Friday, May 30, 2008

I looked the other way and then...

My college roommate came to visit last weekend with her family, including her three little girls. I don't know where the time goes, but we hadn't gotten together in two years. Thankfully, the time doesn't seem to make a big difference...except the kids change an awful lot...
Her youngest isn't in either of these photos. She was still a little larva when the first was taken and she just wasn't in the tree house for the second. Too bad the kids didn't see fit to stick their heads out in the same order as they'd done a couple of years earlier, but it's still fun to compare.

I'm thrilled at just how well all the kids got along. They spent a day and a half together. No fights, very little crying (if any) and a whole lot of giggling and running around. It was one of those long weekends that felt just exactly like a long weekend should be. Lots of playing in the yard, a pleasant dinner at an uncrowded restaurant, a nice time chatting after all the kids were asleep, a leisurely stroll around the farmer's market, some pastries at the bakery. And obligatory introduction to letterboxing for my friends' family, followed by a nice trip to Ardenwood Farm for a picnic, feeding animals and a wee bit more letterboxing, of course! We really need to do things like that more often...which might just require seeing the Cowles family more often!

Explaining what I don't understand

It's been 10 days since I last posted. 10 DAYS!!! It's hard to believe. But some of the things that have happened in the last 10 days are even harder for me to fathom. least one of them is.

Smunch's kindergarten teacher unexpectedly quit, or was fired, or some combination of the two, last week. It's just two weeks before the end of school. It's hard to put into words just how I feel about that.

I didn't think she was a very good teacher. She clearly had issues. I once overheard her saying (to another parent!) that she would be taking as much sick time as possible before the end of the year because she missed her 18-month-old daughter too much. Hmmm? And what about those 17 little kindergarteners who have come to love and respect you over the year?

There's a palpable sense of betrayal. I'm angry that she let us all down like this. I'm sad for my little boy who doesn't understand just how complicated life can be and misses his teacher. I'm relieved that she's gone when she clearly didn't want to be there. But gosh, couldn't she just suck it up for the next two weeks? The school board had already approved a one year leave of absence for next year. Now, I hope she'll never even consider coming back...although I no longer think they'd have to take her.

Something about Smunch's card for her (pictured above) makes me want to cry. It's so heartfelt. He clearly worked hard on it with all its little details and hanging flower baskets. It's hard to understand how a dedicated teacher could let a child down like that, much less 17 of them at once...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Last game as an Oriole

Last night was Smunch's last game as a member of the Orioles. It's kind of a relief in that there won't be any more two-games-a-week and possibly a practice thrown in there for good measure. Not a single kid on his team was actually from his own kindergarten class, even though they're all at the same school. On the other hand, he landed on a team of great kids with great parents. I've never seen a team with so much parent participation going on. Most practices had at least 5 adults helping out. And believe me, that was totally appreciated! Six-year-old boys are so squirrely!

So, I'll miss getting to see all those people every week, even though I see most of them in passing every day. Now, I even know who they are. I love the sports teams for what it brings to our social life. Smunch's best friends are all boys he's played sports with. And some of the moms I know the best are the ones I've met on the sidelines.

And it's been fun to watch how much better Smunch has gotten this year too. He still banters to himself endlessly while he plays in the outfield, but he can really hit the ball when it's pitched to him and he's so motivated not to get tagged out that he runs as fast as he possibly can. He may never be a professional baseball player, but he sure has a lot of fun out there.
At the end of the season, however, his best friend is always this one. His little gold and black friend who went to school with him for show and tell today...even though every boy in his class probably has one of these by now!

(Yes, that is a blemish on his face, thanks to his sweet little sister who clobbered him with a toy. Nice!)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sister for sale

After school today, Smunch drew this sign for Mam. He then dutifully led her out to the end of the driveway and made her sit there.

Now we are nine

Gack! Who are those very young, refreshed, skinny, happy-looking people? It tugs at my memory, but I have a hard time placing them...

