Preschool

Two of my very favorite dead horses: sleep and school. You're welcome!

The current Emma theory is: less day sleep, more night sleep. Yesterday I woke her up early from both her morning and afternoon naps (KILLER) but Phillip put her down at 7:30 last night and she slept till 5. I fed her and put her back to bed; she started complaining around six and we got her up, but I'm pretty sure she was awake that whole time. ANYWAY. I wouldn't go so far as to say this is The Answer, but the theory has worked consistently so far and it at least makes us FEEL like we have (even the tiniest) grip on the situation. 

In other news, I am sad ALL OVER AGAIN about the Catholic school situation. The problem is that yesterday was the last day of school and because Emma napped beforehand, Molly and I were able to sit in on the assembly in the church. It was INCREDIBLY sweet and touching and moving and just all around charming. I was charmed! There were several sendings of teachers and students who will not return next year and they were all SO sweet and tear-inducing (if you are already tear-inclined, like me, shut up.) There was the honoring of the Parent Volunteer of the Year and HE was definitely the teary sort - he could barely choke out a thank you before he had to go sit down. 

Then there was the "moving up" ceremony during which I nearly died of THIS SCHOOL IS SO LOVELY! Representatives from each grade (there's only one class per grade) stood at the lectern, summarized their year in cute (younger grades) or inside-jokey (older grades) ways and then formally announced that their class was ready to move up to the next grade. Then the entire class stood up in the pew and marched into the vacant pew of the class above them. The eighth graders had already graduated and disappeared, so the seventh graders claimed their spot, the sixth grade the seventh grade and so on. It was just a really meaningful and joyful thing to witness. I felt SO disappointed that Jack would not be part of this community. I felt so disappointed that *I* would not be part of this community. 

It got worse later that night when I went to a church meeting (from six to nine thirty OMG I QUIT) and we heard the school principal present his budget. Just so much talk of Catholic school and how they make it work and trying to keep tuition down and what things they were able to do that year - shoot, I was ready to send my kids THERE. Yes, we know that I am easily influenced and swayed, and sending my kids to OUR parish school would be the height of inconvenience. Not to mention that in order to SEND our kids to Catholic school I would basically have to go back to work and that is not happening. But still. Disappointment. 

Maybe you're surprised because I wasn't terribly positive about Jack's pre-K experience. I think a lot (most?) of that had to do with the fact that the pre-K program was very new and still sort of a neglected stepchild at that school. Neither the staff nor the other parents seemed to know what to do with the pre-K kids and parents. There were valiant attempts to include us in various school events, but on a day to day basis the communication was terrible and I didn't think the program itself was all that fabulous. If I had to do it over again I probably wouldn't send him there. That said, he DID get to do a lot of things BECAUSE he was part of a "real" school - going on real field trips, visiting the school library, having a "buddy" in the upper grades. My impression of the kindergarten is totally positive and if circumstances were different I'd be excited to send him there. 

All of this said, my impression of the PUBLIC SCHOOL was INCREDIBLY positive and once I have a glimpse into that community and Jack actually starts attending, hopefully the Catholic school disappointment will wither and disappear.

Before all that, though, we have a summer of ballet lessons and a wedding and a beach weekend and maybe some swim lessons and two weeks of two different VBS camps and I keep telling Jack that kindergarten doesn't start until SEPTEMBER - we have a whole summer of fun to do first. 


Lockdown

Did you know that the homicide rate in Seattle has something, like, frintupled this year? As in last year there were three homicides and this year you read about a new shooting every morning? 

I don't think much about this. I don't think I live in a particularly dangerous part of town. But I do live in a big house in a secluded-ish (for the city, anyway) area, dead end street and all, and when Phillip goes on his business trips I admit to a small amount of paranoia. 

Until today I thought the worst that had happened in my neighborhood, in the time I've lived here, are a couple of car burglaries. However! When I went to pick up Jack at school today a certain preschool dad was already there and ready to update me on the police blotter. Apparently a shooting had just happened in [Part Of Town Not Particularly Close To Us] and I responded with the appropriate, "ARE YOU KIDDING?" because SERIOUSLY, SEATTLE, WHAT IS UP? 

But then! Then he tells me about a home invasion that 1) happened 500 feet away from his house where 2) the owner was fatally shot by the intruder 3) TWO DAYS AGO and how did I not know about this? Apparently there was a marijuana operation happening at this house? So it was not a random thing? BUT STILL OMG. Then he tells me that he and his neighbor have started keeping an eye out (on their PRIVATE ROAD) and calling police and the next sunny day they plan to open their garage doors and clean their rifles in plain view. 

Perhaps he just told me that last part for dramatic effect. SHUDDER.

ANYWAY. He had time to tell me all this because the kids were not in the classroom. The Pre-K classroom is in a separate building from the main school, but it has giant windows and a glass door and you can see the whole room. The lights were off and the backpacks were still on hooks so we assumed that the preschoolers were doing stuff with the big kids in the main building. It's happened before. We just waited. 

And I left Molly and Emma in the van, because I always leave them in the van when I run over to get Jack out of his class, and it's no biggie, and it's in a church parking lot with a fence and only one way in and out and while I USED to feel bad about leaving them in the car I don't anymore. Anyone who has to get a kid in and out of a car seat understands my dilemma, right? But really, it's NEVER been a problem and I've never taken more than a minute to get Jack. 

But we were waiting quite a while and I needed to go get the girls. I marched off to the car, unloaded them, and right as I was walking back to the classroom to wait some more, one of the other parents yelled at me, "The school is in lockdown, we have to go to the front of the building."

