Sunday, October 24, 2021

Virtual school

 On a good day, Cooper is kind of a challenge to have in class. He is really, really smart, and when he gets bored (which he does a lot because he is really really smart) his favorite thing to do is drive whoever is in charge of him batshit crazy. If you met my dad and heard about his school days, you know that Cooper comes by this naturally. If Cooper were a dog, he would need a Kong. Also, he would be a border collie.

And I say that Cooper is smart as someone who knows smart kids. I have many children of my own. I teach smart kids. I was a smart kid, I married a smart kid. I know that everyone says their sneauxflake is advanced, but Cooper actually is. And he is advanced in that stereotypical boy way that makes people rail against the educational system and how it treats boys (which makes everyone else roll their eyes because clearly white men are doing just fine in America). He does not appear advanced at first glance because he is not doing the work. Because the work is boring because he is so mart. You are rolling your eyes, but this is just the truth about Cooper. When I tell his teachers he is smart and that's why he is a jerk, they do roll their eyes. Then he takes a math screener test and doesn't do great (because screener tests are not the only way to flag gifted kids) and they roll their eyes even more, especially when he hands in pages of blank work that he didn't feel like doing.

Meanwhile, Dorothy is in pull-out advanced learning groups for literacy and math, and I never said a word to her teacher because she can behave herself even when she is bored because girl (and now you are rolling your eyes again). (Also she did not take a screener because her work is good and do you see how this cycle is a problem).

Anyway, Cooper is even more bored in virtual school, so he does even less work and acts even squirrellier to his teacher and to whichever parent is home with him. It's all very frustrating, and I feel bad for him. BUT ALSO I JUST WANT HIM TO DO THE WORK so his teacher will see that he is smart, and he, too, will get advanced learning opportunities beyond some extra enrichment work. GAH.

I have been providing the extra opportunities beyond some advanced classwork, and it has been fun for all of us. We studied the War of 1812, and he is writing historical fiction about James Madison, which has engaged him. We talked about slavery and cancel culture and the renaming of lots of stuff in our town because of Madison's problematic past, too. Also the myth of Dolley Madison and the Washington portrait, which none of us new was a myth. We go to the library every week, and he is reading about the solar system and the history of NASA in a more focused  way. But dang, you guys. I want him to show everyone how smart he is, not just me. And not just for the parental head pats (although) but also because he will get real opportunities later if he gets ahead in math now (AP credit, etc).

Mostly, I want him to get vaccinated and get back in class (but also I think everyone at his school thinks I am a pain in the ass and maybe that's not great for him? I mean I am a pain in the ass-- anyone who reads this blog knows that, right?)

TL; DR: I am glad we can keep our unvaccinated kids home, but I want Cooper to work up to his potential.

Afternoon nature walk
Kiwico light up haunted house
Minnie would also like to stack cups, BTW:
Loving virtual school
No, for realz


This week, we are trying his school laptop for Zoom and an iPad (not his because that would be tempting for him to play Minecraft on) with an Apple pencil for proofreading (an exercise he freaking hates to do) and math worksheets (that he has been leaving blank because he doesn't want to do the work on a separate piece of paper. But maybe if that paper is actually a cool tablet and he can screen shot his scratch pad?) Also, he and Dorothy tested into the same level of their adaptive learning literacy platform, which is great for Dorothy and just average for Cooper. This has sparked a rivalry that is getting them both to work on phonics, so yay?

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Holiday prep

 Supply chains BLAH BLAH BLAH. You all know. Stuff is going to be hard to source, so we have to start sourcing it now. So, I mean,. I remain skeptical of this narrative because the big supply chain story hit the national presses the exact day the Amazon holiday catalog came out, but OK. I like to buy things,  and also Hanukkah is right after Thanksgiving, so let's DO THIS THING.

But WHAT TO BUY??

What are you buying your kiddos this year?

I love a good Hanukkah theme night. So far, I am thinking slippers, books, LEGO, dinner table games, subscription boxes, and sibling gift exchange night, but I still need 2 more-- any ideas?

