Posts Tagged ‘school’

Mayfesting our Saturday away.

May 8, 2017

Saturday was Mayfest, a carnival held down on the river in the cultural district. There are rides and games and several music stages. Bee’s After Care program (all of them in the city, in fact) were putting on a show on one of the stages. Since Bee is the captain of the step team, the After Care director had been asking me since Christmas if Bee was going to be there. She knows we’re responsible and that many kids flake out and don’t show up to Mayfest because: traffic. The traffic is a nightmare. Last time we went, it took two hours to make a 20 minute drive.

So I wasn’t really looking forward to Mayfest, because on top of the lovely drive ahead of me, I also still had my bronchitis to deal with. My plans had been to just cuddle up with a book in bed and never change out of my pajamas. But: Mayfest. It was my Ex’s weekend; I could have laid Mayfest at his feet. But they had other plans and it was important to me after promising the director all year that Bee be there. And Bee’s best friend’s dad wasn’t able to take her and her mom was working, so now we were bringing Zari*, too.

So, Saturday rolls around and I pick up Bee-girl and then Zari. We headed out to the festival two hours early because I was a little paranoid about parking, and we wanted to have time for some carnival food and maybe a ride before we had to meet up with the group to practice.

And you know what happened, don’t you? Traffic was a piece of cake. I face worse traffic coming home from work every day. Sigh. So we enjoyed our extra time. We found the stage where we’d be performing and checked out all the rides and food tents (because the ground were laid out in a circle and our stage was the very last one). Then we all grabbed ice cream and drinks because 86°, all the sunshine, and we were all in pants. (Whoops.)

Then, because I’m a good mama who likes to let loose every once in awhile, we splurged on more than a few rides:

The girls loved the bungee jumps (and that’s good, because it was the most expensive ride there!). They did flips and jumps and I have no idea how they had energy left to stomp after all the jumping! They also demanded video, so I didn’t have memory left on my phone to get pictures of the rest of the rides. (They’re all on Bee’s phone and I haven’t gotten them from her yet.) They did a Superman-type ride where they laid down and did a tilt-o-whirl type thing on their stomachs like they were flying. (EESH!) They did the really high swings. They did a mirror maze that I thought looked fun and crazy enough that I’d have to go in there after them, but they were pretty good. [Bee-girl even said to me when we were pulling into the driveway that she hoped I wasn’t too lonely waiting while she and Zari were on all the rides. What a sweet girl to think of that!] The girls had a blast and I enjoyed being able to give them a bit of fun while we waited for the group to get there.

We also stuffed ourselves with food (ice cream, funnel cakes, roasted corn, turkey legs, beer, and so many cold sodas) and took advantage of all the freebies. And I have to say – the festival was really wonderful at having enough to do without spending tickets! (I guess to make up for $3 drinks?) There was a splash station, give-aways and free treats (we all got apples, yogurt, and won tshirts, towels, and sunglasses), and a stilt-walking station that gave lessons. The girls were surprisingly adept at stilts! I was amazed that after a time or two, they were walking up and down the walkway without a single falter! Their favorite freebie tent, though, was the art show.

Mayfest2

We spent a good half-hour in there, cooling off and examining technique on all of the drawings. They looked for and found their classmates entries, and Bee lamented that she hadn’t entered. (Her obsession with art mediums – especially drawing – has grown recently and I’m starting to wonder if art won’t play a larger role in her life. She has an aunt and a great-uncle who are both professionals, so there’s a strong possibility!)

After the art tent, it was time to wander back to the reason we were Mayfesting to begin with – the dance competition. The girls were impressed with the few shows we got to watch (I loved the traditional Mexican folk dancers), and they killed it when it was their turn!

You could see their faces light up when they heard the audience gasp and cheer them on. No one else had done anything outside of traditional “dancing” since it was a dance competition. But stepping is what our school wanted to do, and so that’s what they did, and I’m proud of them for it. I don’t think they won anything more than a participation ribbon, but they weren’t in it for a prize. It was wonderful to see my flighty, funky, hilarious little spazz monkey get up there and shout out the call-outs and lead the steppers with a loud, commanding voice and confidence in every movement.

