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We started reading Roald Dahl's Danny the Champion of the World to both kids last night. After the success of reading The Hobbit over Xmas break, I want to do more reading to both of them at the same time, and we read Danny to Casper when she was 4 and she loved it. (Books that can engage both a 4 and a 7 year old are tricky; in a year or 2 it will be easier. Dillo did a lot of running around and playing during the Hobbit which he really liked, and was pretty bored by Wind in the Willows). Both kids love Danny this go around and beg for more, but Casper doesn't really remember it at all, although she loved it at 4! Very interesting. I've thought for a long time that things I love from my young childhood I remember well mostly because I got a second (and in some cases 3rd) dose of them with my siblings.

I have emailed the Girl Scout troop leaders telling them I'm not going to lead again next year. Now I just need to make it to May 17 without screaming at anyone.
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I last had shingles starting Feb. 4, 2009.  Don't you think it's unfair that I can't go 2 years and 3 months without getting shingles again? It's exactly the same as last time, in the pre-rash phase.  Give me a break, world?

(mr. flea noted, in front of the children, that shingles is caused by stress.  Casper told me I should work on being less stressed out.  I refrained from saying, "Pot-kettle" to her, because she is only 7. Also, I think I have every right to be stressed; as, indeed, I did last time I had shingles.)

(Also also, I am definitely not leading this Girl Scout troop next year.)
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I had a hard time at last night's Girl Scout meeting - the kids ran amok a bit, and I need to work out a way to not have that happen.  It's still astonishing to me how 10 2nd and 3rd grade girls can be so wild, when there are 2 adults in charge!  I definitely need to work on my group management skills.  There's one girl in particular who is extremely distractable and creates wildness in others (including, especially, In Casper) and in general the fact that 7 of the girls are in the same grade at the same school and are mostly good friends exacerbates things.  This meeting required us to be outdoors for part (planting seeds) and in the gym at the church for part (setting up tents).  It's much easier to manage them physically and socially when we are seated around a table, which works for some activities.  I just need to figure out how to work with them when we can't do that. Thank god we only have a troop of 10.  But I am a bit worried about our upcoming activities prior to our camp-out.

Census meme:
March 1981 I am living in two houses, both in the same town in rural Maine, since my parents separated about 9 months ago. One house is our former family house, currently inhabited by my father, a big 1930s four-square style house with lovely woodwork and a big yard, that was going to be my parents' back-to-the-land homestead.  My mother's house is rented, a less fancy Cape, and we only have 2 bedrooms so my 2 siblings and I share a 3-story bunkbed.  I am 8, and my siblings are 5 and 2.  Since it's March in Maine, there's probably snow on the ground. (I am honestly not positive which year my parents separated; it may not have been until late spring 1981, in which case we're all still living together in the fancy house.  One thing I am certain of is I hated my 3rd grade teacher.)

March 1991 I am in my freshman year of college, by this point living by myself in a "maid's quarters" room in a wing of my dorm that is about 8x10 feet.  The dorm is elaborate Victorian-stone architecture, and I love my tiny room.  I moved out of my quad after the woman with whom I shared a room spent every evening sitting on her bed watching me, which freaked me right out.  I'm in suburban Philadelphia, but probably the campus cherry trees are not yet in bloom.

March 2001 I am living in Northwestern CT in a small town, in a rented apartment which is the first floor of a small and modest Victorian house, with my husband and one juvenile cat. We are here for my husband's work; I am in theory working on my dissertation. I shovel snow and volunteer at the local public library.  Our landlord Vinnie, who lives upstairs, has a black lab he leaves home alone inside for 10 hours a day, and the dog's pee drips down into our kitchen light fixture.  Our kitten loves to explore the rough-stone, dirt-floor basement.

March 2011 I live in a house I own (okay, the bank owns it - or probably some shadowy international conglomerate who bought my bundled mortgage owns it) in Athens GA.  We live in a sidewalky, family-filled neighborhood with great kids across the street and next door and down the block and great neighbors without kids, too - older couples, single adults, etc. Our house was built in 1922 and we just put a roof on it, and it has old-house issues, but a big yard and a hammock on the front porch and all sorts of great stuff.  I live with my husband, two kids (7 and 4), and two cats (10 and 1).  It's Georgia and we had a warm February, so we have daffodils and cherry trees in full bloom and redbuds coming out.
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Casper brought a Batman chapter book home from the school library this week, and is voluntarily reading it, out loud, to herself.  She gets a lot of the words wrong, so she's missing or mis-perceiving maybe half the content, but she's reading for fun!

