Friday, April 29, 2011

This Moment

{this moment} – A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama.
A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Great School Drama of 2011...

Well I guess it isn't really drama anywhere but inside my own head. But damn, it is quite dramatic inside there!

So I went to tour the private Montessori elementary school today that I talked about in another post. And man...I kinda fell in love. What a fabulous school, and what a fabulous environment for my child to learn. But as much as this seems like it should be a slam dunk, it just...isn't.

The biggest hurdle, by FAR, is the finances. I knew this school was a private school and their tuition rates are listed on their website, so it isn't a shock. But coming home and actually crunching those numbers? Ouch. It boils down to the fact that it will cost a little over twice as much as I am paying right now for my son's school. That hurts. A lot. It hurts so much that it just really might not be possible. And that makes me want to cry right now. I need to have a serious talk with The Ex this weekend and see if we can make this happen. And for the record, she was there for the tour this morning, loves the school as much as I do, and wants to do everything possible to make it happen. But even with all that, it just might not be enough; dollars and sense wise.

The other things that I am thinking about really don't even compare to the price problem. I have some preconceived notions of schooling based on my upbringing, and a family rich in public school teachers. It seems odd for me to not ever get a "report card." It seems strange that my son would never have a real "test." And yet if I step outside my box: how liberating! An education based on actual learning as opposed to where one falls on their "testing" schedules. (I need to talk about this more later...)

The only other small "concern" is the transition from elementary to junior high. Leaving a Montessori elementary and transitioning into a "standard" junior high might be pretty tough. And we all know junior high is a tough time for kids anyway. It would be my hope that there is plenty of preparation for the child prior to that actually happening, and lots of parental interaction to help make the transition as smooth as possible. Not to mention that I think, no matter where you are, no matter what type of schooling you have gone through, the transition from elementary school to junior high is tough either way. So the question becomes, if I am concerned about the "transition," then is the answer to force that transition NOW? At age 5? As opposed to 5 or 6 years from now? I personally don't think so...

There are so many things that I think are great about this philosophy of education and I wish I had an hour to compose a fabulous post on all of them, but alas I have a client to get to. But I wanted to put a quick post up for those following to say that I loved, loved, loved the school. Loved it. But now comes the tough decisions. Can I really make this work? Is this the best decision for my son? That part isn't quite as clear yet.

If anyone has had experience with Montessori elementary schooling and/or the transition to junior high after, please either comment here or send me an email. I would love to get your input. And hopefully I will get more time to put together a more cohesive post on this later...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Picture Time!

Here are a few pics of The Girl's birthday...

This is the morning of her birthday. She was SO excited to wear her "Birthday Girl" shirt to school...
I picked her up after a half day (and after she was able to celebrate her birthday with her school friends) and the two of us went to lunch with my mom. Then after her nap, she put on her 2nd birthday outfit (I correctly guessed that the school one would be thrashed by the time she got home...) and had a glass of milk before her festivities began...
Here is her "loot" for the evening...
She loved all of her gifts, but two of them have been the obvious faves. For those of you who have a birthday gift to plan for the future, this is a GREAT gift for around a 2 year old. She LOVES this. Has played with it for hours since opening it...
And this is the other favorite. This is the one that I ordered online and then realized that the store was right around the corner from my house...either way, I'm glad I got it because she loves it. And again, for those wondering, I found these by searching for "waffle blocks."
And of course, there were cupcakes...chocolate ones at that!
I'd say overall she gives her birthday a big thumbs up. Incidentally, she seems to think that since her birthday, everyday there should be presents wrapped up and waiting for her when she gets home from school in the evening. And she is quite bummed when she finds that not to be the case...
And not to be left out...and just because I find him so incredibly is The Boy's spring picture from his school...
Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Happy Birthday to Peanut!!

My baby is two. Today. This time two years ago…

I had been on bed rest since 27 weeks (SUCKED!), I had been in and out of the hospital trying to keep my baby girl cooking for as long as possible (we made it to almost 38 weeks). I had had countless NST’s, serious contractions, and was generally miserable making it up to this day two years ago. And then, finally, I checked into the hospital for a scheduled c-section. For the first time in several months, everything went smoothly and she entered the world and MY world has not been the same since. I said the day she was born that she completed our family. And she did. I honestly cannot imagine life without her.

