Obligatory first day of school photos in front of the door! First day of first grade.
Claire had her heart set on her long skirt and tank top. Rachel originally picked out a skirt, but chickened out and opted for shorts and her new Rainbow Dash tee. I wasn’t surprised.
Awkward smiles! Notice the Ninja Turtle tats that I was strictly forbidden from scrubbing off in the previous night’s bath.
Some pre-walk fussing of the drawstring shorts and “Look at mah roly poly!”
Oh me? In the picture? Well okay then. Sorry about my hair, everyone. IT’S EARLY.
SERIOUSLY. The cuteness. It burns.
Claire went right in and was all, “MY PURPLE SCISSORS!” Easy to please, this one.
Rachel was a little shy and shrunk away from her teacher, but couldn’t resist giving Zoe a huge goodbye choke-hug. Her bestie is in her class, so that helps.
Sad Zoe is sad that she can’t go to school yet. She demanded that we snuggle on the couch and watch Frozen at 8:30 am, and I was like “SOLD.”
Happy first week of school!
It’s the last day before school starts here in Austin. I’m feeling….sad. But excited. Anxious. But ready.
A few nights ago Claire plainly told me she was a little nervous about school.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because I’ll miss you,” she answered. She still complains that school is too long of a day. I could do without the 7:45 start time myself.
I’ll miss them too. We’ve done our best to make the most of the last week of summer. I vowed to do something fun every day, but I can’t keep up that charade. So we did plenty of fun, at the park and the pool (which had already instituted shortened hours thanks to a football practice induced lifeguard shortage). We went spent an entire day at SeaWorld Aquatica, because someone (not me) thought it closed at 8, but it really closed at 6, so then we rushed over to see the penguins before the park closed. We made banana muffins. We played outside. We snuggled.
When I was at physical therapy last week, my therapist asked if I was excited about school starting.
“Eh. Kinda. Not really.”
“I think you’re the only person who’s answered that way,” he said.
I can’t explain it. I surprise myself even with my hesitance. I mean, I’m ready. Ready for some alone time. Ready to grocery shop during the weekday daylight hours again. Ready to not hear a snack request every 10 minutes Ready to be able to clean my house without someone right behind me, undoing all of my work. But I’ll miss them terribly.
My friend Brandie* emailed me the other day about some photos. Not just any photos. Photos I had her take of my preshus family like back in November…2012. Photos that I was supposed to choose 10 favorites so she could give me the hi-res, no watermarked versions so I could print and frame them and hang them in my spotless and beautiful home, and let’s face it, they’re pretty much going to sit on a hard drive somewhere until we dig them up someday, blow the dust off, and say, “Hey! Remember when we used to use hard drives? HAHAHAHAHA! I wonder what’s on this damn thing anyway?” Because I’m sure by then we’ll all be storing photos in tiny chips in our brains, only they aren’t photos at all, but really snapshots taken with our eyes, because it’s the future and stuff. SCIENCE.
*This is the same Brandie whose ad is on my sidebar that I should take down soon because she’s going back to teaching when her own twin girls start kindergarten this fall, so calling her for a photo sesh might be frowned upon after a long day of dealing with 6-year-olds. TL;DR: She’s wrapping up the business.
So the deal was, I was supposed to choose 10 photos, out of like 893. NBD. Only it’s TOTALLY A BIG DEAL, because how can I turn down that sweet photo? And that one? Aw…..that one? Oh yes. I look hot there (read: mildly not like a spaz). Definitely that one. So that’s 37 photos? Oh, and the extras are $10 each? OH HI, NEVER MIND.
I have this little problem where my frugality – yes, that’s what we’ll call it – often gets in the way of my senses. I’m limited to 10 photos before I have to pay extra, and I keep that 10 photo limit dead set in my brain. I will not pay extra. Not because I don’t love the photos. Not because I don’t have $20 or $30 or $50 to spend on some priceless memories. It’s simply my stupid brain saying “10 photos. TEN. No more, no less.”
So I listed the 30 or so photos that I liked most, made a mental note to sit down with Christian that evening to narrow then down, and then, I don’t know, someone decided to spread pepper all over the floor to practice their soft-shoe dance routine, and I promptly forgot about the whole thing.
