Monday, September 24, 2012

Old pros now

Of course I knew this, but what a difference a few days can make...!

It's Monday night, and I have nothing dramatic to report from this morning's school run. Blake and I dropped Noah off and though there were tears from Noah at being left, I think they are just tears of indignation that Blake is getting to do something new and different, and Noah isn't. We then carried on in the pouring rain up to Blake's school, where he went in pretty dutifully, and I scuttled off before he could start crying or getting distressed. All pretty straightforward! But that's probably not as entertaining to read about as all the agony of last week!

We had a good weekend, and man, by Friday night, I sure was ready for it. Either Thursday or Friday - I can't remember now - I ended up just falling asleep in my clothes, such was my tired state. I think it was Friday, because I am pretty sure I had elaborate plans to go out to the store after the boys had fallen asleep in order to get ingredients for carrot cake that I needed to make for a church fair on Saturday (this is more like it, I can hear some of you thinking.....late night baking, procrastinating, getting too involved in a church activity....). Anyway, as it turns out, most of my pans were still in our storage unit that we'd rented while we were doing our work, so I decided not to torture myself with a late-night grocery store run (and actually, I don't think it was a conscious decision since I fell asleep with one of the boys while getting them to bed).. The next morning I then had to go get my ingredients, while Matt got the pans out of the boxes - and, to his credit, by the end of the weekend we had all our things out of the storage unit! Now, however, stuff is just flung all over the downstairs, which kind of is not exactly the look of domestic organization I am striving for, but no matter for now...

I did make my cakes - 2 of them, in to sell and one to go with teas - but it was not without some sort of "Why me? Why *my* cakes?" moment. I use a Betty Crocker recipe for my carrot cake recipe, and the cream cheese frosting is really yummy. But there's a hitch. In the UK, you can't (or I can't, at least!) buy cream cheese that's in a block - all of them are sold in the spreadable tub format, and what makes it spreadable is that it has water or liquid added to make it that way. Fine for spreading on your bagel, but not so good when you're trying to make a frosting that should hold two round cakes together! I need to find a fix for this for the future; as it was on Saturday I could only take in one iced round because the top half just kept sliding off!

Blake was pretty cheery over the weekend, and had his face painted at the fair. A funny thing happened, which is that I'm sure that at that same event last year, he also had his face painted as a tiger. I wonder if he remembers that that's the design he has done there?!

On Sunday it was miserable out, but I had a 5k run to do which I just about managed, before I came home, had a hot bath and had a nap on the sofa with Noah. We then unpacked some toys and didn't do much that was productive around the house, and then it was time for another week!

Today my little Noah found an old hat (I think it's one our friend Becks gave to Blake several years ago) and Noah insisted on wearing it after his bath and to bed. Speaking of bed...I must head there now...Goodnight!

Sept weekend

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tales from Day 2

I don't know how you're feeling, but lord, I'm ready for the weekend! Feeling pretty drained last night as we went to bed, today started off at the ungodly hour of 5:47am. Yes, that is 13 minutes before what I would have once considered an obscenely early time to have to wake up. I don't know what it is about my kids that means that they are literally wide awake from the moment they open their eyes; they definitely do not seem to have inherited their mother's love of the snooze button.

This morning was always going to be emotional without my feeling like a still-forming butterfly who'd been ripped from the safety and comfort of my cocoon (now that autumn is creeping in, the mornings are so chilly and so dark...perfect for sleeping til at least 6:30!). It was Day 2 of school and Mom and Dad were also heading back to the US after their 4-week stay. That is a lot of mornings covering the Cheerios duty with the boys, let me tell you, not to mention taking and picking them up from nursery, doing lots of playing, reading and entertaining, and generally being kind of like the 2 extra sets of hands one wishes one had on a daily basis (but usually that wish is just a pipe dream). They were those hands!