Also, the only things on my list are house related, and cleaning related at that **sad trombone** Basically, I want a robot to do everything I do, task by task. Andrew Yang is all I TOLD YOU SO and all you did was MOCK MY DEMOCRACY DOLLARS.

Bros watching football
NOTHING TO SEE HERE
Big girl with a big girl snack:


Friday, October 22, 2021

Family pictures are coming...

 Forget Halloween, fall family pictures are the scariest things we face in October. Will the photoshoot be ruined by PMS? (not looking like it this year, but my cycles are screwed, especially without acupuncture, so WHO KNOWS). Will teenage hormones take us all down (solid MAYBE here, especially since there are more teenagers every year. What a bout a wardrobe malfunction? (THIS COULD HAPPEN-- NONE of the boys has tried anything on and probably won't because we like to be risk takers, you know?) Maybe my double chin will ruin the day but we won't know it until we get the pics back. Maybe we won't be able to contain our grimaces because the kids are being so jerky. THERE ARE SO MANY WAYS IT COULD ALL GO WRONG.

I got this dress and demanded the whole fam work to match me:


Then I got stressed because that seemed impossible because I mean look at that dress (that I am wearing with super neutral purple ankle boots because I AM A GIVER), so I told Ben he was in charge of the boys' lewks. He was like but what should they wear, and I was like I AM GIVING THIS WHOLE TASK TO YOU DO WHJAT YOU LIKE BUT DO NOT INVOLVE ME.

And he majorly rose to the occasion.

We are doing tree farm pics, and he is imagining them all as chic lumberjacks. There is plaid. And also puffy vests.

Meanwhile, Dorothy is wearing this:

And Min has something similar with a fuchsia dress coat. I might wear a blue coat if it's chilly, but I might also just deal because this is a short and sassy dress and slo the boots are a whole thing.


BUT! The star of this post is the outsourcing thing. I need to be able to do this more often-- outsource a whole category of something to Ben and not care about it once it is off my plate. I have *almost* done this with Dorothy and Cooper's winter swim team (but I am the one whose credit card is attached to the portal, so I have to log in to pay for things), and it is brilliant. Because, you guys. When I want to get something off my plate, I want to get it ALL THE WAY OFF, you know? I don't want to still have to direct and manage some aspect of it. I want it ALL GONE. That's why sharing cooking duties, for example, is less helpful when I still have to shop and plan.

Whaat are things that you have been able to offload (to your partner) all the way? I am looking for more ideas.


Thursday, October 21, 2021

I might just be having babies for the TODDLERS.

 Oh, toddlers. My very favorite kind of person. I mean look at Minnie: she is still fully a baby with all of the perfect parts of being a baby (so sweet! so fragrant! so squishy! so dimpled!) but she is also a fully formed human who can talk and understand words and laugh at jokes and make jokes, etc)



Here she is hiding
And showing herself:
Just standing around eating a cup
It's the pigtails here that really get me:

But, I mean, toddlers poop like real people only in their pants, and also they do gross stuff with their toothbrushes, so it's not all sunshine and roses.
BUT MOSTLY IT IS
Clearly she is SO BIG
Also, clearly she is a Very Serious Artist. (So serious, in fact, that we are about to buy our THIRD effing easel because apparently we got rid of the other 2 because we are so dumb).
I sometimes buy her clothes from the boy side of Carter's because it is cuter over there.

This is her silly face
She is so helpful

CLEARLY.



Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Toddlers-- you have to watch them

 So, it turns out that you have to really watch toddlers. Especially toddlers living in houses with way older kids. I think things in our house were just sort of safer for baby Cooper, for example, because his oldest brother was only 5. We lived in a baby house. By the time Dorothy came along, there were TONS of LEGO, but those were really contained to the big boys' room, and we didn't let her go to there.

No, everywhere I turn, there is something that could kill Minnie in a heartbeat if her caregiver were distracted-- AND SPOILER ALERT: ALL OF US ARE DISTRACTED ALL OF THE TIME.

First of all, Minnie looks like my Grandpa Dick in this picture (but he had a round face and a bald head, and all babies sort of look like that). Second of all, you cannot remove your eye balls from Minnie for even a second when you are outside because she will go in the street.