She can also, I discovered as a result of her homework on Tuesday, add and subtract 3-digit numbers with carrying.  She made some arithmetic mistakes, but was absolutely clear on the concept.

I had the amusing experience of walking to the bank this morning with more than $1200 in cash in my purse (Girl Scout cookie deposits.)  I was happily not mugged on the way.  They have a great machine that counts the bills, and I was very proud that my count matched theirs perfectly.
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I had to leave work because I was so stressed out about the girl scout meeting yesterday, and walked home sobbing.  Then I successfully managed to nap while roofers were working on the back porch.  (Since I'd been up since 4:30 am worrying about girl scouts.)

Of course, the meeting was fine.

So, on the list of things that can reduce me to gibbering idiocy?
1.  Dentists
2.  Girl Scouts

Xposting from Facebook, where many of y ou probably already saw it, for the immortality factor:
Dillo: "Mom, I forgot about the toilet and I went in the sink!"
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An 8:45 am phone call from the dentist, telling you your daughter has missed an appointment you didn't even know she had because your husband didn't put it on the calendar. Followed by: Girl Scouts work.

I am applying cee-lo green in an attempt to get the grump out of my system.

Do I have a plan for Christmas presents for my own children? I do NOT.

Mishmash

Dec. 9th, 2010 11:56 am
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  • Yesterday I worked 8am-10pm (many thanks to my sister for keeping me from dying of boredom after I ran out of internets at 8:30pm; we discussed smallpox, syphillis, and pernicious anemia, as one does).  Then I woke up about every half hour all night - every time to heat came on - because the air vents made some noise that kept triggering my "a child is crying downstairs" reflex. Yawn.
  • It's cold in Georgia.  Even the NYTimes noticed! http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/09/us/09georgia.html  There's a mall in the ATL that makes snow outside every hour from 6-9pm on weekends, and I think we are going to try to go on Saturday.  My kids are in love with the idea of snow.  Simple frost on the windshield of the car had them shouting with excitement this morning.  It's ridiculous, but very cute.
  • My Girl Scout rant issues continue.  I faxed in an RSVP on Friday 12/3, the stated deadline, for my troop to attend an event on Saturday 12/11, and was supposed to receive an email confirming the time (they are scheduling the troops).  On Monday I emailed the contact just to check if the fax had been received.  She was out of the office but said she would check with them.  On Tuesday, not having heard from her, I emailed back.  She said she hadn't been able to reach anyone ion the office, but I should give her my troop's info directly and she could register us.  I did.  On Wednesday, not having heard from her, I emailed again, just to say, "are we registered?"  On Thursday morning I called the office, where they told me a) she was the only person who could register troops for this event in their system, b) she was out of the office all week but working from home some and c) the office was "crazy" this week and closed early yesterday and today.  The event is now in less than 48 hours and I was supposed to - an email just came in.  We are confirmed.  Good grief, though.  I mean, honestly?  Who sets a deadline of Friday the week before an event (in 6 locations across Georgia, all RSVPing through one office) and then takes the next week off?  When she's the only one who can register people?
  • We are going to buy a digital piano as the big family Christmas gift this year.  We went in to a local independent store and looked at them, but then I looked on Craigslist and there is a used one for sale in Atlanta for half what they want in the store for a used one, same model.  I feel guilty about not patronizing my local store - worse, patronizing and then not buying from them - but saving $250 is not to be sneezed at.  We're getting a Yamaha P-60 (replaced now by the P-95), which is an 88-key, weighted machine, with good sound (8 sounds total), and a midi export line so we can buy a $100 cable and hook it up to Garage Band if we want to.  I am looking at piano lessons for me, maybe.
  • I am sort half done Christmas shopping.  I hope to accomplish a lot this weekend in the city, at the Fernbank Natural History Museum gift shop, and the big mall where it snows. mr. flea is under strict orders to make some headway in dealing with his family (i.e. acquiring suggestions, which is their practice) by Saturday.
  • I am so tired.

What To Do

Nov. 22nd, 2010 01:09 pm
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So, yesterday I spent much of the day in a terrible mood. Part of the reason was Dillo's behavior (he went to bed Saturday at 10pm, as we were celebrating his father's birthday, but woke up at 6am Sunday and so was tired all day, plus he was hungry but wouldn't eat anything but treats, and he was just FOUR). But a big chunk was the fact that we have a Girl Scout meeting on Tuesday.

I am so stressed out by the Girl Scout thing that I dread the meetings and it takes over my life. I see two options: find out a way to stop dreading the meetings and organization work this much (the meetings are fine when it actually happens, and the organization work is just herding cats, like anything) or get out of Girl Scouts. Seriously, one of the potential pluses in my twisted mind about the possibility of a job for mr. flea in Dublin is the fact that I wouldn't have to do Girl Scouts any more. (They emailed two weeks ago and said they wanted to interview him, but have not actually set up an interview yet.)

