Friday, August 24, 2007

two weeks later

Two weeks of kindergarten later and Erin seems to be really enjoying school. She's happy at drop-off, she's smiling and always has several positive comments when I pick her up. She doesn't seem to mind that all of a sudden (unlike preschool) she's having to get up and get dressed and eat, and let's go, and no time to for playing, it's time to get to school five days a week, while her sisters get to eat breakfast in their jammies and look forward to a Tivo'd episode of Dora or Backyardigans before their day really gets underway.

Friday was Erin's first day at her new after-school program where she'll be the three afternoons that I work. Her school started two weeks before all the others in the district so the after school programs didn't start until thursday, opening day for the rest of the schools. The after-care program was full at her own elementary school so we took an opening at the school just around the corner from our house and spent months mulling over how we'd get Erin from her school to the after program those three days. There is a school-kid taxi service in town just for this type of need but trying to talk to the disorganized woman in charge of this way over-priced car service was making me age at an accelerated rate.

John considered leaving work early and working weekends to make up for it. But it turns out the best (read: least worst) solution is going to be John picking her up at 2:40, taking her the one mile to the other school and then going back to work, and then when I pick up the twins at 5:00 I'll swing by there and get Erin on the way home. It's nutty, but it was going to be nutty any way we could work it.

Erin spent an hour doing crafts at this center a couple of weeks ago when I was there filling out yet another huge stack of registration paperwork. Ah yes, I had our dentist's address and phone number this time! But John reported that on friday when they went in she was not so thrilled to be there, in another new setting, with another group of new kids to get used to. Luckily she did know one other new kindergartner, Gabriel, a long-time friend from our playgroup, and she spotted him right away and after a few minutes she joined the group for a story and John left. Erin told me she spent a lot of time playing with Gabriel and she was glad he was there. It's always hard to sort out whether a "long time" to an almost five year-old is ten minutes or two hours. But whatever.

Also last week I, um, I mean, Erin, received her first homework bookbag. Each friday she'll come home with this bag containing an assignment, a book to read, and a journal to record some information about the book which she'll have a week to complete and return. Until Erin's old enough to take responsibility for remembering to complete and return her own assignments herself I can see that this means that I essentially have weekly homework.

I haven't blogged in a while and part of the reason is I worked the past two saturdays and another reason is I repainted in the kitchen. We remodeled the kitchen last summer and I chose to replace the god-awful yellow wallpaper with a yet-to-be-determined green paint. John vetoed green. No green please. He didn't come up with an alternative color so I found what I thought would look good with our new cabinets, kind of a baked pumpkin pie color.

John's initial comment, while viewing the fresh paint on the walls a year ago was, "I never should have vetoed green." So I got five test colors to try and settled on this one and a year later, my initial vision is completed, I think. I've now spent so much time looking at greens that I got overloaded and I don't know that I picked the best color. There may be another repainting in my future, but I can live with this for now.



And I've decided to continue the green into the family room, adjacent to the kitchen because there really is no good way to color transition between the rooms.

Friday, August 17, 2007

the outing without

So Erin and John, the industrious members of the family, have someplace to be monday through friday, every week. The rest of us are clearly slackers. John and Erin can go off to their respective important such and suches and we'll continue our typical weekly schedule of parks and friends and general frivolity, even though it feels strange to do these things with one girl missing.

The twins and I met up with my friend Diana and her boys who are 2.5 and 4.5 years. Corwin is just a few months younger than Erin, but enough of a difference that he waits until next year to start kindergarten. He was confused about why we were without his favorite companion at our play date. He missed her and I missed her too.

His younger brother Julian is a real ladies man, lemme tell ya. He was constantly holding someones hand, hugging, putting his arm around one or both girls. "Every guy wants to date twins," John explained, "He's just getting started younger than most." Note to self: loose Diana's address and phone number in about 10 years.

We strolled to their neighborhood park, had some fun there, then walked to a little plaza of businesses to have some lunch. A firetruck was parked there and all of the kids were fascinated. The fireman inside stepped out of the truck, opened various doors so the kids could see everything, showed them some equipment, passed out little badge stickers, and was generally nice beyond the call of duty. But he didn't like it when I reminded the girls to "thank the fireman for the stickers."

"We're not called firemen anymore. There are women, so we're 'firefighters'," he stressed.
"Yeah, but, YOU, specifically, are a fireMAN."
"But maybe you shouldn't teach your daughters to say that."
Oh, good grief. Don't call men "men" girls, who knows what will happen. In fact, what are you girls doing out of the kitchen in the first place? With shoes on, no less!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Allison: "Kaaaaaaaaaaaaaate! Kaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate! Kaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate!"
Kate (after running down the hall to where Allison is): "What, Allison?"
Allison: "Kate, I was calling you!"