And now today? There is no part “baby” anymore. She wants to dress herself…climb in and out of her car seat herself…she would probably like to make her own dinner if I would let her. And the way that she speaks still continues to amaze me on a daily basis. There is nothing she can’t say and there is also never a time when she isn’t saying anything at all. According to my mother, this is the universe giving me the ultimate payback. Apparently as a kid, I never shut up. My daughter is the same way. If she doesn’t have anything particularly interesting to say, she sings. If that doesn’t work she will just start saying her ABC’s, or counting…but if she is awake, at all times she is speaking. Even when she is “sitting quietly” reading books, she is narrating what she thinks the story is saying, for instance, every time she turns the page she says, “…and the NEXT morning…” Classic.

Some of her favorite things right now: Foods? Any and all fruit. Smart dogs. Salmon (I know, right?). Cheese and crackers. “Popcorn” (Pirates Booty). Dry cereal. Chicken breasts (but not “nuggets,” neither of my kids like those; not sure why…) But fortunately she is still at the stage where she will try literally anything and 90% of the time she eats only what we are eating for dinner. She is a GREAT eater. I thank my lucky stars for that every day. She still LOVES her milk. She drinks a full 8 ounce cup of milk twice a day. Once in the morning right after she gets up (while watching TV in my bed), and once after she wakes up from her nap. She drinks them quickly and then moves on. My family laughs at how fast she can take down an 8 ounce glass of milk. She still sleeps with her beloved "Kitty" (her lovey blanket) and her Binky. Binky stays in the bed, and just recently she hasn't been using it that much so I think it might be on the way out...

Favorite TV show is easily Cat in the Hat. No question. She likes others, but this one is her fave. And just recently she has decided that she LOVES the movie Toy Story 3. She thinks ALL movies should be Toy Story 3. She also thinks she should be able to watch it multiple times a day (I don't let her—it’s a weekend only kind of thing). Here she is surrounded by her Toy Story toys while watching the movie...

In terms of favorite toys…pretty much whatever her brother is playing with. That, and only that, is what she wants. And she takes whatever he is playing with from him and then runs away laughing hysterically. He doesn’t find it quite as funny. Other faves this past year have been puzzles, her stroller, her babies, her stacking blocks and (I hesitate to admit this…) her iPod touch. She calls it her “game,” and she totally knows how to use it, navigate through it and all of her “apps,” and of course, put on Toy Story 3. But perhaps the one thing she goes to more than anything are her books. She LOVES to read. She will take it any way she can get it. If you let her sit on your lap and read to her? Perfect. If not, she will happily go and get her books, stack about 5 in front of her, and cop a squat and just sit there and read to herself. She adores books. She pretty much has to have one with her whenever we leave the house.

She has had 3 haircuts, and normally wears her hair in a little top pony tail with the back hanging free. I have kept the length at her shoulders because it is easy to manage and because, at that length, the curls come out. And I love me some of her curls. I still couldn’t tell you what color her eyes are. I guess you would have to categorize them as “hazel.” Sometimes they look gray, sometimes they look green or blue, and sometimes they have a brownish tint. They are darker, but they change so much that I honestly have no clue. As of today she wears a size 2T in tops, a size 18-24 months in pants (she will most likely be a shorty like her Mommy), and a size 6 shoe. Speaking of clothes, she loves to get dressed up and will ask almost everyday if it is a day to “wear party shoes.” That always equals a good day. I have no idea how much she weighs and how tall she is (I will update once I take her to her 2 year well-baby appt on the 5th of May), but I think she recently went through a growth spurt because she just seems to BIG all of a sudden. Here she is on a walk this past weekend...doesn't she just look HUGE all of a sudden? No? It's just me? Well...I think she has gotten HUGE. :)

