute and summery when I tried them on that I went ahead with the purchase anyway.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Aren't We All in a Bottle, Really?

I'm here, I swear. I haven't forgotten about this blog, I've just had no idea what to write lately. Can I just say? That OH, THESE KIDS... they are really exhausting me. That is just the plain truth. And I don't want to come off as someone who complains about her kids constantly, or who takes no joy in them. So I haven't been writing here. I don't want Finn and Lucy to read this space one day, and think I was miserable (even if sometimes I was).

Rather than dwell on the not-so-good stuff that I haven't been able to/wanted to articulate, I'll instead use this little drive-by-posting as an opportunity to write down a few of the cuter/funnier things my kids have been doing lately.

Finn saw a picture of bin Laden on the cover of the Economist this past weekend, and insisted he was a genie. I bet Xtina would think twice about asking him to rub her the right way.

While Lucy still does everything in her power to get me to NOT brush her hair, she has taken a shining to pigtails. It's difficult creating the latter without the former, but I am trying my best to get that point across. As you might imagine, she looks quite adorable with pigtails.

Lucy has also taken to saying "later" or "maybe later" when we inform her that she cannot do something. It comes in very handy, actually, and I am eternally grateful to the little girl she learned this from at daycare (transient though I'm sure this habit will be). For example, picture this conversation, which has actually happened.
Lucy: Lucy read more books.
Me: No, Lucy, it's time for bed.
Lucy: Maybe later (meaning the books, not the bedtime).
And then that's it - we get compliance. It doesn't work everytime, but when it does, I swear I hear angels singing.

Finn has finally mastered bike riding. Last fall, he could pedal forward on his tricycle and/or bicycle, but only if headed downhill or on flat land. He lacked the coordination and strength to power himself up any kind of hill. But now, the kid's nearing mastery - he's a lean, mean, bike-riding machine.

I thought I had more for this post, and likely I did LAST NIGHT, when I actually PLANNED to write this, before Blogger ruined my best intentions (and deprived my grandmother of pictures of the kids - they're coming, Mimi, I promise!) by being completely, utterly inaccessible. But that's all my weary brain can come up with for the moment. Expect some random, non-kid-related posts in the next few days and weeks as I try to get over this blogging dry spell. And those pictures, of course.