Friday, September 28, 2012

Not Afraid of School

Does this look like a girl who's afraid to go to school?

Since the second day of kindergarten, Janae has had a difficult time with school.  When she is at home in the evening, she sings the songs she has learned, talks excitedly about her activities in the classroom, and shows us work she has completed.  She has nothing but good to say about her day at school and has even come home saying she's had "the BEST DAY EVER." 

The mornings have been different.  We get out Janae's school clothes, and she starts to cry, argue, and refuse to go.  One painful step at a time, we get her ready and drive her to school--while she tells us how much she hates school, her teacher, and all the kids.  Janae then clings to me (or Jason--we tried that!), cries, and finally either gets peeled off by her teacher or walks into the classroom with the saddest, most heart-breaking look on her scared little face.  Her teacher has--kindly--been calling me during the lunch hour to let me know that Janae has recovered quickly and been participating happily in class.

A few days ago, though, I agreed to meet Janae at the school at lunch.  Janae had asked before, but I'd been reluctant to try this (and Janae's teacher had discouraged it), thinking it would mean two tearful goodbyes in a day instead of one.  I had been told daily that Janae did well as soon as I had left, and I didn't want Janae to have a set-back halfway through the day.  But then I thought maybe the day was just too long for Janae (we are not fans of all-day kindergarten!) and that a visit during lunch might help.

It did.  When I told Janae I would come at noon, she went into her class quite happily.  When I saw her on the playground, she was laughing and playing with friends.  When the bell rang, Janae ran to line up with her class.  She asked for one more hug (which I was happy to give!), then waved goodbye and went inside with the group.

This worked well for two days, and other moms were complimenting us on what was obvious progress.

Then last night we went up to the school for a meet-the-teacher barbecue . . . and I wondered what had happened to that little girl who was afraid of school.

In addition to the scene pictured above (Janae has always been pretty fearless on all the playground equipment), we witnessed our daughter making up new games outside with girls and boys from both kindergarten classes, running into her classroom to show us everything there, and even sitting in her teacher's chair and announcing, "I'm Mrs. P!!"

I started to wonder if it was possible for a girl to be a little too comfortable at school.

This morning Janae went to school without any problem at all, even knowing that we wouldn't be joining her for lunch (they are having a special event at the school later in the day that we are planning to attend).

We have often thought our middle child had somewhat of a dual nature--but this "night and day" experience has been dramatic even for her . . . and a little bit much for me to keep up with emotionally.

But hopefully this will be the beginning of better mornings for all of us and happier times for Janae when it comes to school.

Now we just have to find a way to get Alaina not to be afraid of climbing down this tree outside the kindergarten door . . . with all the time we have spent at the school lately she is certainly not afraid of climbing up it--but I have to admit that I am still a little scared when I climb up to get her down :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

No Gremlins Here?

 A few weeks ago Alaina got a new pair of running shoes.

They were perfect for running around at the school, at the park, at the zoo . . . everywhere a girl needs to go.  Unfortunately, though, they went missing.

I looked all through the house, under couches and beds, through the closets, and behind anything I could think of.  My girls have a history of hiding special toys and stuffies in small places (and then forgetting where they are), but shoes are more difficult to hide, so I ran out of places to look pretty quickly.

To make the situation even more odd, we also couldn't find Alaina's sparkly dress shoes.

I went through the van--the trunk, under the seats, etc., then searched the backyard. 

The frustration of not being able to find something turned into a fear that I was losing my mind . . . and then a lost-mind kind of fear that maybe someone had been in our house . . . maybe one of those little gremlins that we'd read about in stories who like to play tricks on humans. . . .

It was in this state of mind that I declared to my three children: "Anyone who finds Alaina's shoes will get a PRIZE!"

The kids had seen me looking for the shoes over the past three days, and I'd asked them to help  many times.  I assumed if they'd had any information about the shoes' whereabouts they'd have come forward earlier.

Janae, however, perked up immediately when I said "prize."

"Could I have the Merida doll if I find them?" she asked.

Janae has been having a hard time staying at kindergarten, and her teacher had suggested a sticker chart leading up to inexpensive prizes Janae had chosen herself.

When I'd taken Janae to pick out some inexpensive prizes, the only thing she'd wanted was a somewhat expensive Barbie version of her current favorite princess.

In the end, I'd decided to just buy the doll and set up the chart. 

Anyway, desperate enough to throw the sticker chart to the wind, I said, "Yes . . . if you can find the shoes, you can have the doll."

Janae: "The shoes are in Alaina's Penny the Pig box."

Me: "What?  How come you didn't tell me earlier?"

Janae: "Can I have the Merida doll?"

Of course.

Later, after we'd confirmed that both pairs of shoes were--in fact--in Alaina's box, Janae claimed she hadn't known what shoes we were looking for until that point.

Still, the entire episode has left me a little unsettled. . . .

Saturday, September 15, 2012

If You Want to See Me Really Mad, Try Buying Me an iPhone. . . .

