Sunday, August 25, 2013

first week

We made it through a whole week of kindergarten!


Don't let the picture fool you... she survived all five days of school without her blanket!

On the second morning before school, Annike was cuddled in her special living room chair still waking up, and I told her, "It's time to get ready for school now."
She looked at me with wide eyes and said, "I have school again today?!"
Uh Oh, I thought. We never got past discussing the first day, did we?... 
I said, "Yep! School again today."
And she shocked me by giving an emphatic, "YAY!"
Phew. We narrowly escaped that one...


Most surprisingly, there has been no drama about clothing this week. Each day Annike comes home and can't wait to take her school clothes off... and Sommer can't wait to put them on.


The saddest part about this week were the tears that came from Sommer each morning as Annike went out the door with Papa. Sommer put her shoes on and banged on the closed door crying, "Please! School! Please! School!" The first day she stayed sad all morning, but her moping time lessened as the week went on. Still, she would periodically say, "Sad. Anka leave."


This time is good for all of us in many ways, and it feels like a necessary season we are entering. Annike has energy to spare and school seems to be a great outlet for that energy. Such a good outlet that I can't get her to tell me anything that happened until a few hours after she has lunched and rested and played by herself for a while. It is utterly silent in the car on the drive home, which is something new for us. Though I admit it is a strange feeling to have utterly no idea what has happened to my daughter over the course of those 3 hours each day, considering I have known what she was doing every waking moment for the last 5 years.

Sommer and I are getting some precious bonding time during these early morning hours. I am trying to take special advantage of the time I have with my second-born child, alone, in this final month before the baby arrives. She is truly a delight... when she isn't pitching a monstrous fit about something or other. Those are her two modes of operation: delightful, and little monster fit pitcher. We aim for the former as much as possible.

This start of school has begun a new and healthy routine in our lives. Entering a new and somewhat busier season always causes me to self-reflect...
What are we choosing to emphasize as we settle into a daily routine?... more than simply waking up earlier and getting to bed on time at night.
Are we making time to sit with one another and listen?
Are we pausing to get hugs and kisses?
Are we creating the space in our day to be with God? as a family? as individuals?
Are we rushing anxiously into the next thing or taking the time we need in our transitions?

On the other hand... I am trying not to get too settled into any new and wonderful routine because our world is about to turn upside down with the addition of a 3rd child. May God give us wisdom each step of the way!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

kindergarten

When I wrote about Annike's tears and worries before her first day of preschool, I received more comments via email than ever before. Something about this tender-hearted girl's sadness about going off to school struck a chord with people who know and love her.

Fortunately, we had the most fabulous preschool teachers I could ever have dreamed up for my daughter. They even let her carry her green blankie, A.K.A. "Sniffy", around with her and greeted it at circle time by name. Thank the Lord for creating women like this to be in our children's lives! Preschool teachers are a special breed of people and have a unique understanding of kids at this sensitive age.

 

It should come as no big surprise, but she really did grow to love preschool, though it took until December before we could drop her off regularly without tears or begging us not to go. It was finally in January, after the dinosaur lesson where the teachers set off a volcano that exploded over a handful of toy dinosaurs, when Annike came home and said "I wish preschool was everyday!"


Now we sit on the eve of her first day of Kindergarten. Annike seems quite a bit more ready for this day than she did a year ago. She understands that green blankie will be left at home, and doesn't seem nearly as upset about it as she thought she would be. Her biggest concern is that she will have to wear clothes every day, a uniform at that. But I have informed her that the clothing-no-longer-optional day was inevitable whether she started school or not. She will get over it in a few months time.

We thought having Sommer model Annike's new school uniform would help. I guess we will find out tomorrow...

I did find renewed faith in her readiness when I overheard her this week telling Sommer with a sing-songy excited voice, "Sommy, next week I get to go to Kindergarten!"

It is I who am the one feeling sad now, in a nostalgic letting-go kind of way. The first day of Kindergarten is a milestone in a child's life. It marks the end of those carefree, agenda-less days and the beginning of a decade or two filled with schooling. It is the first year of retainable memories from childhood. It is the end of informal education and the beginning of the formal kind. Less and less are the parents the main educators as this day begins a child's transition to being influenced more and more by people outside of the parents' realm of protection.

In some ways this sadness seems silly because it is really only 3 short hours a day and she probably already knows half of what she is going to learn this year. But I do feel nostalgic. I think I get it from my dad because the story goes that on my first day of Kindergarten, my dad cried as I got on the bus. My mom was apparently just excited because her new piano was being delivered that day. Now that I am experiencing this momentous day on the side of the parent, I can't believe they actually put me on the BUS with all of those big 5th graders on my first day of school!! What were they thinking??!

Aaahh, but clearly I survived even the bus.