The next day I came across the scrap of paper with the photos’ corresponding numbers on them, made a mental note to go over them with Chrsitian that evening, set it aside, and promptly forgot about the whole thing again.
In fact, for days and weeks I shuffled that little piece of paper around, each time making the same mental note. I’d only remember it when Christian wasn’t home or when I was in the shower, or when I was fighting crowds of imbeciles at Costco. I mean, what is up with that place and all the people who don’t know that general traffic rules still apply in the aisles of a warehouse store? Slower traffic keep right, don’t stop in the middle of the lane, and — well okay, just go ahead and push your way through, lady. A 5 lb bag of Brownie Brittle waits for no man.
Every once in a while, Brandie would text me about the photos she was waiting for me to choose. “Oh, sorry!” I would reply. “Been crazy busy!” which is basically the flake’s version of “I forgot!” or “I shouldn’t be trusted to watch your children because I might lose one!” Or something.
Then I started asking for the photos one by one. I needed one for Christmas cards. Then another for an article I was writing. Christian started bugging me about getting some printed and framed so we might have some reminders of the joyful evening we spent threatening our children to smile, dammit! Unfortunately by this time, my little scrap of paper with all the numbers was long gone, likely suffering the fate of being converted into a drawing of Hello Kitty or Ninja Turtles, with a coffee splatter embellishment or two. So I kinda forgot about it…again.
And then that fateful email from Brandie the other day. The reminder that she was wrapping up her photography business and wanted to get these photos to me. And would she like for her to choose the remaining photos?
To which I replied, “Yes, PLEASE. Sorry! It’s just been CRAZY BUSY around here!”
We’re almost there. My kids start school very soon, and even though I’m exhausted by summer, I’m really sad that they’re going back. I’ll miss them. So this week I’m pulling out all the stops to make sure we have a great last few days. There are outings and trips to the pool, but some days you just have to chill at home because you’re out of ideas and your kitchen floor hasn’t seen a mop since….let’s not talk about it.
So if we haven’t had outings to do, we’ve been digging deep for some fun activities that we can do outdoors when it’s cool enough, or indoors when it’s blazing hot outside.
Experiments in Catapulting
If you have a board in your garage and a rock in your yard, you have an instant catapult. We experimented with matchbox cars, pieces of chalk, small stuffed animals, and even dirt. I tried to warn them that the dirt would probably just fly into their eyes, but you know. Live and learn.
Car painting (with water)
This is the absolute easiest activity, and my kid will do it for MINUTES. Like enough minutes for me to feel like it’s a success. Give each kid a cup and a small paintbrush, and let them “paint” your car. Or your house. Or the ground. Whatever they want. It works best on dark colored cars, where they can see the change. Even better if your car is caked with dirt like mine.
Trampoline chalk drawings
My kids are so damn sick of sidewalk chalk. So when we actually had a morning cool enough to jump on the trampoline, I tossed some chalk at them and showed them that “Hey! You can DRAW on here!” Minds. Blown. Like it never occurred to them. Not really sure why, since they seem to think that every other surface in and around this house is suitable for drawing, but whatever.
This was especially cool because the trampoline was wet from hosing off all the pesky bird poop. Cleanliness and such.
Toilet paper roll painting
My kids get tired of regular painting on blank paper. This project only takes an empty toilet paper roll, some paint, and some paper. My kids go through a roll of toilet paper approximately every 2-3 hours, so no problem there. Just dip the end of the toilet paper roll in paint, and press onto the paper for a fun, colorful project.
My friend Angela from Jumping With my Fingers Crossed did a really fun project making a sun catcher from plastic beads. I have a shitton of beads, and this might actually be a good way to keep them from getting scattered all over my carpet.
If you don’t want to melt your own, you can get little plastic sun catchers and glass paint from the craft store for super cheap. This kept my girls busy longer than a regular painting activity, and it’s challenging to keep the paint inside the designated areas. And when we ran out of sun catchers, I may have handed them a white ceramic mug to keep them busy for a little while longer.