It was a good, good day. Even if I went through three travel-packs of tissues and got a little sunburnt. I wasn’t planning on walking around a carnival for four hours, but I’m glad I got to spend some more time with my squinky, and that I got to give her a day of fun with her friend. Not a bad Saturday at all!

 

*Not her real name.

Teenagerhood is coming. It is coming.

January 18, 2017

<….sound of goblin drums…>

<Oooh, wait…maybe of Twister violins….>

Because it’s already here!

Yes, go ahead and ask me how my day was yesterday. Oh, I’m so glad you asked! My ex-husband called last night. On the home phone, no less. We never use the home phone any more. The only peeps who use that are my parents and telemarketers, neither of whom usually call that late. (It wasn’t that late, maybe 8ish?) I don’t know what made me look at the home phone, because I never do that any more either. But I did. And it was my Ex. So I answered.

Gracie was insisting she had to bring her lunch to school the next day (today). Did I know anything about that? Uh, no. But yesterday was her first day back to school since the weekend. So maybe something popped up? Oh, but she was refusing to tell him why.

Oh, yes – you read that right. Refusing to tell him why. REFUSING.

You can see why steam was pouring out of my ears.

Anger wasn’t even my first response though. I was so happy my Ex had called! I love this whole Pull Together, Win Together thing. It bodes well for the next few years. You know, the Tough Teenagery Years that were suddenly dumped right in our laps.

After I cheered a little in my head, I moved right on to confusion. Because Gracie hasn’t once ever pulled anything like that. She’s a goody two-shoes. She might whine when she’s in A Mood. And yeah, there was the whole “lying about texting her friends” thing. But one bump in all the tween years we’ve braved so far? Not bad. So what was with the sudden obstinence? And how the heck were we going to deal with it?!

I told my Ex that I would call her (he was out with Bee), and see if she would talk to me, and get back to him. So I called Gracie-girl, who sounded as confused at a late-night call (I never call either – we’re a texting family) as I was. I explained what was going on, using my best concerned voice, and she still sounded confused. And maybe a little whiny. She had told Dad, she said. She hadn’t refused, she said. She told him she wanted to take her lunch to school, just because. Not that she needed to take it.

I don’t know what happened. I don’t know if she just kept saying she needed stuff from the store to take for her lunch, and when pressed for a reason she said just because, and the manner in which it was delivered came across as less than straight. Or if her version of what happened was completely different from what actually happened. I have no idea. And that’s between my Ex and Gracie.

However: I explained to Gracie that she can’t ever not answer, if that’s what happened. I patiently explained to her that her dad must have been so worried and concerned if he called me. She seemed to understand. I told her that if it’s a want, not a need (language we use frequently at home), that she can’t expect her dad to drop everything to go to the store if he doesn’t want to. That it’s selfish to even get whiny about it. She could negotiate it, ask nicely, trade chores, whatever, but it’s not something he has to do. And that she probably owed him an apology when he got home. That they needed to talk it out.

I called my Ex back and told him what I had found out. He said he would talk to that Gracie-girl of ours.

And I spent much of the night texting my bestie whose (amazing) daughter is a senior in high school. They have had a very similar relationship as Gracie and I. I knew she would have ninja mom answers for my new teenagery kiddo issues. She not only had all the answers I needed, but she immediately asked the obvious question that I had completely overlooked: was Gracie feeling left out, or was she being teased for buying her lunch? Which, dude, would explain so many things. Kathy gave me the best advice, talked me off the ledge (with a later assist from my sister Rhi), and made sure I was able to sleep instead of mulling over the problem all night long. AND Kathy did it all in the late hours of Eastern Standard Time, and I know she’s not a night-time person. Because I needed my friend. And my sister finished up our talk with the magic good-night tradition – a magical incantation she would say to everyone every night before bed when she was a teeny tiny toddler. Those magic words actually were just what I needed to hear before bed, and I didn’t even know until I heard them. My village is awesome, you guys!

