Saturday, September 21, 2013

Make that two things I won't have

When Ian was born, older friends with grown sons told me only having boys was great --- they never went through the mother-son angst to which mother-daughter relationships are prone.  The only "regret" I ever heard was that they were never the first grandma to see the grand baby ... (Though, with Ian, the way his arrival and travel schedules worked out, my mother-in-law can say she has been there, done that).  Anyway, like I said, that was really the only "drawback" I had ever heard.

Except today, after a month of friends posting first ballet class pictures, I admit, I am a little sad.  Dancing was such a part of my life growing up - and even now, if I watch a particularly moving ballet, I still imagine me being able to move like that in my minds eye (though, I know in reality I'm not in that great shape anymore!).  In theory, I probably could sign Wm up in the young boys class at the Maryland Youth Ballet and see him dance in white t-shirt and black tights ... and, honestly, he loves dancing, so he might even enjoy it.

But, in reality, I won't. That kid has enough to work through with moving around every 2-4 years and making new friends that I don't need to add "boy ballerina" to his list of oddities.  Fingers crossed he keeps his rhythm and in 20+ years at his wedding, he takes some ballroom dance lessons and sweeps me off my feet.  Now, that's something I will enjoy!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Leaving babyhood, for real

Along with the enjoyment of hi first cupcake, Ian will soon learn the darker side of turning one: bottles disappearing and transitioning to whole milk. And, after six years, Greg and I will also start to exit the trappings of babyhood.  As Greg (gleefuly) explained to Patch this morning, in about six months we'll put Ian in the toddler bed and give the borrowed crib back to my older sister to save (or not) (or maybe for a younger sister to use at some point).  Possibly sooner, if Ian is like either of his brothers and figures out how to climb out on his own earlier.

Ian's been pushing the "baby" label for some time, since he demanded table-food-only at eight months, started walking at nine, self-weaned at ten - clearly this boy wishes to be a "kid" and there's no looking back.

I still laugh about the three best quotes from Ian's birth, one year ago today.
(1) I remember the (very new) paniced resident asking the attending physician if she should convert the bed for delivery and his response being something like, "nope, too late, the baby is already here!"
(2) Greg says right after Ian was born, the first thing I said was, "well, that was fun!"
(3) The next morning a medical student telling me that at their morning huddle, one medical student asked who got to be present at the delivery ... and the response was, "no one really - she kind of delivered him herself."

After Wm and Patch, I packed away baby clothes regrettingly, but now I've happily passed along items to friends with newborns - and am eagerly awaiting when Ian starts to talk (and evesdroping on conversations between the brothers).

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I love my brother!

Conversation, at 9:45pm, when I came upstairs and found Patch lying in our bed, watching PBS Kids on the iPad... And closer inspection revealed Wm under the covers.

Me: patch! What are you doing?! It's late!
P: I'm watching...
Me: I can see that.  Why are you here?
P: well, I was too noisy in our room, and wm said I was bothering him, so he went to your room to sleep.
P: I waited a few minutes and I checked he was asleep.  I was lonely and missed my brother, soo I snuck downstairs and took the iPad. And came up next to him and am watching it
Me: go to bed, please.
P: only if you carry wm to our room.  I love my brother.

In fairness, patch has never slept alone a night in his life. Whenever we've tried, he finds ways to sneak in with Wm after wm has fallen asleep.  Silly kid!

Guest blog: culture clash

A friend wrote this, and it was so very real to anyone who has a six or seven year old, I just have to share:

Clash of the Cultures happened this morning: While getting in the car, my son lost his very wiggly front baby tooth. Our driver (local national) congratulated the boy and threw the tooth on the son had an absolute was he going to get money from the tooth fairy if the tooth was on the roof??? Apparently, here they throw the tooth on the roof and the tooth fairy brings presents to the front door...something I think the post report should have mentioned!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

I *do* like cooking

Since leaving America in January 2009, I've hardly cooked.  As any working parent knows, coming home from work and balancing kids so excited to see you they cry with trying to prepare a fresh, healthy dinner - in a span of about 30 minutes before everyone has a meltdown from hunger - is nye impossible.  Hence my only two hard-and-fast requirements for our nannies over the years: competent child care and cooking dinner.  For the umpteenth time, I admit, I'm spoiled.