I had no idea what he was talking about. 

We all trooped to the front of the building where a very serious-looking principal carefully opened the front door and let us all in. And then we stood there while she made sure we weren't waiting for any other parents. I hissed at another school employee standing nearby - "what's going on?"

It was because of the shooting about 80 blocks away. All the local schools were in lockdown. AND NOBODY TOLD THE PRE-K PARENTS WAITING OUTSIDE TO PICK UP THEIR CHILDREN AT NOON. It wasn't until one of the waiting parents got annoyed and called the school office that we found out what was going on and what we were supposed to do. 

Then the principal told us that she would call the pre-K teacher to let her know all the parents were here, and then she would lead us to the kids. I was thinking the kids were in the main building somewhere. BUT NO. The principal led us through the school and out the back way to... the Pre-K building! Where we'd already been standing for 10-15 minutes! Where my little girls had been hanging out in the car! Where my son had been hiding in a windowless bathroom singing the Hokey Pokey because a shooter on the loose might show up! GAAAHHH!!!

So you already know that I am not the type to go all indignant on people and even in the moment I was only momentarily frustrated by the lack of communication. The shooting felt pretty far away, this seemed to be an overly cautious reaction, and now we we ready to go home and eat lunch, no harm done. 

But now that I am thinking about it a little more, the indignance is rising. I'm not sure what the plan is for the regular students, but clearly no one had thought about what to do when the pre-K parents picked up their kids. It surely wasn't a SURPRISE that we all showed up at noon. They do have all our contact information. I don't get it. I still don't feel like Molly and Emma and I were in any real danger, but would the process have been any different if there WAS real danger? I left my kids exposed, the parents were standing around like idiots, and then to herd us into the main school building and then back outside where we'd already been standing just makes no sense. 

That said, Jack appears to be completely unaffected. Even uncurious, to a degree that sort of bugs me. Doesn't he have any questions about WHY all the kids were hanging out in the bathroom? But the teacher sang songs with them and they read books and apparently it was no biggie, Mom, chill out. 

We had to do terrorist drills when I lived in Sicily. I vaguely remember hiding with my classmates in a central area of the school. And I remember one time when the sirens went off and I was late for band practice and running to school with my instrument... but that was during the first Gulf War and there were lots of weapons stored behind barbed wire (and a MOAT!) not too far away from my house and HELLO, AMERICAN MILITARY BASE. I am decidedly not a fan of lockdowns in small unremarkable Catholic schools. 

Anyway. Writing this all out has made me twitchy AND I've wasted my lunch hour. Thirty seconds until EJ wakes up and starts barking for her lady's maid. 


Cheer up, sleepy Jean

It snowed today. And I thought about what it would be like to move to southern California. I feel like I've been thinking this a lot lately, more than I usually do during the winter months. No, MOM, we're not moving, but seriously, sometimes I just wonder.

Or maybe I'm just tired of hissing at my children to be! quiet! all the livelong day. How does a person who weighs thirty-five pounds make more noise going up the stairs than I do? Why must they both run EVERYWHERE? 

It doesn't matter. Phillip is taking care of them right now. Emma just went down for the night. And I am in my beautiful bedroom with the curtain headboard which I still have not taken pictures of I KNOW I'M SORRY and I almost feel like I'm off the clock. 

We're going on a kindergarten tour tomorrow. I am... ambivalent. The Catholic schools are out - for now, anyway. The choice/option/magnet schools, whatever you want to call them, aren't really a "choice" for us seeing as how the tiebreaker system makes them essentially neighborhood schools. I just want to go to our neighborhood school tomorrow and see a lively kindergarten class with a nice teacher so I can feel okay about sending my kid there next year. I won't care about worn out carpet or ugly portables and textbooks that have seen better days. Just the school itself looks run down and tired from the outside. But if there's one thing I've known since birth, it's that Schools Never Have Enough Money. That doesn't mean it isn't staffed by awesome teachers. 

I also called up Jack's old preschool today to see if there's a spot for Molly. Now, I'm not really sure what preschool teachers and staff are supposed to be like, or what they're typically like, or, really, ANYTHING about the people running preschools. But where I feel like Jack's program is lacking in creativity and mess and energy, and where Molly's program was bursting at the seams with only two teachers who never spoke to me, Jack's old preschool is bright, welcoming, interesting, and hands on. Jack brought home such neat projects, his teachers always had a quick note to share about him at pick up, he did such fun things. The communication at that school puts the newsletters and emails from our current preschool (and Molly's school) to shame. I MISS IT. 

I figured out that I could drop Jack at kindergarten, go directly to the old preschool, and drop Molly off. I no longer care that it's farther away - although this issue is somewhat moot as the staff told me they're looking for a new building! We'll have to see about that. But I feel like I sort of failed Molly this year. I don't feel guilty about it - I really feel like I did my best - but in hindsight, sticking my clingy-ish, quiet-when-her-brother-isn't-around daughter in a class full of 20 kids, most older than Molly, was not the brightest idea. I don't feel so bad about Jack - his program isn't what I hoped for, but Jack sort of rolls with everything and loves his class. But Molly... I want Molly to have a good start. I want her to like going to preschool. I want her to have some time doing her own thing. Again, I'm SO not worried about her learning specific things or getting into the right schools or getting ahead or whatever, but I want her to have FUN and to know that school is a FUN PLACE. (At age four, at least!) I could keep her home again, but I'm positive she'd enjoy it - in a smaller, warmer setting. And that's Jack's old school. 