So, I guess Gracie and I will be having a conversation tonight. I don’t care if she takes her lunch every day or some days or whatever – as long as I’m not making it! All that matters to me is that she eats, and not just junk food. If she’s being teased for buying her lunch because she’s the only one, then she can take it. That’s never been an issue. I just want her to be honest with us. And for sure she needs to answer when we ask questions. Or some poor pitiful penguin with be without a phone for a certain length of time. Not answering is a no-go.

The teenagery years. I thought I had more time. But at least I know I’ll have a lot of help as I muck my way through them!

I’m with her!

September 28, 2016

Guess what’s going on today with the elementary school set?

stuco

Bee is running for Student Council Secretary and, yes, her campaign flyer is absolutely on my cubby wall. (Um, and possibly that is a version that I made just for the blog. I have no further comment on the subject.)

She has to make a speech that she wouldn’t practice in front of me because it made her nervous. She has two smashing posters (that were quite a long story) and a pretty good platform. Although she didn’t quite understand why I wouldn’t order a bunch of “I’m with her!” buttons for her to appropriate for her campaign. Hmph, she said, as she stormed off. (She was a lot more understanding about the posters.) Today is election day; it’s all come down to this.

My teacherly friends have promised to record her speech for me, and BLAHHHH! I just can’t wait!

Do a good job, baby! You’ve worked a good, clean campaign and I’m proud of you!

The oft-told story of – oh, look! A butterfly!

September 14, 2016

Three weeks. We made it three weeks into the school year.

You know how much I adore my youngest daughter. Bee is one of my favorite people in the entire world, and not just because I’m bound by contract to think so. She’s one of the sweetest, most empathetic and caring souls you will ever have the privilege to meet. She knows how to work hard. She’s funny as hell – seriously, even die-hard competitive Gracie loses graciously to Bee when we play Apples to Apples because Bee makes us all cry with laughter (intentionally and not).

But, as you’ve all heard me complain about many times, Bee is also what one might call…a bit scatterbrained. I can ask that sweet girlchild to go put her shoes away, and in the space of 30 seconds and while walking a straight line, she will be distracted by eight different things and be confused when I ask her why her shoes are now in the hallway. Because she has already forgotten.

Last year gave me a bit of hope. She held on to her sweaters and sweatshirts at school instead of losing one every week. She still lost dozens of homework assignments, but at least she understood how to do the work and didn’t complain when I made her redo them. Bee will always be a lovable space cadet, but I saw a glimmer of hope that her condition might be manageable.

And then on Monday afternoon, three weeks into the school year, came the text. Kimmy G., a teacher at Bee’s school and family friend, texted me on behalf of Bee’s teacher, asking where her Unit 1 test was. The class had been working on them during the last week, but she couldn’t find Bee’s. Had I seen it at home?

So began a flurry of texts back and forth, from Bee’s teacher to me (through Kim), from me to Bee’s dad (Bee had been at her dad’s for the last three weekends, and he has them overnight on Wednesdays when graded or incomplete work is sent home), from me to Bee’s teacher (through Kim – seriously, I owe her baked goods), and finally an email from me to Bee’s teacher.

Three weeks before Bee lost a Very Important Paper. How is she ever going to survive junior high or high school when having mama peek over her shoulder is less and less acceptable? How will she fare in college or the “real” world? Yes, yes, I get that she is ten – but shouldn’t she be able to get by now, especially with all of our conversations and lectures and tears, that you need to be organized if you want to not fail?

Because that was the alternative. Bee’s teacher said if Bee couldn’t find her flippin’ test [uh, my emphasis. ahem.] that she could retake it the next day. She didn’t want to give Bee a zero. But I was tempted. That might be what it would take for the message to sink it. Bee promises to do better every time, but I’m not seeing results.

