Wednesday, October 27, 2010

When My Hippie Tendencies Leak Out

I am, by nature, a gigantic rule follower. At times, (Big Dan would argue most times) I have a slight problem thinking outside the box. I do not like to get in trouble or anything that has the smell of trouble around it. I am not, nor have I ever been, what you would call "rebellious".


There have been a few times in my life when that little genetic streak of anti-establishment, down with man spirit comes leaking out. And it usually has to do with rules that I deem ridiculous. Or standards that are overly stringent or otherwise preposterous.

One of the times the little rebel was awakened inside was at a camp where I'm pretty sure my director was on some sort of weird power trip. Or drugs. Or both. Anyway, my usual rule following self was pushed aside by Little Miss Activist. If I could've gotten away with carrying a picket sign that said, "Down with the Man", I totally would have.

This has come up at other weird times. Like with an over-bearing resident assistant. Or a nutty lawyer who most definitely wasn't putting the needs of the kids I was advocating for ahead of her own.

And now. I'm thisclose to storming the gates of "the state" and grabbing a hold of the throat of whoever decided this environmental rating scale was worth two hoots in determining a good preschool, and not letting go until they scream "Uncle!". Because seriously??? IT.IS.RIDICULOUS. I'm saying to you right now: if your child is in preschool in Tennessee, in a three-star program, run, don't walk, to hug your child's teacher. Hug him/her tight. Because it means he/she's been put through the dadgum wringer on all manner of arbitrary issues.

Let me say this. I get the SPIRIT of the thing, I do. I recognize that there are children across the state who need to be protected by standards. BUT. When a preschool teacher of 21 years is in a giant tizzy over this evaluation (a lady I work with) then something is terribly wrong.

I mean, if you know me, you know I'm all about multicultural. I've been privileged to travel all over the world and have friends from all over the world. But right now, I feel like the affirmative action of preschool teachers-White kid in a poster? Not putting that one up. Bring me your obviously ethnic, your special needs, these are the ones I MUST post en masse.

And don't even get me started about the "free art" vs. "teacher directed art". Best I can tell, I'm just supposed to let my kids run amok all day. This "freedom" will clearly help them learn and grow. Don't dare have a theme. Why, it's a profanity. You shouldn't teach about any certain subject. Heaven forbid you quench the creative genius of your three year olds.

And do not, under any circumstances, forget to pass out napkins at snack time.

So. For the next week I scramble around like a mad woman trying to make my room look free and open-minded. And reminding parents what they are mandated to pack in their child's lunch. By "the state". I try not to a) have a nervous breakdown or b) get the school shut down, or c) call in sick-for the rest of the year.

Next Wednesday is the big day. I have a 2 in 5 chance of having my name pulled out of the literal hat to be evaluated ALL DAY. I can promise you if I am chosen there will be no way I'll be able to not smirk at the evaluator. It's what happens when my hateful self shows up. I'll let you know how it goes...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

School Marm

Hmm. Well, needless to say, I'm not finding a whole ton of time to blog these days. What, with my new career and all. Can I just tell you that I have gone seriously soft in the last 5 years? Working three days a week-well, I might as well be working 80 hours. I'm so far under the pile I'm thinking of calling up Chile to see if I could borrow that tube extractor just to come up for air.

Dramatic much?

People ask me all the time if I like working. Look, in a vacuum, the answer would be an unequivocal YES. I really like teaching and I really like teaching 3 year olds. I like the fact that they are such amazing learners. Can I brag on them for a minute? Because 6 out of 8 of my kids can name all of the fruits of the Spirit. Sure can. I make them do it all the time because it's so stinkin' cute. I like the fact that they think everything I do is genius and the most fun ever. I have amazing kids and they have amazing parents.

That said, I'm not really loving the trying to exist in two different ways part of it all. I know it's the working mom's cliche, but I feel like I'm not doing great at anything. The good news is, I have grown-up in this area quite a bit since my last job. My blood pressure doesn't get up about issues at school. I don't lose sleep or have nightmares about meetings with parents, even when it involves telling them that their child had a gigantic meltdown in the bathroom and refused to pull up his pants. You know, in case something like that ever came up. I'm not all twisted in a knot about my performance as a teacher. It's nice. I feel like I battle all the same things I always have in life, so it's nice to have a little God-given growth. My mom-self could learn a lot from my teacher-self. My mom-self still has trouble forgiving herself when she loses her cool. Again. My mom-self has nightmares about losing her kids or ruining them or missing out on _____________. My mom-self loses sleep over her choices and how they are effecting her family. Mom-self needs a swift kick in the rear from teacher-self.

