September 30, 2014

Home alone in the quiet

I jokingly changed the tagline on my blog just as the school year began, because this year I am in fact alone two mornings a week (minus my co-op shifts). D has been in preschool for about a month now, so I've had several no kid mornings. The verdict? It's different, but it's a good different for all of us.

I spent my first few mornings alone at the barre studio, and those mornings helped me close in on my hundredth class a little faster. By the time class was over, it was time to head back to preschool for pickup, so those mornings sped by. Then the schedule at the studio changed, and I had to find other things to do. I like these unscheduled mornings less, because the lack of a schedule has made me realize how quiet it is here.

I've often wished for quiet: to think, to write, to get the Caillou theme song out of my head. But it turns out the kind of quiet I prefer is the kind that comes when my children are asleep in their beds, not the kind that comes when they're actually out of the house doing other things. I didn't realize there was a difference between the two, but there is. And I'll get used to it.

September 23, 2014

#100 club

In April, I took my very first Pure Barre class. Last night, I took my 100th, a milestone that's marked at Pure Barre studios across the country by signing the barre and special red socks.

But it's more than that. For five and a half months, I've stuck with a workout for the first time in...several years. I've gained muscle, friends and joined a community that just raised more than $3,000 for a local charity.

For weeks (fine, months), I've tracked my classes online. I've double checked with the studio to make sure my tally matched theirs, and week by week my class total rose. Last week, I made it onto the chalkboard...and then I made it to the top of the list.

Then I caught round two of the back-to-school-oh-god-why-are-we-all-still-sick germs. I took a day off, and then I went to class anyways, tissues in hand because I was ready to get my red socks. And last night, trying very hard to cough and sniffle as quietly as possible, I took my 100th class.

While I still have a long road to go to be where I want to be, I've come far in 100 classes. 

Now it's time for a little break before I start counting down to 250!

September 21, 2014

We are joining the Girl Scouts

The Friday before kindergarten started, A's school hosted a family back to school picnic. The day was gray and rainy, so we packed up our picnic dinner and ate in the cafeteria, settling in at one of the same tables A would be dining at each day for lunch. Set up around the perimeter of the room were tables promoting a variety of school activities, like the PTA, a school-wide art contest, the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts.

We strolled around after we ate dinner, taking in the displays, and we stopped briefly at the Girl Scouts table. I picked up a flyer, A got a sticker and a pencil, and we headed down the hall so A could show her brother the giant Dusty Crophopper on the bulletin board outside her classroom. It wasn't until we checked out the kids' activities in the gym that I realized A assumed that sticker and pencil meant she had already joined the Girl Scouts. But there she was proudly telling a fellow kindergartener that she was a Girl Scout, and oh, there was her new friend showing off her sticker and announcing that they were both Girl Scouts now! The flyer in my purse took on a new level of importance, and I RSVPed that evening for the upcoming parent meeting.

The subject of Girl Scouts has come up many times in the last three weeks, and at one point I promised A that if no one else signed up to be a leader, I would do it so she could join (I already am a Girl Scout, she reminded me).

And that is exactly what happened at yesterday afternoon's meeting. They grouped us by school and grade level, and surprise - no hands went up at the table when the organizer asked who was interested in leading the troop. So I volunteered, because I had already promised I would. And now, at 36, I am joining the Girl Scouts along with my daughter because troop leaders have to be Girl Scout members too. 

I will, however, draw the line at wearing a patch-covered vest. 

September 19, 2014

Toeing the line

We're nearly a month into the school year, a month into new adventures and new schedules and new normals for all of us. It's a time full of stories...and I find myself hesitant to tell them. A and D are independent this school year in ways they never have been before, and among other things it has me wondering how much of their stories are mine to tell.

When they were small, their stories and mine blurred into one. Their sleepless nights were my sleepless nights, their days were my days and their adventures took place an arm's reach away from me. When I turned to my blank screen to write, the words that came invariably told the tales of my two.

But now...things are different, and I'm having a hard time finding a line between what's mine to tell and what's not. A is out of the house on her own for nearly eight hours a day navigating the wilds of kindergarten, and as the third week of school draws to a close we're finally hearing about more than just lunch and recess. She comes home full of stories and facts and sight words and occasional complaints...and they're her stories, not mine. Which pieces of her stories are still mine to write about?

