Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Preschool woes

I've never been one of those moms who want to hold onto the "baby" in their child. In fact, I think it may be against all Mom rules to say this, but. . . .

I don't really like the baby stage.

It's too clingy and demanding. There is just too much that has to be done for and with a baby. Peanut, at 15 months old, is just now coming into the stage that I like. Yes, she (and Bjorn) are whiny and demanding and tantrum-throwing, but they also can do some things for themselves.

Bjorn can get his own snacks and drinks. He can go to the bathroom by himself, pick out his own clothes, and remember to put them in the hamper when dirty. That's something most 30 year old men haven't figured out. My 3 year old is ahead of the curve.

But I really enjoy watching both of them grow up, and all the new and exciting things that come with each stage. I rarely feel sad or nostalgic when looking at baby clothes or old pictures; I get excited thinking about all the things we can now do together.

So I'm surprised that I'm in such a quandary about preschool.

For a variety of reasons, right now we are sending the boy (and Peanut) to daycare, not preschool, when I work. Since I only work three days a week, and not the same three each week, this gives us the flexibility to choose when he goes to daycare and when he stays home with me.

But he is not getting any education from his daycare.

He has friends there, and he is learning the "social education" that is so important (so I'm told) for children this age. But he has always been good at socializing; he shares, plays and makes friends with every child he sees, everywhere. Seriously. He sees a little boy or girl across the store and the next thing you know he is shouting "Hey, friend - do you want to play with me?!"

I think he's socialized.

Now I would like to get him more formally educated, with letters and numbers and songs and activities. I want to go to a Christmas program where he sings "Jingle Bells" and bangs on the triangle. I want to have notebooks sent home with drawings of his hands like a turkey and a Christmas tree and a heart.

There is just one little problem.

I don't want him to go.

I mean, I do. I do want him to go. When I'm working. I want him to go three days a week, when I am working and he needs to be watched by someone, so it might as well be a fun, school environment.

But I want him home with me the other times. I want to take him to the zoo and the space museum and the park and the store and the gym. I want to watch movies and play cars and yell at him for being constantly at my feet when I am trying to get stuff done.  I want him to play with his sister and his dog and his cars at his house. Because he has the next 13 years of his life in school, plus 5 years of college, if not more. He has the rest of his life to learn and go to school, and I only have this time to spend as much time as I can with him.

But I also want him to learn and have fun with his friends. I want him to love school, like I did, and love seeing his friends and his teachers. I don't want to slow him down developmentally just because I, selfishly, want these last two years before he is required, by law, to go to school.

So that is my quandary. My problem. Do I send Bjorn to a preschool that he would, most likely, love but lose that last little bit of time with him? Because of my work schedule, I would have to pay for full time preschool, but I could use it as part time, only sending him when I am actually at work. Would that be too awkward a change for him? Would he then be behind in preschool because he is not there everyday; would skipping the days for learning "m", "r" and "y" put him behind?

I need help from moms who have been here. Moms who put their children in preschool. Moms who want their alone time, but also want their time with their kiddos. Moms who work. Moms.

Any thoughts?!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Little Laundry

Sometimes it all seems too much. This parenting thing, I mean.

When one kid grabs you around the knees, and the other around the ankles and begs you for snacks or juice or TV or milk or just not to go to work, it just seems like too much. Too much guilt and nagging and saying no. Too much serving drinks in sippy cups with lids the shape of hippos or lions. Too much talk about potty breaks, and diaper changes and "do you have to go to the bathroom now?".

When you are serving breakfast and one kid is screaming "I wanted oatmeal!" even though you distinctly heard him say five minutes ago that he wanted eggs. And the other one starts screaming merely because she likes the sound of her voice and thinks it sounds good in a chorus. The dog jumps up on the counter to steal the other half of the banana and you slip chasing after her as she runs out the doggy door.

It all seems too much.

Too much keeping track of who goes where and what day are swim lessons and baseball practice and did we remember to pay for daycare this week? Too much shoes that need to be replaced and pants that are too small and shirts he won't wear because they don't have Scooby-doo or Batman on them. Too much not eating enough meals and milk that has to be chocolate and will she turn into a strawberry if she keeps eating that many?

And they are only 3 and 1.

But some days it feels they are everywhere, all at once - I turn from making dinner and I trip over her at my feet. They ask me what is that for, and how do I do that, and why does this happen and where did that go and I don't have all the answers - I don't even know if I have any of them - but I pretend and I talk and they talk back and the questioning, the pursuit of knowledge and answers never ends.

I go into the bathroom and before I have even turned around, there are four little feet pattering up to me and four little hands grabbing me and wanting, needing. Reaching for me to pick them up, put them down, carry them to bed, tickle them upside-down, put batteries in this toy, take apart that toy. More more more more more.

Sometimes it just seems all so overwhelming and so much.

Then I do laundry. I pair miniature socks, smaller than my hands, some with skulls for a little tough guy who likes pirates and wants desperately to be a ghost for Halloween and some with pink butterflies, because no matter how much a parent dislikes pink, it's the only color little girls socks come in. Little shirts get hung on hangers, little pants folded and tucked neatly into drawers so little hands can mess them up later.