Don’t buy the overpriced kit that looks like a good deal, but in actuality only has 2 sun catchers in it and a few little vials of paint. Rip. Off.
I really wanted to find things that were free, that you could find around the house, but when Claire sat at the table for up to 2 hours yesterday, crafting the most excellent and colorful cat, I had to throw these Perler beads (affiliate link) in there. If your kids are done with the painting and the coloring and the playing outside, this might actually be worth spending a little money on. You can also find them at your local craft store. Someone gave me a set last year, and it’s been sitting in the top of my closet, waiting for the day I was brave enough to bust it out. (And it’s seriously therapeutic for adults who may need a little down time too.)
We’re almost there, moms and dads. How are you surviving these last few days of summer?
This post is graciously sponsored by Fave Juice. All opinions and bad grammar are completely my own. As always, thanks for supporting the people and companies that support this blog.
When Rachel and Claire were born, Christian and I did our absolute best to make sure they got a healthy start. They were almost exclusively breastfed (save for some special high calorie formula that we came home from the NICU on a couple of times a day). I made most of their baby food. And we diluted their juice when they were young.
Yes, I was the mom who diluted her kids’ juice. I know.
We had made a pact that we didn’t really want to introduce sugary drinks to our kids at all. I’m a sucker for temptation, so the only way to get myself off of sodas was to stop buying them. And we did the same for juice. Juice boxes in the fridge equated to kids asking for juice boxes all day long. It had nothing to do with thirst. Plus I’ve taken sips from the juice pouches my kids pick up at parties, and GROSS.
But don’t get me wrong, when we’re at a party, I’m all, “Kids, drink all the juice you want. Just don’t spill Mommy’s ‘juice’ right here.” So.
The folks at Fave Juice must have sensed my neurotic tendencies when they offered me the opportunity to try some of their 100% fruit and vegetable blend juices. Because if I AM going to give my kids juice, I’d like for it to have some kind of nutritional value other than water blended with a host of sugars and an essence of tropical punch.
Fave Juice sent us all three of their flavors to try: Strawberry-Banana-Kiwi, Orange-Tangerine-Pinapple, and Pomegranate-Blueberry-Goji.
So here’s the deal. We loved it. The girls described it as YUMMY! and DELISHWISH! and MORE PLEASE!
We blew through all three bottles in record time, so I think that’s a sign that they liked it. And I don’t think it was their mild juice deprivation speaking, like a kid who was never allowed candy growing up who goes all hulk-like when they eat a jawbreaker as an adult. The great thing about NOT giving the kids sugary drinks often is that they weren’t turned off by the definite NON-sugary taste of Fave. With juices of cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, and beets mixed into the fruits juices, Fave has a full, distinct flavor. You know you’re not drinking a HFCS-laden juice, but it’s fruity and flavorful enough to appeal to kids too.
So here are my favorite things about Fave:
- 3 full servings of vegetables per 8oz glass
- All natural with no added sugars (see the ingredients of all 3 flavors here)
- All ingredients are certified non-GMO
- Very low sugar (but no added sugars!)
- Great addition to a fruit smoothie
- Seriously good. Like really. I love it. I want more.
And best of all, beginning this past June, those of you in the Austin and San Antonio areas can now purchase Fave at your local HEB store. If you don’t live near an HEB, here are the other retailers that carry Fave (including Amazon). And to find out more about Fave, check out their FAQs.
Do you think you’ll give Fave a try? Are you a juice family?
School starts in less than two weeks, and I haz the sadz. I’ve loved having the girls home this summer. Even though they have nearly driven me to the looney bin.
You know I love a good recap, and this one from Elaine as a part of her Old School Blogging is perfect for the blogger who wants to live in the past and doesn’t really want to have to think too hard because it’s Wednesday and you expended all of your mental energy at a really loud, really stimulating mall bouncy establishment.
What was your favorite thing you did alone this summer?
Alone? Like with no one around me, talking, grabbing, touching, asking for snacks? I didn’t do anything alone. Maybe take a shower?
