Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Getting to Know Them

Both Clare's and Danny's classes kicked off the year with projects designed to get them to share a little about themselves. Perfect, because what kid doesn't like thinking and talking about themselves??
Danny's will look familiar, as it is the same poster Clare was assigned when she was in first grade. (Yikes, how she's grown!) Here are the details on the Danimal:

These are my favorite subjects:
  • Reading
  • Social Studies
  • Science
Here are places I like to go (California, Buffalo and the lake house are repeats from Clare's list, so I guess they do have a few things in common):
  • Disney
  • Florida
  • California
  • Buffalo
  • Lake house
  • Mountain house
These are things I like to do:
  • At home: read, play, iPad
  • At school: soccer
  • In the community: football
This is my favorite:
  • Food: meat (hasn't changed since he was 4)
  • Song: Istanbul (not Constantinople)
  • Movie: Percy Jackson
    Book: Percy Jackson series

Clare's assignment related to their summer reading assignment, which was the first book in the 39 Clues series. They first had to create a list of 39 clues about themselves. They then had to create a "suitcase" detailing five of their clues, both with decorations and then actual items inside. For her five primary clues, Clare selected:
  • A swim cap, for her love of swimming
  • Sheet music, for her piano playing
  • A plush cat toy, for her favorite animal
  • Her Notre Dame hat, for her favorite team
  • Two books, for her love of reading
These projects are such great ways to track their evolution as individuals. I must admit I'm looking forward to the first time Laura has to do something like this. Sort of staggers the imagination...

Friday, August 23, 2013

She's Happy, and She Knows It

I'm thinking it's time for me to mention some more positive things about our two-year-old, especially since there really are several. I was reminded of this on our way to preschool yesterday, when Laura spontaneously said, "I'm happy, Mommy!" This is not the first time she has said this, either. 

Laura is a high-spirited little preschooler. She loves to talk about school, especially which snacks she will bring, and is constantly asking if she can go to school. She does a good job of holding her own in dinnertime conversations about school, too. Of course, she also projects Clare's and Danny's experiences onto her own life as a student. So when Danny forgot his backpack last Friday, she spent the next two days telling me she forgot her backpack for school, too! And when Clare waxed poetic about her new binder's many marvelous functions, Laura informed her that she, too, had a binder and would be joining Clare in her class.
I'm pretty sure we all respond well to the return of routine, but I do think Laura has become particularly joyful ever since she began school. She has taken to telling me, several times a day, "I need a huggie!" She gives good ones, too. She loves to sing, especially with Clare. She's almost always up for reading some stories. We've also found her drawn increasingly to playing with puzzles, and her Legos. And she loves to go to the playground. Now, I'm not saying she has abandoned her "emotional terrorism," as dubbed by Tim. But I do think we might be on the slowdown for such attacks. Or possibly I'm blinded by love and cuteness.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Laura's First Day of Preschool

This is a post I have looked forward to writing for a while. Laura, too, was looking forward to school, mentioning it to nearly everyone she met this summer. I figured she might lose her enthusiasm when the day actually arrived. Instead, while I was trying to take her picture on the porch, she kept saying to me, "I'm ready to go!"

And she really was. Like her big sister before her (and unlike her big brother before her), she walked right into the classroom and never looked back. Being the now-wiser mother of three, I bolted immediately. After all, once drop-off happens, that clock starts moving so much more quickly than on regular days.

Several people have asked me what I will do with this free time. I have already scheduled doctor appointments, will need to attend meetings at school, and will hope to catch up with friends for uninterrupted conversations. But first and foremost I will head here:
I was sort of dreading what the trail would be like on an August morning at 9 a.m., but I was blessed with an unseasonably cool, cloudy morning and it was glorious! I even have our windows open at home now!

Laura seemed just as happy when I picked her up today, a trend which will hopefully continue. Also hoped-for is a blemish-free record on the slugging front. So far, so good!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

First Day of Fifth and First Grades

As one friend put it, today was the real Mother's Day: the first day of school! After a summer that was definitely the quickest yet, the kids were back to the salt mines. Fortunately, they were both chipper about it, despite the early wake-up call.

Laura, on the other hand, was much less enthused when I went in to get her up for the drive. Upon seeing me, she held up her hand and said, "Go away! I'm staying here." Not surprisingly, this was my view a few hours later:
As the first day is always a noon dismissal, we all regrouped for a now-traditional lunch at Twisted Taco, and promptly threw our kids in jail. Let the school year begin!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

I Never Expected Paradise To Be So Messy

While I try to stay relatively relaxed about it on the outside, I am a bit of a neat freak. I detest clutter, and a tidy house makes me happy and relaxed. I have tried to instill in my kids the need to put things away when you are finished with them. It's definitely a work in progress, with the exception of Clare who is an A+ student.

So I have surprised myself with my willingness to let the basement play room remain so ridiculously messy. It helps that I can only see it when I go downstairs. Above all, though, is the fact that since it opened for business, this room has kept my kids busy for HOURS. This is exactly what I hoped would happen, although I naturally pictured them keeping their Legos in neat and orderly structures, or perhaps filed away in the bins. Oh well - as one friend told me, in a few short years this room will not look this way at all, because they will be too old and too busy to play.

It's reaping rewards, too. I feel much more confident hosting friends for play dates, knowing the kids have plenty of space to play without being on top of one another. I know it's good to be the house where the kids congregate, and as they get older I am happy to be one of those houses (not so much with the toddler set). Play on, kiddos...just close the door when you're finished, please.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Postcards from PCC

I think all of us have our favorite elements of visiting Buffalo, but one that I know for certain we share is Park Country Club, or "the castle." And what's not to love? We are treated like royalty there, and the food and scenery is spectacular.

It's an occasion for everyone to dress up, and happily we got some nice photos out of it.
Dancing like "a little lady."
A touch of resemblance.

The split-second when we got Laura to cooperate.

The Face That Launched 1,000 Frustrations

To clarify, the face I am referring to is not Larry's, who is truly a prince among men.
So. We are home from the 10th annual summer grandparent tour (!). I will not commence complaining about Laura until I mention that, first and foremost, it was a wonderful trip like it always is. The memories we make by virtually moving in with the grandparents are priceless, and I hope the kids will always treasure them as much as I do my summers spent in Kansas.

That said, it should also be noted that every single evening, Donna and I toasted each other with a glass of wine to salute surviving another day (and mom and dad and I were too busy sucking down our wine to toast very often). I've had more than enough people tell me that we "needed" Laura, because our first two kids were too easy. I like to think that Tim and I are usually up for a challenge, but I think we might be too fond of rational behavior for this particular one.

She wants cereal. No, Cheerios! No, cereal! No, not that bowl, the pink one. NO, NOT THAT PINK ONE THE OTHER ONE. Thrown toys, slammed doors, purposely upended bowls of pasta. Crying fits so violent that Danny was prompted to ask, once she finally got quiet again, "Is Laura breathing?" I would have seriously considered inquiring about the exorcism skills of the local parish priests if she had not been on her very best behavior every time we took her to mass. Which forces me to admit that she can be sweet (and almost always cute).

I realize I am not making headlines by asserting that the age of two can be terrible. I used to say that three was really the dreaded age. I also used to think that I had a handle on parenting and behavior issues. I am humbled. I once again vow to stop judging other parents by their children's actions or appearance. I cling to the words "this, too, shall pass"... and to the knowledge that each and every day, the magical bedtime hour arrives. Cheers!