Thursday, April 30, 2009

assessment: too cool for school

This was "one of those weeks". I wasn't looking forward to it because I had so much scheduled, and a lot of it wasn't particularly fun. This week the twins had soccer practice, Erin had a doctor's appointment, I had a filling replaced, there was a parent-principal meeting at the elementary school, Erin had softball practice one weeknight and a softball game another weeknight (with me as snack mom this week). This in addition to my working 3 days and having laundry to stay ahead of and food to shop for and such.

Also this week, all three girls had their six-month dental exams and I find that nothing in this world makes me feel so scrutinized as a parent as having the integrity of my kids' tooth enamel evaluated. I guess it's all the questions.

First, each of them are taken to a separate exam chair to a separate cubicle sort-of examination area within the dental office to have their x-rays taken and their teeth cleaned, then the dentist calls me in with him to start making the rounds:

Dental hygienist, as dentist looks on to see my reaction and my responses: "Are you brushing regularly for them? TWICE a day?"
"AFTER meals?"
"Are you flossing their teeth before bedtime? EVERY night?"
"How long do you spend brushing their teeth?"

Now, I approached this round of appointments with a clear conscience because I really have been diligently brushing their teeth twice a day and flossing every night. REALLY. I mean, REALLY, I have. In addition, John and I totally focused on getting Allison to stop her thumb-sucking after her last check-up and she hasn't sucked her thumb at all in probably 5 months. We rule! I thought.

Somehow, though, they seemed less than convinced by my answers. More questions:
"Are you incorporating an ADA-approved fluoride rinse after brushing and flossing?"

D'oh!!!! Got me on the rinse thing!

Erin's exam went well, Kate's exam went well. Allison has a cavity that is significant enough that she'll need a filling between two of her little baby teeth. Holy cow, I'VE failed--failed at providing optimal dental hygiene on my daughter's behalf, and, thus, failed as a parent. Proof is right there on the x-ray.

More questions:
Dental hygienist: "Are you allowing her to drink SODAS?"
(No, never)
"Does she drink a lot of juice?"
"Does she chew gum frequently?"
(No, never.)

"But she's totally stopped sucking her thumb!" I volunteered in an effort to salvage my rapidly sinking ship of parental worthiness.

Dental hygienist: "Oh...good. she given candy and such frequently?"
(No, only rarely.)

That indignity suffered and the appointment for the filling made, we left, and proceeded on with our busy week which included an appointment this morning at the elementary school for a inconsequential little formality called a kindergarten assessment for the twins--something all incoming kindergartners have to do.

Each child is taken aside to by evaluated by a kindergarten teacher for 15 minutes, during which they are asked questions and tested on some basic readiness skills. The twins already had a kindergarten assessment at their preschool about two months ago and nothing out of the ordinary was noted. They were described as normal in all areas and ready to move on.

As it turns out, the teacher doing the assessments this morning was Erin's current K/1 teacher (each child stays with a teacher for 2 grades), so she already knew us somewhat. She tested Allison first and then when she returned with Kate and I looked at her to hear the short, predictable summary of her impressions, she had a strange look on her face instead.
"How...did it go?" I asked.
"Well..." and she paused.
"Well..." I continued, "is something wrong?"
"Well..." she paused again.
"Aren't they ready to come to kindergarten?" I asked bluntly.
" might want to consider......probably.......not."

And we had a short chat about this. Academically, she thinks they don't have any problems. Socially, maturity-wise...there are apparently some concerns. Or potential concerns. Kate is more the subject of concerns than Allison. Apparently, when the teacher asked Kate to write her name and draw this and that and sound out this and that and etc, Kate, ever the contrarian, always responded, "No, I don't want to do that now." The thing is, that sort of conduct won't fly in kindergarten. She has to do what she's instructed to do by her teacher.

What are we to think when the preschool teacher who has known them for nearly the past entire year thinks one thing and the kindergarten teacher we have known for the past two years thinks another thing? This potentially puts a gigantic wrench into our plans for the near future.

Through the day I had a talk with the elementary school principal and the preschool director. I'm looking for someone, somewhere to tell me definitively that they absolutely should go on to elementary school or they absolutely shouldn't, but no one will do that. And of course the gravity of our making this decision correctly, and quickly, is impressed upon us by everyone. Ultimately, it's our call to make and our lifetime of consequences to deal with if we screw this decision up. Not that this is causing us any anxiety or anything.