Girl Scouts pings my responsibility issues, and my public performance issues. I'm hating the whole thing and feeling so stupid for pushing to have a troop exist this year. And now I have to go call the mother who doesn't have email and remind her that we are meeting tomorrow.
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I am unduly tired, and want to go to bed right now. I am locked in the back half of the house with the bitchy cat and avoiding my happy family.

I am actively dreading our first Girl Scout meeting tomorrow. Luckily the other Brownie leader is totally a natural and loves doing fun crafts with little girls. I can make spreadsheets and email people, but making bracelets with 7 year olds is not my forte.
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I feel like I've been working pretty continuously - at some times quite hard - since school started in early August to get a Girl Scout Troop going at Casper's school. And I've "succeeded" - we have 4 leaders, so we can run both a Daisy (K-1) and a Brownie (2-3) troop, we had a parent meeting on Monday and have about 12 girls all signed up, and I expect to add several more who are definitely committed and couldn't come to the meeting.

But I feel like I've failed. 85% of the girls are white and upper middle class. The demographic mix of the school is only about 25% white, varying a little by grade. The paraprofessionals who ran the troop last year at after school (all of whom left the school, and after school is not an option any more because of a new district policy - we are meeting on Tuesdays at 6pm at a friendly church, kill me now I did not want to meet on a weeknight but the people present voted for it) managed to run a Junior troop (4-5) as well, and pull a lot of black and Latina students, with 60 girls total.

I don't know how they did it, except maybe having existing relationships with the girls and parents, since they worked at the school. I have tried really hard to send print messages home as well as emails for people without internet access, and to send all messages in Spanish as well as English. I always emphasized that there are financial scholarships for girls who can't afford the $12 registration fee (sadly, there are a lot of families in this situation - including one of our troop leaders. 39% of the children in the city live below the poverty line (which, remember, is only about $21,000 for a family of 4), according to the new American Community Survey data.) And the turnout was all people like me. I guess we keep trying to recruit. I have some names that we can try phone-calling, but I am terribly phone-phobic; maybe my co-leaders are braver.

I'm just so worn out by it all, and we haven't even started actually meeting.
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Sunday night Casper cricked her neck and was in terrible pain and up several times in the night. I thought small children were supposed to be like unto elastic bands, but perhaps she is getting decrepit at her advanced age of 7. She stayed home Monday with mr. flea "working from home" (=watching Harry Potter IV.)

Tuesday night had some issues (Dillo woke up needing to pee - why do my children not wake up and take themselves to urinate in the night? Instead they cry loudly half awake and the parents must rescue them and deposit them on the potty. Both of them do this. Is it me?? Anyway Dillo made so much noise it woke Casper and she freaked out about her neck and spent the night in my bed, again.) Then when we went to take Dillo we found he'd had a nosebleed in his sleep. Sheets and mattress pad into the wash. Casper got off to school okay; Dillo too (and reported that the big blood-booger in his nose, named "Bloody," natch, came out at school.) mr. flea got a last-minute invite to a social event for work, and went, so I dealt with dinner and bathtime solo.

This morning Dillo had a nosebleed at 4:30. Sheets and mattress pad into the wash, again. I had randomly missed 3 hours of work in the last week (2 hours after Dillo refused to go back to school after his dentist appointment last week, and one hour dealing with Casper Monday morning) so I came in at 10 and will be here until 10pm. Joy.

Thursday we need to grocery shop and prep for the weekend and it's trash night and a bath night and we have the farmer's market pickup and... that's all, I think.

Friday is Bike to School Day, and a parent coffee until 8:30, after which I must dash to a meeting at work at 9, so maybe we will drive and not bike to school. At the parent coffee I hope to corral some parents into making Girl scouts happen. I emailed the PTO list asking for volunteers at 11:30 am today and have had no response yet. Very worried. Oh and it's FACT (Families and Children Together) day for 2nd grade, but I really cannot make it to school to spend time in Casper's class on Friday (see above: parent coffee and 9am meeting); must remember to ask mr. flea if he can.

Friday night we've been invited to cocktails with the Classics faculty (5:30-7) and a baby shower for mr. flea's coworker (7pm) and have not yet secured a babysitter. We are deeply incompetent about babysitters.

Saturday at 10am is the birthday party, so some cakes need to be baked and frosted at some point, and all the other assorted things associated with a birthday party (like PLATES and DRINKS and maybe FAVORS remember my birthday party paralysis, people?)