Her favorite thing to do basically ever is go in Dorothy's room and ransack her nightstand drawer-- which is full of delightful choking hazards that are probably also poisonous.
She also loves to creep into her own room and sit in this chair.
Which seems fine except I can't see her in it from the doorway, so I always have a mini heart attack thinking she is gone.

WHERE WOULD SHE GO? you ask. I don't know. Somewhere dangerous?


Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Pumpkins!

 We didn't even take Minnie to the pumpkin patch this year. How terrible is that? We left her home with Harry one day when she was napping and just took the three middle kids. And! We didn't do any fun fall stuff, either. We just piled a wagon with dirty pumpkins and took them home. WE HAVE NOT EVEN CARVED THEM YET.

I don't know what's wrong with us either. Well, expect for THIS Halloween when we carved our pumpkins way too early and they rotted and looked kind of scary and then just disgusting. So, I guess I do know what's wrong with us.

Also! We are too busy to go anywhere as a family of 7 basically ever. Between kid stuff and nap? FORGET IT.

After the year that Jack selected a 70+ pound pumpkin, the rule is that you can't get one unless you can lift it yourself:

It has been humid every single day since I got bangs, and I am OVER IT. The other day, I said mostly to myself but Dorothy was hanging out with me while I got dressed, "I wish I could go back to the exact second when I got bangs and not get them." And she said so sincerely, "Oh, mom. I wish that for you, too."
No problem lifting these suckers:



Even with 2 kids at home, I still have a lot of kids. If you had told high school me that I would be a mom of 5, she wouldn't have believed you. 
College Ben would have been pretty creeped out, too.



Monday, October 18, 2021

Homecoming?

Have I mentioned that Baby Harry went to homecoming? With a group of guy friends, so that made it easier to swallow (you know, the whole my baby is so big, etc etc etc.) Also, he got a new suit since he will wear it for speech and debate anyway, and he got new sneakers because he will wear those all the time (in theory. But actually? Every time they get any dust on them, he has to buff them for an hour, so maybe not?)

But really, the only reason why I am ok with all of these teenager-y things happening (he is so close to finishing the online portion of driver's ed and getting his temps) is that I have an emotional support baby. Like, some people have babies because they need organs or marrow or something, and we sort of judge that and read Reader's Digest condensed novels about it (true effing story-- I used to LOVE Reader's Digest  condensed novels and flew through them at my grandma's house. They were always about horrible childhood cancers OR people having kids because someone else in their family had horrible cancer, and they needed to grow parts-- like, these themes must have really resonated with Reader's Digest subscribers. I think they made me incredibly nervous about cancer). But! Minnie is my way of not being sad about all of the other milestones. THERE ARE MORE (kidneys) COMING, is what I tell myself.









Thursday, October 14, 2021

Thursday House and Thursday Mood

Kelsey at Rising Shining wrote a great post about Thursday House that really resonated with me. I realized that not only does my house sort of fall apart by the end of the week, so, too, does my mood, my whole mindset. I am ready for a couple of days to veg and do nothing and catch up on housework, but I still have to slog through 2 more days of doing all the things. This morning, Ben even thought that today was Saturday.

So, I did my very best to banish the Thursdays by:

  • Doing a quick tidy of bedrooms with Pledge and the vacuum as well as a very bleachy bathroom wipe-down.
  • Baking some banana muffins to weed out old fruit and make the house smell great.
  • Walking for an hour with a friend
  • Waking with the kids during nap
  • Doing the crappiest tasks on my work to-do list first
  • Laying off the coffee before I got the shakes
  • Appreciating my very toddliest of toddlers.
Ok, I do that last one every day.



Wednesday, October 13, 2021

A little obsessed.

 I might be obsessed with Minnie eating.



Add in pigtails, and forget it.


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Mask Anxiety

 I have been spending a not insignificant amount of money on masks for the fam. Harry and Jack wear NIOSH medical respirator n95s-- a new one very day. I also wear these to lecture, although lecture is only an hour, so I can reuse the same one a few times. Ben also wears them to meetings, and he, too, can wear a mask more than once in these cases.

