Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The First Two Weeks of School Part II: The Bad and the Ugly

Emily is lost without Nora.

Emily does not know what to do with herself.

I am at my wits end.

It did not occur to me that Emily would not be thrilled to be at home alone with her mom. I just assumed that we would have a grand ol' time, just the two of us. After all, she has been sharing me with Nora since the day she was born. DUH! She has been around Nora since the day she was born, and now Nora is gone for five hours a day, five prime time playing hours of the day. As far as Emily is concerned, things have changed, and not for the better.

To make things even worse, I had all these new plans for our mornings. Working on her language skills. Teaching her to pick-up her toys. Potty training. This would be in addition to the normal walks around the block, swinging in the backyard, and reading stories. Well, I've tried these things, but they aren't exactly working. No, let's be honest, they are crashing and burning. Case in point: the walk around the block. This is something the three of us used to do every day it wasn't raining. We had it down to a science; once a neighbor even told me he was amazed at my ability to "herd cats". Now, she won't walk. She runs into the road, she sits on the sidewalk and refuses to move, she attempts to pick flowers out of everyone's landscaping. But walk?? No way. You can just imagine how much luck I've had with the "new" activities. She will be in diapers till she's 10!

What's even worse is that Emily is amusing herself by being totally naughty. She loves to flush the toilet repeatedly. She loves to flush entire rolls of TP. She loves to take all of the cans out of the lazy susan and stack them on the kitchen table. She likes to dump all of Nora's toys on the floor. She has stopped napping. She has continued to take off her diapers, so I am cleaning up at least one mess a day off the wood floors. Every time I turn around, she is doing something she isn't supposed to. I can't even shower anymore unless Ryan is home to keep an eye on her. (That's the ugly portion of the title; me in old PJ's with yesterday's mascara under my eyes). Oh my god, I need something stronger than coffee to keep up with this child!

So its back to the drawing board. Its like having a new baby!!! This week I started putting her in the kitchen instead of the dining room for her morning snack, so she can watch me cook and clean while she eats instead of leaving her in the dining room while I run back and forth. She seemed a little happier. I also brought the stroller back out; today's walk went surprisingly well. Plus she will, eventually, get used to Nora's absence. Hopefully, in the next few weeks, we can try some new/old things and see if we can craft some special time together before Emily needs to go off to school.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The First Two Weeks of School Part I: The Good

Nora has been in school for two weeks now, and I must say it has been a life changing experience for all of us. I was proud of myself for not getting really emotional about Nora going to school; no tears were shed by either one of us that first day. If anything, I was so happy to see her off to an environment with her peers, an environment in which she could thrive.

And she has. As far as the schooling has gone from Nora's point of view, it has all been good, if not excellent. The first positive change I have noticed from last year is the HUGE difference an extra 45 minutes of sleep makes. Rather than attempting (and failing) at getting her to class at 7:15 am, she arrives at 8:00 am (give-or-take five minutes). Both Nora and Momma are able to function at this hour; no sleeping walking through breakfast anymore! Going five days a week is also beneficial, since it has really become a part of our routine. Even as late as April last year, I would forget that Nora had school on Tuesdays and Thursdays and would make plans we couldn't keep. Probably because I was sleep deprived from bringing her to school in the first place!

Her teacher, Miss Iris, is pleased with how much Nora has progressed since last year. She has made huge strides in her writing and vocabulary skills, and I can't wait for her to begin math. Her social skills are also great, in part, because she is showing compassion for her fellow friends. During the first week, a three year old little girl (cutest thing you ever saw with pom-pom pig tails) was crying and crying for her mom! They had never really been apart. Nora went and got her "B" and handed it to her friend, stating, "Here, hug this. When I'm sad I hug it and I feel better". Awww. Sharing a security blanket is a pretty big deal! Nora got a compliment from her teacher for being such a good friend (a compliment is a piece of candy the kids get for doing something extra special). When I picked Nora up at 1:00, she was holding her friend's hand. She watched out for her the whole day!