So John and I have some things to explore and mull over and discuss this over the next week or two, during which a second-opinion kindergarten assessment with another teacher will likely be conducted. We may have a case of two girls who are just too cool for school this August. At least that's what we may have to tell them.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Last week the twins started a soccer class on tuesday mornings. This isn't a team, there are no games, it's just preschoolers learning some basic skills as far as I can determine. Their coach is a young man from south america somewhere, I'm guessing, and he speaks very quickly and with a thick accent, but the kids seem to understand him just fine. There are several asian parents there who can't understand anything he says, so I've become the reluctant translator.

Though it was bright and sunny, it was windy and cold as can be (for around here, in april) last week and the kids were all very cold, and I was colder as I stood and watched them. I sure was glad when class was over and we could get back into the car.

This morning it was bright and sunny and about 90 degrees by 10:30am. It was crazy hot (for around here, in april) and as hot as I was while watching them, the kids were roasting and needed frequent water breaks. I sure was glad when class was over and we could get back in the car.

More than soccer has busied us lately too. Last thursday the girls and I were at the park. They all had chips to eat and Allison, with a whole mouthfull of chewed-up chips, decided to suddenly spit them all over Kate's shirt. I took her chips and when she started screaming, I grabbed her and headed for the car. She then took off her new sunglasses and mangled them up. Back home in time out, she located Kate's new sunglasses (which I put on a shelf about 7 feet above the floor) and she mangled those up too.

So I decided that she would need to miss out on the weekend's activites I'd planned. But John thought having her miss a birthday party on sunday was enough so on saturday we all went to Picnic Day at UCDavis and had a great time. I took quite a few pictures but mysteriously, they're all missing from my camera. Bummer. The following day we realized that the birthday party was during the home playoff hockey game which John would be attending, so I couldn't leave Allison while I took Erin and Kate and she got to go to that, too.

Boy, I bet Allison sure learned her lesson.

The party was at a huge indoor bouncey-house-slides-games place that was new to us. After plenty of playtime, a meal, singing, and cake, the girls headed out to play some more. I stood near the last attraction they entered and a woman approached me.

Her: "Do you have kids playing here?"

Keep in mind I was carrying 3 cardboard Star Wars party favor masks, holding my camera at the ready, and there were 3 balloons tied to the strap of my camera bag which was hanging from my shoulder. Of course, there are other possibilites for my looking like that and being there, but I think all other possibilites would require calling the police.

Me: "Yeah, three kids."
Her: "Oh, wow. I find it hard to keep track of them here."
Me: "Luckily, mine have mostly been staying together."
(my kids arrive at the bottom of the slide, wave to me, and run off)
Me: "There they are."
Her: " are VERY close in age."
Me (pointing): "They are twins, she is two years older."
Her: "Huh? No! (laughing) Their hair is different colors! They can't be twins!"
Me: "Um...well...ok...fraternal twins can be different. I mean, take the case of boy and girl twins."
Her: "Oh, SURE. Boy AND girl twins! Ok..."(walks off)

You can't fix stupid.

Luckily, the sunglass company offers a lifetime guarantee, and though Kate and Allison's sunglasses can't be fixed, they can be replaced, for free.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

just the three of us

Thursday, Erin and John and Grandma left for New Mexico to see Erin's cousin Laura, aka college tennis player extraordinaire, play some matches in Albuquerque since that's about the closest to us that she'd be travelling this year. So to the twins' great disappointment, it was just me and them for the weekend.

"We wanna see cousin Laura play too!" they constantly reminded me after the gang left for the airport. I don't know what they were complaining about--who needs interstate travel and sight-seeing around a new city when you have the kind of exciting plans I laid out.

First up, a movie. It was raining on thursday and my plans for a rendezvous at the park with friends had to be changed. I know they would have had a fit if I ditched the park plan without a good alternate, so I decided to take them to the animated "Monsters vs. Aliens".

I think this makes movie number 3, or 4 in a theater for them. Though they are still relative novices, they know what they want to complete their movie-watching experience: one gigantic tub of popcorn. Yes, I know what you are thinking. Is that reeeeeeeaaally necessary? How much popcorn could two 4 year-olds eat? After eating lunch? We discovered the answer when we took them to their first movie--when it comes to popcorn, they are machines. In fact, I think Allison should compete professionally.

