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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Welcome to the NEW Writinggal!

It was getting a little cumbersome, keeping up with two blogs--this one and Writinggal Expanding. So now I have combined them both into one SUPER blog! Okay, it may not be especially super but it will certainly be more efficient for all of us.

Here, you can find my normal rants, sociological observations and helpful household tips (like Why are people so into things like NASCAR and paintball? and How to throw away half the stuff in your house) as well as cutsie stories about the fam (like Leo says the darndest things and Tales of Gus' Shoo Shoo).

At some point I will update the design and the photos to merge these two genres into one. But for now, please come here for all your Writinggal news.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Preschool Wrap-Up

Today was the last day of Leo's 4-year-old preschool. When Leo started school this year, he was very apprehensive. I think he thought he was the new guy. Sure, some of the Doves had been at that preschool before but all were new to the Dove class. Here he is on 9/13/12:

On the first day of school the question on the board was "Are you excited to be here?" All the kids moved their name magnet to "Yes" except Leo. He moved his to "I'm not sure." For the first few months he was always a little nervous when I dropped him off but never made a scene (unlike 3-year-old preschool)! I think the "walking in" system was great for us. The carpool sounds like a better way (and for 95% of people it probably is), but I'm so glad I walked him in and out every day, even if I did have to drag Gus along. It was better for Leo because we had that nice transition time in the classroom (rather than getting plucked out of the car) and it was better for me because I got to meet the other parents and talk to the teachers.

As the school year went on Leo got more comfortable with the place, his classmates and the teachers. He still would say "I'm scared to go to school" up until the last couple of months. But I'd remind him, "You USED to be scared. Now you seem like you're having so much fun!" About a month ago I asked him if he was still scared. He demonstrated with his hands: "I'm this much having fun (hands really far apart) and this much scared (hands totally touching)."

So while we were measuring his fear factor, the teachers took other measurements. We got a "time capsule" in his bag today.

On 9/20/12 Leo was 31 pounds and 38.5 inches tall. On 5/14/13 he was 35 pounds and 40 inches tall!

Here were his favorites on 9/20/12:
Color: The Rainbow
Food: Mac and Cheese
Animal: Bear
TV Show: Little Einsteins
Friend: John

His favorites on 5/14/13:
Color: Green
Food: Fish
Animal: Lion
TV Show: Any Animal Show
Friend: Ben S.

(Don't be sad, John! Leo still loves you! It's good he's not "hung up" on you though!)

They also had a page where he drew a person and a house back then and a person and a house now. Boy, does his house drawing look a lot better now!

In addition to the time capsule, the teachers also gave them bags with their names puffy painted on the front and thumb prints of every kid in the class on the back; there was Play Dough and a pillow case that every kid signed. There was a folder with a lot of the cute worksheets he did; all his show and tell letter strips were together on a ring; his "Adventures of Dottie the Dove" was put into a little book. And the best--a full album of photos with pictures of Leo and his Dove friends. They did this for all 14 kids. I am in awe of these teachers!

And here is our four pounds heavier, 1.5 inches taller, eight months older Leo today, on his last day of preschool.

We liked this preschool so much that we are waiting on Kindergarten and Leo is going to stay there next year and do their Pre-K class, the Wolves. Several of his Dove friends will be Wolves too.

The question on the board Tuesday was "How do you feel the day after graduation?" The choices were "Happy, Sad or I'm not sure." Leo told me he was excited and wanted to write in an extra answer so I helped him spell it.  Ms. Desiree told him she was not only happy about his handwriting (which was pretty good!) but also that he felt excited. And he explained that he wasn't excited because school was ending, but because he was going to be a Wolf. I think he will like that it will be right next door to the Doves class. He may still be a little nervous but at least he'll know he's not "the new kid" anymore.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Colorblind Leo

I'm not sure at what age kids typically start to ask about why people have different skin colors, but Leo has not seemed to notice yet. We are so prepared for it, though, that we've had a couple of false alarms lately. 

Last week Leo put his baseball cap on backyards and said: 

"I'm a back person!" 
"What?"  I asked. 
"I'm like a back person!" 
"Why do you say that, Leo?" 
"Because I have my hat on backwards so I'm a back person." 

Relieved was I because I did not think he was saying back. 

Then Saturday after t-ball Leo and Gus went to the YMCA play center while Frank and I worked out. Afterwards Leo said, "I made a friend!" And apparently this friend was a t-ball team too. Leo added, "And he was white! My friend was white!" Frank and I exchanged a look and then Frank put it together: "Oh, he was on the white t-ball team!" 

Here are a couple of recent pics of our almost politically incorrect son: 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Good Clean Fun

If you had told me five years ago that stay-at-home moms need maids, I would have said, "Um, isn't that the whole point of being a stay-at-home mom? That all you do is clean your house all day while the kids just play quietly on their own?" 