I actually woke up today not entirely worried about Blake, but instead spreading the guilt over to whether or not we'd been paying Noah enough attention amidst all the hecticness of yesterday. So I vowed that today I would be sure to pay Noah more attention (can you say, backfire?!). Blake put on his uniform pretty willingly, so that was encouraging. We had some men from some outfit called the Handy Squad come to put together a piece of furniture (they arrived just before 8:00 - good thing we'd been up for over 2 hours!). We were getting ready to go and I decided that maybe Noah would benefit from seeing Blake's school, since yesterday Mom reported that on the way to nursery Noah kept asking, "Where's Blakey go?". Aw...that sweet little No-No. Anyway, we got Blake and Noah out the door - Noah strapped in his stroller along for a joyride - and then Blake's friends Charlie and Jemima came to meet him in front of the house. Mom ought to be hired by the French paparazzi who follow the Royals based on how many photos she took of those three in their uniforms! In the meantime, Mom and Dad's taxi arrived to take them to the airport, and in all the chaos of the goodbye hugs, I would not be surprised if one of the Handy Squad guys got a hug - although I'm not sure if I hugged Mom and Dad or if they got to say goodbye to the boys properly since we were by this point headed off down the street to get to school on time. Blake seems to have heard the phrase "man up" at some point in his tv journeys (possibly a cooking show ultimatum line or something?!) and I think one of Mom's parting lines to him was to encourage him in a very cheerful way to "man up" when he got to school. Ha ha.

The walk to school was fine, and when we arrived, Noah had a right happy nose around Blake's classroom - he seemed to love it! Unfortunately, when it came time for us to go, Blake reverted to his freaky doll "Mama, Mama" whimper which then developed into high decibel screaming and crying. Today was actually much worse than yesterday as I had to hand him over to the teaching assistant with him gripping my shirt and wailing at full volume. A few mothers had given me encouraging smiles and one grandmother came over and told me all about how her daughter (one of Blake's classmate's mothers) had cried for 6 months when she started school, and how the mother was told by a teacher what a good student the daugter was and all the mother could think about was the fact that she cried every day when she left her. I am sure this was meant to give me hope, but it fell a little short of the mark. Did I mention that the school is a former Jewish orphanage? I didn't make the connection til this evening, but I did wonder if there was some replaying of history. I'll be back this afternoon, I kept telling him!

As I've said, I know Blake is going to be fine, but I did almost cry as my friend Jenny tried to cheer me up. I didn't though, but my own tears were right there at the surface. It's just such a helpless feeling, not really being able to do anything that would improve the situation; as of yet I haven't started to make any real bribes about post-school treats, but that may be coming soon.

Then it was over to nursery, where Noah was none too thrilled about being left either, but I managed to get out of there with only a few tears from him. He adores Blake so much, and I think he will miss having him around at nursery. Maybe I could find a pull-string doll that says, "Mama...Mama" and that will remind him of Blake....

After that, I went and logged on for a half day of work - out of the oven and into the frying pan - is that the phrase? Speaking of which, what was I going to give anyone for dinner...?!

By 2:00 it was time to go get there was an afternoon drop-in session where we could sit in the class and observe what was going on. He was fine and we had a nice time looking at a lot of the toys and activities in his classroom. I then went and gave Blake 3 forms of chocolate - a chocolate croissant on the walk home, a hot chocolate at Cafe Rouge, and a chocolate spider from the Cook frozen food shop. Noah was thrilled to see us when we picked him up, and I guess the only downside at this point is that I feel a bit in need of about 24 hours' solid sleep - and surprise, surprise, I don't see that any time in my future. Though, 7 hours would be pretty darn good, so I bid you good night!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Don't Go Breaking My Heart, or Tears of a Clown?

10:36am - our new kitchen: So far the good news is that only two of us have cried (Blake, and Granny Karla, in that order). Blake wandered into our room around 6:00 and after lying quietly for a few minutes in the bed, he said with an excited lilt in his voice: "Is today the day I go to school?" Finally, we could reply that yes, it was! In a somewhat dozy state, I thought to myself, oh, this is a good sign. It could have been 2 minutes later, or it could have been 10, but sometime soon after, Blake started crying and then came the line which every parent really doesn't want to hear: "I don't want to go to school!". The rest of the morning was a bit of a rollercoaster - he went down for breakfast but immediately told Granny he didn't want to go (that's what caused her to get teary). He then seemed fine but when I brought down his uniform, back came the tears and the refusal to get dressed. I am going to give myself some credit here and say that I am getting very good at being sensitive and gently encouraging in these situations (how it helped that I didn't have to get ready for work, today). He then put his uniform on with excitement, while Noah decided he wanted to wear a pair of school trousers too. Blake looked super handsome and posed for some nice photos, but then a few minutes later, the tears were back - and not just a was like a dam had burst! Oh dear...I had elaborate plans for a photo shoot outside the house but in the end it was all we could do to just get out the door really. We met up with Charlie on the corner which brightened Blake's mood quite significantly (though they're not in the same class, which is bumming Blake out a bit) and made the walk in the morning sun. I felt it was a good sign that the sun was shining, though I'm sure we have plenty of days ahead of doing that walk in the pouring rain!