The movie was rated PG and they found it a little scary at times, with the battling between the characters and the chasing and suspense and so on. I could tell Kate was scared when she moved to my lap about 10 minutes into it and stayed there for the duration. I could tell that Allison was a little scared when she sunk down into her seat a bit and quit eating, for a few minutes. Regardless, we watched it all and the girls seemed no worse for wear and were raving about the movie afterwards.

Meanwhile, Erin was having a grand time with Laura and Laura's parents, Uncle Randy and Aunt Terri, and Grandma and daddy. The report from John was that when you want to go out to eat in Albuquerque, there is a wide array of restaurants: Mexican, pseudo-Mexican, and quasi-Mexican. Erin, who LOVES tacos and is always asking me to make them and or/take her to a mexican place so we can buy them, requested that they quit eating mexican food.

On saturday morning a long time friend, Julian, came over for a play date for a while.

Then we ran some errands and after finishing those I decided to take the girls up to visit Poppy, since they speak of him frequently and were talking about him just that morning. I bought some flowers and put a vase in place and gave the flowers to the girls. They alternately, carefully placed one flower at a time into the vase and when they were all in they arranged them and sat and talked to Poppy for quite a while, catching him up on many of the things they've been doing lately, and telling him they missed him and loved him.

The next day, Easter sunday, the rest of the family "took a left at Albuquerque" and arrived home again. We waited on the egg hunt until Erin arrived.

Then the girls opened some gifts from Grandma and Grandma Jan, including a book about Peter Cottontail that Erin read to Allison and a pair of sparkly gold/purple shoes for each of them, which they all thought were simply divine.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

state of the house, part VII: done!

We moved into our home several weeks ago and have been starting and finishing small and large projects and organizing ever since. Over the past month or so a couple of friends, in particular, have been telling me that we NEED to have an open house party. NEED to have one, like, a party is mandatory. I've experienced many mandatory parties before, but the others all occured while I was in college, so it's been a while. So after thinking that over for a bit we decided to have a party this past sunday. I mean, who am I to violate mandates.

Other, farther away friends, have informed me that I NEED to post pictures of our finished home for them to see. NEED...again.

I suspected I would have no time for taking pictures during the party and I was right, but I really should have taken some pictures just before the party, when the house was the cleanest it's ever been or ever likely to be. Here are a few photos of our new home interior taken this morning.
The front door/entry way:

The entrance to the garage was moved from the kitchen to the entry way:

Erin's room, green per her instructions:

Twins' room, with hand-me-down bunk beds from Aunt Terri, which we will stack together once we figure that won't cause Kate to break her arm again. K&A each have their own closet:

The new girls' bathroom with a jacuzzi tub which does wonders with a little bubble bath soap:

The office/guest room (formerly space that was the twins' room). We have a queen size murphy bed in here which Grandma has used twice so far and proclaimed it quite comfortable. So all you far away family and friends should drop in, and stay a while. On the front of the murphy bed cabinet is a craft table which John designed:

Our room, larger than before with one wall pushed out, and wall-to-wall carpet gone:

The old hall bathroom was repainted, has new light fixtures, new toilet, and John re-tiled the floor in the 2 weeks before the open house:

Family room/former office space next to the kitchen had the wall-to-wall carpet removed and was repainted. That desk isn't being used now but when the girls are older we'll put another computer there and that will be a homework/computer work space for them:

Former living room is now the playroom with plenty of storage and a big craft table for the kids:

The new dining area is larger than before with the enclosing walls removed. This new table can expand to seat 10 people. John added more pantry cabinets and moved them to opposite wall, now that the garage entrance isn't there anymore:
3 skylights above the dining area:
Dining area continues into the new living room. Some of that space was previously Erin's room and there are 3 new skylights in here as well. John loves his new super-insane TV on his super-insane specially reinforced wall he had the architect design for that purpose. The surrounding cabinets were built for us by the same company that built the office/murphy bed cabinet system:

That's about it. The other rooms I didn't photograph (the kitchen and our master bathroom) were also repainted, and we have a new mirror in the bathroom, but overall these rooms are the same as they were before the construction.

Our party went well with many, many friends and neighbors dropping by, and our home, thankfully, looked much different afterwards than my house did after those mandatory college parties.

We are all enjoying the house and the substantial new space very much and it looks so nice inside that we are forced to start thinking about what to do with the front yard now, which remains a pile of dirt and some weeds. "Natural landscaping" I prefer to call it. I think our neighbors would prefer we called a gardener instead.