In my building and around campus, I wear KN95s, as does Ben. Harry and Jack wear these any time they are inside anywhere that's not school and even when they hang out outside with friends.

Dorothy and Cooper wear KN95s on the deck at swimming and dive, at dance class, and when they play outside with friends, run into the library, etc.

Now here's where the anxiety comes in: It is sometimes hard to source these masks because everyone is buying them for their sneauxflakes. The kiddie KNs and the medical masks are both occasionally difficult to track down and always expensive. The adult KN95s are more plentiful, but you have to make sure you are buying legit masks (SAME WITH THE N95s). It's not as easy as filling a cart and checking out, especially when you figure in shipping delays, back order situations, etc.

BUT YOU GUYS. I am both the only person in my family who has a sense of how much money and work this all is AND the only person who KEEPS TRACK OF MY GD MASK. Like, every time I open a car or van door, I see the cupholders, door pockets, and FLOOR littered with rare, expensive masks, and it makes my head explode.

Finally, Ben and I talked about it, and I said he could either stop wasting masks and help me keep track of the kids' or he could stop teasing me about mask shipments and charges. He chose to stop caring about how many masks I order and how much they cost, and this has eased some of my tension. BUT NOT ALL OF IT. HOW HARD IS IT TO HANG ON TO YOUR EFFING MASK for a few swim practices or trips to the store?

Really hard, apparently.

And after that rant, let me give you Harry at a virtual debate tournament and Minnie playing tiny piano:





Monday, October 11, 2021

Bebe Sleep

 Last night was SO GOOD!

Minnie woke up at 12:26 (which was awful because I went to sleep at 11:16), but I didn't go and get her. I watched her (dispassionately, if we are being honest) on the monitor, and she settled fast and went back to sleep. hen she woke up AGAIN at 2:38 (and if you are thinking holy cow, Sarah, this is a good night? THEN WELCOME TO MY WORLD), and I went to her room and rubbed her back for literally 15 seconds, and she went back to sleep. When she woke up at 4:16 (yes, for realz, this was a GOOD NIGHT), I fed her because my breasts were full and also I won't be home to feed her all day. AND THEN SHE SLEPT UNTIL SEVEN AM.

I woke up at 5:45 to exercise. I got dressed. I started the morning tidy, and Minnie slept soundly through it all. I HOPE THIS HAPPENS AGAIN.

We started bath at 7:27 last night, and she was out by 8:10-- the key, perhaps??


WISH ME LUCK. I am literally too old for this.


(those are the faces we make when one of eats an entire dandelion fluff head)


Friday, October 08, 2021

Ugh. Witching Hour

 There is always a point in the afternoon when the kids turn into horrible little jerks, no matter how good they have been up to that point. And, like, every day I am surprised when it happens, which is just silly. Any ideas for what we can do when the boreds destroy our chill vibe? We try to go outside, but rain has foiled these plans the last few days. One day we made a cloud since Cooper was studying clouds anyway. Another day, we did indoor hula-hooping and took turns choosing songs for each other. Both kids have book projects they're working on, so those help. The main issue is that this happens most often during nap time, a time that I am frantically working  and also feel entitled to some "me" time. Other ideas? Kiwico maybe? (literally just paused what I was doing to order a Halloween crate. THAT WILL KILL ONE DAY. I need stuff that's genuinely fun but also does not require me to participate heavily. So, you know, a unicorn.

NEVER BUY CLEAR LIGHT FIXTURES, friends:
Whale spout
Lost in a good book:
Seeeeesters


Thursday, October 07, 2021

Toddlers

 I just FaceTimed Minnie, and it was a terrible mistake. She was so happy to see me at first, but then you could see her little mind whirring, and she realized that I was on the phone and not at home, and I asked her to blow me kisses, and she started to cry and said no no no and shook her little head. It was SO SAD, and I really just wanted to come home and squeeze her.

Having a toddler is such a ridiculous delight.







She is a constant source of amusement and delight. Even when the teenagers are cranky and teenager-y, she makes them laugh. She gives hugs and kisses. She toddles all the way around the block. She says yes and no and is pretty good at telling us specifically what she wants and needs. She's just so perfect. Gah.