As a result, in the last five years, I've gotten out of the habit of cooking.  When you don't manage your own pantry, cooking becomes quite difficult because you don't have that mental list of what is in your pantry.  You have an idea of what to cook and start at it, only to find that something that's a pantry staple for you is not necessarily for the person who is actually doing the majority of the cooking.  And then cooking gets frustrating.  To the point that Saturdays and Sundays are full of left overs to avoid the dissatisfaction of not knowing what is in the fridge and cupboard.

Tomorrow we're having a small cookout in Rock Creek Park for Ian's first birthday.*  I really like eating fresh food, so Saturday afternoon was spent grocery shopping (to alleviate the pantry problem noted above) followed by cooking cupcakes, German potato salad, and black bean and corn salad.  Wm was a big help with all the cooking while the other two were napping.

At the end, Wm said, "well this was a fun lazy Saturday."  Hardly lazy, considering we visited two parks (by Beth's new house and by ours) and cooked up a storm ... but I have to admit, reminding myself that I do enjoy cooking did make for an enjoyable Saturday!

Now just to decide what kind of dressing to put on the black beans and corn.  I'm thinking cumin will be involved, and some olive oil, and then what?

I'll also fess up: after two hours of being on my feet in the kitchen, we're headed to Austin Grill for our actual dinner tonight :)

*For those curious, no, I cannot believe Ian is almost one.  This time last year, we had just enjoyed Beth & Andrew's wedding and were hanging out, waiting for the baby who everyone said was going to be a month early to appear (due date was 9/14-ish, so he obviously wasn't early, which made him seem very late!).  Even Wm said today: "I can't believe our house is pretty much done with baby stuff now!"

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

My own adjustment from Montessori

Back to school night was tonight, where we learned all about how first graders are assessed in Montgomery County.  Honestly, I was baffled by talk about starting the year reading at level 10 and expecting that by the end of the year a child can read at level J.  The levels some how go from 5 to 17 and then from J to M.  How does that make sense to anyone?  Where are levels 1, 2 and 3?  And A through I?  And why stop at the number 17 and then jump to letters?  And who assigns levels (either numeric or alphabetic)?  How do I know what level of book Wm has?

I found myself wondering these things and ended up totally distracted from whatever was actually being presented.  Maybe it made sense to parents who have kids who started in KG, but I was totally lost.  Luckily, a little googling at home cast some light:
Summer reading list by level
Washington Post article describing reading levels

I left yearning for his Montessori school where the kids worked through works at their own pace and had an expected outcome at the end of a three year cycle.  Your child is only six, I wanted to tell the parents questioning a new grading system implemented by the county (sample grade 1 report card: here).  Back off on pushing a kid to reach the next level, and think instead about how he or she thinks and treats his or her peers.  For the record, Wm does not like to read, which irks me to no end.  I understand the anxiety about having a six year old who cannot or chooses not to read.  Surprisingly, I found myself having extremely negative reactions to all the "assessment" speak.

I missed the balanced conversations we would have in the Montessori classroom.  Where are the discussions about flower arranging and table wiping?  At least, as Greg pointed out, problem solving is part of the "graded" curriculum.  

Reality is what reality is, and a $25k/yr tuition per child times three kids is not in the works, so I'm going to have to learn to adjust.  Thankfully Wm's teacher says he's not having any problem.  He sits well at his desk, he raises his hand, he does his worksheets.  I'll hold my tongue at home and save my personal maladjustment for the blog, since I don't want to color his perception of his school.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Tasty lunch from nothing

Weekend lunch can be tricky.  After a morning of playing, I want something substantial, more than a sandwich.  I am generally tired of left overs, but also not in the mood to cook - quite a conundrum, right?

This weekend I happened upon a successful experiment.  It all started with baking up a box of Trader Joe's Spinach and Kale Bites for Ian (yes, the baby eats the healthiest of anyone in the family - lots of fruits, veggies and whole grains.  Somehow after the age of two, kids get picky; witness: Patch and his peanut butter diet).  Ian ate up three, leaving quite a few.  I didn't just want to eat those ... so in a stroke of enlightenment, I threw them in the saucepan with a can of black beans, a can of diced tomatoes, some garlic and cumin.  Out came a poor (wo)man's chili 10 minutes later, but a tasty one at that.  Plus, it made enough for three meals.

If I were good, I would make this every weekend and have three lunches worth on hand for the week.  In reality, though, I don't think I will be that good.

I've tried not to purchase too many prepared foods - overseas, such things are generally not available, so we were quite good about eating "real" food.  Prep time takes longer, but we never had to worry about what additives our kids (or we!) were eating.  However, there's something to be said about having some simple canned and frozen things on hand to whip up a quick and tasty meal.