Friday, April 30, 2010

May 2010 Meet Up Details

Based on the votes, comments and emails I received, I think the best day for most is Saturday, May 8. (So sorry @Slim! I'll try to make sure the date in June works for you!)

Here are the details:

-Who's Invited: Anyone in the DC area who is interested (bloggers, commenters, Ask Moxie readers and silent lurkers), spouses and kids
-Day: Saturday, May 8
-Time: 10:30
-Place: Be with Me Children's Playseum in Bethesda (directions)
-Cost: $5 per person, any age
-Other Info: Be sure to read the Safety Policies, Playseum Manners, Sickness Policies and Food Allergy Awareness pages! This place isn't like the At Play Cafe we previously went to in that they ask you to be within arms' reach of you child at all times.

Please leave me a comment or send an email letting me know if you can make it!

I am tentatively planning a June meet up, also. I may even try to do one a month in order to give us all some momentum.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Help Me, Internets! I've Been Oblivious!

Now that I'm coming out of the "survival mode" of the infant stage and the fog of winter (because of my SAD), I'm starting to realize some things that I feel pretty lame for not having noticed before.

I'm not even going to write about the things that I've been oblivious to or left undone in real life. Instead, I'm going to talk about things in this awesome online community I have become a part of that I feel stupid for missing.

-Some people who I feel that I've become good online friends with have blogs that I didn't even realize existed! How could I have missed the names with obvious links to google profiles with blogs listed or the blogs themselves. Am I blind?

-Some blogs that I did discover previously are not in my reader, even though I totally thought they were and that the person just must not be updating. Once I realized that I'd missed some, I've checked out my reader and tried to update it.

-I didn't realize that some people who are on Twitter and even following me were not in my Follow list. These are people whose blogs I read and have even commented to me on Twitter. I've just gone through and added a bunch of people to my Follow list, but I'm concerned that I'm still missing people who I want to follow.

-I wanted to keep up with email correspondence and replying to comments on my blog, but I keep lagging behind or don't have the time. I'm trying to parse through my overwhelming gmail inbox, but that's not a quick and simple task.

-The DC area meet ups pretty much don't happen in the winter, but I'm finally getting back to organizing them. Who the heck put me in charge of these?

-Perhaps the thing I'm most disappointed about is the way the email support group for DC area people has not become what I had hoped it would. I know that it is up to me to really get it going, but for whatever reason I have not been able to. I'm not quite sure how to make it what I want it to become, but even when I do send out email, there isn't a lot of response. I guess I've been hoping that once we start doing the meet ups again, people will start emailing more. However only two people responded about the May meet up. The point of it was to become a network of support for each other, but no one seems to be reaching out.

So I come to you all as a petitioner. Please let me know the following:

-Have I missed your blog either by not visiting or not having you in my blog roll (which should mimic my reader)?
-Am I not following you on Twitter?
-Have I missed an email or a response to something you wrote that you would like a response to?
-Can you come to a DC area meet up in May? Which day? (Please note that there have been two requests for it NOT to be the first weekend of May, so it won't be this weekend.) Where? I can just decide all this and whoever shows up shows up, or you all can have some input.
-Does someone else want to help me organize and keep up with the DC area meet ups and the email group?
-In what ways can I/we improve the DC area email group to work better for you all?

I like you people, and I want to put in the work to keep up with my online friends. Can you please help me do that? Unless you can't stand me and wish I would stop commenting on your site. In that case, you can send me an email to let me know and I total will. After I leave one last comment telling you to suck it!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Household Rhythms

I wrote this back in January, but have had it in my drafts because I wanted to have another stanza. I've been trying to write the other stanza for three months. (Should it be about fixing breakfast in the morning, getting the kids ready for the day? If so what dance would that be to? I think probably the salsa... And shouldn't a stanza about the mornings and breakfast come first? But how to start it?) I am finally thinking that if needed another stanza, the words would have come to me by now. I can't force more to the poem when it doesn't feel right. So I'm just going to publish this as is, and if more comes to me later, I'll update it.

