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June 2016

What happened with kindergarten, plus Free Time, how do I maximize it?

Emma's not going to kindergarten next year. The story on THAT is: 

  • We thought she was ready to go to kindergarten next year.
  • Our personal experts on the subject - teachers in our family, teachers at the kids' school, ourselves - thought she was more than ready. 
  • We weren't 100% certain we would send her, but we wanted to be able to choose at the last minute. 
  • So we took her to the Early Entrance Screening the district offers for kids born just after the cut off, like Emma
  • When I called her preschool to ask for their help appealing the decision they said, 
  • "Oh, we don't think she should go either."
  • Which. 
  • I mean.
  • I'd talked to them about it. They knew we were planning to do this. I sat in the director's office and told them what we wanted to do.
  • They offered some social emotional reasons, things we wouldn't see at home because they're out of context. Things I would have liked more time to discuss and think about, but at that point we had 24 hours to write an appeal and preschool wasn't going to back us up sooooo
  • Emma's not going to kindergarten!
  • And I have made my peace with that, but not so much with the feeling Very Very Stupid And Foolish And Like A Bad Parent when it comes to my interactions with the preschool. HEY, WE ALL HAVE OUR FLAWS. 

Now I am trying to figure out the What To Do With Emma Next Year question and I would like to know what you think. 

I don't swing either way on the send-them-early, keep-them-home debate. I think each kid is different, yada yada yada. It is weird to me that we'll have a youngest-in-her-class (Molly) and an oldest (Emma), there's something about how they are 3 years apart but will be 4 years apart in school that is like a psychological block for me, I wish I could consult the What Kind of Teenagers Will They Be Crystal Ball, but you know, whatever. There were things I WASN'T sure about with Emma and now getting those things right in time for kindergarten is no longer a pressure and that feels lovely. I am happy to give her another year of solo treats and outings with me. (Or maybe I am happy to give that to ME.) 

But Emma needs to go to school. She might not be socially/emotionally ready, but academically speaking she's beyond where Molly was when she traipsed off to kindergarten and 2 days of preschool plus coloring and Shopkins at home is not cutting it and this kid needs something to DO. 

We reserved a spot in the 5s Program at her current preschool as our back up (good thinking, us!). And that's probably what we'll end up doing. There will only be 8 kids in the class, we love the school (the above communication issue notwithstanding), and she's very happy there. 

BUT. The schedule might kill me. BECAUSE. Next year the big kids are starting 45 minutes earlier (oh, I must have spared you the whole bell times debate in Seattle Public Schools, LUCKY YOU). That means next year I will be

  • Marching the big kids to the bus around 7:15, 7:20ish. (OMG)
  • Hanging out at home with Emma - or going grocery shopping? to a coffee shop? Target? - until 9:15 when I drive her to school (which starts at 9:30)
  • She has lunch at school and I pick her up at 1:30, get home about 1:45ish
  • Big kids walk home from the bus, get home about 2:30

Writing that out, it doesn't look like the MOST horrible thing in the world. I have a good chunk of time while everyone's in school, and this would be every day. It's just that that gap between the big kids and Emma is so annoying NOW, when it's only an hour, and next year it will be twice as long. And then hardly any time between when Emma gets home and the big kids, which right now is a peaceful get-some-stuff-done time at home. It isn't very EFFICIENT and you guys, I like efficiency. Having my day broken up like that is doable, but I won't like it. 

But a friend who sends her daughter to Catholic school came over this morning and tried to talk me into sending Emma to the Catholic school PreK. Not doing that, I'd have to drive in rush hour every day, NOPE. But there is a different Catholic school around the corner from our house, and Jack went there for PreK, and his terrible teacher is no longer the teacher, and hmm, let's look at that schedule. 

  • March big kids to the bus around 7:15, 7:20ish.
  • Hang out with Emma at home before we drive the 30 seconds or walk the 5 minutes to her school which starts at 8:30.
  • She has a snack at school, but I drive/walk to pick her up at noon and she has lunch at home.
  • Big kids get home about 2:30. 

What do we think about THAT? 