From a little old lady today: "What're your names?"
Allison (pointing): "That's Kate. He...She has a green dress. She's a twin."

Erin (on the way home from school): "Mama?"
Me: "What?"
Erin: "When ARE you going to learn to ride a unicycle?"

Allison (while getting a diaper changed): "Wow, that was a BIG one!"

Thursday, August 9, 2007

and so it begins

Thirteen years of public school education, to be followed by....who knows what and how many more. John and I have grand aspirations of course. Reminds me of a quote from Phoebe's brother on an episode of "Friends" about one of his daughters, "She's so smart. We know she's going to do something big, like become a doctor, or...a realtor."

Yesterday she had a brief orientation. We visited her classroom and met her teacher and checked out the kindergarten playground while enjoying root beer floats. It's tough to dislike anything when you are given root beer floats. We met another mom (from Serbia via Boston) yesterday and her daughter who is also starting kinder although not in Erin's class, and we chatted and the girls played for quite a while.

Erin was pretty confident about today. Last night she picked out her outfit and as a gift from us she received a new lunch bag and backpack, each embroidered with her name and a horsie, of course, and she thought they were wonderful. This morning we went out front for a few pictures before the twins and I took her to school.

We walked Erin to the morning lineup area on the playground and we waited with her until her teacher came out. This is the daily routine she'll get to know and eventually I foresee being able to drop her off at the school entrance. While in line Erin chatted with the little girl in front of her and we met her mom. Then when Erin's teacher showed up to gather the class Erin marched off with the others and didn't even glance back my way. I couldn't walk as quickly as some of the other parents because of the double wide stroller I was trying to maneuver in the crowd and when I finally made it to the classroom Erin had already found her seat and had her backpack and lunch bag put away. Most of the other parents were helping get their kids settled. I stood just outside the doorway because of the stroller and when the twins looked occupied enough I went in for a quick minute to tell Erin I'd be back to pick her up after school. "Ok, yeah, bye!" She was obviously all torn up inside.

Then in the school courtyard, which is right beside her classroom, parents were invited to have coffee and tea and coffee cake, hear a short welcome or welcome back (as the case may be) from the principal and have some time to meet each other. From there I glanced into Erin's classroom windows and she seemed fine and occupied.

I recognized a couple from one of the early school tours I'd taken, so we reintroduced ourselves. They're from Egypt. Then by coincidence I met a dad originally from Serbia via Boston, the husband of the woman Erin and I met yesterday. The twins meanwhile loved and devoured the coffee cake and moved on to the raisins I brought for them. At first they ate some and then they discovered that it was more fun to take turns trying to shove them in unnatural places on each other, like into ears and eyes. This was entertaining to many of the parents there. Despite that, I concluded it was time to leave.

This afternoon the twins and I picked her up and her teacher reported that she had a great day. In her backpack was a gigantic bundle of papers which were entirely different than the previous gigantic bundle we received when she was first accepted to this school. In these I discovered that we violated the dress code on her first day. No sleeveless dresses or shirts. Oops. Sheesh.

I needed to get an allergy shot nearby, so while we were there I got a chance to hear about her day in more depth, while taking video of course. Erin had almost as much trouble with the many foreign-sounding names as I did.

I had to try pretty hard to keep from laughing here. The twins are in the midst of one of their usual battles and the contrast between Erin trying to explain the progression of her future education and them hitting each other and screaming is hilarious. To me. After this I had to continue the interview at home.

"And guess what, mom!" Erin exclaimed, "I saw Maia (the girl she met yesterday) on the playground, and I said hi to her and she said hi to me and we played."

I like this school more and more each time I'm there. Erin's teacher seems great and I am enjoying the sense of community the school tries to build. We have a parent night for K and 1st grade next week, and a school-wide saturday games and picnic day next month, and these sorts of things will be going on all year long. And I'm thankful that they didn't boot Erin out on her first day for her skimpy outfit.

Monday, August 6, 2007

attempted wag the dog

Before we were disturbed by our water heater travails, part III, we had a fine summer weekend of water play and BBQs. We hosted a BBQ on saturday as sort of a small going away party for some friends who will be moving to Florida, on purpose (!), later this month. John and I have known George and Audra for years, as long ago as when they and another couple, Yung and Diana, and John and I all started dating. Then, coincidentally, or so I'm told, we all got engaged about the same time, got married during the same summer, and all had our first children within a year of each other. The six of us have had some really good times and have taken several fun trips together (all pre-children of course).

So we set up the pools and let our combined six children have at them while the six of us drank plenty of beer and my frozen blendered fruity/rummy concoction sans colorful paper umbrellas.