SO. I only got to play phone tag with the director (who totally remembered Jack AND Molly and "would LOVE!" to have Molly attend) but they're moving to a new building and there's a lot to figure out still. I'm hopeful. 

Which of you have kids going to kindergarten next year? Have you done the tour or "Kindergarten Round Up!" or whatever they call it where you live? Or maybe everyone here is super tired of hearing about school. ME TOO. 


I put on mascara for this

We can now add "The School Christmas Program" to the list of things I don't do well. 

I'll tell you about it, but first I have to go pour myself a glass of wine. A BIG GLASS.

On the offchance I did not beat you over the head with the fact today - Phillip is out of town. This was disappointing - also stressful. (Also the subject of my post at Parenting tomorrow, should you be interested in my kvetching about all my first world problems.) Anyway, it just sounded like a logistical mess to me. Three kids, a baby who demands to eat at inopportune times, getting Jack to his classroom early, a seven pm start time aka BEDTIME. 

I decided to solve this problem with in-laws. They arrived later than they said, but everything was going fine, if not exactly easily - I had all three dressed up and fed and I was attempting another Christmas card picture on OUR NEW COUCH which had been delivered mere hours beforehand. 

Jack was supposed to be there twenty minutes early, and since we are only two blocks from the school I decided I would drop him off, then come back for everyone else. Emma needed to eat again and I thought this would buy me a few more minutes to ensure a happy baby at the concert. 

But the parking lot, even twenty minutes early, was jam packed. It's a SMALL parking lot, but still. I realized that not everyone lives twenty minutes away, that most parents were probably dropping their kids at their classrooms and then heading over to the hall to find a seat. And I was going to have to book it back to the house and herd everyone outside to WALK, since 1) there would obviously be nowhere left to park by the time we came back and 2) WE WERE SOOO LATE! 

But it was more like herding cats? And I mean, it's my own fault too. We had to gather hats, mittens, cameras, strollers, coats, I had to... well, you know, I should probably stop thinking and/or wishing that people could just read my mind because they're just NOT going to do what I want at the proper speed, ie: NOW NOW NOW LET'S GET OUT OF HERE.

And you guys, there was NOWHERE TO SIT. The first two rows were supposedly reserved for Pre-K and Kindergarten parents, but there was no space left. No space ANYWHERE. I felt horrible. My first kid's first concert and I can't even manage to find a SEAT. How would he even know I was there? We found an empty spot along the wall and I parked Emma and picked up Molly and tried to sort of sneak my way into the front where the Pre-K kids were sitting on the floor - no dice. Such a stickler, that Pre-K teacher! And seriously, any time I asked anyone about an extra seat, it was taken or not to be used or SOMETHING OMG I FELT SO STUPID.

So whatever. I just decided we would stand near the wall with my MIL and Emma (FIL was bouncing around looking for the best picture-taking angle.) We did that for the opening act (the beginning band and HOW I REMEMBER BEGINNING BAND) and then it was the little kids' turn to sing their two songs.

I did not expect to feel so proud, people. I mean, it's a CHRISTMAS PROGRAM. He's singing TWO SONGS. Two DUMB songs! But he was so cute. I swear he was the cutest kid on stage - DARE TO DISAGREE WITH ME, INTERNET. He looked so small and uncertain and ADORABLE and I just stood there willing him to see me where Molly and I had sneaked back into the front. We were off to the side, but he was on the same side (thank goodness) and he finally caught sight. His whole round little face lit up, it really did light up. He waved! I DIED! He was just the CUTEST THING. And then the singing - ugh, I am tearing up. COME ON, ME! Gah. But whatever, I was just SO proud of him and SO happy and relieved he knew I was there and knew where I was. I didn't take my eyes off him the entire time and I'm incredibly bummed out about not being in any position to take any type of picture whatsoever. I'm hoping FIL will come through on that!

But then the two songs were over and the kids filed off the stage. The little kids were supposed to find and sit with their parents. Except Jack's parent did not have a place for him to sit. I wasn't sure what to do. None of us really wanted to watch the rest of the show, but I also felt pretty conspicuous. There weren't too many people standing like us and NONE of them had kids. NONE. I asked Jack if he wanted to watch the other kids and he said, quite clearly, "I want to see one song and then I want to go home." Fine by me!

Getting out of there was SO awkward, though. Even though I'd told both MIL and FIL that we were leaving after the next song, it was like... WELL. AGAIN. I don't know why I go around expecting people to read my mind. PERSONAL PROBLEM. NOTED. Anyhow, our exit just wasn't as smooth as I would have liked. The kids want to go with me and not their grandfather, I'm not sure MIL is going to wheel Emma out or not, I'm not sure where the door is, I don't know if we're blocking the view, I'm trying to do this quietly but Molly is yammering on about something. I herded everyone out the nearest door and threw coats at the kids before FIL could burst into BUT THE CHILDREN WILL TURN INTO KIDSICLES! panic.

And then I almost cried on the way home. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME. I felt bad for leaving early - remember, I have teacher parents and I hear a LOT about parent behavior and I've always wanted to be the parent that ENJOYS the school programs and claps and laughs in the right places. I felt bad for leaving early, even though I didn't know anyone else in the school! I felt bad that people SAW us leave, especially Jack's teacher, whose eyes I could feel the entire time I was maneuvering everyone out. I felt bad that I didn't get there on time, that I didn't realize it would be so crowded, that Jack didn't have anywhere to SIT and experience the rest of HIS concert. I feel STUPID. 

