Tuesday, August 31, 2010

School Daze

Yesterday was the first day of school for Meg and Drew. We had a weekend of nervous tummies and cranky attitudes over the adjustment to the bus ride and meeting new people and doing new things, but yesterday morning was great. Doug stayed home with us so that he could walk down the road and put the kids on the bus too.  I was handling it all just fine until Doug asked Drew if he needed a "Kissing Hand", at which point I bawled like a baby and both kids gave me kisses on my hand to stay with me all day (if you haven't read "The Kissing Hand", do it but be warned it WILL make you cry) and I beat my husband and buried him in the woods. No, not true (the husband beating part).  Drew was quite confident, until he saw the bus coming down the road, but he got on with a smile and happily waved when the bus went back down the hill past our house.

The kids both had a great day, even though it was almost 90 degrees here yesterday and our schools don't have air conditioning. If I've learned anything from having a school aged kid for 4 years is that finding a way to let your child unwind after school is KEY to keeping your sanity. Unfortunately, I didn't FOLLOW that mantra yesterday and had a cranky son because I asked too many questions! So we'll try a different way today and see if that works!

I'm not sure how I grew such big kids though. Any ideas? In the meantime, I'm trying to adjust to having just two at home after 3 1/2 months of having them all here and finding ways to keep Annie and Izzie busy and out of trouble. I can't wait for them to head to school next week for the very first time!

Friday, August 27, 2010

In Preparation

The bus has been ridden. The teachers have been met, friends new and old have been greeted. School outfits have been chosen, cast aside, chosen again. School supplies have been delivered and backpacks are ready to be packed with homemade lunches and notes stating "I love you. Have a great first day of school".  Tension is riding a bit high around here and Meg and Drew prepare for the first day of school on Monday. We've attended the ice cream socials at both of their schools, have chatted with teachers and parents we haven't seen all summer. Books such as "Wemberely Worried" and "The Kissing Hand" have been read repeatedly to Drew, Annie and Izzie (their new adventure doesn't start until September 9th). Meg has a new desk lamp and a cork board which still needs to be hung above her desk. The traditional first-and-last-day-of-school taco dinner has been discussed and all items will be procured this weekend. The kitchen cork board has been emptied of all previous school items such as lunch menus and calendars and will be filled this weekend with reading calendars, new lunch menus. Early release dates need to be put on the calendars. A whole tote full of paperwork needs to be read and filled out, to be returned to school with the appropriate child on Monday.

Today there is a crispness in the air telling me that fall is coming. It's just around the corner. The first four days of school, however, will be hot and muggy and I'll have warm, sticky kids exiting the bus next week. But fall is coming. The cooler mornings are the telltale sign. Soon our coat rack will be filled with sweatshirts. This weekend though, we'll get haircuts and new sneakers, and maybe take one last trip to the lake on Sunday.

I think we're ready. All of us, not just me. School is such a grand adventure awaiting the kids. This school year will bring good things. I can feel it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

His Turn

When we moved to this house, it was a week before kindergarten began for Meg. It was out of our hands, of course, because when you build you are dependent upon the weather to cooperate and we had a very rainy spring that year which slowed the process down. We knew no one when we moved here, other than my husband's co-workers. No one had a child starting kindergarten. Meg was pretty much on her own.

Fortunately she met her friend B on the bus ride during Orientation and they found out they were in the same class, so she was able to have a friend on the first day of school. B's mom and I have become very good friends as well. But I've always felt bad that our decision to move put Meg in such a difficult position of having so much to adjust to so quickly. Moving, leaving her friends, starting school in a strange town. It's hard enough for adults, but asking that of a 5 year old was really just too much. She had a great kindergarten teacher who helped her adjust and learn, but it was a very long year for us all.

In one week Drew begins kindergarten. It's a completely different experience for all of us. He already knows the bus route. He knows his teacher~she is the same teacher Meg had. The two boys that live on either side of us will not only be on the bus with him, but in his class. He has plenty of friends from his preschool to see during lunch and play with on the playground. Don't get me wrong~he's a nervous little man these days and is prone to crying over everything and not sleeping enough. We understand his tantrums better now, thanks to already having a school-age child who starts to get her cranky pants on about 2 weeks before school starts. I bought several "getting ready for kindergarten" books before he left preschool and we've started reading them in earnest. He'll head off to Orientation with Doug and me on Wednesday nervous, but with a different kind of nervousness than Meg had. He'll say hi to his friends as we make our way down the hall to Room 25, the room with Clifford the Big Red Dog on the door. He's been to the school enough that he may know the way himself.