And then there’s this complication: Bee’s running for office in Student Council. She didn’t want to even participate in Student Council, but this year she’s all about it. I encouraged her once she told me, and she surprised me by announcing she wanted to be president. No low-key office for my girl! Only…my Ex told me Bee had forgotten her application (and a library book) at his house that weekend. So now we had a missing test and a forgotten application. Oh! And Student Council members have to maintain A and B averages. A zero on a certain misplaced test would mean Bee would lose her qualification before she even started.

This is where I kind of lost it. I turned into Mean Mama.

I picked up Gracie from her choir meeting and raced over for a parent/teacher presentation at Bee’s school that I hadn’t been planning on attending – it was the same Here Are the Services We Provide meeting that I’ve seen 3298209384 times over the last seven years. Bee’s teachers are the same ones that Gracie had – obviously we know them well if they know to text me through Kim G! But now I had all this mama-guilt because they were trying to do my daughter a kindness, and so Gracie and I trudged in and sat down and listened to the spiel. I was glad I did – only one other parent from Bee’s class was there.

And you know what? The fact that they know Bee’s family is supportive and engaged, that we’ll do what we can to support Bee (and them) throughout the year, that’s one of the reasons they want to help Bee out with retaking the test. I shared with them (because Bee was out of the room) that I was thinking of not letting her apply for Student Council. She had forgotten the application; she had misplaced her test. Her teachers shook their heads and talked me into letting her do it. I felt like an enabler, but I let them give Bee another copy of the application when my special snowflake sauntered in after her AfterCare program ended.

I sat down and helped Bee think of dynamic sentences for the questions. I helped her evaluate which position(s) she wanted to apply for (you had to list a few preferences) and watched her print her answers in her very neatest handwriting. I’m still conflicted, but I felt good. Maybe it will motivate her to do better. To study harder. To remember the organizational tricks we’ve discussed.

And then last night I found the application that she had carefully paperclipped into her planner sitting back on the kitchen table. Under a notebook. Forgotten about.

Again.

The butterfly nets will be coming out soon, but not because I think I can round up all of Bee’s distractions. It will be because I’m headed for the funny farm. Wow, is it a good thing I love my flutterbudget so dang much.

It’s the school year again. How’d that happen?

August 22, 2016

It’s the first day of school and I can’t wait to check all of my blogs to see all the cute pictures! Cheeks for days!!! Except all of my friends kiddos keep growing up (um, don’t ask about my own. There’s a pool of denial and I’m wading through it, happily.) and so there’s more gangly legs and arms and cheeky smiles than there are cheeks and dimples. Which, still – adorbs! Because ZOMG our kids! Who let them get this old?!

Ahem.

So here are first day of school pics from Casa de Katie. We did not take all of these pics last night in the good light and while everyone was awake.* We did freak out because HEY! SCHOOL IS IN TWELVE HOURS! and stuff backpacks full of supplies, write notes to Bee’s teacher about missing supplies (she might transfer schools and I’m not leaving $150 of school supplies at the school she’s not attending), organize Bee’s uniform drawer and – you know – find clothes to wear and stuff, and we maybe wrote a note to Bee on her apple and drew a smiley face (a little Sharpie never hurt nobody), and packed a lunch because why fill up Bee’s lunch account when she might switch districts? It was chaos, but fun chaos. And then we maybe ran out and got take-out sushi for a snack at 9 p.m. As one does.

Good times!! We got the kids off to school (barely) with the help of 3098435 people. Gracie is carpooling with her bestie – bestie’s mom is driving them in the morning and Stepmom is getting them in the afternoon. I had to drop the Bee-girl off at school (and they opened the doors 15 minutes late, so I kinda wanted to strangle them) this morning, but I think Jeff will be dropping her off again this year. We’ll have to figure things out if she transfers to the new district with different start times (and is way far away from Jeff’s route to work).

It’s chaos! It’s insanity! But it’s all mine.

