Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Saga Continues . . . for Jason

Some of you might remember that last winter I broke down and read the Twilight Saga. Like most others who have read it, I quickly became addicted to the story and flew through the books, hurrying to the bookstore to get each novel after finishing the previous one.

When I got to the fourth book, Breaking Dawn, however, my turn had come up to borrow it from the library (I'd put holds on some of the others but this was the only one that became available right when I was ready to read it). So although I found out how the story ended, my collection remained incomplete. Until now, that is.


A month or so ago, someone was talking about the movie Twilight, and I suggested to Jason that he see it--so that when the second movie comes out later this fall he'll be able to watch it with me.


Jason commented that he'd rather read the book, so a few days later, I put the novel on his pillow (he usually reads Star Trek novels in bed, so I hardly thought he'd find this to be worse!).


My plan worked even better than I thought it would. Jason got so into Twilight that he almost brought it with him to the hospital when I went into labor with Alaina. He was so dedicated to reading New Moon that he commented he felt he was turning into a vampire--staying up so late to read. Eclipse took him less than a week, and now he is ready to find out how it all ends . . . only, we don't own the last book.

I offered to put a hold on Breaking Dawn so he can read it when it becomes available at the library, but he's pretty adamant that we need to buy it.


To complete the collection, you know.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

How I Really Feel about Kindergarten

Warning: Negative Content

I consider myself an honest person, but I have to confess that often when people ask how things are going, I am reluctant to admit that they aren't going well. I don't like to come across as negative. But I thought my blog readers have a right to know. . . .

Quite a while back now, I wrestled with the choice of where to send Benjamin for kindergarten. Sending my firstborn to school was not a matter I took lightly, and I looked into every possibility. Finally, Jason and I settled on a traditional school; we'd heard a lot of good about the school, Jason really liked the principal and everything he saw when he visited the school, and even though I was hesitant to choose such an ultra conservative educational setting, I had to admit I liked the idea of a "safer" environment--and although I didn't like the idea of school uniforms, I thought little Benjamin would look very cute (almost like sending him off to Hogwarts or something. . . ).

Then school actually started, and I have a few problems.

Problem #1: The VAN

You may remember that we bought a minivan the day before Alaina was born. This means that I drove the much larger, longer, taller, and redder vehicle only one time before I started driving Ben to school (on no sleep and with at least one person crying on any given occasion). Every time I drive the van I have the strangest sensation that it is going to tip over (I'm used to a much lower car), and then there's the busy parking lot--FULL of minivans and SUVs pulling in and out all over the place . . . with me paralyzed by fear in the middle of it. Scary times.


(Of course, the van was my idea, and I'd hate to be loading all three kids into the back of my Camry 2+ times a day. . . . )

Problem #2: Getting Janae into the Van 2+ Times a Day

Janae does not like the new kindergarten routine any more than I do. In fact, while I simply sigh and get myself going, Janae actually refuses to go. She literally kicks and screams (I've noticed a few neighbors peeking out their doors to see if someone is actually kidnapping Janae), throws her shoes across the room (after I have put them on her and buckled them up), and tries to hit, bite, squeeze or otherwise prevent me from carrying her out to the van.

Problem #3: The Treacherous Stairway to the Kindergarten Drop-Off/Pick-Up Area

Benjamin's school has a small upper parking lot (on the same level as the school), but if we don't get there at least half an hour early (which is hard with a newborn who wants to nurse right before we leave, and--of course--a toddler who is refusing to be loaded into the van), we have to park in the lower lot. Between the lower lot and the school is a steep cement stairway in the middle of a grassy hill.


Under normal conditions, I wouldn't mind these stairs--in fact, when we went to activities at the school before September, I thought they were fine--but carrying a newborn up the steep stairs is a little scary (especially when she is crying and I've taken her out of her carseat for the hike), and if Janae falls asleep in the van (which she is tending to do--after all the kicking and screaming), it is impossible to carry both her and Alaina. Other moms casually leave their children in their vans while they run up the stairs (the parking lot is easy to see from the kindergarten door), but I don't know . . . it's not really me (although I did leave Janae sleeping once already). And what am I going to do when it's pouring rain or icy? Get there even earlier, I guess.

Problem #4: The School Uniform

Once the initial cuteness wore off (which took about one day for me), I began to detest the school uniform. I don't like seeing all the kids dressed the same. I look at Ben in the morning, wearing his usual shorts and T-shirt, and think, "Why can't he just wear this to school?" I didn't realize what a non-conformist I am.


The other day I was asking Ben who he likes to play with at school, and he said it was a boy he met before school on the playground (apparently when he was there with Jason). I asked Ben to describe the boy, and he said, "He was that guy wearing a white shirt . . . and blue pants." Oh him! Aren't they ALL wearing white shirts and blue pants??? Honestly!

Problem #5: The Mysterious Classroom

This is the last point I will raise, but I don't like the way the kids line up outside, wave goodbye, and then follow their teacher through a door that leads to their classroom.