I had probably more fun than would be expected decorating the cake I made for dessert. I thought about writing "you're moving to a place where a guy named Jeb runs things" or "say hi to the retired new yorkers for us" or "welcome to florida, ask us about our instant asylum policy and hanging chads". But John found that the official unofficial state motto is "ask us about our grandchildren" so I wrote that on the cake in Spanish. I was pleased. And the cake was yummy. And we'll miss them all.

On sunday we went to Jeff's house for his belated birthday gathering. Jeff has a "real" pool which is always very popular.

Allison and Kate always enjoy playing with Jeff's dogs: the airedale, Blitz and the standard poodle, Samantha. Allison stood behind Blitz at one point and pushed on his backside, frustrated,"Go, doggie!" which had absolutely no effect on him. Sydney decided that leashes would work better. The dogs got immediately excited because when the leashes come out they are taken out for walks. "This is a major ripoff for them," Jeff noted.

Well the leashes were effective, kinda. Allison pulled on the leash but she isn't strong enough for that to be a real mandate for Blitz to go somewhere he isn't interested in going. So Allison waited until Blitz turned in a particular direction and she then raced to get in front of him and go where HE wanted. But she made it look like it was her idea.

Jeff looking over his birthday peach pie, since he already had cake on Aug.1.

Lots of help with those candles.

I just found it humorous so here's some more dog-walking, or small child-walking, travails. We don't win parents of the year awards for attaching a dog that is 2.5 times our child's weight to them, but they enjoyed it and it was too funny to resist. Jake and Brayden took turns being walked by the dogs too. Erin, wise beyond her years, steered clear of the entire endeavor.

You can see Allison being cleverly redirected by Blitz, and that's cousin Jake concerned about the open door:

the contents of our garage belong on stilts

Alternate title: our tax dollars at "work".

Some of our garage got soaked last night, again. We don't live on a flood plain. We aren't subject to coastal hurricanes. We don't have a questionably maintained levee nearby. Yet the contents of our garage have been variously soaked and re-soaked and ruined or just spared countless times in the 6 years we've lived here. There was the time the drain that the washing machine, dishwasher, and sink disposal feeds into got clogged, which causes water to flood into the garage. And the other time. And the other. And the last time too. There was the time I dropped a gallon of milk in the garage while carrying it in from the car. And the second time. "People in your family sure spill lots of milk," John observed. That's a jab that relatively few readers of this blog will understand, and fewer still will find funny.

There was the time the water heater valve broke. There was the time the water heater itself broke. And there was last night, when our new, one year-old replacement water heater began leaking beyond repair. You'd think after all of this we'd have both the cleanest garage floor around and learned not to have things on the floor, or at least not on the floor anywhere in the general vicinity of the water heater or the washer. But we don't and we haven't.

So our faithful plumbers, who installed this water heater, came out promptly and rather late last night when the leak was discovered and they informed us they'd be back this morning with a new water heater to install. John stayed home this morning and as they were draining the old heater water into the driveway a whole CARLOAD of city "officials" (term used loosely) pulled up to the house. Apparently the street sweepers went by at some point and reported the gross infraction of the entirely clean but warm municipal water...the same water we pay to drink and cook with and the very same water which I would have been very happy to shower with this morning had I a functioning water heater, being poured into the gutter.

This warranted a visit and stern lecture about all manner of clean water violations that won't be tolerated in our fine town, which includes, just in case you were wondering, because I know I was, emptying an ice chest in a driveway.

Since I wasn't the one to witness our very own keystone code cops in action, here's John:

Our city's code enforcement official arrived, had one of his three crew members take a polaroid of the infraction, and then proceeded to spend 15 minutes explaining to both the plumber and to me about the serious nature of draining clean water into the street. Apparently it is a serious pollutant and against local, state, and federal regulations to allow it to run down the street. (for those keeping track, that's 4 city workers x 15 minutes. )

The official didn't have the appropriate copies of the code in his truck, so he told us that he would be back in 15 minutes to give us a copy of the civil street moistening code and to get our information for his report. He returned promptly an hour later, with his whole crew in tow, in the city vehicle, and proceeded to show us the code, write down our information on a yellow pad of paper (official form?), explain to the plumber's boss about the serious local, state, and federal consequences of street moistening, and to talk about how fast my motorcycle looked. (It does.)
(add another 4 workers x 15 minutes)

The plumber's boss had asked an innocent question about car washing while he was talking to the city guy, and since the guy didn't have the pertinent codes handy, he said he would have to get back to him. Apparently it was of such importance , that the city official returned yet again, just to tell the plumbers about the car washing rules. The plumber's boss had already left by then, so the city guy decided after another 5-10 minutes of chatter, that he would send the info to the plumbers with his report. I never did get a straight answer about whether I could wash my car in the driveway or not.

city: 2.15 man-hours , taxpayer 0