Jason found this out earlier in the week.

I'd mentioned that--despite my well-known hatred of mobile devices--I was thinking maybe I should get a cell phone (something I have never owned!) so the school could get ahold of me if Janae was having trouble at kindergarten.  She'd been having a rough week, and I was a little nervous about being away from a phone for too long.

Anyway, I told Jason that it was just a thought and warned him NOT TO DO ANYTHING until we'd discussed the idea further.

The next thing I knew, there was a little white box on the kitchen counter that said iphone 4 S.

Apparently this had been in the works for quite some time.

My first reaction was rage.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I don't like spending money on anything but kids clothes/shoes/books (I felt guilty about buying myself a new toothbrush last week!), and I despise technology-obsession.

Was such an extravagance really necessary?  And could I be the one person on earth who would NOT become obsessed with his or her phone? 

I didn't know, and was kind of afraid to find out. 

I handled the iphone as I would the compost that was about to be taken out.  I didn't really want to hold it or to admit that it was mine.  I even wrapped it in Alaina's emergency change of clothing when I put it in my purse the next morning--deciding I should take it with me while we were away from home for ballet class, but still in denial that I was carrying such a thing.

Then at the ballet studio I noticed something interesting.  EVERY one of the other moms had her phone out and was taking pictures of her adorable little girl on the first day of class.

I looked into my purse, knowing that the phone was in there somewhere.

I rooted around for it, pulled it out, and joined the rest of the people in the decade.

And realized if I hadn't had a mobile device, I wouldn't have had this:

It's a little blurry, so apparently I need practice . . . which means I probably will become obsessed with the phone just like everybody else. 

But it's enough to make me wonder if maybe having an iphone at my disposal won't be ALL bad. . . .  :)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Back-to-School Transformation

Well, we have survived the first week of school!  It was a challenge to get these two ready:

(picture taken the day before school started),

But they ended up looking pretty studious by the time we headed out on the first day.  It's amazing what a school uniform can do :)

The biggest change has been for Janae, who has just started kindergarten.  Not only has this meant trading in her free-spirited style for a white polo shirt and navy skort/dress,

but it's also meant getting used to a desk and routine, being around lots of other kids, having snacks and lunches at school, and learning from a teacher instead of mommy.

This hasn't been easy, but fortunately we are gradually working up to the full-day schedule--and Janae is getting used to it little by little. 

On Friday Janae had picked a pink rose during the morning, and she decided to put it into a jar with water, decorate the jar with paper she had cut, and give the flower to her teacher as a gift.  I think this helped Janae get past her separation anxiety, since she was so excited to give the present! 

And I think being the creative, intelligent, and spunky girl that she is, Janae will soon be very comfortable in kindergarten.

Not to mention that if her big brother could do it, I'm sure she can, too. . . .

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Nothing "2" About This Girl!

Our little Alaina turned three today . . . only she thought it was yesterday!

We celebrated a day early, since Jason wouldn't be home tonight.  This was actually not as easy as it sounds, because even though Alaina was only turning three, she'd known for quite some time that her birthday was September 6 . . . but we managed to get away with it :)

She started off yesterday morning with a very special gift: a "twin" for her favorite Cinderella baby that she'd been wanting every time we'd been to the store. 

(You might notice the huge bruise/goose egg on Laina's head in the pictures--she fell down a steep hill at Ben and Janae's school the day before and hit her head on a metal bike rack. . . .)

Alaina had a few other special requests for her birthday--she wanted to go to a nearby apple/pumpkin farm that has a petting zoo, hayride, and play area with slides, swings, a bouncy pillow, etc.

Our almost-three-year-old's favorite thing there was the bunny pen, where she could NOT stop breaking the rule about picking up bunnies :) 

Alaina also enjoyed leading us through a corn maze . . . with a little help from Daddy towards the end.

Another one of Alaina's birthday wishes was to have a "Dorothy cake" (meaning Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz).  This part of the celebration was also not as easy as it sounds. 

Although Alaina had been asking for a "Dorothy birthday" since last October (when one of her favorite cousins dressed up as Dorothy for Halloween and Alaina became obsessed with the character), I'd kept thinking she would probably change her mind before the party.  So when I'd seen Wizard of Oz stuff, I'd thought, "That would be fun for Alaina's party," then stopped myself from buying it.

Of course a few weeks ago when I realized that we actually would--in fact--be having a Dorothy party, I started looking and couldn't find anything with that theme.

I was lucky to come across some "good witch/bad witch" napkins at Hallmark, but what Alaina really wanted was DOROTHY.

So . . . after a few phone calls, a trip across the border, and a swipe of the Mastercard, we ended up with this strange-looking (but recognizably Dorothy) knick-knack that worked okay as a cake topper (well, it kind of sank down into the cake, but luckily it didn't have to stay on there too long!).

Alaina decided at the last minute that she wanted M&Ms on the cake, too, sprinkled on by none other than herself, the birthday girl!