D is on his own out of the house twice a week for preschool, and for the first time in his life there's no big sister down the hall. I'm in his classroom every few weeks to co-op, but when I'm not he's so excited for preschool that he doesn't even say goodbye when I take him to his classroom. For two and a half hours, D is having adventures of his own - and I've been surprised how much he says about his mornings at school. But even at two and a half, how much of his day is mine to share?

For now, the answer is I don't know, and while I'm figuring it out it's likely to be quite a bit more quiet here.

September 14, 2014

The medal

Last spring, A announced that she wanted to "run a running race," and she wanted me to do it with her. I found a local 3K race, and run we did (minus a brief pit stop that involved a good deal of shouting). But what we didn't do that day was win a medal, and it turned out that had been an important part of A's running race vision. I've been on the hunt for a kid-friendly race with medals at the finish line, and not long ago I found one in downtown DC.

On Saturday morning, A and I left the boys at home and took the Metro downtown on a gloomy, gray day. Originally the plan was for me to run a 5K before A's kids' run, but plans changed for a variety of reasons, and I'm glad they did, because the focus was completely on A and that was so good for her.

The starting line was more chaotic than I'd expected, and nothing makes me anxious like the thought of losing one of my kids in a crowd. I waited with A until her group was called to the starting line, and then I ran - down the sidewalk in the hopes of beating her to the finish line. I stopped just once, hoping to catch a glimpse of my girl, and I did.

The entrance to the finish line was blocked with strollers and runners and parents, and I didn't make it through the crowd until just after A crossed the finish line. I was sad to miss her finishing the race, but I was so glad to see her finally get her medal.

The last three weeks have been a race of a different sort for A - mastering the kindergarten routine, navigating a full day with more structure than preschool, everything new and different in one go. And though she's far from the end of school year finish line, she's off and running, making new friends, reading new words every day, counting higher than ever before.

And while there's no medal for those things, they're worth celebrating too. So proud of our fast, determined girl...who's already ready to win her next medal.

September 11, 2014

Catch the Moment 365: Week 37

Another week of firsts here...this time it was D's turn for school. We are slowly settling into the new normal for everyone, and it's taking longer than I'd expected. I assumed the start of elementary school would mean D would be on his own schedule, and he's not...wake ups and the end of naps are dictated by his sister's bus, and that's not been easy. A is in her third week of kindergarten, and while she likes it it's still new and very much an adjustment for her (and us).

247/365: D checked out his classroom for the first time on Friday!

248/365: A was delighted to find a Girl Scouts table at the farmers market

249/365: It's the end of an era here - our baby gate is gone for good now. 
Wonder how long it will take for that line in the carpet to disappear?

250/365: What do you do when you get new rain boots on a sunny day? 
Put a doll in your boot and pose your arms to match hers.

251/365: D's first day of preschool! 

252/365: We went to a local children's play space and he couldn't get enough of the grocery store. 

253/365: D's first day of preschool on his own was a big success! I used my first solitary morning to exercise, and it was a great distraction to keep me from missing my littlest buddy.

As always, thank you to our hosts: Simply Stavish, Nurse Loves Farmer, and 

September 10, 2014

One more first day

Two weeks ago, A started kindergarten. And every morning for two weeks, D has asked if he could go to kindergarten and ride the bus too.

Yesterday, our boy finally got his turn for school. There's no bus, but he was happy to head off to school just the same.

D is at the same preschool he went to last year - but unlike last year, this isn't a parent-child class, so most days he'll be on his own in the classroom. Because it's a co-op preschool I'll be in class with him every few weeks (and as the maker of his class' co-op schedule I may have scheduled myself to co-op on the very first day), but most weeks he'll be on his own two mornings a week. And just as it's still feeling strange to drop off at the bus stop each morning instead of at the door of her classroom, it's hard for me to picture dropping my little boy off and not pulling up a tiny chair next to him. The last time I dropped him off somewhere during the day, he was a six month old baby in daycare with his sister.

At the end of last year, D's teacher encouraged each of us parents to take turns leaving the classroom...first for just a minute or two, then for longer stretches to help get our children ready for school on their own this year. D was always fine, and he hardly seemed to notice I was gone. He's a sweet, chatty boy who very much enjoyed spending Tuesday morning with his new little classmates, and I'm certain he will have fun. But selfishly, I know I'll miss my funny little buddy when I drive off without him tomorrow morning.

Here's to your new adventure, little boy - can't wait to hear all about it!