Here we go, school year! Middle school! New elementary school (maybe)! Band! Tennis! Practices! PTA! Volunteering! Orchestra (maybe)! ALL THE MEETINGS! 7th grade and 5th grade are gonna bring it! And for today – and maybe today only – we’re ready.

Bring it on.

 

*Except, yes, yes we did.

If school could just hold off a leetle bit longer…

August 17, 2016

School might start on Monday. Maybe. Possibly. I’m not really 100% on that because you see, I’m over here in this lovely land called Denial.

You see, I knew the mountain of prep work it would take and so I put it off all summer. I wanted us to just breathe and enjoy ourselves. We needed time to just relax as a family and not stress over things like new schools, new routines, new commitments and all. the dang. new. things. I had to buy to go along with it all. We had time. And besides, most of the things I needed to buy were clothes for the growing weed pre-teen. Buying things at the beginning of the summer didn’t guarantee they would still fit by the end of the summer. I was being smart! I would figure it all out after we spent our week in New England, I told myself.

Ha.

So here we are. A few days out from the start of school – at least I think school is less than a week out; I can’t even bring myself to check on that – and I have a whole host of details I need to plan. Costly, pricey little details.

Like: Gracie has returned to the world of school uniforms. The district she’s in – the one she transferred to last year – didn’t require uniforms for elementary school or sixth grade. They don’t require them for high school. The two years of junior high? Randomly necessitate school uniforms. So that means:

  • Five pairs of khaki shorts
  • Five pairs of khakis
  • Five short sleeve shirts [that a mom told me could be any red shirt, so that’s what I bought, and then we discovered at registration that all shirts had to be either collared or crew neck. So now I have to return half the shirts I bought. Oh! And they can be white or navy, too]
  • Five long sleeve shirts
  • A few hoodies or sweaters

Like the $200 worth of school supplies that I had to pick up before we left on vacation, lest we return to find shelves picked clean. Gracie dutifully texted me earlier this week to tell me the list posted online was the wrong list, so there are additional things she needs. Because of course there are.

Like the tennis team that Gracie joined, with its 30340953 meetings and 0 notices that have gone out. The one that I had to scramble to get physicals finished for (with an assist from her dad who actually took her) because who knew you had to have those finished by the beginning of August?! In addition to all of the meetings and booster clubs and parent-involved requirements (besides carting your kid all over the city half the week), I had to get:

  • Three pairs of workout shorts for practice (because mama ain’t washing clothes every night)
  • Three pairs workout shirts
  • Three sports bras
  • Two water bottles
  • Sneakers (that I haven’t bought yet)
  • A duffel bag for all this crap
  • Tennis balls? Do I have to get some of those? Hunh. Check into this.
  • And a racket of some variety that Gracie knows but I don’t because I also haven’t bought this yet. Note for Saturday.
  • Oh! And then there’s the booster club package that Gracie’s dad paid for and the spirit shirts for that

Then there’s band. Gracie picked up tennis so she could free up her general gym requirement to make room for engineering club; band and choir were her other choices for extra-curriculars. But band ain’t cheap. Thankfully, Gracie’s dad took her to get most of her gear:

  • Snare drumming books
  • Mallet percussion books
  • Stick work books (oh the jokes)
  • Oh! And sticks! And mallets!
  • A bag for her sticks
  • Some sort of duffel for all of it (I don’t know if we have that yet, hmm…)
  • A band shirt
  • And her practice drums, which I was lucky enough to find online because the stores were out.

Who knows what else we have for band because those meetings haven’t happened yet.

I have a big, long date with my planner to get us all caught up with meetings and appointments and games and booster clubs and practices and everything else. I’ll be glad when all of these lists can hit the recycling and when it’s all second-hand next year. That’s my new mantra this week: it will all seem old hat to us next year! Because my old mantra of “It can wait!” doesn’t seem to be holding up any more.

Now we just need to figure out when school starts and how we’re getting the kids to and from, and we’ll be all set! Ish.

Already, school year?