I can guarantee you that I'll be one hot mess next Monday morning when I put both my kids on the bus together, not so much because I'll be worried about them, but because I can't believe it's his turn to climb the stairs of the bus and head off to school. I'm grateful he has his big sister on the bus with him this year, to make sure he gets off at his school and that he gets back on each day. I think he'll hold his own though, after a bit of time. I can't wait to see what this year brings for him.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lessons from a Yard Sale Novice

I've never been one for yard sales. I did pick up a great bureau at a yard sale in my neighborhood many years ago and it's currently in Annie's and Izzie's room and I'm pretty sure it cost $10. Before we moved to this house we contemplated having a yard sale so we didn't have to move so much stuff. Then we found out I was pregnant and decided that we'd better keep all the kids stuff and clothes (good thing we did since I was pregnant with the twins!).

But as the stuff kept accumulating in our basement, we got a little overwhelmed. We keep all the clothes that Meg outgrows for Annie and Izzie, but we were keeping all of Drew's clothes as well. So we finally buckled under the weight of a zillion storage boxes and opted to hold a yard sale this weekend. If you've never done a yard sale before, here are a few small tips:

  1. Be prepared for people to ignore your signs and come early. We started at 9 on Saturday and people were waiting at the end of our road at 8:30.
  2. Either send the kids to grandma's house or have a babysitter come to help out. It's very difficult to make lunch for your kids when you're needed on your lawn to help customers. Kids will also play with every single toy you have out for sale and even take things back into the house during the sale. We had our babysitter with us Saturday and she was a huge help.
  3. Advertise your sale on Craigslist. We had several people tell us they saw our ad, so we weren't solely relying on our signs.
  4. Speaking of signs, make them BIG. Doug had ours printed at his office, then mounted on poster board. Everyone said they were easy to read and follow to get to our house, which is quite off the beaten path.
  5. Sunscreen yourself and your lemonade-selling oldest child because even though it's the end of August that sun is still darn hot. Oops.
  6. We sold a ton of the kids' clothes because we only put out what was in good condition. We also sold things for $.50 an item which helped us sell so much. We ended up providing bags to people who had so much that they couldn't carry what they had.
Next time we have a yard sale we'll organize the kids' clothes differently. We had everything in buckets with labels such as "Girls 2T" but next year we'll actually split out the seasons a little better so that customers don't have to fish through all the summer things to find the fall clothes. Our sale was mostly kids items and even though we put that in the ad and our signs, people still came looking for other items and were disappointed. Next year we'll be putting more household things that are taking up space in the basement.

We were really thrilled with how well Saturday turned out. Yesterday it was cloudy and ended up raining so after having just a few people stop by we called it a weekend, took down our signs and packed everything away. I was dreading the whole experience (it was a LOT of work to prepare for) but am really glad we went through with it.

Lest we sound like money grubbing whores, the money we made from the yard sale is going to a fun thing like paying for the work done on Doug's truck last week. The winter coats that we didn't sell will be donated to our local TV station's "Coats for Kids" campaign, which every winter provides thousands of winter coats to kids right here in Maine who otherwise wouldn't have one.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Oh Yes We've Got Trouble

Right here in River City, with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for pool. The Music Man

Whoever (or is it whomever?) coined the phrase "Terrible Twos" most certainly didn't have 3 1/2 year old TWINS. There is just something so different about having two children going through the same experiences at the same time. 

Three is hard. Three is the time where boundaries are tested, where the word "no" is used to its fullest 2,308908l,09890 times a day. Three is where letting them be independent MUST go hand in hand with being on Code Red at all points in time (case in point~the girls locked themselves in their room and colored every available wall space blue and yellow recently. I thought they were playing nicely. Lesson learned). Three means really getting down and listening when they are talking ninety miles a second about who knows what but it must be important to them or they wouldn't be telling you all about it.

Three is just plain different with twins. The girls feed off each other and get into so much more mischief than I ever anticipated (see above). We had to remove the doorknob from their bedroom door to keep them from locking themselves in their room and taking all the clothes out of their closet. The gigantic bucket of crayons had to be put in the garage because Isabelle kept coloring Annabelle's shirt and not her paper. They hit each other, pull each others' hair, take each others' toys and run away with them. They are, in short, completely and totally exhausting.

But as much as they make me (and their older brother and sister) crazy, they have their moments of total sweetness too. They'll sit nicely and play a game together, or gather up their stuffed animals and have a picnic with them.  There are days when it seems that the bad behavior outweighs the good behavior and I wonder how exactly I'm going to manage to make it to bedtime without a massive tantrum on my part. Hugs from them certainly help and they both give great, all encompassing hugs. It's when they hug each other (and I'll admit, it's usually something forced upon them by me) that I feel like they'll grow up to love each other and take care of each other down the road.