Then we're going camping. Which needs its own separate planning and organizing (but I really really needs to get out and it will be good to do). And then back Monday in time to catch Casper's makeup dance class at 5:30 and grocery shop for the week.

Have I mentioned I dismantled the dining room table to refinish it on Sunday? We've mostly eaten in the living room or on stools in the kitchen. The polycrylic is rather harder to get off than I'd anticipated, but I have only one coat of tung oil left on the table base and I am hoping to set it up with the spare leaves so we'll have some flat surface to work with by next week.

I hope next week is much less eventful.
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We moved the kids into one room this weekend, assembling the bunkbeds for the first time in this house. Bedtime is going okay - still too late. We've started with music at lights out (the Bernstein recording of Peter and the Wolf) which is helping. One problem is mr. flea is reading the crux of Harry Potter IV, and Dillo is bored by it. When he'd done I'd like to try reading to both of them together, whether in bed (chapter books with few pictures) or out on the couch. I think an "extra" birthday present for Casper (turning 7 on Saturday) will be an itty bitty book light so she can look at books after Dillo falls asleep. The other room (Casper's) is the playroom; I'd like to move the yellow futon couch in there for reading and snuggling.

It was Curriculum Night at school last night, so we had a more formal introduction to PreK and 2nd grade. Honestly, because of his home socialization and book-reading and his Montessori daycare, Dillo pretty much has all the skills they seek to instill in PreK: deal with others without hitting or messing with people; understand how books work; know letters and numbers. He accurately read "P E Z" on a pez dispenser last night. His fine motor work is weaker; we need to do more drawing projects, maybe while Casper does homework.

Casper is doing reading in a group with Mrs. H, in another classroom (they mix them up for reading time). She is with Nathaniel, who was in her class last year. She brought home guided reading books for the first time this week, and read them to me okay (reluctantly). Her homework often consists of "read for 30 minutes" and she says she does this at afterschool, but her idea of reading still does not necessarily include actually reading the words in the books. Mr. H, her teacher, said she is doing fine with comprehension and her tendency to guess at words based on context and first letter is a useful skill (this drives me nuts when we read together - I am constantly saying "look at the letters.")

Mrs. U, who is a parent whom I like, is the Spectrum (gifted) teacher for 2nd grade this year, and they are doing recommendations and re-testing this month. mr. flea wants to recommend Casper. You may recall she was tested but narrowly missed the cutoff in K; her increased maturity and test-taking skills (she did fine on the CRCT) should help her this time. I think if it were me I wouldn't bother recommending her again, but mr. flea feels strongly about this.

She's a little down about school right now and I'm not sure why. Complains she doesn't want to go in the morning; told me she doesn't want to do writing and puts her head down on the desk (which Mr. H did not mention.)

After school is still poking along; apparently they are interviewing new directors this week. I signed the kids up for a Spanish class at after school, taught by UGA students, that will start in a couple of weeks and run for a month. No word on Tae Kwan Do, though Casper asks about it. Dillo says after school "takes so long" so I really hope they get a director who does stuff with the kids so they are not so bored..

I called the Girl Scouts last week but they never called me back. Don't they know how hard it is for me to make phone calls, dammit?
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Casper was singing this song in the car on the way home from her first dance class (a great success!) and I was thinking, is this some song from Clifford? (Non-parents may not realize that Emily Elizabeth and Clifford move to Birdwell Island when Clifford becomes too big for the city.) I asked where she knew it from, and she said the YMCA, and they'd just played it in class. I said, "Maybe the lyrics are actually 'best of both worlds'?" Nope, she was sure - until I got home, put on Youtube, and found the Hannah Montana song "Best of Both Worlds."

I assure you we will all continue to sing "Best of Birdswell" and think of Clifford in our house.

School has gone great for both kids; I am stressed about the afterschool and Girl Scout situations. It turns out that external groups wanting to meet at school now have to pay $75 per meeting, so the Girl Scouts, not being made of money, can't meet at school. AND nobody wants to lead. I hate this idiot school district policy - last year GS was at 3pm on Fridays and as a result was the most diverse school-related activity Casper did (after school is more heavily middle-class than school itself, and TKD even more so.) I am so torn (short of Aims moving to GA and running the troop, which would be perfect!) - I honestly feel I don't have the spoons to make Girl Scouts happen myself, and yet I really really want it to happen. I have begun conversation with the new (adorable) 25 year old parent liaison at the school, and need to get over my phone fear and call the girl scout office.
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And you know what that means - a new crop of names!