In terms of personality, she is…well…SO different from her brother. She is sweet and funny and happy. She is confident and tough and fearless. She is loud and vocal and bossy and…oh dear lord the tantrums… When life is going her way, she is the cutest and most precious thing you have ever come across in your entire life. When things aren’t going her way? Well…let’s just say that I sometimes dream of a boarding school far, far away… I think the teenage years are going to SUCK. But right now? A few minutes of ugliness and then she is back to all smiles. But most of all she makes me laugh. Every single day she makes me laugh. And she is SO loving. She loves to give hugs and kisses. In fact every single morning, the first thing she does (while her diaper is being changed) is yell to her brother, “Brother! Come say hi to me! Brother, come say good morning to me!” (Did I mention bossy?) She won’t leave him, or me for that matter, at daycare without at least one hug and kiss. Most the time it takes two or three before we get out the door. She will spontaneously come up to you during the day and say, “gimme a hug,” and grab onto you. She is very affectionate. And as referenced above, she never, ever calls her brother by his name. He is brother and only brother. She knows his name, in fact one of her favorite games right now is to say our names. "Brother name is…" "Mommy name is…" "Gigi name is…" (this is one of her favorites because she knows that Gigi’s name is also her middle name so that always gets a laugh). She can say her entire name perfectly. She can count to 20. She knows all her letters and numbers. She is smart as a whip. Kills me.

I could go on and on, but then I would spend all day long writing this entry and I need to go spend some time squeezing her and saying, “I can’t believe you are two…” all day long.

My dear Peanut: I love you more than words can ever express. When you were really little I used to say you were my ray of sunshine. You are my sunshine. You make my world happy. Your brother and I are so happy to have you as our family. Happy Birthday sweet girl. I love you.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What an A**hole

My daughter's 2nd birthday is coming up. It's Wednesday of next week. I have very few things to give her. She needs nothing, and really, she's not counting. But either way, I noticed that she really liked these little block-like things at her school. So I went about finding some online for her. I searched, "criss-cross blocks," and finally worked my way to them with "waffle blocks."

Right around the time that I was buying whatever random ones I found (not the ones above, I just used that as a reference), I remembered that for The Boy's birthday someone had given me a $15 gift card to a learning store. So I went to my purse, grabbed the card and looked up their website. It took a bit of searching, but I found the ones I was looking for. They were like $10 more than the previous website I was going to buy them from, but then I had the gift card, and I convinced myself that they came in a nicer storage bin. So I went through the online checkout to buy them and realized that shipping was like $9.95 or something crazy and now the price was $5 MORE to buy from that particular place, even with the gift card. Damnit. But by now I have been working on these ridiculous blocks for over a half an hour and I have better things to do, so I click "buy." And I am over it. They arrived today. They are fabulous and lovely.

So tonight I am heading over to a friends house for dinner (look at me!! Leaving the house!!!), and I am about 5 minutes away from my house sitting at a red light. I glance over to the right, and literally 20 feet away from my car was the store that I just bought her waffle blocks from. Only I bought them ONLINE. And paid $9.95 shipping. When the store itself is literally 5 minutes away from my house. What an asshole.

I thought about the fact that it must be local when she gave me the gift certificate, but I knew I hadn't seen it around my part of town (or at least where I drive), so I figured it was a "local" business but probably at least 20 minutes away from where I live. And I'm lazy.

But not that lazy. I can't believe the freaking store is 5 minutes from my house. I am going to go there tomorrow and see if I can find The Girl another birthday gift. What an asshole.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lighten the Load

I have been doing these big, heavy posts lately, so here is a happy little short story for you.

The other day in the car The Boy was rambling on in the back seat about some lizard (as he does quite often...) when I heard him mention what I thought was Jesus Christ. That doesn't usually come up in his lizard I said, "What did you just say?"

"The basilisk lizard Mommy...dat one is also known as the Jesus price lizard." (It took me three google tries to figure out how the hell to spell "basilisk").

Me: "Honey, do you mean Jesus Christ lizard?"

"No Mommy. Jesus PRICE lizard. Dat is what he is sometimes called."

"Why is he called that?"

"Because he walks on water. I guess da price guy does dat sometimes too."


Clearly I need to step up my religious education for my child...