The school looked really lovely as we went in. It's an old orphanage that's been converted into the school, and there'd been rumors about how ready it actually was in terms of the building work and renovations. In the classroom, things looked good, but then when we went outside, the playground is really still a building site at the moment, so that may take a good few more weeks or months to get finished. We were there for about 15 minutes or so seeing all that was in the classroom, and then it was time for the parents to head off. At this point Blake started whimpering and then he was really crying and saying "Mama, mama!" (he never calls me that!), as Matt and I tried to figure out what to do. All the kids were getting settled on a carpet and so I took him away from the main action and tried to tell him it was going to be ok. He's going to be so fine, but I guess he just wanted to express his uncertainty at the new setting. His teacher came and held his hand and led him to the group, and I took my cue and headed out. I am not sure he's feeling 100% which would perhaps play a role, but I hope that when we pick him up later that he's had a good time.

An hour or so later, and I was sitting at our table humming, "Don't go breaking my heart..." because I guess it's one of those times where I am feeling a pang of heartbreak...seeing my little baby be so grown-up and head off into the unknown, but not without a reminder that he will miss me and that he's still not that big. I hope that when we pick him up this afternoon he's back to his usual cheery self and I can say that his first day tears were the tears of a clown.

9:45pm - I'm exhausted! Blake was so much cheerier when we met him at the end of the day, so Matt and I heaved a huge sigh of relief. I'm not sure we're out of the woods yet because it may be we get some rough mornings as everyone figures out the new routine, new faces and places. He did say he had a good time (best quote of the day was from his classmate Jemima as we were walking home: "I didn't learn *anything*!"). Too cute. Off to bed now...just trying to get all the photos into this album has put me through the wringer - so emotionally draining!



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

End of a lot of things

Hello! Thought I was gone forever, did you? Yeah, sometimes it felt a bit like that for me, too. It's been a long summer, and although I want to try and backtrack a bit to recap what's been going on here in the hectic months of May-August, tonight is really about a couple of things. First, it's about me trying to renew my energy in updating this blog. This blog is a part of my life, and it's one I've been neglecting over the past few favor of just keeping my head above water what with the work to the house, work, and the other work that is being a mother. I'm going to do a "before and after" house post, I promise! The second thing that happens tomorrow is that I go from being a "mother of a pre-schooler and a toddler" to a "mother of a school-age child (and a toddler"...a loud one, at that!). I suppose that I define myself as more than by my children, and really, this isn't about me - the story should just be that Blake's starting school, and how exciting that is for him. Of course there is that. Sure there is. But there's also this feeling I'm having which is about my reaction to hearing parents say things like "It goes by so fast..." and my wondering, Hmm, is that's how it's going to be for me? Surely it won't go that quickly, surely I'll be present and in the moment and be aware of the passing of time, etc.

I guess in many ways 4 and a half years has gone quickly, but in other ways it hasn't. "The days are long but the years go quickly." A lot has happened in 4 years...we've moved, had Noah, broke a world record for length of time it takes to make alterations to a home, had a lot of laughs, a fair amount of tears, the occasional yelling, and all in all, I feel like I haven't had a decent night's sleep in a long, long time. And all my hair has stayed the same color in that time - can you believe it? (ok, no, you're right, that isn't true!).

I was in Boston last week for a work trip, and while Matt and Mom and Dad held the fort (not, as my mom might say, "Hold down the fort") with the boys, I enjoyed being woken by an actual alarm clock that doesn't pounce on me to wake me up and catching up with my US team. It was sure good to get back on Saturday morning, though...I brought the boys some souvenirs from Fenway Park which they enjoyed for about 3 minutes and 20 seconds. Long enough for me to get some photos!

And so, I hope that my writing energy will continue tomorrow and I'll post some photos of Blake's first day at school. It's a whole new era...and the question isn't, "Are we ready?" but "What time do we have to wake up?!" Have fun, Blakey boy - you're going to do great!