I love the fact that Nora goes to such a wonderful school! She is happy, and that makes me happy. Emily, on the other hand, has a different take on Nora and school, which will be examined in Part II: The Bad and the Ugly. Yup; its not all sunshine and roses around here :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Nora's First Day of School 2009

How we made it to school on time is anybody's guess. The fact that Nora arrived looking stylish is simply a miracle. I'm glad to see that my girls have inherited their mom's ability to fly by the seat of their pants.

Nora started her second year enrolled at a local Montessori Academy. The first day of class was the day after Labor Day, several weeks following the start of the local public schools. One would think we would have had time to spare prior to the start of the semester. Except of course Ryan and I decided to celebrate his 30th birthday on Mackinac Island, and we got stuck in horrible traffic on the way back and had to drive the girls back to D-town 2 hours before Nora's school started. Oops.

We loaded the girls in the van at 6am, got them some McDonald's hash browns and Cherry juice for the road, and got Nora home and in her new Princess outfit with the polkadot pants. We combed her hair, and within five minutes you couldn't tell she'd been up for hours. She laughed and told me to hurry up; we were late. Without unpacking the van or even changing my clothes (I was in the same outfit from the day before), we headed to "my new school". She was very excited.

"My new school" is the name Nora has for the Montessori. Last year, the school was located in the local church a few blocks from home. They have since expanded, having moved to a new location the next town over. The classrooms are just beautiful; shiny new furniture and a lot of great graphics on the walls. Its the "new" school because of the new building and Steve the Bunny, but many aspects from the "old" school remain including the teachers (she has Miss Iris), the books, the toys, and the big potted tree. School has also changed in a big way for Miss Nora; she now attends five days a week.

She enjoyed the first day. I'm not surprised, considering how excited she was after the meet and greet. Any and all fears about "my new school" had been extinguished. She met her new classmates and (shocking) even ate lunch. She was a little surprised to find out she had to go back the next day, but hopefully her enthusiasm will last through the month.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Goodbye Summer 'Cation

Summer vacation. Sleeping in, playing in the yard, bike rides, trips to Grandma and Nonni's house, Ollie's custard, endless hours of TV. What is not to love?

Last May, I worried that Nora was going to be upset about summer vacation. She loved her school and her teachers, so I made sure to gently remind her that school would stop for a while but she would return in the fall. In typical Nora fashion, she ignored me until pick-up time on the last day. She became a little confused that we took stuff home that was supposed to stay at school, and again I explained that she wouldn't be going to school because she was on summer vacation. As she peddled her little Princess bike home she stopped, turned to me and asked, "What is summer 'cation?". I explained (again), "Summer vacation means you stay at home. There's no school until September". Her eyes got REALLY big. "So I don't have to get up early and get dressed?" "Nope". "So I can stay at home with you and Emmy?" "Yep". "I LOVE SUMMER 'CATION!"

I had absolutely nothing to worry about. In fact, for the first few days of 'cation, Nora was walking on air. I got to relive that initial rush of freedom, the joy of having nothing in particular to do, the laziness of just watching one day roll into the next. We did a lot of the things I used to do on summer vacation, including going to the park and playing on the swings. We ate a lot of PB&J. Everyday we went for a walk and learned the names of the flowers in our neighborhood. Nora and Emily both learned how to work in the garden, picking berries, pulling weeds. Once in a while we got ice-cream and other treats. Getting dressed (for the girls) was for the most part optional. Luckily the weather was cool, so there wasn't a single dog day of heat and sweat. Just sweet breezes, lots of rain, and rainy day movies.

Well, September is here. The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting cooler. The Coneflowers and Black-eyed Susans are beginning to brown, and there's even a tinge of red on some of the leaves of the local Sugar Maples. 'Cation is coming to an end. I hope Nora enjoyed it. A first summer vacation is a pretty special thing. While I don't know how much she will remember, I'm glad that I had chance to share this time with her. She is still young enough to want to spend time with her mom, and it was time well spent.