When I am in step with the rhythm of the house,
I waltz my way through the piles of laundry.
I sort the clothes to a 3/4 rhythm:
lights, darks, reds; lights, darks, reds.
I box step to change over the loads.
Wash, dry, fold. Wash, dry, fold.
I promenade the clean clothes into the closets,
open, turn, close, to shelves, hangers, drawers.
As I twinkle and reverse step through the day,
our clothes are cleaned, folded and put away.

When I feel the beat of rhythm of the house,
I swing the toys off the floor, throwout the
books onto shelves. With a rock step, I chassé
this doll into this chair, another rock step,
and chassé that doll into that stroller. I
cuddle the stuffed animals for a beat, two,
three, and then push them into their places.
A swingout for each ball into the bin.
When I jive out the door, the floor is neat,
toys are straightened, the clean up complete.

When I am attuned to the rhythm of the house,
I dance through the kitchen without missing
a beat. A pirouette to put the clean dishes
away, an arabesque to put the dirty ones in the
washer, a plié to put away dried pots and pans.
I sponge down the counters and the table
with long stretches of my arms, graceful
port de bras movements to gather the crumbs.
Before I chassé up to bed, the sink is clean,
the dishwasher running, the counters sparkling.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Question of the Week - Accentuate the Positive

Between the incident at the Pumpkin's school, both kids getting sick HFMD which turned fever into cabin fever, the nanny getting sick and now some BS with the Toyota service center (yes, I have a vagina, but I also have EYES and a BRAIN), I'm in a pretty crappy mood lately. Oh, crap. I also just realized that I forgot the lunch I had packed for myself! Yeah, amazing how my days keep going from bad to worse to craptastic!

I really need to concentrate on some positive, happy things. Lighten the mood a little. So this week's question of the week is:

What are some of your kid(s)'s personality traits that you enjoy?

I really do love everything about my kids, even the things that frustrate me. But I especially enjoy that both of my kids (and my hubby) love to laugh and love to snuggle. In addition, my daughter is so friendly with everyone, which makes many things so much easier to do with her. Also, my son so far seems pretty easy going about most things.

What about your kids? What traits do you enjoy? Are they traits that you or your partner share with them? Come on, brag away! I really want to know!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Talk with the Pre-School Director

Thank you all so, so much for all your supportive comments on the last post. It made me feel so much better to hear what you all had to say, and to hear everyone's emotional reactions were the same as mine. And all your advice and different points of view were simply priceless! Thanks again.

I would have written this follow-up post sooner, but Friday we got a call from the pre-school and my daughter had a high fever. Sure enough, she has the HFMD that her brother was finally getting over. With two sick kids, we had to cancel our drive down to the inlaws, where we were going to visit for the weekend. Instead, we've been taking care of the feverish girl and the drooling boy, while trying to continue the spring cleaning including trying to kill all the sick germs that are certainly EVERYWHERE.

But back to the follow up...

On Thursday after writing the post, in fact it around 5:00, the director of the pre-school called me and left a message. I got it just as I was shutting down my computer and heading out the door. I called her back on my way home. I asked if she had time to meet with me in the morning, and though she said yes, she wasn't going to be there until 10:30. So I then asked if she could meet with me that evening, I could be there at 6:00. She agreed.

So instead of going straight home, I drove to the school and met with the director. I did not want to be confrontational. I went in with the mindset that I needed to explain to her exactly what happened, and we would work together to figure out how to deal with it. I know that this woman is the director of the pre-school because she really, truly enjoys the kids. We picked the school because it was obvious to us that those at a high level (including the director of this location--there are three locations) have thought deeply and care greatly about the care the children receive at the school. So I went in assuming we were on the same team.

The director really was wonderful about the whole thing. After I expressed my sympathies about her mother, who is in the hospital, I told her the story. I told her exactly what I saw, heard and said, which adults I talked to, and the reactions of those I spoke with. As up-in-arms as I am about the whole thing, I'm also pretty understanding. I don't believe the front desk woman realized exactly what happened, nor did the teachers assistant. As I continued to talk with them and the Pumpkin's main teacher over Wednesday and Thursday, I believe they started to understand what happened and why it was so upsetting. But it's the director who has the most influence, which is why I was insistent on meeting with her.