But for now, they're 3 1/2 and have torn apart something in their closet and taken down all their hangers and they need me to go back to being on Code Red. Maybe 4 will be better? 


Monday, August 9, 2010

Right here, right now

Right now I'm sitting here at my desk instead of cleaning my kitchen. The dishes are piled high and I really need to empty and then refill my dishwasher, but alas that isn't happening. I'm watching my very old cat twitch in her sleep next to me (on the desk, taking up lots of space). She is so old that I'm always checking to see if she's still breathing. She was my first pet EVAH (no, I do not count the fish we had as kids) and while she's old and crabby, I love her to pieces. Of course, she was young and crabby once too and I loved her then.

It's eerily quiet upstairs right now. I think Meg is in her room cleaning as her friend O is coming to spend the day with us tomorrow. I am trying not to make a huge deal of this playdate, even though it's the first playdate Meg has had in 2 years (other than with her friend B, who comes here with his mom and she and I drink coffee and visit while the kids all play) but you have no idea how much I want this to GO WELL. She has already lost her collective shit more than once today and I'm hoping she gets this out of her system and just has fun tomorrow.

We're having our first ever yard sale in two weeks. Our basement is overflowing with things the kids have outgrown. Having twins really does mean double the stuff, like high chairs and Exersaucers and clothes, clothes, CLOTHES. I'm hoping we have a)good weather and b) a good turnout and c)get rid of some stuff taking up space oh and d) make a little money as well. The biggest challenge, next to the kids trying to reclaim half the toys we want to get rid of, is the fact that we live 1300 feet from the public road, so we're hoping people will make the trip up our driveway to see what we have.

The eerie quiet has been replaced with yelling. Three weeks until Meg and Drew go to school. I'm starting to crave some sort of a schedule. Oh sure, I've enjoyed getting dressed at 9 every day but that's going to come to a screeching halt here soon and I'm almost ok with that. Doug and I watched some football last night and I told him that if we're going to watch football then the humidity needs to go away, the temperature needs to drop and I need to fully immerse myself in fall. Fall is my favorite season, and at least here in Maine it seems to go very quickly and gets replaced by winter sooner than I'd like.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Bullets are Flying Today

Bullets are in order today. It's just plain easier.

  • I went to my high school reunion and had a BLAST! We walked in the door at 6:30 and back out again after 11. It was fun to see people who had no idea Doug and I were married; the look of shock was almost too much fun to resist. Two of the attendees were guys (men?) that I've known since I was 3 and 6. We got a great photo of the 3 of us together. It was also fun to watch those who, after 20 years, haven't figured out that we're supposed to have grown up. I'm ready for the next reunion, so bring it on!
  • We were on "vacation" last week. Instead of doing many fun things, we spent the majority of the week dealing with our fridge, which just stopped keeping cold. Our awesome neighbors lent us a small fridge, which saved some of our food and we have a commercial freezer in the basement so we were able to save the few frozen items that didn't melt, but we still don't have a fixed fridge. It's sitting in the garage, awaiting a new compressor later this week. We do have a loaner fridge in the kitchen, and a huge scratch on the kitchen floor from the movers taking the old one out. Lucky us!
  • We did manage some fun things on vacation. We took the kids to Santa's Village in New Hampshire with our good friends on Wednesday and had a great day. All four kids rode the log flume! With my bad neck, I was restricted to the merry-go-round, the train and the sky train. But I snapped 207 photos so that was good!
  • Doug and I got a night away Friday night and went to Meadowbrook, which is an outdoor concert venue, to see Heart. We had great seats and saw an amazing show. Ann Wilson still sounds like she did 30 years ago!
  • We're on the school countdown. Meg is heading to 4th grade and Drew to Kindergarten in 27 days; Annie and Izzie head to preschool in early September.  There is so much to do to get them all ready and I'm avoiding it all like the plague! We're still waiting for Drew's teacher assignment and the school supply lists for both of the school-age kids to arrive in the mail. It's making this Type A Mama a bit crazy. I've been busy marking down the schools' ice cream socials on the calendar and arranging childcare for the girls so we can take Drew to his orientation later this month! Hard to believe he's going to be riding the bus with Meg soon.
  • I waffle daily between wanting the kids to go back to school and wanting them to just hang out in the yard playing, smelling of sunscreen and pool water and sunshine. I suppose that the days that they're driving me the most insane are the days I'm ready to ship them all off to boarding school, but when they're getting along and having fun, I want to keep them nearby and watch them over the top of my book or through my camera lens.
 So who wants to share what's new with them?