Saturday, August 28, 2010

First week of school—check. Rebecca and Jonathan pranced off to the bus stop on Wednesday nervous but excited. Everything was fine until 4 minutes before we left when it was determined that no one had the proper footwear. Next they had to revisit the issue of new backpacks, which I failed to procure. They have the idea that second grade will come with so much homework that it can not possibly fit in their backpacks. Second grade apparently comes with something akin to the intro bio text Manuel used which outweighed them until they were almost 1 and which they used as a chair until they were three. In the end they got on the bus without looking back and as far as I can tell the first week went fine. Jonathan’s class is about 2/3 boys and Rebecca’s is about 2/3 girls. She told us she’s looking most forward to “talking to my friends ALL DAY.” The second grade a very complicated disciplinary system involving green, yellow and red lights. All they can tell me about it is that “it’s the discipoine system” Both kids were thrilled to find that the school library had the Hardy Boys and that they get to check out two at a time. Jonathan is mad that they don’t have Tom Swift and has already “requested that the librarian increase the collection.”

Eli’s start was not too smooth. He is in general the easy one, goes with the flow, other than potty training raises himself, wasn’t an undercooked puny raisin, no health and developmental issues and no ER for the first year of his life. (Yes I know he will need to discuss this at length with his therapist later but it’s good to give him material) After last weekend’s 1,2,3 strep punch it seemed we were in the clear until the little one woke up screaming on Tuesday night with hives and an allergic reaction to the amoxicillin. After a couple of hours of Benadryl, writhing in pain, calls from the nurse to ask us if he was still breathing ok, Manuel took him to the ER where they gave him steroids and apparently enjoyed playing with him. So Manuel and mini-well got home at 2 in the morning and we took him to the pediatrician in the morning where in addition to getting a new antibiotic I dropped him on his head. (yes really) In that exhausted parents of three way we dosed him up with the new medicine and dumped him at school. Despite the time consuming start up designed to prevent parents from accomplishing anything he proceeded to scream his head off at drop off every day. Eli also busted me on Thursday. We had a babysitter in the afternoon. I worked until the last 15 minutes when I got a phone call and decided to put away the three bins of kids laundry. I had heard Eli debating with Laruen about coming upstairs. He explained he needed me. She explained I was working. Then as I was chatting away I heard “thump thump thump” followed by a triumphant “I told you she wasn’t workin….”

I’m still messing with my new MAC. I seem to be down 400 tunes in Itunes. Not only am I for sure missing some particularly loud aggressive and dissonant piece of angry chic rock that I need to get through the day. But I’m probably lacking some eclectic music examples that I wont miss until 30 minutes before a lecture. I did move all of the documents successfully and as I expected the new machine solved all of my problems and the book ought to be done by next week. And in case there was any doubt that I’m on sabbatical I have lost the keys to my office so I literally can not go there. I had a mild panic attack when I was told that one of the trailers moved—was literally wheeled out of our parking lot. Thankfully I’m told it was the math trailer.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Last Day of Summer

Whoever said that the summer solstice was the longest day of the year had clearly not spent a day with three children who go back to school the next day. They are beyond ready and were literally doing laps around the dining room until thing 1 and 2 made enough noise to wake up sleeping beauty and we walked in the rain to the delightful Market Street Market for a breakfast treat of scones and a insanely sophisticated and expensive collection of cheese and baguette for lunch.

Yesterday’s series of open houses seemed really to get their juices flowing. I have to admit to having absolutely no enthusiasm for Eli’s start up. We have so far had a home visit, a meeting with the teachers, a visit to the classroom and a back to school picnic. This is his third year in preschool and over the weekend he informed me that he would get potty trained if I got him a new “waptop” I don’t think he needs to ease into things.

The big kids meanwhile do need some start up. When Jonathan suggested last night that maybe I should teach music history at their school and that he and Rebecca should both be in my class I knew we were headed for our usual fall transitional awkwardness. Rebecca thinks the school music teacher could use some help since she did not know that men can sing with very high voices so the music history thing made some sense to her. Once we move on from the home school fantasy though they both have lots of friends in their classes. Rebecca and two of her equally loquacious little girl friends already seemed to be taking control of the classroom. They had a lot of loud exploring to do before someone suggested meeting the teacher. He’s the new guy, extremely earnest, and looks about twelve. Best of luck to him. (and when did teachers and doctors become so young that they could be my children) The low point of that event involved loosing Eli. The kids were doing some moving between each other’s classrooms and Manuel and I each thought the other one had Eli. Suddenly we noticed he had gone on walk about. Thank you Tracy Weaver for locating him calmly and deliberately walking towards the door of the building way out of sight. She said something like “aren’t you Jonathan and Rebecca’s brother. Let’s just go ahead and find your family” before he took off into the mass of elementary school kids. The potluck in the evening meanwhile turned out to be a picnic. So after complaining all day about how much I hate potlucks, refusing to cook and sending Manuel to buy potato salad we arrived to find no food for our cranky kids to eat. (they don’t like potato salad)

In an effort to keep the kids and their equally enthusiastic friend busy today we have eaten expensive gourmet food, had a chamber music festival, started four bored games, put away exactly four pieces of laundry, and had various group meetings in which we discuss possible activities. As for the chamber music I need to send a shout out to Jim Ford who first introduced me to string playing in the public schools and must have tolerated an equally cacophonous joy on a regular basis. Ours was particularly delightful with Eli the hard rock guitar as accompaniment and Rebecca using the piano as percussive accent. Now they have settled on a game called Freedom Fighters which involves saying things like “Tell King George we’ll pay no taxes” Eli has inserted King Pharaoh into the mix.