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Saga Continues

It is not news on my blog that I am struggling with where to send my son to kindergarten in the fall. I briefly posted last week that his lottery number for our "dream school" pretty much guaranteed that he will NOT be going to that school. I also received a letter from the school district (I applied for an inter-district transfer to a different school; one where he had speech therapy ages ago and really enjoyed...) that the school I was hoping to get him into was at capacity and they would be doing a lottery for a remaining spots. So not much hope there either. So it appeared that the only answer was to send him to neighborhood school for kindergarten and hope that, "We LOVE it! We were so WRONG about this school! I love being proved wrong; I am so thrilled he is going here..."

And for my commenters out there, I should mention that I am in no way tainted about this school based solely on test scores and the fact that over half the kids don't speak English. I agree that having a bilingual school is not at all a bad thing, and I also know that when a good portion of the kids don't come from English speaking backgrounds, that test scores are not necessarily indicative of whether the teachers are good or bad, or whether the kids are smart or not. But without getting into the murky waters of "saying too much on the internet when people could potentially figure out who and what you're talking about..." I will say that I have a few people in my life in the education field and some close enough to have some pretty good "insider information" about our neighborhood school and while nothing horrific is going on at all, it has been politely suggested to me that perhaps there might be a more suitable place for my child. Enough said about that, but I wanted it on the record that I am not keeping my son away from his neighborhood school simply based on race and test scores.

Long time readers of my blog know that my son has some unique challenges. He had some health issues long ago and still struggles to keep weight on his tiny frame, and he lost about a year of growing. So you combine that with a Mommy who is 5' 3" on a good day, and a donor Daddy who claims to be 5' 8", but is really lucky if he hits 5' 6"...and well we have quite a little boy on our hands. He is also still in speech therapy, has severe muscle tone issues**, and by personality is a "highly sensitive child." So he is unique and his needs are unique. My biggest fear about him starting school (aside from the normal "he won't fit in..." etc) is that he gets overwhelmed and goes from being a boy who LOVES learning to a kid who hates school. I think all of us parents fear that on some level. If a child really enjoys the learning process and school itself, it makes for a much more successful school career.

On both of my recent parent/teacher conferences his teacher has expressed to me that she thinks he really thrives in the Montessori environment (he has been in a Montessori daycare/preschool since he was 2 at the recommendation of his therapists at the time. And they were right--it's a great fit for him). She has asked me on several occasions if there is any chance to get him into the public Montessori elementary school in town. Even though this school is "in town," it is in an entirely different district than we are, and to get an out-of-district transfer is really difficult. I looked into it, but unless there are extenuating circumstances, it doesn't happen. So I looked online at some of the private Montessori elementary schools and realized pretty quickly that A) they are super expensive, and B) most of them don't go all the way up until middle school. So that means he would have to transfer to a new school in 3rd or 4th grade, and I am not sure that would be a decent transition for him (see above highly sensitive child). So, in all of this school drama, I sort of gave up and moved on. Plus I found "dream school" and secretly tried to convince myself that he would be lottery number 1!! And how lucky we would be!! And also made myself stop thinking about these super difficult decisions until it was apparent that some decisions really DID need to be made (no entry to "dream school," and no inter-district transfer). So now that we appear to be at that crucial MUST MAKE DECISIONS time, I have been a bit panicked and bummed.

This weekend I was doing my weekly grocery shopping at Joe.'s and ran into a woman who used to work at his old daycare (the one The Girl is at now). She was so lovely, and we LOVED her when she worked there. The Boy adored her and her son was The Boy's very first BFF. It was wonderful to see her and catch up (although The Boy was with The Ex so she didn't get to see him, which she was bummed about), and at the end of our conversation I asked her where she was working now. She said, "Oh, I'm at this GREAT school...xx elementary school." I said, "Is it Montessori?" (She had left his daycare to go back to school to be certified in Montessori) and she told me yes. It was a private Montessori elementary school, and she couldn't believe I hadn't heard of it. I told her a little bit about my struggles to find the perfect school for The Boy and she told me she thought this would be a great fit. She begged me to at least check it out. She said that admission for kindergarten was probably closed by now, but that I should seriously consider it for 1st grade if I wasn't happy with neighborhood school because this school would be wonderful for him. Plus, even though it was a private school, it was moderately priced and also went up through 6th grade.