She's in school less time (half hour less) and this would be 4 days instead of 5 days at her current school (because of how the tuition works out, omg this is so expensive). It's not as much time at school, but I don't spend as much time driving back and forth so MY amount of free time is probably the same. I was thinking she might have to skip a bunch of Fridays anyway because those are the days I usually need to work with Katie on bakery stuff and I wouldn't be able to do all THAT driving with the first schedule. 

As for the actual SCHOOL, I don't know. I am absolutely certain the current school's 5s program will be awesome. We've loved everything about that school, there will only be 8 kids, she'll have so much fun and attention. I am less familiar with the Catholic school. I know it will have way more students, but it will also have the benefit of being part of the bigger school and she'll get to go to library and art and GUESS WHAT WE'RE CATHOLIC and I like all that praying in school. 

Okay, so basically I am writing all this out because I know my mom will read it (HI MOM!) and then she'll call me and tell me what she thinks. The rest of you are bored to death. And Phillip has no idea what he's walking into when he gets home. HEH. 


We just finished a 500 cookie order. I deliver it tomorrow. It was less work (for me, not poor Katie heh) than I anticipated and hey, we'll get paid this month! That'll be new! 

And this is the last week of school for all my kids. We pick them up early from the last day to head to the ocean for our annual my-side-of-the-family weekend in a VRBO house. I am alternately delighted not to have to scream at everyone to get ready in the mornings while making lunch and breakfast at the same time, and terrified by memories of kids demanding I be their cruise director last summer. We have swim lessons, VBS, a few weekend trips, and plenty of friends to play with over the next 2 months, but I won't lie, I live in trepidation of the Surly Sullen Child Who Demands The iPad At All Hours. But do not fear, in the face of surly I respond with unsympathetic momness that insists on checking out SOMETHING from the public library each week. 

Now I'm gonna go collapse face first into my bed before I have to start thinking about what in the world we're having for dinner. 

A Mini Examen


I bought Molly a super cute jean jacket. Tonight I asked her where it was. She doesn't know. We have determined she left it at school the very first day she wore it, which was probably like a month ago. I bet it's gone for good. This is the second jacket she's lost in a matter of weeks. I JUST. 

Jack is still walking around like his arm might fall off and it's making me insane. 

Emma has been SO tired and whiny and awful and maybe it's the heat? But also maybe it's Four and have I forgotten all the random bouts of unpleasantness with the other two? Did I never think Emma might be moody or temperamental or maddening? 

I started losing weight, which was great, but the last month or so has been a standstill because Life and Tired and Meh. I had a goal in mind for when we visit Phillip's brother in Cincinnati and I don't know if I'm going to reach it. 

Our school boundary situation remains unsatisfactory, to say the least, and now a group of parents from lots of schools are gathering on their own to talk boundaries and what to do tomorrow night. Half of me REALLY WANTS TO GO, even though I have to drag the kids along (Phillip is still out of town), because I just want to stay in the know. And then half of me wants to have dinner at a friend's house and let the kids go wild on the trampoline and have actual fun, because now that lots of parents from lots of schools are getting het up about their boundaries, more reason for the school district to look at ours and go, "Oh, we can't change it because of the domino effect." Seattle Public Schools has made me a cynic and I'm mad at them for it. 

SOMEONE in my neighborhood smokes pot outside and stinks up my backyard nearly every night.

I have bug bites.

I am REALLY annoyed about that jean jacket. 

I hate how I can have a great day with the kids, but then homework/dinnertime/bedtime/clean up/teeth/no REALLY we need to CLEAN UP can undo so much of what was good. 



Oh you guys. I HAVE consolations, I was getting ready to write them out, but as soon as I finished typing CONSOLATIONS, Jack tip toed upstairs and gave me this card: 


I RILLY don't like it when I'm like this EITHER. I'll keep trying to be better, kiddo. 

Do you have a Thing? Here's ours:

So! you have been saying to yourself, How are the Cheungs doing?! 

WELL. This weekend it was decided that Emma will not be entering kindergarten this fall and will do what we're going to call her Super Senior Year of preschool. (Pre-K. Fives Program. Whatever.) This is alternately No Big Thang and OMG I Need To Go To Therapy, so we're just going to avoid the topic for now, ok?