Well, Annike-dear, that day has finally arrived when school will be every day. This day is the same one you were crying big crocodile tears over as you snuggled your blankie a year ago. You are almost 5 years old now and you are indeed ready to step bravely into your first day of Kindergarten. It reminds me that not a single one of these days we have had at home together have been wasted. Some of those days were long and tedious, some fun and packed with laughter, some filled with tears for no reason or short tempers or frustration. But not a single day has held wasted time because you and I were growing together. Now I have to trust that we are doing our best to fully equip you for this little world that you will learn to love and that you will surely find a special place in. We love you just the way you are, so don't grow up too fast!


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

projects

Six weeks to go in this pregnancy and the pre-baby panic is beginning to set in as I look ahead to the hundred and one things I would like to accomplish before rounding out the third trimester.  The panic comes from the thought that I will never ever be able to get anything done again once I have three children, which is only mostly true.

This knowledge that all organization in my home will cease to exist with the arrival of Baby gives me bursts of energy from time to time when I feel exceptional motivation to clear out the laundry room disaster area and sort through the linen closet and move the living room furniture around by myself so I can vacuum underneath it. This is a source of great confusion to my husband, of course, who wants someone to explain his manic wife - is she really as exhausted as she keeps claiming to be or has super-woman claimed her when I wasn't looking?

 

My answer: How can you expect a pregnant woman to answer that legitimately?  I have no idea where a single one of my moods comes from. Third time around, he should know this already.

Instead of focusing on the things that really need to happen before the baby arrives... like cleaning Sommer's clothes out of her room so we have room for Baby's clothes and finding a new place to put Sommer's clothes in Annike's room which means finding a dresser for her and redoing the furniture arrangement in Annike's room so the dresser fits along with a new toddler bed that we don't have yet, forcing out some other pieces of furniture that need to be moved to other places in the house... okay, I am trying not to panic. Instead of focusing on the inevitable reorganization, I am throwing myself into an urgent redecorating of my house. Smart, I know.

This last week has included some painting projects. I have been hearing all about Chalk Paint, which is completely unrelated to chalkboards or chalk, and after using it, it is still unclear to me why it was given this confusing name. Since it is also completely unrelated to getting ready to have a baby, I decided that now was the time to try it out.


In case you are not caught up in the DIY world, here is my opinion on Chalk Paint (FEEL FREE TO SKIP AHEAD IF YOU AREN'T INTERESTED). First you need to know that the paint is famous for its use on furniture without any need for prep - no sanding, priming, or any of the most labor intensive parts of trying to paint varnished wood furniture. It dries fast and comes in 30 awesome colors, and since choosing the exact paint color I want usually causes me to make four or more trips to Home Depot, these features were a definite upside to the paint. If you are feeling extra creative, the paint can be antiqued or distressed rather easily, which I did not try on these pieces, but have a wall hanging that is just crying out for me to try it... after I get the baby clothes organized, that is.  The downsides to the paint are that it seems very expensive to me ($35 dollars for a pint! Seriously? Are we paying for a brand name here?), it can only be purchased through a few dealers (though we do happen to have one here in Soquel... open only 3 days a week, slightly inconvenient) or certain places online, and even though there was no priming or sanding involved, there were still a lot of steps because the paint needs a few coats and then needs to be waxed once or twice after the paint is dry (but I suppose that ANY painting project involves a lot of steps, so I should quit complaining.) The Annie Sloan brand would like you to buy all of their special products which each seem expensive to me. Since the whole point of a DIY is for it to be CHEAP, I did a ton of reading online first and found some inexpensive products that worked instead. I highly recommend this. Okay. Done now with my rant on Chalk Paint.

Pictured above is the end table that will actually be used in the baby's room, boy or girl. So this project was not a complete waste of precious third trimester time.

The week before last I updated some hand-me-down wicker furniture for a sitting area. This involved ordering a roll of replacement wicker from Amazon, re-wrapping the legs, and giving the set a few coat of fresh spray-paint. Almost as good as new!



Under normal circumstances (meaning not pregnant), I would have attempted recovering the cushions on my own. But I decided I had better save some time for the reorganization of the kids room, making space for the baby, and all of that other stuff hanging over my head. So I ordered replacement cushions.  The box they came in was the best thing that ever happened to my poor toy-deprived children (insert sarcasm here). The rest of the room will be pulled together soon... on another day of procrastinating the inevitable.


All in all, I think there is some sort of energy that drives pregnant women. It is that survival instinct that used to be dire to a woman's ability to care for herself and her family while pregnant... and in the 21st century just causes panic or anxiety, and can sometimes be channelled into useless housing projects. I am actually thankful for it, because without it I truly would be napping on the couch all afternoon instead of finding the energy to accomplish possibly one last thing before my life changes... forever... in a good way, of course... but perhaps in a less productive, less project-accomplishing kind of way.

... and now, on to the baby's room...
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