Dillo is in a PreK class with 13 boys and 7 girls. His teacher, Ms. R., has been with the school a long time, is well-regarded, and reminds us both of Casper's old nanny Tonya. His classmates (all born before 9/1/2003): Clayton, Devin, Jimmy, Antoni, Deyanira, Dhaijah, Justus, Tekit, Brendan, Eli, Jaylen, Amos (who was the only one we met - total cutiehead!), James, Trinity, Yvana, Lizabeth, Jeimy, Kayden, Michael. The paraprofessional is Ms. W.

Casper for second grade has Mr. H, who has been at Chase since 2004 and has a good reputation as on the silly/goofy side (a major plus for Casper!), hand-on and pro-science. I've also been told he is much more comfortable with children than parents, and this was pretty obvious from our interactions. No parapro at this level. Casper's classmates from last year who are with her again are Danilo, Eliza, Angelo, Roan, and Dynasty. New this year are Owen, Anyssa, Dhuntez, Ja'Quan, Braiden, Taneia, Kourtney (too old to be blamed on the Kardashians!), Skylar, Anatasia, Gavin, Tyreon, Aydan (Siena's twin), Cassius, Da'Naya.

We registered for After School, and learned that the new after school director is about to leave, back to her old job within the school system. So they will AGAIN be basically leaderless, which is a problem. Two kids is only $10 total per day, which is a nice little bonus. There was no solid information about whether Tae Kwan Do will happen, but the rumor is yes, Tu/Th like last year. Two of Casper's friends are doing swimming at the YMCA Tu/Th, and we are thinking about that for Casper to. (Y after programs start at age 6, so not an option for Dillo.) There was no info about Girl Scouts, so I need to email a parent I know and ask what is up. If they are dying for troop leaders for Brownies, I could use my flex time from working Wednesday nights and take Friday afternoons off to do Girl Scouts. We'll see.
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Casper went to a birthday sleepover last night, 3 houses down, with 5 other girls, all of whom are in her class at school. It sounds like it went okay, except when they were going to bed, she was being noisy and the other girls yelled at her, so she went and slept in another room all by herself and pretty much played by herself in the morning. I haven't talked to her about it (mr. flea did), but it makes me so sad, the social issues thing. I know kids are just kids and learning to deal with stuff, and I think she found a good solution. But at the same time it brings up some of the negative social dynamics in the class that I thought had faded. The dueling bossy girls were both at the party.

Meanwhile back at the homestead, Dillo planned a "sleepover" for himself in the living room. He fell asleep in his sleeping back watching Olympics, but woke up coughing at 10 and we had a long night after that. He's developed a phlegmy chest cold, and kept freaking out at coughing up mucus, and waking himself up. So, while last night we had a queen, a double, and 3 single beds set up in our house (the extras from overnight guests on Weds.), Dillo slept on my chest on the couch most of the night.

I hauled myself out to sell Girl Scout cookie at Target (sans Casper) at 9am, and had a good time getting to know some new people. One of whom turns out to be Vic Chesnutt's sister. Athens being Athens.

Despite serious trying, we couldn't get either kid to nap today, so we're feeding them and hoping they fall asleep sooon! Although it was gronky, it was a beautiful day, and I did some yard work and hope to do more tomorrow.
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Last week at some point I found a tiny little note in Casper's book bag. It had a list of "best friends" and included Ali Cat (Allison), Siena, Katie Sue, Mrs. C, and Mrs. B. Both of the latter (Casper's teacher and the aide) had the word "love" written next to them. I think it's cute that Casper loves her teacher, but I was a little concerned about this process of writing notes about who is one's best friend and who is not.

Yesterday she brought home another list in Siena's handwriting. It was divided in two and labeled "good friends" and "bad friends." Casper was on the good side, as were Katie Sue, Allison, and Dynasty, a couple of other people I don't know, and Mommy and Daddy (hee!). On the "bad" side were a girl I know from after school, a boy in Casper and Siena's class, and a couple of other names I don't know. Notably absent from the entire list was Siena's twin brother!

I know kids do stuff like this; I probably did it myself when I was a little girl, though I don't really remember it. We've not made a big deal about it, but mentioned to Casper that it's important to treat everyone well even though there are some people we get along with better than others.

What do y'all think? Is it worth taking any further? I know Siena's mother well and could bring it up as a "common problem of 6 year old girls" thing (as opposed to a "your kid sucks" thing.) Should I mention it to the after school people (which is where I think it is happening), or Mrs. C the teacher?

Ugh.

ION I think I am getting my act together to take us to NC this weekend (western). Anyone want to join us? The weather looks a tad iffy, but that actually might make it easier to find last-minute camping spaces.

IOON I need to buy a Daisy Girl Scout uniform. Yoicks!

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