I like the preschool way, where mommy got to go into the classroom, help little Ben with his coat and shoes, help him get to the bathroom and wash his hands--then get him to his name tag and book. I could see the classroom and what the teacher had prepared for the day . . . and say goodbye to Benjamin knowing that he was okay. After kindergarten I am almost in tears when I see Ben come out with his shoes on the wrong feet (having to change quickly by himself). I know he needs to grow up, but I would like to have a little more contact with the classroom (very nosey, I know!) and be there for Ben if he needs help.

Now, if you've made it this far, I'm sure you're wondering if there is anything I do like about kindergarten. And actually, there is. I really like Ben's teacher, who has been teaching for over 20 years in our school district and seems very kind and thoroughly competent. I also like how excited Ben is when he tells me about a game they've played or something he has learned. I guess having a good teacher and getting excited about learning are the most important things about kindergarten, so maybe it will all be okay. And hopefully there will be lots more good stuff to come . . . I don't like to be negative, you know? :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

It Doesn't Get Much Sweeter than This. . . .

Here are a few more pictures of our new little Alaina.


This is our first baby who loves to sleep--even at night! The past three nights we've had 3-4 hour stretches of sleep, followed by 2-hour sleeps throughout the rest of the night. I don't know if it will last, but it's made the first week at home with a newborn a lot more bearable.


Janae was really not herself the first few days with a new little sister at home, but she seems to be doing better. She is laughing, smiling, dancing, singing, pretending to be Prince Phillip--the usual :) She's interacting more and more with Alaina, too. I think she's going to be okay.


And Benjamin has finally accepted that he needs to go to school and be away from his baby sister, at least for a little while. Yesterday he told me, "When Alaina was born, right away, I just fell in love with her." I think I'd have to say the same thing.


I don't think life gets any sweeter than this, even though it's still hard at times (when everyone is crying at once, for example). Being able to eat sugary treats again helps, too :)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Meet Alaina

We finally got to meet our little Alaina. She was born Sunday morning at 4:04 a.m. . . . giving her the same birthday as her Great Grandpa, only 94 years later :)


She was 7 pounds, 14 ounces and 52 cm long. Her brother and sister came to see her a few hours later. Benjamin, who is known for loving babies, was happier than ever--looking at Alaina's little ears, nose, etc., and laughing when she grabbed his finger. And to make the occasion even more memorable, he pulled out his second loose tooth, right there at the hospital. It actually just fell out into his hand, and he announced, "My tooth came out!"

Janae wasn't too interested in her new sister (although she did say the baby was cute), but when she came back later in the afternoon she asked to hold Alaina. Then she snuggled up to her, gave her a kiss, and said, "I love her. . . . she's so quiet."


Alaina had her first bath at the hospital (the nurse said she'd never seen a baby that cried so little during her first bath!), then got to wear some tiny pink sleepers.


I had to wake her up 5 hours later to feed her . . . but that was the only time. She woke herself up at least every hour the rest of the night, each time claiming to be starving.

This morning she had her blood test and hearing test, and then we brought her home! On the way out of the hospital, as we passed the nurses' station, Ben called out, "Goodbye . . . if we have any more babies we'll come here again!"


So, now we really have three kids! Wish us luck :)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

We Were Thinking of Buying a Van . . .


I know it just looks like Tina and Ted are visiting, but actually . . . we bought a minivan of our own this morning.

This is how it happened:

1. I was worried about how we would fit three car seats across the back of my Camry, especially with kindergarten, getting the kids in and out at least twice a day, etc.

2. A resident at a complex where Jason does landscaping told Jason he was sad about having to sell his van because he was getting too old to drive.

3. Jason wanted to comfort the man, and did so by telling him he knew of a nice family who needed a van.

4. Jason convinced me to part with our life's savings, as well as the first car I ever owned (which we're now planning to sell), and assured me that we couldn't go wrong following in the footsteps of my sister and brother in law (although I do think it is unfortunate that the van happened to be the exact same color as theirs . . . ).

5. We handed over a check and drove away in a red minivan.

That pretty much sums it up! Hopefully this is what the baby was waiting for and she can be born now. . . .

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Braiding Practice

I know everyone thinks I'm just sitting around, waiting to go into labor. Actually, I have been keeping really busy and have even tried some new things, like braiding Janae's hair.

Janae is interested in ponytails and braids, mainly from watching the princesses and admiring her older cousins. But although she says she wants a braid, she is not usually willing to sit still long enough for her very inexperienced mother to actually put one in.

This morning, though, Benjamin slept in until 10:00, so we had lots of time for "girl stuff"--dancing to princess songs, dressing up, putting on new nail polish . . . and then finally, when I suggested a braid, Janae was eager to try.


Not the most even, or the most skillfully braided braids, but I thought they looked pretty good for this stage in our mother/daughter development.


I thought I'd take a few pictures to show Jason later.


Because I had a feeling that by the end of the day they would look like this.


It actually only took about an hour :) Someone seeing Janae now would never know that her mother actually spent half an hour doing her hair--they would probably wonder if she had a mother at all! I guess we have many years of practice ahead of us. . . .