September 2, 2015

It’s because I jinxed myself. I wrote yesterday about Bee’s enthusiasm for the school year and how much she was enjoying math. The castle of cards hasn’t exactly crashed to the table, yet, but it sure is wobbling.

It started out as such a good night. It was September 1st, and to celebrate kids everywhere (in our minds) returning to Hogwarts, we popped on one of the Harry Potter movies and snuggled in our pajamas and at pizza on the couch. Then I sent the girlies off to shower afterwards and I started cleaning up a bit and that’s when I made the mistake of taking out Bee’s planner to sign.

I looked over her spelling homework. There wasn’t any name written on it (one of Bee’s repeated offenses – you’d think after so many points being deducted last year, she’d have been cured of that particular habit). And the handwriting was ridiculous: I couldn’t even read half of the sentences. The ones I could read didn’t always make sense. And so I called to my Bee-baby and began the heart-crushing dance of trying to impress upon her how important it is that people in general – and teachers, in particular – be able to read her writing. That she needs to slow down. And that, oh, by the way, she’s really bright and don’t start crying or losing faith, but the sentences aren’t so much sentences.

I hate the school year.

I did my best to help my Bee-girl come up with better sentences without doing the work for her. I tried to keep her spirits up. I cleaned the kitchen and checked the weather and did little chores so I could check on each little bit and generally stay there with her. And then I found the other piece of homework sitting in Bee’s planner and got a “Oh, yeah. I forgot about that one.” from Bee when I asked her about it, and I tried very hard not to lose my cool.

I love my spacey, free-spirited goofy girl so much. I do. I just really, really, really hate the school-year carousel it seems we get stuck on every year.

Five for Friday: The School Edition.

August 28, 2015

Hello, goodbye first week of school. Which: ugh. So many conflicting emotions. Most parents are jumping-up-and-down excited to get their kids out of the house! And while I am rather looking forward to getting back on a schedule after the free-for-all of summer, there are also a lot of changes and minor catastrophes going on with school that is making this week not my favorite. All of these could be posts on their own, but to recap our school adventures, here are the biggies:

1. The girls are in different schools for the first time since Bee started kindergarten and I am not a fan. I like the idea of Bee and Gracie looking out for each other if something were to happen. I like the singular drop-off and pick-up. I like being reasonably sure that between the two backpacks and different sets of teachers, I’ll get all the necessary notices for events, fundraisers, and all manner of things. But now we have kids in two different districts and the space between them is not only physical, it means different schedules, different days off, different dress codes, even. Chaos. Mass chaos.

2. Managing drop-off and pick-up is a nightmare! Bee’s school opens early at 7:20 a.m. Gracie’s school doesn’t open until 7:45 a.m. Bee needed to be picked up this week at 3 p.m., since After Care doesn’t start until next week. Gracie gets picked up across the city at 3:20 p.m. We’re trying all kinds of different maneuvers, but it’s taking all four parentals to make these crazy schedules work! Thank god our family is all willing to pitch in and go the extra mile for these kiddos.

3. And speaking of After Care, which we desperately need so Stepmom is only picking up one kid during her lunch hour, that godsend almost came crashing down around our ears yesterday. We kept checking Bee’s folders for the notice about orientation; it’s mandatory and space for the program is first-come, first-served. Oh, and last year, the school didn’t tell anyone when it was happening. We were tipped off by a teacher friend and spread the word the day of orientation. So yesterday, when I asked Bee if she had heard anything, she was all, “Oh. Yeah. Apparently, the orientation was last night. So we missed it.” After panicking and checking with the Ex to make sure he hadn’t forgotten to check her folder on Wednesday, I made a few calls and determined Bee’s teacher had never handed out the notices. Thankfully, crisis was averted when my teacher friend offered to work some favors and get Bee a spot if I emailed her the application. Basically, I owe her unicorns and free drinks and, quite possibly, Bee-girl herself.