Scratch that. I did travel to San Jose for BlogHer ’14. I love flying. Snagged an aisle seat on a full flight next to a couple that didn’t feel the need to chat until the very end of the flight, they discovered that our plane was not, in fact, landing in Vegas like they thought. Nothing like panicking that you’ve gotten on the wrong flight because your boarding pass didn’t mention a stop!
What was your favorite thing you did as a family this summer?
Went to San Jose for BlogHer. My family wasn’t actually with me, but I’m sure they had fun while I was away.
Okay, fine. We traveled up to Dallas to spend some time with my sister and niece at the Great Wolf Lodge in early June, and then in late June we went to San Antonio so I could attend the AdventureCon conference at SeaWorld, where we also got to do some fun behind-the-scenes stuff as a family. The best part of all of this was that Rachel and Claire are at the height where they can ride a lot of rides. The not-so-great part is that they’re not tall enough to ride alone, meaning we have to take turns taking them one at a time, because someone always has to hang with Zoe, who isn’t tall enough to ride anything yet.
What books did you read this summer?
Am I supposed to remember when I read books? I have no idea. I just finished The Husband’s Secret (it was okay). Before that it was Naked by David Sedaris (it was David Sedaris). Before that it was The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan (also okay). Right now I’m reading Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. It makes me sleepy.
I feel like I need a REALLY good book to read. Always taking recommendations. (To get a load of everything I’ve read in 2014, check out my Reading page.)
What do you WISH you had done this summer?
When they go back to school on the 26th, I will say I wish we had gotten out more. I wish we had gone to the pool more, more splash pads, more adventures, more museums, done more crafts. But in the moment, I struggle with those things. Taking three kids anywhere is…. a special experience. And it’s too effing hot anyway.
What movies did you see this summer (if any)?
Well. Brace yourself. We saw How to Train Your Dragon 2 (loved it, but a tad sad, no?),
Every summer I say we’re going to go see a free movie every week at the Alamo Drafthouse Kids Camp. We’ve been twice: Mary Poppins and Kung Fu Panda. Free movies and bottomless popcorn FTW! *jazz hands*
Where did you travel this summer?
San Jose for BlogHer, where I could NOT stop talking about the heavenly weather, and people who don’t usually spend their summers in a blast furnace thought I was crazy.
Dallas and San Antonio, you know, to keep it exotic and make the neighbors jealous.
What was your favorite treat (as in dessert) this summer?
My favorite treat is always ice cream: Amy’s Mexican Vanilla or gelato from Teo specifically. And now you’ve gone and reminded that I haven’t eaten nearly enough ice cream this summer. I shall be fixing that this weekend.
What did you celebrate this summer?
My niece’s birthday. Several friends’ birthdays. The fact that my kids can unbuckle themselves from their booster seats and exit the car without my help.
Did you grow anything this summer?
I assume you’re talking about plants, which means you don’t know me at all.
So let’s stick with hair. I grew a lot of hair this summer. In lots of places.
What is a favorite post (if you blog) that you wrote this Summer?
At first thought, I didn’t remember writing much that I loved. But I did! Having a terrible short term memory means you are often graced with pleasant surprises like this.
On the lighter side, I wrote about things that happen when camping with kids. I love camping, but I’m just saying, if your kids head off into the woods, make sure they take some toilet paper.
Finally, on a more serious note, I wrote about recently getting my feelings hurt on the internet (I know, wah wah…).
What is a favorite photograph that you took this summer?
I can only pick one?
Are you sure?
What do you want to do next summer?
My goal next summer is to GET MY CHILDREN TO PASS THE SWIM TEST. Hallelujah, amen, raise the roof.
Next summer we really want to visit the beach. We had to scrap plans to visit our North Carolina family this year because SOMEONE took two trips (to Dayton, OH and to San Jose) this year. But next year I’d not only like to go see them, but I kinda feel like I want to make it an epic road trip. I might be crazy. But I saw so many road trips via Facebook this summer, it made me really want to try it.
If you were one of those people and you are screaming DON’T DO IT! at your computer screen right now, then please let me know. Preferably before next summer.
Last year before kindergarten, I hemmed and hawed over whether or not to order the girls expensive, quality backpacks, complete with coordinating lunch boxes, or to let them pick out cheap character ones from Target.