So I, of course, ran home and looked up the school online and it looked fabulous. It had "primary care," which is kids ages 3-6 working together, and then "lower elementary" (kids ages 6-9), and then "upper elementary," (kids 9-12). One of the things I love about Montessori is the kids at different age levels working together. This has worked out GREAT for The Boy thus far because, like I said, he tends to be on the smaller side. And working in a classroom with kids of all sizes and ages allows him to not ever have to be the "small one." Plus, for him, he really excels in all things science and nature and really functions at a level much "older" than he is. But in language and math is probably just about at a normal 5 year old level. Being with kids older and younger than you allows you to excel in certain areas while making sure to not fall behind on the areas where a little extra work is needed. Plus, his muscle tone issues make it difficult for him to sit at a desk for long periods of time (not that I think kindergartners are being forced to sit in a desk all day long...), and the Montessori method of going from "job" to "job" really works for him. ***

So while I was excited at my find, I also found the portion of the website that discussed enrollment for the 2011-12 school year, and we had indeed missed all of the cutoffs. Not surprising, but a bummer nonetheless. But I liked what I read enough to decide that I would contact the school directly and see if there was any chance to still apply to get him into kindergarten, and if not, inquire about what the process would be to get him in for 1st grade. So I emailed the school today and explained our situation and someone called me back not 4 hours later saying that there still was room for kindergarten this year. Apparently they have room in their "primary care," but once you get to "lower elementary" there are significant waiting lists. So this was a lucky break. I scheduled a tour of the school for Wednesday the 27th of April. And I am super excited to see it, and hopeful...

But there is a down side (isn't there always?). The reason they have room at this school is because it is a private school. As in...costs a lot of money for the privilege to go to this school. And I am honestly not sure if that is something I can swing. According to the website, the tuition for a year is not much more than what I am paying now in daycare, so it wouldn't be that much different. But I had really been hoping to be able to "exhale" a little in terms of finances come August. It is do-able, just not what I would have liked. But The Ex and I had been talking a lot about this possibility once we learned "dream school" (charter so therefore free...) was off the table. We both agreed that we would give neighborhood school a shot for kindergarten but that we would explore private school possibilities for the upcoming years. So this wasn't completely off the table, we just obviously would have preferred a public (and therefore "free") school career so that we could save more for college.

So just when I thought it was a done deal that he would be attending the neighborhood school this fall, this other option dropped into my lap. I haven't seen this woman that I ran into this weekend in 3 years. What are the chances that we would run into each other in a parking lot, and that she would be working in a school that is a perfect fit for my son...AND that school would still have kindergarten openings in mid-April? When I told my mom about it, she said, "I think that might have been fate. Perhaps this is where he is supposed to be." I think she might be right. But we will have to see. Of course, I'll keep you all posted... :)

**I owe you all an update post on The Boy's OT and how it is going. Short answer: GREAT!!

***Everyone has different beliefs and just because I strongly believe in the Montessori curriculum doesn't mean you have to. And if you think that Montessori is a bunch of crap and you would NEVER send your kid there, more power to you. That is your decision to make. I could write an entire 10 page post on how Montessori works for my son, but that is my story and is not relative to this post. I am not putting down public schools, or any other type of academic learning. As parents, we learn what works best for our kids and this particular process works great for mine. Hopefully if you are a parent, you will find a situation that works equally as well for your child.

Friday, April 8, 2011

This Moment--FRECKLES!!

{this moment} – A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama.
A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Quickly, I Swear...

I don't want to mope, I really don' I am going to do a super short post on this and then move back on to the positive things...

The Boy had his lottery yesterday for the kindergarten that I REALLY wanted him to get into...and I found out the results today.

They are offering 54 spots. We are number 174. 224 people applied.


So it appears he will be going to his neighborhood school for kindergarten (horrific scores and over 50% of the kids don't speak English), but we will see...PROVE ME WRONG, I tell you...prove me wrong. Make me LOVE you neighborhood school! Please...?!?! Because if that doesn't work...then I...well I have some really shitty decisions to make.


Okay, carry on with your evening. I will resume my "positive" self tomorrow. Tonight I am going to have some wine and be bummed.

Friday, April 1, 2011

This Moment

{this moment} – A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama.
A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.