I think I'm just tired. Emma's night wasn't so great, and she hardly slept at all today. (I blame my aunt, who visited right when everyone was sort of down for the afternoon. She did bring cookies, however, also pajamas she'd sewn herself AND thought Jack was a hoot when he was CLEARLY being a bratty show off, so I forgive her.)  

All that said, my new couch is pretty awesome. It's got one of those chaise things and ooh, typing your blog post with your legs kicked out on the chaise end is a really great way to write a blog post. 

Phillip comes home tomorrow! Also: does anyone have a good suggestion for something-edible-to-put-in-a-jar for Jack's teacher present? The only thing I can think of is granola (I know, my brain is about wiped out) and Mrs. Pre-K does not seem like the granola type... 


In which I do not understand the defensiveness

It's late afternoon. Emma is passed out in the bouncy seat, Jack and Molly are eating popcorn and watching Curious George. I'm posting now, because later tonight I am escaping the madness and going to dinner with my real life ladies, one of whom is turning Thirty-Five. Thirty-five! I said, "Why are we not going to Vegas? Or New York? Or DISNEYLAND?" Heads up to my ladies: we are totally going to Disneyland when I turn thirty-five. And you Disney haters can go jump off a bridge. 

ANYWAY. The Therapist just left. Good times! I spend half my time with her thinking, "This is so neat!" and the other half thinking, "She is probably wishing I would just shut up, already. SHUT UP, ME." 

So I'm sitting here now trying to think up names for the cake blog. Which, by the way, will not be a Cakewrecks ripoff. The FPC and I are both fans of Cakewrecks and could never do justice to even the ripoff of Cakewrecks. No, we are hoping to rip off The Food Whore, only it will be set in a bakery and will not be nearly as funny. (And can I just say? WE MISS THE FOOD WHORE.) I am probably going to end up writing a lot of these stories because the FPC is lacking in internet (I KNOOOOOOOW) and I'm not sure how that's going to work, but still. CAKE WACKADOOS. I will keep you posted. 

What else was I going to tell you? OH RIGHT. The Catholic school and how they are Sapping My Will To Live. 

Okay, that is a smidge dramatic. They are fine. Jack is really enjoying preschool this year. It is ME who has issues, not least with the entire forests being sacrificed for all the fundraising reminders. I've just had... well, there is some communication breakdown with the Catholic preschool. Remember when I just happened to call the school office about something and found out the first day was a whole week earlier than I thought? STUFF LIKE THAT. 

I'm willing to take a lot of responsibility for communication breakdowns. I'm having them with Molly's school too, but that's basically about me not responding to emails etc. on account of the new baby in our house and my brain working on fumes. I OWN THE FUMES, people. I am MORE than ready to say I might have misplaced something or forgot or whatever. But then there are times when something is CLEARLY NOT MY FAULT and I expect the other party to own THEIR fumes. Right? 

But, well, okay, so there was the time Jack's teacher swore up and down that she entered my email address correctly when she clearly DID NOT enter my email address correctly and I had PROOF in the form of an email in which my email address was NOT ENTERED CORRECTLY. And you know what? I do not think this is a big deal. And I just threw it out there! "Hey, Teacher! You forgot the 'a' in my email address! Everyone does! Can you add it in next time? No biggie! Thanks!" 

I expect the teacher to say, "Oops! I'll double check next time! Thanks for letting me know!" 

I do not expect the teacher to say, "No, I'm SURE I put the 'a' in your address. I KNOW I put the 'a' in your address. I will go back and check tonight because I AM ULTRA SUPER DUPER ABSOTIVELY SURE that I put the 'a' in your address. I'm sure you are WRONG." 

That's just... I mean, WHY? Why are you so defensive? I was not at ALL accusatory or upset or even irritated! IT'S NOT A BIG DEAL! WHO CARES! JUST ADD THE 'A'! 

And can I just say that this conversation continued over the space of several preschool drop offs? I am not even kidding. WHATEVER. 

THIS time it was about preschool conferences. And don't even get me started about preschool CONFERENCES. If I were to do this aaaaall over again, I would put Molly and Jack in the same school in classes that started at the same time and ended at the same time and lasted four-ish hours including lunch AND ALSO would not be a preschool affiliated with an Actual School because DEAR GOD we are doing PRESCHOOL CONFERENCES? Can't my kids just go grind play dough into someone else's rug for a few hours and we'll call it good? /rant

So apparently we were supposed to schedule a conference? I have to admit I didn't even know we were DOING conferences until I got the parent letter in an email (she remembered the 'a'!) saying "don't forget to turn in your purple form to schedule a conference." Apparently this purple form was handed out with other papers we received last week? In the special folder? About which there is ANOTHER communication story which I will try very hard to refrain from sharing? 

Needless to say I did not have this purple form. Because I have learned a thing or two, I bypassed the teacher completely and just called the school office to schedule my conference. No big deal, right? I'm sure there were other people who misplaced their form and plenty of people calling to schedule things. 

Of course, I forgot that my very first Communication Issue with this school had to do with the office. AHEM. So I call and I am extra polite and cheerful and my voice is just DRIPPING with "I am not calling to make a problem for you, I am actually a very nice, very pleasant person and maybe one day I will bring you cookies." I tell the secretary that I need to schedule a conference. 

She goes, "HMM." 