4. Not to be undone on the drama front, Gracie-girl came to me Tuesday night and begged me not to make her transfer and start over again if her School of Choice application came through. I understood: she had started a new school and made a few friends right away and became buddies with the librarian and liked her teachers and had a crush on someone already. What 11-year-old girl wouldn’t want to stay put? Of course then Gracie got into the school that her dad really wanted, and Gracie relented, and so it came to be that Gracie started a second brand new school in five days. I’m glad there wasn’t a showdown because I wouldn’t have forced Gracie to transfer if she didn’t want to – why raise her to be independent and mature if we’re not going to honor her choices? – but I think it’s completely unrealistic of the schools to ask families to make a decision by the end of the school day. Uncool.

5. Finally, there’s the Great School Lunch Mess. Both girls, to their delight, have been taking their lunches from home this week. They begged and begged last year to be allowed, but supervising the packing of the lunches on top of homework, reading out loud, showers, dinner, and all manner of things was one thing to much for this mama. Buying hot lunches from school was an easy fix to scratch one item from the list, and so it was decreed. But because Gracie didn’t know the logistics of how to buy lunch (don’t you think that info should have been provided?!), she’s been brown-bagging it. I let Bee do the same in order to subvert any notions of a coup. When Gracie came home in raptures over the real! food! they offered in the cafeteria, I quickly set up her account with the money management Web site her school district uses. Thankfully, it’s the same system at her new school. She can go back to hot lunches next week. Bee, on the other hand. Good lord. So our school has used a certain money management Web site the entire time we’ve been there. It works great. But apparently over the summer, they switched vendors. When I tried to log-in to see how much money was left over in Bee’s account, and investigate whether I could get them to roll Gracie’s balance into Bee’s or refund it, my log-in didn’t work. Even though it was supposed to. I sent the log-in reset request like I was supposed to – nothing happened. The instructions mentioned that if no email was received in 30 minutes, to try again, I did that. Still nothing. So then I emailed customer support, as instructed. 48 hours later, still nothing. I get that there are probably system-wide log-in failures going on, but way to fail, you guys. And nothing has been communicated about the transition or expectations. So. There’s that to untangle, too.

First week of school, I am very, very glad you are about to come to an end.

My kids are terrible liars (and I am okay with that).

June 1, 2015

I don’t think I’ve mentioned our fantastic news and I can barely believe I breezed right past it, except there is muchly going on at Casa de Katie with all of the winding-down-of-the-school-year going on. Last week the girls got back their STAAR test results – you know, the state-mandated, pretty much useless standardized testing they took a little bit ago? The ones they have to pass to advance to the next grade? Well we got our results back. And I’m pleased to announce that it turns out my kids are a pair of smarty pants.

Now, we knew Gracie was going to kill it. She could ace her Gifted and Talented program in her sleep. So the state’s standardized tests? A cinch. Bee…I was a little worried about. Bee was barely passing some of her classes one minute, and then passing with a B the next. Rinse, repeat, bang your head against the wall. And again. And the practice tests went over so well that the school finally found room for Bee in their free tutoring program. (How convenient when their funding and records are on the line, right? Nevermind that I’ve been asking for years because Bee hates how she struggles.)

So the fact that Bee came thisclose to doing better, statistically speaking, than her sister? Well I was rather proud of her. And she was rather proud of herself. Finally, something solid for my baby to hold on to; something other than encouragement and a pat on the back from her mama, her dad, her teachers, from people already in her corner. This was an official test that says she was a rock star.

I thought that deserved a reward.

Enter Auntie Kim, who just happens to be in town. Kim had asked whether the girls’ dad and I would be okay with the girls staying home on Monday. They could run amok in the city without half the kids getting in the way. I thought it would be an excellent way to reward the childrens for doing so well. And their dad agreed. Except the girlies kind of missed that point. When Auntie Kim was scheming with them, teasing, she suggested to the girls that they might have “mysterious fevers” on Monday. Gracie caught on right away, but Bee was all “whyyyy?” about it.Sometimes I worry about that girl’s future as a spy, honestly.