So. I'm working on it. Letting myself off the hook as a mom is the hardest thing I've ever tried. Because, let's be real. The stakes are high. But, one of our teaching pastors said several weeks ago-"God's going to do what God's going to do." This seems like a no-brainer, but what this means is that I cannot single-handedly derail God's plan for the lives of my children. He is going to do what He is going to do.

Today I'm juggling preparing for this big beast of an evaluation we have coming up at school in a couple of weeks with snuggling and loving on two sick kids. I can PROMISE you I'd much rather sit on the couch all day and snuggle. However, the Little Monkeys need a nature sculpture, stat. Emily's asleep and Drew and I are headed out for a backyard adventure, collecting nature items. And then I'll fold the laundry.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ain't No Party Like a Birthday Party

Last weekend was nothing less than an explosion of birthday party madness. Don't worry-it wasn't all for Emily. Lyla had her party last weekend, too.

Saturday, Lyla hosted a big crowd of costume-clad youngsters at one of our favorite haunts-Dragon Park. Aunt Katy COMPLETELY outdid herself with the party. We're talking varieties of cake pops (and if you don't know what these are, you are missing out on one of the world's most perfect desserts...), spider web cupcakes, brain cupcakes, pink and black halloween themed cookies, eyeball gum, mummy parts candy, fancy white chocolate coated pretzels. I mean, Martha Stewart was jealous. Really jealous. The kids had a great time. It was a little toasty, especially when you consider that Drew was decked out in head-to-toe Batman attire, complete with built in muscles. But, he was dedicated. He dripped sweat, but he would not take off one stitch of his costume. And, as always I managed to take around 6 pictures. Maybe.

Here, the cousins have a little pre-party appetizer. I wish you could have witnessed first hand them chowing on these cake pops. Classic.

And here is Emily in her costume. I DIE.

I really have to talk myself out of putting her in this outfit everyday.

Emily enjoyed the party. She spent most of her time hanging out at the beverage station. Along with all the other babies. Apparently ice is the in thing if you're one.

On Sunday we had a little birthday brunch for Emily. Since some of my family lives out of town, we decided not to make them come to Nashvegas twice in one month, so we crammed it all in one weekend. Emily had a great time at her party. Girl really knows how to work the room. I'm pretty sure every single person at the party held her at some point. I barely saw her at all.

The highlight of the party was Emily and her cake. She loves some cake. I, because I'm brilliant, made her smash cake with black icing. I'm slightly obsessive about a theme and once I got in my mind that I wanted Minnie Mouse ears for her cake, I could not talk myself out of it. So, I took her shirt off, put a bib on her and let her go for it. Again, classic.

We've spent the week in party recovery mode. Ok. Maybe it's just me. I just can't party like I once could. Can't believe Emmy's a year old and really can't believe Lyla is four. It can only mean one thing. My baby boy is about to be four also. I've got to find a way to stop time. Pronto.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Happy, Happy, Birthday

Even though we are having a real live birthday party for Emily this weekend, I just could not let the day pass without celebrating a little. I'm just going to go ahead and put it out there that it was totally for my benefit. She was completely confused about what was happening and besides really liking some cake, could have cared less. However, some day, she will see pictures of herself on her real 1st birthday and think, "Oh, I have the sweetest, kindest, most thoughtful mom ever." Or something like that...

I whipped up some dairy free cake and we lit a candle and we sang to her. She had a smile on her face, but it was sort of that smile people get when they are shocked, and know they should be happy, but are a little afraid. Manic smile, sort of! I put our family birthday hat on her. Not impressed. Drew blew out her candle-he almost knocked me over going for it when I told him he could. I got her two little presents. And, because I have no shame, I'll admit to you that they both came from the dollar bin at Target! I got her a Sesame Street book because she is obsessed with another one we have. She loved it. And I got her an Elmo figurine. Because, again, she 's obsessed. I probably should've planned to have an Elmo party for her. But she didn't love Elmo approximately 6 months ago when I started planning her party!! I love parties. A lot.