This damn decision ate me so alive, you’d think I’d been tasked with deciding which college they would be attending. I just could not figure out what the best thing to do was. On one hand, I knew they would love the cheap, Ninja Turtle backpacks they had seen. On the other, seasoned school mom friends raved about how long their sturdy L.L Bean backpacks had lasted, and how they were truly the superior choice. Seriosuly, making decisions is HARD for the indecisive.
But if you’ve ever seen a 5-year-old’s face light up when they see the absolute most perfect Ninja Turtle backpack ever, complete with “turtle shell” pocket, then you know what the right choice is. School was new and exciting, and a little bit scary, so it was important to me that they have something that was familiar, something that they loved. And holy crap, did they love those crappy backpacks.
In the bigger picture, this was just kindergarten, and the backpacks were only like $11. If they broke or tore halfway through the year, it wouldn’t break us to get a replacement.
And they did indeed break.
I could go and order more expensive backpacks that don’t assault my eyes with characters. But this small decision that they get to make reminds me that even though I’m hyperventilating a little bit about them getting older, they’re still little kids.
Rachel – sweet, dependable Rachel – stuck with her old familiar favorite, the Ninja Turtles. It’s new and stiff and full of possibilities, complete with a tiny pocket fit for all of the random items she loves to stow away, like rocks and dirty plastic spoons that she finds on the cafeteria floor.
Claire grabbed the first backpack she saw – Monster High. And I’m not going to lie. I wasn’t thrilled. I wanted to ask, “Are you sure? What about this one?” eagerly holding up a blindingly obnoxious cartoon character.
It’s not that I really have anything against the brand, you know, aside from the short skirts and “come hither” bedroom eyes on gigantic heads. Claire got a Monster High doll for her birthday, and she loved if at first sight. It’s just…I just thought we had a little more time. A little more time for the little kid stuff, for Hello Kitty and Minnie Mouse, for sweet and innocent. But nope. Monster High all the way. And I need a matching lunch box too, Mom.
And she really loves it.
Some things change; some things stay the same. We’re ready for you, first grade. Come hither bedroom eyes and all. On the backpack. Not my kids.
I counted the days until school. 19 days. NINETEEN DAYS.
August 26 sounds like an eternity from now, but it’s only NINETEEN DAYS. By the time you’re reading this it could very well be 18, 17, or even 16, so really the earlier you read this, the less traumatizing it is for me.
I have been struggling this summer. We haven’t gotten out of the house as much as I would have liked. I’m less inclined to take them to the YMCA since I can’t really work out. We’ve been swimming several times and splash padding a few, but not as many as I would have thought. We haven’t really been on as many adventures as I originally thought we would.
Y’all, this was my living room the other day. I just can’t. The stool and the laundry basket and the empty diaper boxes are all part of an elaborate train system. Obvs. The rest I can’t exactly vouch for.
And then I did THE COUNTDOWN, and hyperventilated a little, because nineteen days is less than three weeks. That means the next several days will be filled with school shopping, backpacks, supplies that I forgot to order at the end of last school year in the handy package that would be delivered right to their classroom like back-to-school magic.
And then I panicked that we haven’t packed enough SUMMER into our summer, and we need to go to the park and to more splash pads and to the museum. Or maybe we just need to get our money’s worth out of our Y membership and camp out at the pool every day with a picnic and a bucket of sunblock.
And then I heaved a little because FIRST GRADE! My babies will be in a number grade! No more kindergarten. Will first grade have a Teddy Bear Picnic and Polar Express Pajama Day? I surely hope so, because otherwise I’ll be feeling like it’s like the end of their childhood or something.
And then I saw a man pushing a double stroller with teeny tiny infants in it and I got all choked up and almost fell off the treadmill at the Y, because I will never have babies again. I will never watch little toddlers topple over as they’re just learning to walk, or chubby little 2-year-olds laughing and shouting “WAIN!” while signing “rain” with their hands. I will never experience words like “blowies” and “ladypop.” They’re only going to get taller and older and sassier.