In other exciting news I got a new Mac lap top on Friday. I finally might have the whole thing configured to my liking. Despite all of the fabulous things I’ve heard about Mac tech support I did talk to one delightful young person who suggested that if 16 was not a big enough font for my menus perhaps I shouldn’t be using laptops. I treated him to a rather extended bibliography of things I’d done on a laptop followed by a lecture about the hegemony of the visual and the inappropriateness of tech support people offering personal advice. I never got my fonts worked out but a little righteous indignation always feels good. So if anyone can figure out how to make Mac menu fonts bigger and how to find 400 tunes that got lost from itunes in the migration we will happily pay you in booze and cookies. I’m sure that in addition to the various kinds of therapeutic loud rock that must be in the 400 that there will also be hard to come by teaching and research examples that I will only miss the night before a lecture.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rain and Puke

My son scolded me yesterday for not keeping up the blog. So here we go again. After a whirlwind August of family vacations we are all gearing up for, and in fact counting the minutes until, the beginning of school next week. The kids need structure and they need the heat to break. Rebecca and Jonathan may also need some space. Without the separate classrooms and different activities they spend almost every moment together day and night. If I spent that much time with my husband I’d probably kill him.

Today was one of those days vacillated between feeling like a totally in control super mom and a complete nutcase. I woke up and quickly wiped out a blurb on Kircher for an exhibit at the library and then helped the kids with some community activism. They are writing a letter to the builders of the apartment building threatening to go up next store asking for grass and trees. (more on this later) I left 6 kids in my house and zipped up to a cafe for 45 minutes with a friend to work. While there I managed to write three sentences of my book which left me feeling almost smug. At the rate of one sentence every fifteen minutes I should finish it just before my 56th birthday. I then had to zip back to meet Eli’s preschool teachers. The home visit supposedly makes the child feel more comfortable but mostly feels like a tacit evaluation of the home-front. As I left the cafĂ© on my way the heat wave broke with a biblical rain storm--no thunder just rushing water on the ground. Within about 30 seconds my sundress and I looked like we’d been through the washer and my shoes squished so much I took them off and ran down the down-town mall, looking like a cross between a drowned rat and a homeless waif. I made it home to find the house as messy as I’d left it and the six kids upstairs listening to a book on tape. Eli, meanwhile refused to get dressed saying he wanted to show the teacher his nightgown which is a Brown Class of 1990 t-shirt that says “Can I take life S/NC” This also involved showing off his butt and family jewels as he finds underwear beneath him. The highpoints of the visit involved him calling the teacher poop, announcing he actually did not want to be in her class but wanted to be in the other teacher’s class, hitting his brother, refusing to speak in sentences, and clinging to my legs.

The start up for preschool is intense and at this point I’d much prefer to simply toss him in a classroom and hope for the best. Note to those planning third children save your-self a year of preschool by arranging for a summer birth not a November one that delays the process. When filling out my “goals” for him all I could think to write was potty training and astrophysics.

And now for Becket the Children’s version whose moral is that when the kid is clingy he may actually be sick…...Eli who regularly has at least 15 ailments a day had a tummy ache which he described to his father just before it erupted into a Vesuvius style puke. It seemed that this may have come from drinking a gallon of his sisters “made from scratch” lemonade. After much kurfluffle, including canceling the evening playdate and me wandering around the house shirtless because shirt is soaked and I have not put the screaming kid down and Rebecca screaming that she needs me to help her practice relative calm ensued. An hour later despite the volcanic puke and a fever of 103 Eli was fine and ate a huge dinner. A one hour bug?

Here’s the dialogue
Manuel: Bon take him to the Toilet (after Vesuvius has erupted)
Eli: Nooooo not the bathwoooooooom I’m not really puking it’s the sugar.
Me: I need to shower before Yoga I’m covered in puke
Eli: I’m weddy go to the wine stowe since I already puked. they have mow Motwin there”
Jonathan: Mommy did you REALLY GET PUKED On. “ (note the entire first floor is covered in puke)
Rebecca: How many minutes did I practice? I can’t believe you didn’t set the timer
Jonathan: How could you finish watching Dr. Dolittle without me. Mommy turn on the TV.
Eli: We need mow papa towels in case I puke some mow
Jonathan: Mommy where IS YOUR shirt?
Eli: I’m all betta now. Ooohhhmmm (with a very aggressive yogic pose)