And even though I had made myself SWEAR that I would not bring up the Missing Purple Form, I felt compelled to give an explanation for my phone call. I cannot help myself. I had to EXPLAIN. To DEFEND my phone call, if you will. 

So STUPID ME, I say, "I know we were supposed to fill out a purple form, but I didn't receive one. I thought I'd just call instead."

WHY GOD WHY DID I OPEN MY MOUTH?

The secretary says, in a voice that drips with "you are making a problem for me and your cookies probably taste like feet": "You didn't get the packet? The packet that goes home with all the kids? It was STAPLED to the packet. I'm not sure how you didn't receive the form since it was STAPLED to the packet."

And I said, "...?"

I mean, do they think I am LYING TO THEM? Do they think I am doing this FOR FUN? Do they think I am making stuff up? And even if they do, WHAT IS THE POINT OF HARANGUING ME ABOUT THE STUPID STAPLED PACKET? 

Out of the goodness of her heart, she agreed to schedule my conference over the phone. She put the phone down and I COULD HEAR HER GRUMBLING IN THE BACKGROUND! And when she comes back she is STILL griping about the PACKET!

"You know, we have volunteers come in and put these things together, so I can't say for sure that it went home with the kids or not. But it seems like none of you got the form."

WHAT?! I said, quite nicely, "None of us?"

"I don't think any of the pre-K parents got the form. I'll have to call all of you to schedule the conferences. You shouldn't have to call us. That's not a very good introduction to the school."

AAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

Okay, so I realize this is all stupid stuff and has nothing to do with My Child's Education or the Quality Of The Teachers and all that, but MAN does this make me not want to send my kid there. And I'm already thinking I'm not going to send my kid there. Catholic school is expensive, and because we cannot bring ourselves to switch parishes, this Catholic school in particular would be MORE expensive. I've done a lot more research on the local public school options and they seem JUST FINE if not KINDA COOL. And because we don't want to switch parishes (though we have yet to honestly DISCERN this) I'm more likely to do Catholic school, if we go the Catholic school route, at my OWN church. I don't particularly love what Jack does in preschool (though HE really likes it, which is important) which is, in itself, not a great introduction to the school. So this communication stuff is ICING ON AN ALREADY TASTELESS CAKE. 

More cake! Must name the cake blog! Must EAT cake! THAT would make me feel better!


Just one of the reasons I should be in therapy

I continue to be Unimpressed with myself. 

Your comments on my birth story post were incredibly helpful for me to read. I feel like I have a broader perspective on my experience and at some point I want to tell you what clicked in my brain. I'm so glad I wrote it out here and you told me what you were thinking. 

But now I am Unimpressed with other things and I am wondering if this is just going to be a new state of being. 

In case you are new around here, I like to do things right. I'm not so much a perfectionist as I am a Rule Following, People Pleasing, On Top Of Things, Knows What To Do Before You Tell Me-ist. I hate - hate -to look stupid. Or foolish or out of touch or confused or lost or anything even REMOTELY close to stupid. I've even become rather skilled in faking already-knowing-everything, so much is my need to be perceived in this way. 

I am really fun to be around!

But I failed at preschool this year. I mean, I FAILED. I think your average un-neurotic person would just swear a little, take a deep breath, put it behind her and soldier on, either deciding to suck it up and deal or create a new plan. I waver back and forth between both of those options, but most of the time I am berating myself for being so dumb in the first place. I should have known! What was I thinking?! 

I am embarrassed to find myself in this predicament. I'm embarrassed to tell other people where I went wrong. Everyone must think I'm such an idiot. Everyone must have known this was a hugely bad idea and just didn't tell me because they knew I wouldn't listen! Because not only do I need to do things right, if you tell me I'm not doing something right I will keep doing it my way just to prove you wrong! DON'T YOU WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH ME?!

Anyway, all the solutions to my preschool problem - which amounts to Two Different Schools With Two Different Schedules Is A Giant Pain In The Butt - involve 1) asking for special treatment and/or 2) admitting I was wrong. Two things I am REALLY BAD AT. 

Admitting I was wrong - that's sort of a standard thing to be bad at. I might be worse at it than most people, but still, it's pretty common and you know what it entails. 

But the special treatment stuff... basically I have asked three people now to bend the rules for me. This is painful. Every time I've done it I've had to take many deep breaths, pray, write a bunch of drafts, and then remind myself that I'm a parent now and I've got to do what's right for my family, even if it makes me redfaced, even if people might make tsk tsking sounds. 

So first I asked Jack's school if they would consider letting a three-year-old into the four- and five-year-old class. Even though I was pretty sure the teacher would not like it. I was also pretty sure they wouldn't allow it. And my email to the principal bent over backwards to acknowledge that this was Unorthodox. Because God forbid they roll their eyes at me when I can't see them! 

Request denied. 

Then I asked Molly's school to take Jack! But they're full. And the look I got from the preschool director was somewhere between Pity and I Told You So and What An Idiot, possibly because when I was enrolling Molly she tried extra hard to get me to enroll Jack as well. Quoth me, "Oh, I really don't want to have them in the same class!" OH STUPID ME!

After heaps of Internet Research I finally emailed the principal of my parish school to see if THEY had openings. Because, unbeknownst to me, their school has the perfect schedule. Why hadn't I considered them in the first place? Because they weren't in my neighborhood. And I was all about Being Part Of My Community. OH I WAS SO STUPID. I no longer care about community, I care about how many times I have to haul the stupid baby car seat in and out of the van. THERE. I SAID IT. 