And now I just want to go watch them sleep and stroke their hair and whisper creepily, “Stay leeeeeetle, mah preshuses.”
So I vow to make the most of these nineteen days (eighteen, seventeen, sixteen…). We will fun all over this town like it’s a verb and explore and get ice cream and raise the roof and etc.
And then as I drove to my physical therapy appointment the other day, I smelled a terrible, burning chemically smell that I chalked up to nearby roadwork. And then I noticed the air blowing on me wasn’t cool anymore, and there wasn’t actually any roadwork. And I texted my husband, “I think I just broke the car.”
So summer, you are officially on hold until I get my car back, and maybe you can be free, since I now have to drop $1000 on a new AC and whatever else the mechanic man said needed to be done.
Which is why my children are currently playing in the sprinkler. And the inevitable mud that ensues from the sprinkler being on in my patchy yard. And I’m pretending they won’t have mud caked in crevices in which mud should never be caked.
So, I got my feelings hurt a few weeks ago over social media. It was stupid and insignificant in the big picture of life, really. I can hear everyone now – in Christian’s voice – telling me not to let it bother me, that I need to grow thicker skin if I’m going to “be a sharer.” I know that’s true. My humor and snark mask a great deal of vulnerability. But right here, right now, my skin is pretty worn down and easy to pierce.
The TL;DR version is that I – via a joke – accidentally started a political conversation on Facebook, which resulted in me getting unfriended – which isn’t where my feelings got hurt. But my initial reaction was just one of bewilderment. Like really? Someone poses an opinion that’s different from yours and you immediately reach for the unfriend button? That’s some pretty fickle shit right there.
There’s more to this story, but what concerns me is this knee-jerk reaction that we have all come so quickly to have over social media. Someone does something we don’t like and we are OUTRAGED! Someone expresses an opinion different from ours, and suddenly they are uneducated, illogical, tree-hugging, Bible-beating, women-hating, slut-shaming, liberal hippie, conservative tightwad whatever you want to call them. It’s a never-ending cycle of moral outrage. People say things that they would likely not say to another’s face. I’ve never been so paranoid and unsure of even my closest friendships than I was during the 2012 presidential election. Not because I loved them less, but because of the things that they would say on social media that were clearly out of their in-person character.
I know that not everyone is going to gel with me, but I care what people think about me. And that’s what the unfriending really boiled down to – this person didn’t like me or my writing, and she let me know it, in her own knee-jerk reaction way. She took this opportunity to take a dig not only at my political opinions – which I never technically stated – but to take a personal dig at me, my blog, and my parenting. And for what? For the satisfaction of having the last word behind a computer screen?
I wished her well, but my knee-jerk reaction was to bring everything I’ve ever done or said into question, to scrutinize interactions, status updates, blog posts, comments because why would someone say something deliberately nasty? I’m nice! I let people know what they are having a great hair day! Sure, I’m kind of a dingbat, but I give people the benefit of the doubt, even when they have different opinions than me! And I give good hugs!
The veil of the online world is powerful, and we find ourselves saying things we would often not utter to someone’s face – at least I hope. We talk to our screens, not the people behind them. Is what you’re saying going to be constructive to the conversation? Or are you using it as an opportunity to hurt someone? Make yourself feel better for having a different opinion? Tear others down so you can feel lifted up?
There are many, many people out there who can let rudeness or unkindness roll of their back. I am not one of those people. I don’t write on controversial issues, and I don’t express many opinions on Facebook, aside from the weather (too hot! Too cold!) or the atrocity that is Smurfs 2. Not that I don’t have them, opinions, not Smurfs. I just shouldn’t have to take being torn apart by someone who thinks that their opinions matter more than mine. I’ve learned that I’d rather share those discussions with people who aren’t going to blow their top and say things that are hurtful because they’re able to say them from behind a computer screen 200 miles away.
A good friend was once wise enough to tell me that I’m not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. And that’s fine. But you don’t have to spit in the tea. That’s just gross.
Edited to add: Laura Tremaine of Hollywood Housewife posted a fantastic essay a few weeks ago that’s worth a read. Check out Facebook posts are the new bumper stickers.