All these little clothes, these real life doll clothes, remind me that even when it all seems so much, they are still so little. So little to fit into these little shirts and dresses and sweaters. So little, and so new - even at 3, he is so new and so fresh and so wondering and inexperienced at life - and they are just here right now to learn and love and play and be.

So when it all seems like to much, I want to remember these little clothes. That anyone that can fit into these little clothes can't be too much. Nah. They are just right.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The fabulous world of Online Shopping

My name is Mommy and I am addicted to online shopping. Facebook, Ebay, Living Social. You name it, I follow it. I am 100% completely and totally A-One-Addicted.

And I'm not apologizing for it.

Last  year for our 5 year anniversary, the Hubs and I couldn't decide how to celebrate. Until, that is, a deal popped up on Living Social for a hot air balloon ride for 50% off. $185 and one week later, and we were off on our adventure through the clear blue skies of Arizona.

It's not always a bad thing to be addicted to online shopping.

Over the years I have gotten some pretty awesome deals, from car seats and vacations to shoes and electronics.

The problem is when we begin buying things we don't "need". I put this in quotes, because in absolutely no economic pie chart in any place EVER is there a spot for "anniversary hot air balloon ride" under the "need" category. "Needs" are food, water, love and shelter. The rest is just gravy.

Except that it's really not anymore.

I know that I don't need that perfect pair of boots to go with my perfect skinny jeans, and that's why I'm not spending the $350 to purchase them. But I do need footwear to function in today's society (no shirt, no shoes, no service!!), and while I have no desire to keep up with the Joneses, I do like to feel cute in a Moms-in-a-rush kind of way, so the $45 boots I bought are, well, kinda a need. Really.

According to a recent Nielsen report, Moms, on average, are 35% more likely to shop for clothing online. Any mom can believe that, or even think the number might even be a lot higher. Whether you have a screaming three year old, a teething one year old or a bored ten year old, no Mom wants to drag their child along. Whenever I bring Bjorn and Peanut with me anywhere, I always spend a lot more than planned; I can't even function, things just start getting thrown in the cart.

But I am a little obsessed, and it's starting to show in my budget. $5 here and there doesn't sound like anything big. . . until you add that up over a month. $5 a day on miscellaneous cheap - and adorable - kids shirts and pants can add up to $150 at the end of the month! And that is definitely not in the budget.

So lately have begun to second guess my penny spending, and be very aware of what I am buying and why. Did I spend three weeks hunting for those perfect toddler cowboy boots because I really want them, or because I think I am supposed to want them?  Why exactly does my 1 year old daughter need to be dressed in quasi-designer clothes when I can't even muster up the energy to fix her hair? We all need clothes, but do we really need clothes?!

It came to me in an epiphany last week at work on the airplane.

A mom came on the plane, in the perfect skinny jeans and perfect boots (that I have been searching for everywhere). From her thick, straight hair to her dangle earrings and flawlessly applied makeup, she looked stunning. Her three year old son was also perfectly dressed - designer shirt, shoes that cost more than my last haircut, with his hair gelled and moussed. They both could have stepped off the pages of a fashion magazine.

And his finger was stuck up his nose the entire flight.

No matter how much we dress our kids in expensive designer clothes, they are still going to poop their pants and be enthralled with boogers. Still.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Peanut Update

It's amazing how quickly I have forgotten how quickly they grow.

Sometimes it seems that she will never be able to walk by herself and - BOOM!! - here she is running. And jumping. Climbing (on couches, over rocks).

I think that I will never again eat a hot meal, because I will always be spooning some mush or another into her mouth and - BOOM!! - now she is eating with a fork.

It is absolutely amazing to me that 15 months ago she wasn't even born yet. We didn't know if Peanut was a boy or a girl. We didn't know that she would be a music lover down to her soul and would stop (hammertime! in the name of love!) to dance and shake every time she heard a beat. We had no idea that a girl - a little, tiny speck of a girl - could scream so loudly and so shrilly, and all in fun.

15 months ago she wasn't even born, and now she can talk. "Woooooooowwww" was her first word, a breathless, awe-struck word uttered months ago every time we showed her something from her peanut butter sandwich lunch to the moon and stars outside at night. Since then she hasn't stopped talking, from Mama to Dada. Hansa to Nannun (Landon).

She's also a perfect mimic. When we ask where the dog is, she pants, just like our old, tired dog. Ask what a monkey says and the "Ooh ooh, aah ahh" sounds she makes are more convincing almost than the real thing. And her fire truck screeches? Right on cue.

The little Peanut understands so much. She knows when Bjorn is missing, and grunts and whines until I tell her where he is. Then she goes directly there, whether it is in the bathroom or in his room. She knows to head to the tub when I tell her it's time for a bath, and she knows to plop right in front of the TV when Elmo is singing on Sesame Street.

She will grab her shoes - always two of the same kind, never a mismatch - bring them to me and sit on the floor. If I take too long to put them on, she attempts to do it herself, often managing one or two toes in her little Crocs before deciding that that is good enough and toddling off with shoes half off. Then she usually bangs on the back door - a signal to us that she wants to go in her "castle" outside.

Where she will spend 15 minutes trying to climb the wrong way up the slide and the next thirty opening and closing the playground door.

Oh, the easy, carefree joys of being 1.