Friday was the ninth anniversary of our wedding. It's funny. When people ask how long you've been married...and about three people asked me when I mentioned our anniversary...and you say 'nine', the response is a universal shrug. What do you say about nine years? It's not ten years, you know?

Naturally, I've got a few things to say about it, even though it's a funny number.

We might not look quite so beautiful as we did on our wedding day, but I'd argue we've earned each and every wrinkle and grey hair...starting with Daddy (then, just new hubby) falling over a cliff on Kauai during our honeymoon. Thank goodness he never hit the bottom or people doubtlessly would have wondered...especially when they found out he'd lost his new wedding ring in the ocean just days earlier. "We knew there was something wrong about that girl," they'd say.

Our misadventures continued for some time after we were married. There was the brand new rental car we totaled in England. There were a couple of minor medical emergencies in Belize. The nightmarish birth of our son and the ensuing years of grief and worry, the impossibly more nightmarish arrival of our daughter and all of the developmental concerns repeated over again, with even more angst...especially for Daddy who'd witnessed her arrival as a premature infant with no heartbeat...followed far too closely by the unexpected death of Daddy's mother.

Then came the stuttering and hearing loss (Smunch) and the intermittently crossed eyes (Mam). I don't know what's in store for us next, but there are some things I'm pretty confident about.

Our nine years of married life have been far from smooth, but many of the bumps in the road just brought us closer together. At the best of times, we are the best of teams. You'll notice there are a lot of 'we's in this post and very few 'I's. It's because we've always been together. We didn't necessarily agree, but we tried to see the other's point of view. We tried hard. Sometimes we succeeded. Sometimes we were frustrated, but we're still the best of friends. And, as long as we're both here, I don't see that changing. How lucky we were to find good partners!

How lucky I am to have a guy who knows every single foible and blemish, but loves me anyway. I'm wildly undeserving.

And I remembered all these things, thanks to that lady who threw that party for us nine years ago. On a day when I was absolutely fed up with the kids and feeling like a horrible parent, she gave us the best anniversary present ever and took the kids...for dinner, for bath, for sleeping, for waking at the crack of dawn and for breakfast. Ahhh. Thanks, Mom!

It was just an evening. But it's the only evening we've had like that since we've had kids. No pressure, no time constraints. Nice dinner, a stroll around town and sleeping without waking to little people fighting or blasting PBS. Sometimes it just takes a tiny bit of that kind of time to remember what's really important...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Baseball action

There was a considerable lack of babysitting time last week, leading to a lot of frustration. I need more practice spending more time with my kids. They drove me nuts...and they didn't make me feel like blogging. I know I've got a post I should have written on Friday. I'll get to it...hopefully.

Tomorrow is Smunch's (#2) last day as an Oriole. Although he's already has his trophy (fodder for another blog post if I manage to get the photos off my camera), I had these action shots saved up from one of his previous games.
In the meantime, Mam found not only her Sarah, but her Sarah's little sister. Thank goodness because she thinks baseball is horribly boring, but the three of them had a blast.


I decided that maybe the beans would stop falling out of my beef and bean burgers if I let Mam smash them up first. I couldn't have predicted just how much enthusiasm she would bring to the job.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Chicken and the eggs

Yesterday, I cooked some pre-made chicken cordon bleu. It wasn't as yummy as if I'd taken the time to make it myself, but it really wasn't bad. We hadn't had chicken in quite some time. Naturally, Smunch hated it. If it's not noodles, or cheese, or tortillas, he's likely to claim it's going to kill him...although the promise of dessert is often enough to make him resigned to his fate.

This time, he tried logic.

Smunch: If we keep eating chicken, there won't be any more eggs and I like eggs.

Hmmm. Let me think about that.

Mother's Day

Rarely has a Mother's Day been quite so full for me. This one was really kind of nuts. And I didn't bring the camera along, so I'm afraid there isn't much in the way of photos to be had. Maybe I'll see if I can scrounge some online, just for color.