Aaaand, request denied! Well, we are waitlisted. Then several people told me to email the priest, to see what he could do, and I just felt like... EW! I mean, it'd be one thing if my kids weren't doing well and I was desperate to remove them. But this is all about ME screwing up. I'd be asking him for special treatment because I messed up. Oh, the shame! DOES NOT COMPUTE!!!

But I did anyway. Because I do think this would be the best scenario. But you better believe I stressed over that email. How to beg without sounding like I was begging? Or even asking for anything more than information? I believe in fairness and inclusivity and taking your lumps, I DO! But I am asking anyway and he'll see right through me and then he will probably do his best to help me, because he knows us and he's all about getting parish families into the school. 

I imagine a lot of you cannot believe I managed to crank out a post about my crippling SHAME over my failure to set up the ideal preschool scenario before the baby was born. I can see you composing your, "OMG GET OVER IT" and "You SHOULD be ashamed of yourself you WACKADOO" and "UR BLOG SUX" comments right now! But maybe some of you know exactly what I'm talking about and are ALSO the sorts of people who would rather die than expose your failure to succeed. And who also know very well that equating "ideal preschool scenario" with "personal success" is all kinds of messed up, but who are too busy beating themselves up about it to change. 

 

 


Tweaking the plan

We sent the big kids (yes, J and M are now the BIG kids, gak) to their grandparents on Saturday. I didn't even really KNOW we were doing this - Phillip decided to call his parents late that morning and inform them that the only thing between his Sanity and A Running Long Jump Off The Nearest Bridge was their ability to come get Jack and Molly for the night. 

Now, you know that I would never say or imply such a thing. But perhaps I approved the teeniest tiniest bit of this turn of events. A whole day with just the BABY, and why did we ever think taking care of a BABY was so HARD? These big kids, man, they are slowly killing us with their noise, their roughhousing, their manic manhandling of the baby, their fighting, their whining, and their incessant demanding of snacks. Phillip keeps marveling about how much they've been FIGHTING lately and I have to say, "Um, actually, I think it's the same amount of fighting as usual." Then his eyes sort of bug out of his head, but for some reason he does not immediately run out to Tiffany's and buy me jewelry. I know!

So... I don't think my Preschool As Survival Plan is working out very well. Phillip had a big conference call on Wednesday so I decided to try out preschool drop off/pick up on my own. And TECHNICALLY it was all fine. We made it to all the appropriate places at the appropriate times, but that afternoon I was half passed out on the couch wondering what the heck I'd been smoking when I dreamed this all up. Between the two different schools, the hour between start times and pick up times, the getting everyone out of the car and back in, plus that STUPID baby bucket seat, I was beat. I had to take the whole three hours of free time to recuperate. 

I sound horrible. Me and my "WOE! Three hours of free time! Poor me!" But seriously. The whole preschool procedure is WACK. I was lamenting all of this to a friend, telling her how stupid I was for thinking this was a good solution, when she said, "BUT IT WAS YOUR ONLY SOLUTION!" 

My poor friends, right? SO tired of my dramatics.

She was right. I THOUGHT it was my only solution - within the parameters I'd set up at the time, the parameters I sort of don't care about anymore. Like not wanting Jack and Molly to be in the same class. And wanting to try out the Catholic school (Jack's Pre-K program). EH. Now I just want everything to be EASY. 

After talking to my mom, I took her suggestion and emailed the Catholic school to see what they thought about putting my three-year-old in the four- and five-year-old Pre-K class. I felt WEIRD about it, because I was asking 1) to change the rules and 2) for special treatment and I just ABHOR doing those things on the offchance it will make people think I am HIGH MAINTENANCE or a PRIMA DONNA or otherwise DIFFICULT. I actually put lots and lots of effort into APPEARING to be laid back and easygoing, believe it or not. You know and I know that it's a giant farce, but it's worked out for me so far. 

But it was worth it to me to ask. It can't hurt, right? Of course, no one has responded yet. I don't really know what they'll say. I just BARELY implied that I could take Jack out and put him in Molly's class HINT HINT. 

I just think last year's preschool ruined me for preschool forevermore. It was SO great and SO fantastic and SO soothing to a mom who tries very hard to be chill but is actually a high-functioning crazypants neurotic. I haven't been super impressed with the stuff Jack is doing in his school and Molly's got three times as many kids in her class than she probably feels comfortable with... SIGH. There is no perfect solution to this. And I should probably stop berating myself and second guessing everything because REALLY, I did the best I could with the information I had. I DID. 

I've packed their snacks, but I better go lay out their clothes. Phillip is going to work extra early in the morning - his first full day back and my first full day at home. Gulp. 

 

 


Pre-panicking over my inevitable (?) future as a Room Mom

Dropping Jack at preschool on Friday was one million trillion times easier than our first preschool drop off, but I still felt panicky when I strapped myself back in the car and drove away. I wasn't sure what I found upsetting, but SOMETHING was upsetting and it was a good hour until my heart stopped beating super fast and my shoulders sank back down to their normal position. 

After a while I decided that I was, once again, Projecting. As in, apparently I have unpleasant buried memories about starting a new school. I drove home from Target repeating, "A new preschool is not the same as a new high school. A new preschool is not the same as a new high school." over and over and over. I know. I SO would have failed a Parental Qualifications Test. 