She listen to everything I said with sympathy and understanding, taking notes here and there on what we call in my world "action items." I also told her about the incident that happened when the Pumpkin and I were visiting right before she started school there. I noted that it wasn't just striking out in anger that was the problem with these incidents. It was the aspect of more than one older kid (or simply kid) gaining up on one other child physically and verbally. It is the aspect of bullying, which is so in the news lately, that was the bigger issue. I said all those things, and then said to her that I know she does not want bullying to be an issue at her school, because I truly know she does not want even a single incident.

I asked her if bullying is in the curriculum, and she explained that it is for the older kids (they have before and after school programs for elementary-aged kids). For the pre-school kids, they don't want to give it the name "bullying" because that gives it more power. I absolutely agree with that, but I pointed out that they still should address "picking on" other kids. At that, she made another note, so I'm confident that they will address that.

We talked about keeping the older kids and younger kids from being on the playground at the same time, though I again expressed that this was only part of the issue. She said that she and the front desk lady would do more spot checks to add extra eyes to the playground and ensure the teachers were not just sitting around chatting with each other and missing important interactions on the playground.

I requested that she let the parents of the three kids know what happened. I told her that as a mother, I sure as heck would want to know if my kid was picking on someone else. And I know their policy is not to name the other kids involved in any incident, but I told her that she could let the parents know they could talk to me about the incident if they wanted. Because I don't blame the kids or the parents or even the school. This is they type of thing that happens, and it is up to all us adults to watch for incidents and guide the children involved onto the correct path of behavior.

We also talked about how they discipline at the school. Generally, they give one warning and then the child "takes a break" on the bench in the front office. She said there is some flexibility to that, depending on the context of the incident as well as the child and the child's temperament and previous behavior. I remember that when the Pumpkin hit another girl (because she was mad she took a toy from her), the teachers were so surprised that she had done something like that (it was a first for her) that I don't think they brought her to take a break but just talked to her about it.

Generally, I think they have a good approach to this. I think. I believe in giving second chances, but still enforcing the rules. However, in cases like gaining up on someone or intentionally picking on someone (i.e., bullying), I think the children involved should be immediately taken to have a break. The director didn't specifically say that was the case for such an incident, and I didn't push it because the incident would have had to been caught at the time anyway.

I did touch on the teacher turnover in the Pumpkin's class, but we had previously discussed it and there really wasn't more to say. She had previously told me that they were just trying to find the right team for the children. I know there is not the same rate of turnover in the other classes, so I'm hoping that it will all settle down soon. I also didn't bring up the long hours of the teacher's assistant, because I didn't know if she was telling me in confidence. (I had asked her to please please let me know if she was planning on leaving so we could be prepared for the Pumpkin, since the Pumpkin loves her so much. It's felt like the other teachers have just disappeared.) This could have been her way to warn me that she was looking at leaving. And if that is the case, then I'm taking my girl out for sure.

We are still looking at other places. We are almost surely going to put the Pookie into a daycare after he turns 1, so it would be ideal to take them to the same place. The Pumpkin's current school does not take kids under 2. But in addition, I'm still not sure about this school for my girl.

My sister's daughter went to the sister school in the next town over. My niece did great in the 2 year old room, but when she moved up to the 3 year old room she had difficulty. They found a really great place that she is now loving. My niece is a very different child than mine, but what my sister said stayed with me. She said it was like the difference between a public school and private school. I have been to both, and I have nothing against either. But in private schools, the teacher to student ratio is usually smaller, and the teachers are generally more able to work with each child's personality. This is something we really need to consider given the Pumpkin's spirited personality.

I think I'm rambling. I'm tired from dealing with sick kids, and the baby is now up from his nap and crying. I think I touched on everything, but if I remember anything else I will add it.

Unfortunately, I still can't get the image out of my head. I'm working to replace it with other images, but it's hard. And I still kind of want to kick those kids in the butt.