Molly plastered herself with temporary tattoos at a friend's house recently, and has been going about in public with a seriously giant black and gold tattoo necklace on her chest because I couldn't scrub it off. (Someone recommended nail polish remover? But that seems... toxic?) 

Jack bit it on his bike the other night - when we had a babysitter, oops - and due to the resulting road rash on his arm, has been walking around like Bob Dole. It's a big scrape for sure, and it looks pretty terrible, but I am not exaggerating his wounded war vet posture and am considering getting him a pen to hold. It doesn't seem to slow him down when the kids play Just Dance, though. I'm just saying. 

Phillip is in SAN DIEGO where he is a customer at a customer conference and the morning he left he said, "So, is it okay that I'm kind of really looking forward to going away for a bit?" 

As for ME, I am a bit of wreck. A highly functioning wreck. Between the kindergarten thing and the sudden mass of Important Things I Have To Get Done The Week Phillip Is Out Of Town and the thing I'm about to tell you next, I shall require my own week away. 

Okay, so the THING is... how a scarcity economy plays out in marriage. [SNORE] (But wait!) 

Basically, Phillip has a limited amount of social, emotional, and physical energy. Say he has 100 units. A large number of those units go toward work and what he has leftover goes toward, you know, barking at the kids to practice piano, grilling hamburgers for dinner, fixing the toilet that won't stop running, talking to the friends his wife keeps inviting for dinner, whatever. He GAINS units by, say, binge-watching Silicon Valley episodes, preferably with his wife next to him, preferably without her asking questions about compression algorithms. 

And then there is me. I have a limited amount of energy as well, but I have, say, 1000 units. And I THINK I have 2000. It is a rare opportunity or idea or offer to which I say, "I do not have time for you." Not because I'm one of those people who always has to help someone out or volunteer or SERVE. No saintliness for me, this is all about Fun Stuff I Wanna Do. Let's start a baking business! AND write a blog! AND commit to the kids doing this and that! AND volunteer for this thing at church! AND invite friends over to eat all the time, even though there are few things I hate more than making food! AND devote major major time and effort to ANOTHER church thing that requires one night away each week! Oh, what about spending more time getting to know this group of people? THAT WILL BE AWESOME!

(All that is in addition, of course, to my Regular Job, that being the caretaker of everyone and everything in our household.)

Oh, and I suppose I gain units by... doing cool stuff? Meaningful Conversations with friends? Actual sleep?

So what you have here is a husband who is completely exhausted and a wife who feels trapped. 


I mean, this is not new news. We are well aware of what makes us tick, we know our Enneagram types! But it's really in my face right now. (And his, I guess. This having to take another person into account does not, surprisingly, get easier the longer you are married. LAME.) 

Here is where I would unpack this idea a bit more, throw in a few examples, and end with something revelation-like. Maybe not an answer, but a new idea, something to chew on, something possibly helpful to think about. 

But I got nothing. This is The Thing. Do you have a thing? Most of my married friends seem to have a Thing. A trust issue, a family of origin thing about money, a perfectionist personality matched to a just wanna have fun personality. The thing you always butt heads on. It manifests in all different ways, but this is ours. I want to see as much as I possibly can in London, Phillip wants to nap on a beach. Phillip wants to have a lazy playful morning with the kids on Saturdays, I want to Get Stuff Done. I want to have a huge Christmas party, Phillip... goes along with it. I want to start something new, Phillip sees all the things I'm already doing. I think I can handle something, Phillip doesn't see how I can possibly have the capacity to handle this additional thing. 

If you have this one figured out, be sure to let me know. In the meantime I'll just be over here scream shouting "I ALWAYS HAVE THE CAPACITY, PHILLIP CHEUNG!"

Anyway. Phillip is ordering room service in San Diego and I am going to church meetings and a school boundary meeting and taking Jack to the orthodontist and packaging cookies and arranging deliveries and making friend dates and babysitting nephews and packing lunches and braiding hair. It's okay. I'm going to visit @lizritz in Chicago in August, did I tell you that? For nearly a week, so I have no complaints about Phillip having to go on a WORK trip with a hotel room on the water and room service, especially when it means I don't have to make a real dinner all week. FISH STICKS FOR EVERYONE.