Oh, she was initiated into the Hamilton girl batter licking club. I have no doubt that my mom and my sisters and I really have no need to ever bake anything. We are totally fine with any and all batter. And you can be sure that if you are making any sort of baked goods at a family event, somebody's fingers are going to be in your bowl! She did me proud. Loved.every.minute. Here she is licking her spoon:

I don't know if it's purely psychological or what, but I feel like she is all of a sudden so big. She just seems different to me. Like a bunch of light bulbs came on all at once. It is beyond fun. I'm going to list some more words she has been saying. Not because I'm a big egomaniac about it, but because I want to be able to look back and remember. Somewhere I have a notebook chronicling all of Drew's words. Key word being "somewhere"...

[And let me just pause to say that a few lines up I typed "want" as "wan't". Sweet mercy. I'm going to need to proofread this like 87 times. Which I probably won't, so let me just give a blanket apology-sorry.]

Today she said "ball" (and this one she said unprompted when I handed her a ball); "night-night", she is trying to say, "Drew Drew"; "please" and "puppy"-which sounds suspiciously like "cookies" but she says it every time she sees a dog. I think Van taught her that one. It's his favorite word!

Big party fun coming up this weekend! All the family converges on Nashville to celebrate the only two girl grandchildren. I hope I will take more than six pictures. And I also hope it won't take me 6 months to post them. I aim high. Just sayin'.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

1 YEAR!!!

Emmy!! Today is your birthday! This time one year ago, we were welcoming you into our lives. I have such good memories of our first minutes together. My pesky blood pressure would not come down, but you were perfect, so we got to lay on the bed together in the dark and quiet. I will never, ever forget the time we got to spend together, just the two of us.

Emily, at one year:

*You are back to your happy, cheerful self. We finally discovered FOUR teeth are getting ready to pop through on the top. This would explain why you were not feeling your best for a while. I am so happy to see you back to being hilarious.

*Your "daddy dimple" is even more pronounced. You have one dimple, just like Big Dan, and I cannot get enough of it. I've seen it a lot lately, because you have been smiling and laughing all the time!

*You are walking between things more and more. If you think anyone is paying attention you will immediately drop to the ground and crawl! When Daddy and I try to put you between us to walk, you just won't do it anymore! I think you are a little shy!!

*Aunt Katy taught you to hold your own bottle! You still prefer for me to hold it when I am feeding you, but a few times we have been out at bottle time and you laid in your stroller and drank your bottle. This is a fantastic development. Although, we are probably not far from bidding a fond farewell to the old bottles...

*You can drink from your straw sippy cups like a champ. You would drink juice all day long if I would let you. We have to keep our eyes on you because you will swipe any and all drinks in your path.

*Just in the last few days you have started really trying to say some new words. Friday night on the way home from Aunt Katy's we stopped at the toy store. From the toy store to our house you said, "Bye-bye" the whole way home! You can also say, "cookie" as in Cookie Monster. I'm sure it won't be long until you are asking for an actual cookie!! You also say ba-ba (for bottle), mama, and dada. And "juice" - you have that one down pat! You are trying to say just about anything I prompt you to say.

*You have fully transitioned to a regular, big girl paci!! Somehow you just decided you were fine with it. You switch back and forth between any and all pacis. I'm planning to stealthily remove all remaining soothies.

*You LOVE to look at books. A lot. You haven't quite figured out how to crawl while holding a book and it is ticking you off! I keep trying to tell you that walking would solve this problem. =) You love to sit in my lap and look at books-particularly ones with Elmo in them. You can, at times, get a little aggressive in your page turning. Clearly, I don't read quickly enough for you!

Emily, you literally learn something new every single day. I am amazed at the things you know how to do. When I think back to your early days, I never would have guessed how joyful you would be! I am praying for you, sweet one, that you will always know how much your Daddy and I love you. I am praying you always know how God feels about you-He delights in you, thinks you are beautiful, and loves you more than you can imagine.

Happy Birthday, love!!!