But then I realized that not only did I never have a chance to clean the house, the house gets more used and therefore messier when you've got kids. When Leo was little I tried to clean during the hour and a half he was at Mother's Morning Out once a week. I would spend the entire time (which is really about an hour and ten minutes when you figure in driving time) cleaning. I remember another mom friend joking to me, "Do you want to go get coffee? Oh, wait. You have to go home and clean toilets." 

She had the right idea. Use your 70 minutes for some me-time and have a maid do the dirty work. 

So yes, SAHMs often need maids. I started having one come once a month. How my house sparkled that one day! After one week it still looked nice but not sparkly. After two weeks it looked okay. After three weeks it looked disgusting. But I couldn't clean at that point because she would be coming again in another week! So we lived in filth for one week of the month. My friend Claire and I called it "the third week" as in "you're welcome to come over but it's the third week." 

I had a monthly maid here but there were two problems: 1. She wasn't as good as my person in Georgia and 2. The house here is bigger so it cost more. And if I wasn't feeling the sparkle, I didn't want to fork over the...darn, isn't there a money synonym that sounds like sparkle? Like if "sprinkle" meant money that would go so well here. Let's pretend it does. And if I wasn't feeling the sparkle, I didn't want to fork over the sprinkle. Nice. 

So I went back to cleaning the house myself. One month I tried doing it all at once. I took Leo to preschool and Gus to drop-in day care and gave myself three hours to clean the whole house from top to bottom. I needed five! After that I switched to just doing chores daily, whenever I got a chance. I say all this to tell you about these two cleaning products I'm really excited about, as a DIY cleaner. 

I went to a cleaning party where another mom was selling these products called Norwex. I bought these "Enviro Cloths" that are kind of amazing. I don't understand all the science behind it but something about microfibers and antibacterial and you could clean your toilet and then your kitchen counter with the same cloth (not that you would ever do that but nice to know that you can)! 

The blue one on top is what I use to clean my kitchen counters and then I use the purple one to buff them. My streaky counters used to make me sad. Now they make me somewhat happy (probably need to be sealed). The streaks are much better with this cloth. It also makes my stainless steel stuff shine. Oh, and the purple cloth works on mirrors and windows too! And no cleaning sprays or solutions necessary. 

Another thing that was amazing was this whole demo she did on the cloth versus the Clorox Wipe. It involved raw chicken and all I gotta say is, don't think that Clorox Wipe is saving you from salmonella. 

I was also interested in Norwex's mop because my faux slate floors (actually tile) feel like sawdust all the time. I've tried everything from a regular mop to OxiClean to scrubbing them on my hands and knees with a brush. Whenever I walk on them my feet turn black. Ew. 

I researched the mop a little more and while it did sound like it's excellent, someone wrote about another one that was just as good but cheaper. That sounded right up my alley (and that's not just a 
cliché; I really do have an alley) so I bought it, the e-cloth mop. 

 I got the dry mop head and the wet mop head. No cleaning products, no chemicals, just water. I used it on my kitchen floors and for the first time they didn't feel like sawdust! And my feet didn't turn black! I'm in such a habit of putting on shoes before I walk in the kitchen but now I have to remind myself that  I am free to walk barefoot! The only problem is the kids love it too because it can shrink to their size. So they want to "help" me clean. And actually, Leo really has helped me. Gus, not so much.

Now that I've fired the maid and taken cleaning back under my control, my house sparkles every day. That is a lie. But my counter tops aren't as streaky and my kitchen floors don't feel like sawdust. And that's a start.

Me and my new mop. Photo credit: Leo

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day--Bear Style

Leo was so excited about Mother's Day. The night before, he was plotting and planning; he was almost as excited as Christmas Eve. You see, he has this Berenstain Bears book about "Mama's Day" where the cubs and Papa Bear surprise Mama Bear. Here are the Cliff's Notes:

Mama Bear marks her favorite breakfast recipe in a cook book and buys all the ingredients. Early in the morning the cubs and Papa Bear sneak into the kitchen (loudly) to make breakfast. Mama Bear hears the whole thing. They make a huge mess. They bring her breakfast and say, "Happy Mama's Day" and she says, "Mama's Day? Well I suppose it is!" Then they give her her favorite breakfast, flowers, a card and a new robe. When the baby wakes up, Mama Bear says she better go get her. Papa Bear says, "No, no. We'll take care of Honey and clean up the kitchen." And they do.

So Leo basically wanted to reenact that. Frank told him to ask me what my favorite breakfast was but he asked me what my favorite dinner was. I told him fajitas and he kept insisting to Frank--right up until the night before--that they make fajitas for me for breakfast. Frank and I had to do this whole phony dialogue right in front of him: "So mommy, what is your favorite breakfast?" "Pancakes." "But I thought you liked fajitas?" "Oh, I do! I just like them for dinner. Kinda like Leo likes pancakes for breakfast but mac and cheese for dinner."