ANYWAY. I really really liked Jack's old preschool and while I am SURE that the new preschool is JUST FINE especially for Jack, especially because dear Lord it is PRESCHOOL not AP Calculus, I am still feeling a little suspicious. I was not impressed with the communication about the first day of school (NONE) although possibly I should take some responsibility for that as well, seeing as how I am super averse to picking up the phone and calling Powers That Be. His teacher is a lovely grandmotherly lady, the room is cute, the class is small, and Jack came home in good spirits, even if he did say, after I asked him how things went, "I don't feel like talking about that right now, Mommy." 

OKAY, WHATEVER.

When we picked him up I was handed a Giant Packet O' Fundraising Info. Welcome to Catholic school! Now, I know that public schools do fund raisers too, and I remember having to do a few when I was in school, but I've been warned about how being a Catholic school parent means you are pretty much on the development committee whether you like it or not. Since we are paying out-of-parish rates and he's only in the Pre-K program, I'm not sure how sucked into this world we will be, but it IS a trial run for kindergarten and beyond, so I'm [suspiciously] interested to see how it works. 

I am not OPPOSED to fund raising. Obviously. But I happen to be rather bad at it. I can volunteer to help with auctions and fairs and all that organizational stuff, but having my kid walk door to door selling gift wrap? (This is the September Fund Raiser, apparently.) NOT SO MUCH. I just don't... Well, I don't know. Some people seem totally fine with this. And I've certainly bought my share of magazines and popcorn and candy and all that. But you know they expect you to harangue all your family and friends to buy the gift wrap, as well as the unsuspecting neighbors who have no idea who you are, and that just feels icky. I mean, I'm the person who doesn't even like wedding registries! 

There was also a sheet of paper in my packet asking for the names and contact information for friends and family who would be interested in giving and/or attending fund raising events. And I can just imagine Random Relative opening up her fund raising letter from Maggie's four-year-old. GAH. 

Have I told you that cold calling business contacts for auction items was once part of my job description? Until my boss realized that we were getting, like, NEGATIVE items and decided it was no longer part of my job description? 

It seems like most of the Catholic school parents I know get Super On Board and become evangelists for their school and I'm not opposed to becoming one of those people EITHER, but it seems very DAUNTING. Tomorrow night I am skipping a church meeting to go to the curriculum night at the OTHER church. (I totally forgot about last month's meeting, and NEXT month's meeting is 3 days away from my due date soooo, yeah. They are totally going to fire me.) Anyway, I hope to Become Educated on more of this Catholic school stuff. Actually I hope to meet some other Catholic school parents, even though I feel about as skilled at this as I am at fund raising. WE SHALL SEE.

In lieu of the First Day Of Preschool picture, which would be the APPROPRIATE ending to this post, but which is apparently on one of the OTHER phones/cameras we use to take pictures, which of course we have misplaced at the moment, I will leave you with a picture of the cake the FPC made for Molly's birthday party on Sunday. 

Photo (12)

I KNOW. The FPC is MY personal cake-maker. You can't have her. 

 


I guess the third time's the charm

Tomorrow I think I need to commit to being a grown up. I've been spray painting and vacationing and hanging out with old friends a bit too much and tomorrow I need to, you know, pay some bills. 

First thing: I have to call my doctor. A nurse left a very vague message on my phone today and when I called back the office was already closed. I've already decided that I failed the glucose test and am stuck doing the three-hour test. The amount of anxiety I have over this is pretty noticeable, and I feel more angry at myself than distraught that I'll have to low carb it until October. (I mean, I was planning to do that afterwards ANYWAY.) Is there anything else horrible you have to do when you have GD? And yes, for all I know the nurse could be calling because I... okay, I have no other ideas. I MUST have failed that test. By the way, I love how it's "FAILING". Gah. I will probably have bad dreams about this. 

Second thing: I have to call Jack's preschool to see if I can switch the days he's attending. I can choose any three days out of the five, and since Molly's preschool switched the days on me, I now need to switch Jack's days. This wouldn't be such a big deal except I have TOTALLY procrastinated on the application and registration fee (these Catholics need to know EVERYTHING, the application is like a BOOK) and I just don't feel like copping to that. Which is stupid because they already KNOW. They ALREADY called me this summer to make sure I still wanted him to attend! And I had to say, "Yeah, I just haven't mumblemumble found a copy of his immunization mumblemumblebye." So get over myself, yes?

I also have this cardboard box which I've been using to store every important-looking document that comes in the mail. On occasion I rummage through it and pull out anything that looks like a bill and pay them off. I used to have a system for this. I was very organized, once upon a time. But then we moved. And all our account numbers changed. And I got confused and also I still have no idea where to put Important Mail. Well, anywhere that is not our dining room table because the amount of crapola on the dining room table is GETTING TO ME. 

So I need to do that tomorrow. Make sure I have not forgotten to pay people money. Basically the first thing you should learn as a grown up. I've been doing it for a while, but I can't say I've always done it well. 

After those things and ONLY AFTER THOSE THINGS am I allowed to go to the party store and buy sparkles and feathers and other party accoutrements. 

Oh, that reminds me, I introduced my mother to Pinterest today. I'm happy to say she was properly enthralled. Although seriously, WHO WOULDN'T BE?

Last thing: I got a Boden catalog in the mail today and I am in looooove! I've heard other people talk about Boden, and also mini Boden, but there is seriously every combination of SUPHER cute sweater/skirt/dark tights/tall boots in the WORLD in that catalog and WANT WANT WANT. Even if each item is $100+. Don't care! Want! What I probably SHOULD care about: the fact that I am not a ninety pound stick like the girl in the pictures, with her skinny little stick legs in her boots. Those boots probably wouldn't ever zip up over my calves. Even when I've lost all the baby weight. WHICH I WILL DO, STUPID GESTATIONAL DIABETES THAT I AM 99% SURE I HAVE. WAH.