The day started nicely enough. I got out of bed and was promptly shoo-ed back into bed by Daddy. Moments later, the kids came tumbling in with presents, insisting that they should help me open them. So, I unwrapped the necklace I bought myself for the occasion, a silver bracelet from Smunch, some cool lotion soaps from Daddy and a wonderful new tabletop pancake griddle, ostensibly from Mam.

And Daddy had whipped up some pancake batter too. So we all had pancakes for breakfast...except for Daddy, who learned the hard way why I hate making pancakes. There are never enough! And when I spent all my time over at the stove shoveling pancakes for everyone else, that was really annoying. I'd finally figured out that I have to make a double batch. Unfortunately, I apparently forgot to pass this wisdom on. But seriously, who knew it'd ever be useful to him?

After some leisurely lolling around the table and the house, Daddy took the kids out to get food for a picnic lunch with my parents while I went to get flowers for my own mom. Apparently, I also forgot to pass along the wisdom that every activity takes at least twice as long when the kids are with you. We got to the park half an hour late for our lunch date. But it was O.K., everyone still had fun. The kids got to play with Daddy and Grandpa while my mom and I sat in the sun. We had lunch. We checked on a letterbox we planted at the park last month. Grandpa served his own homemade chocolate chip cookies...his specialty.

Then we were supposed to head to a benefit concert for the daughter of a friend of mine who died suddenly several months ago. We're not big fans of the guy who was performing...having been spoiled by our love of Andy Z...but I felt like it was important to go and support her family. We stopped at a $4M+ open house on the way and that made Smunch very grumpy, even though he seemed to enjoy looking around.

But when we finally parked to walk to the concert venue, Smunch did something naughty (I'm not even sure what) and Daddy took his privileges, resulting in a complete and total meltdown like I'm not sure I've ever really seen from him...uh, Smunch, that is. Daddy held his composure quite well, under the circumstances. I'm sure we got plenty of strange looks as we walked, but I cleverly hid my nose in the map, pretending I heard nothing.

I went into the concert and made the donation I'd been planning to make while Daddy stayed outside with the screaming Smunch. Mam stayed with Daddy, so I went back out and retrieved her. At least one of my kids was going to see a little bit of the concert! Smunch was still screaming and crying outside. We watched some of the concert, but we've seen this guy's show before and I'm not sure it bears watching more than once. We probably stayed for about 10 minutes, then went back outside...where Smunch was still screaming and crying next to Daddy. Poor Daddy.

We walked back to the mommymobile...with Smunch trailing behind, screaming and crying. I picked up the all-important clue and backpack, so we could go hunt down a letterbox in the area. Smunch screamed and cried the whole way. It let up just about the time I made Mam back off and forced Smunch to get the letterbox out of its hidey hole.

After that, Smunch cheered up and then insisted he wanted to go see the Native American drumming and dancing going on nearby. Of course, he didn't necessarily want to walk...and neither did Mam. A couple of times, I caught Daddy carrying both of them at once. We made it to the Pow Wow and wandered around for a little bit. Got to see lots of Native Americans in ceremonial garb. Got to see some dancing, heard some music, perused some jewelry and other artwork and finally headed back to the car again.

It was late. We went out for a cheap dinner, which fortunately featured margaritas, then zoomed home for bath and bedtime. Thank goodness.

It's great being a mom. I wouldn't trade it for anything...but sometimes, this time of night is the best part of the whole day!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A "Wacky Creature"

Sometimes I call Smunch a wacky creature, but what the headline really refers to is an article than ran in the Washington Post the other day about this critter and its newly sequenced genome. It turns out, this little animal, found in certain areas of Australia, has some really crazy genes. It lays eggs, produces milk, has venom(!) It's got reptilian genes, bird genes, mammal genes and 10 chromosomes carrying genes that determine gender. Geez. It must be confused!When this story ran in our local paper on Thursday, I showed the photo to the kids and asked them what it was. Neither of them knew, so we had a little educational moment. Despite that, this morning Smunch claimed that this is a QUACKAPOTOMUS! And so it is.