The whole thing went down very Berenstain Bears-like: Frank and Leo got up early, banged around in the kitchen and came in to "wake me up" and surprise me. I said, "Mother's Day? Oh, I suppose it is!" and after sampling their pancakes (although fajitas would have been good!),  admiring my flowers and card (but hey, where was my robe), I pretended I heard Gus waking up. "Oh, I better go get the baby!" I said. Frank said, "No, we'll take care of him. And we'll clean up the kitchen!" And they did.

Later Leo dragged his easel into my bathroom where I was getting ready to show me this:

We tried to get a Mother's Day photo; we did ok!

Here I crouched down to be their size and they both crouched down too!

Later (after a fajita dinner!), Leo hugged me and told me, "I love you so much now."  Huh? And apparently he is sleeping with paper and a pen on his nightstand because he is planning another surprise for me for tomorrow. How lucky am I? I've got one boy who loves me "now" and another who thought the whole day was his birthday.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Hurray for May

May has always been my favorite month. It might be because I associate it with the end of school. But I also like the weather and of course now I get to celebrate Mother's Day. 

Leo has so many end-of-the-school year/Mother's Day activities that my normally somewhat quiet Tuesdays and Thursdays are packed. There's "Muffins with Mom" this week, a park field trip next week and a school carnival on the last day, May 23rd. I have loved his teachers so much that I get teary-eyed when I read the list of all this stuff, knowing it's almost the end. (The tears are also partly caused by the fact that we will have a long, hot preschool-less summer coming soon.) 

Here is his cute, sweet Dove class. I hope that Ms. Desiree (left) and Ms. Laura (right) will still be teaching the Doves class in 2015-2016 when Gus is eligible. 

And speaking of Mother's Day, Leo is constantly talking about all the surprises he has in store for me. They all seem to involve waking me up early. Here was a pre-Mother's Day gift he created, a picture of me: 

I've gone a little activity-crazy so Leo is currently doing soccer (ends this Saturday), t-ball, gymnastics and swimming.  Gus was so sad the first day of swimming because he couldn't get in the pool that I signed the two of us up for a mommy and me class. It's at the same time as Leo's big kid class. They are both doing great in the pool! I've got to get some pictures in their matching bathing suits. 

Today after swim lessons they got haircuts. Leo always looks a little younger and Gus looks a little older after. But Leo got to do a big-kid thing and play video games while they styled his hair! 

Our traditional picture of posing with the shark:

Gus spontaneously hugged him!

And check this out: Here's Gus flirting with Leo's female teammates during t-ball practice. He was saying, "I Gus." They were giggling like he was SO funny. 

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Kind of Confusing

I'm realizing that I say "kind of" in front of words for emphasis. For instance, if you ask me how my pizza is, I might say, "It's kind of amazing." Or if I'm talking about how smart my child is, I might say, "He's kind of a genius." It only goes with descriptions that are already extreme (like amazing and genius). The "kind of" both softens it and adds to it.

Like I wouldn't say that my pizza was "kind of delicious." Delicious isn't that extreme of a word so the "kind of" doesn't work there. I wouldn't say my kid is "kind of smart." It doesn't have the same effect. Does that make sense?

Well, I'm glad it makes sense to you because it absolutely does not make sense to the staff at Target.

I was in line there the other day (well, pretty much every day) and the teenage cashier was telling the couple in front of me about the Target Red Card. As you know, I'm kind of obsessed with the Target Red Card. (See what I did there?) I could see that the couple in front of me was considering it but needed an extra push. I didn't want them to not get the TRC just because they were worried about holding me up. So I decided to help them and the cashier by saying, "It's kind of awesome."

The cashier kid quickly corrected me and said, "It's more than KIND OF awesome. It IS awesome."

The couple decided not to get the card because they wanted to do a debit but didn't have their checkbook. After they left I told the dude, "That's too bad. I tried to help you out." He said, "No worries. Sometimes people just don't have time." But he didn't look up or profess his thanks to me for trying to score him some commission. Kind of atrocious behavior, right?

So the next time I was at Target (alright, it was probably the very next day), the topic of the Red Card came up with my cashier. This time it was a teenage girl. I told her I already had one and then I shared my little story of how I tried to help this other cashier out by saying it was "kind of awesome" to the customers. I told her that the guy didn't seem very happy about it.

She said, "It's probably because you said it was 'kind of' awesome. We're pretty sensitive to people insulting the Red Card."

Woah. Wait a minute, sissy. Me? Insult the TRC? I'm kind of like its BEST customer (except I always pay it off every month and they probably prefer people who let the interest rates accumulate). Still, I'm its biggest advocate. I'm the one who's insulted!

But until she said that, I did not realize that the first teenage cashier didn't get my "kind of" lingo. Then I understood that certain groups of people--especially the young and/or the dumb--just aren't capable of grasping the concept.

I told this to Frank and he said that he totally got it. "It's obvious from how you say it too," he said. And Frank's not biased. He will totally call me out if he doesn't agree with me. He's kind of obnoxious about it in fact.

So I'm not going to delete "kind of" from my vernacular. I just won't go to Target anymore. Just kidding. That would be kind of insane.