Because if it's not one thing it's another

I decided we had to find a new preschool. 

(I know, I know. But now that the house drama is mostly over I need SOMETHING to obsess over!) 

Jack's preschool, for various very good reasons, has staggered start times. So if we were to attend next year, I would drive 15 minutes to the school, drop Jack off, wait twenty minutes in the parking lot, take Molly in, then drive 15 minutes home. Then do it all over again when it was time to pick them up. 

At first I thought that was manageable. Then I remembered I was having a third baby. So, um, no.

After extensive research (aka Googling) on preschools in our new neighborhood and not really liking any of my options (or perhaps none of them can quite live up to The Perfect Preschool in our old neighborhood, SNIFF) I think I've hit upon a Half Decent Solution. Today I dropped off an application for the Pre-K program at the church near my house. We can manage the three days a week out-of-parish rate. But they don't have a program for three-year-olds, and since Molly has been announcing, "When I THWEE I go to PWEESKOOL" for, like, months, I HAVE to find her a spot. Today I called the Lutheran preschool a few minutes away and they have openings for two days a week. 

Soooo ideally Jack would go Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and Molly would go Tuesdays and Thursdays. The times don't match up exactly, but because both schools are SO close to my house, it doesn't matter so much. I will not have to sit in a parking lot for twenty minutes twice a day. 

Also! Bonus points for being cheaper than sending them both to the old preschool. 

DEEP BREATH. 

But NOW I am back in the Catholic School vs. Public School vs. WHICH Catholic School quandary. My options are (as far as I can tell): 

1. The public elementary school, which is a few minutes' drive away. This school is not rated very highly online, but since I find those rating systems a bit questionable, I basically know nothing about it. The husband of a friend of a friend works there and I totally intend to grill him at some point. Otherwise I need to take a little tour or whatever it is for prospective kindergarten parents and just see what it's like. Pros: Free! Nearby! Cons: Perhaps not the GREATEST school? 

2. Our parish school, a 15-20 minute drive on the freeway. Pros: We know everyone, we love our parish, I love the IDEA of Catholic school even though I still feel like I don't really know much about it. Cons: Not free. An annoying commute, especially when there is...

...3. The parish school that we WALKED to today. Pros: Nearby! Catholic! Highly spoken of by a friend who taught there for 8 years. Cons: Not free. Would have to switch parishes. Stomachache-inducing. 

Now I wouldn't necessarily have to be freaking out (okay, not freaking out, perhaps Thinking Intensely) this early on, except for the fact that I would be applying/registering for kindergarten in FEBRUARY of next year. And if we wanted to send Jack to the parish school down the street, we would have to switch parishes (because we can barely afford the parishioner rate let alone the OUT of parish rate) by the fall. THE FALL. 

Phillip is not so hot on switching, for all the obvious reasons. And it IS "family". We've been going there since we were DATING. We got married there, had our babies baptized there, made so many wonderful friends, got involved in so many wonderful things. People KNOW us and Phillip and I are very much about being known in a churchy community. We met in one and it was so very important to us to find another one when we graduated. Switching would be a Huge Deal. 

But I feel... well, at this point our church friends have become regular life friends we would still see, no matter where we went to church. I am no longer a young adult with no clear identity striving to find a place in a big church. It's fairly clear what I am now: A Parent, and now I've got tons of Church Experience under my belt. I would know how to get involved again. And we're at the perfect stage of life if we're going to attend a new church. The kids would just be starting out in the school, we're having another baby, if we're going to go, it seems like as good a time as any. And I would prefer our kids to go to school where we live, rather than an entirely different neighborhood. (Seattle is SUPER neighborhoody. You should visit. I'll drive you around.)

Also, everyone we've talked to who has attended Mass at Neighborhood Church has said they loved it, so I'm hopeful we would love it too. 

Then again, Catholic school is not free. And I'm not totally sold on it. My best reason for Catholic school right now is: It Sounds Nice. Which may sound stupid to you, but to me it makes total sense. I like the smallness, the uniforms, the prayer, the participation in Mass, the observance of religious holidays, the melding of school friends and church community. Notice I say nothing about academics, and that is because I honestly have no idea if it's better in a Catholic elementary school. I'm tempted to say it is, but I really don't know. I'm also the product of two public school teachers and the public school system, and for most of my schooling there was only ONE SCHOOL. You don't get options when you live on a military base. (Well, I did know a handful of people who went to Italian high schools, but they were loony.) I am PRO PUBLIC SCHOOL! I'm just also Catholic and Pro Catholic and Catholic school, again, Just Sounds Nice. 

I've spent my entire life immersed in Teacher Talk, and it's clear that wherever you go, wherever you are, there are good teachers and bad, good administrators and bad, kids who want to learn and kids who don't, and parent involvement is big fat gigantic factor. So I'm of the admittedly not terribly informed opinion that public school would be just fine, but Catholic school Would Be Nice. Phillip is of the opinion that public school would be just fine, Catholic school would probably be better, but thousands of dollars better? Because, well, we DO like to go on vacation. And buy groceries. 

I'm hoping this Pre-K program gives me a better idea of what we should do. I did try to get them into the preschool at our parish, but it was full. So, as I was telling Annie, perhaps it is A Sign. I am a super huge fan of Signs.

Blah blah blah, obvs I need to head directly for the tub of frosting in the refrigerator.