I think everyone else liked it, too :)

Alaina got some more fun gifts that evening.  Grandma had found a little "Tin Man" doll and made a Dorothy dress for a little girl doll (so adorable!).

And Alaina's last wish came true with a mama "Penny the Pig" from Auntie Tina.

When Alaina went to sleep that night, I had to say I thought she still looked like my little two-year-old baby, but then again she still was!

I think she was dreaming about the bunnies :)

Today, though, she is ALL THREE!!!

Monday, September 3, 2012

How Jason Became Known As "Mr. McGregor"

Tonight Ben and Janae were being a little too crazy with Ben's hamster, so Jason put the hamster back in its cage and told the kids he was going to put Fluffy "up high."

Janae went to her room and started crying as only a hysterical 5-year-old girl can. 

When Ben went in to talk to Janae, she told him, "I am not going to eat one bite of that pie!"


It turns out that Janae thought Jason said he was going to put Fluffy "in a pie."

I don't think I would have eaten a bite of it either!

But the rest of the night I couldn't help calling my husband "Mr. McGregor"--even though technically it was Mrs. McGregor who put Peter Rabbit's father into a pie :)

Fluffy watched the whole thing from "up high" on the TV stand.  I wonder what he thought. . . .

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Our Most Expensive Child: Can You Guess?

I think most people would agree that children can be expensive. But lately I have realized that some children are much more expensive than others. In fact, we have one child who is proving to be very pricey compared with our other two.

It's not Ben with his never-ending quest for Lego sets.  I find it pretty easy to say "Let's wait for Christmas or your birthday" when it comes to big, expensive boxes of Lego.  Ben saves his money in a piggy bank, doesn't care about clothes, has no desire to enroll in any extra-curricular activities, and would eat nothing but macaroni and cheese if he had a choice.  Ben is--without a doubt--our least expensive child.

And while it's true that Alaina loves her babies, enjoys dress-up, and wants every sugary treat she sees at the store--the real financial drain from her comes from the fact that her sippy cup of cranberry juice must remain full at all times.  This is a relatively affordable indulgence, though, and since Alaina is pretty content playing with Janae's toys, wearing Janae's clothes, and following along with Janae's ideas--at least for now--she is really not that expensive.

That brings us to Janae.  I'm sure you have guessed by now (if not before you even read a word of this post) that Janae is BY FAR our most expensive child. 

As soon as Janae gets a toy, doll, dress, pair of shoes, hair accessory, or almost any other item, she wants ANOTHER ONE.  A newer one, a bigger one, a sparklier one, a better one.

Being the thrifty, no-nonsense type of mother that I am, though, I have to wonder how it's happened that I have so often given in to Janae's excessive materialistic desires.

I have come up with a few reasons:

We have all heard that a constant drip can wear away a stone.  And we've all heard children ask over and over again for the same thing, only to have us finally give in, despite our best intentions.  This is why Janae now has a Merida costume hanging in the closet--she's promised not to wear it until Halloween, but I have already caught her in it at least three times (and we only got it three days ago!).  And we are currently on the Disney Store's waiting list for the matching hair.

It is also why she now has this flashy gymnastics bodysuit.

Ben took gymnastics for a few months last year and was more than happy to just wear shorts and a T-shirt (his school uniform ones, at that!).  Janae doesn't like to wear shorts--only skirts--but she does have a couple of ballet leotards that I thought might work for gymnastics.  Yeah, right.  Janae doesn't start her gymnastics class until NEXT Wednesday, but we'd heard about the need for a proper suit so often, I'd already given in by the end of last week. Yes, constant dripping can wear away a stone.

Janae also has the unique ability to take a situation that seems pretty commonplace to everyone else and make it appear to be a matter of life and death.  This brings me to another recent purchase.

We were at the zoo a few days ago, when it clouded over and started to rain lightly.  All of us were dressed for a summer day in short sleeves and skirts or shorts.  Ben and Janae actually had helmets on as well, since they were riding their bikes around the zoo.  While the rest of us carried on, making the best of the situation, Janae carried on as if she were, in fact, dying.  Not wanting to leave (it was only noon), I made the financially fatal suggestion that we take cover in the zoo gift shop.

I should have known we wouldn't be leaving without this:

And finally there is the fact that most of the things Janae wants are so cute--and the awareness that she won't be little for very long--
that make me break down and buy things that I would have scoffed at before I became Janae's mother.  So whether it is a set of fairy princess pillows (unnecessary but very sweet!)

or over-priced made-from-bamboo clothing (so soft!),

I just can't say no all the time. 

And look at that happy face :)

Luckily we do have Alaina to pass it all down to (and hopefully she will continue not to mind!). 

But now that I am aware of what is happening, I can plan better (i.e. , have a sweatshirt in the car), and be strong when it really counts (i.e., I'm going to keep saying no to another hamster, no matter how many times Janae asks). 
And maybe we can even things out a little.

Then again, this is Janae we're talking about. . . .