Since I happened to be out of earshot at the time, the girls got it into their heads that I wasn’t to be let in on the plan. I have no idea why, but it tickled them to think they were colluding against me. Bee even left a note on Kim’s bed about something else entirely, and finished with a “P.S. I can pretend to be sike [sic]”. They were completely and irrevocably sold on this fooling mom thing.

So last night, after having spent all day out in the sun [HOORAY FOR SUNSHINE FINALLY GOD I LOVE THE SUN], Gracie downed some frozen coke and then complained that she was freezing. Auntie Kim mentioned (rather innocently) that Gracie had been cold the night before, too. Now, we all know it was because she had been out in the sun and then ate a bowl of frozen ice, but who am I to let an opportunity pass? I asked if she felt okay and then checked her forehead. “You feel a little warm,” I remarked…and Gracie’s eyes got big as saucers. I asked Bee to feel her forehead, too, and Bee’s eyes darted over to Auntie Kim so fast, an idiot would have known something was up. Of course I commented that her (completely cool) forehead was warm, too. God, I’m an awesome mom.

So the girls mumbled from time to time that they weren’t feeling good, and got all shifty eyed when I made them set out their school clothes for the next day, and didn’t even complain when I sent them to bed early because of school. Dead. Giveaway. Girls.

No one was surprised when they complained they didn’t feel good this morning when I woke them up (late, because I knew I wasn’t getting them ready). Everyone said their heads hurt and tummies ached. And then everyone was all giggly two seconds after my car door closed when Kim dropped me off at work.

Oh, those girls of mine. I’ll tell them the real reason they had their fun after it’s all said and done, but for now, I’m going to let them enjoy their moment and their horrible, terrible lies.

They certainly earned it.

The pyramid scheme – I mean, chorus! Pyramid chorus.

December 10, 2014

Good lord, am I tired.

And if I’m this tired, I can only imagine what reserves the girls must be running on. It has been a long, long week. Well, more than a week. A week stretching back until the beginning of last week. This past weekend? There was no resting. There was sleeping-in on Saturday, yes, but then it was go!go!go! all weekend long. It’s the season of Way Too Much Stuff To Do, which brings us back to last night’s concert.

The music director at the girls’ school is newish. It’s his third year there and he…well, he’s different. He’s quirky. I am pretty sure he doesn’t have children of his own, which shouldn’t matter, except it’s obvious that he doesn’t quite connect with the kids. I mean, he does and he doesn’t. And he certainly expects a lot at times when he maybe should let up off the gas a little.

For instance, this year he committed our school to participating in the district pyramid chorus. The honor’s choir, the third grade choir, and the after-school kids all combined (though that’s not quite what the information sheet to parents said, but that’s a different story) to create a decent sized chorus, and they’ve been practicing their hearts out. Last night was the big night. Fifteen schools – mostly elementary, but also two middle schools and the high school – participated. Each sang one or two songs, so it was a bit of a long night. Our school brought down the house (spoiler alert), so that was okay. But…

I give mad props to anyone who volunteers his or her time. Especially if the case in question is emceeing a very long evening. The director with said duties did his best to keep the intros short, but I would have appreciated if the concert started on time. A 6:30 start time is great for parents who don’t get out of work right at 5p, or who are commuting back from Dallas, but that means that the concert didn’t echo its last note until just after 8p. That’s a long night for the parents – and we’re grown-ups. I know it was a long night for my 8- and 10-year-olds. And I really know it was a long night for the little brothers and sisters in the audience because Gracie’s bff’s mom and baby sister sat with me, and the baby sister (who is three and adorable) sat on my lap for most of the show. Lil sis was jammin’ and rockin’ out for most of the concert. Then there was a near-meltdown. Then she wanted to sleep and couldn’t get comfortable. So, um, good idea to start the concert late, but there are major trade-offs and mygod, late night. Late school night.

Most of the performances were really good. A couple missed the mark, but still got As for effort. One group sang Silent Night and there was one kid you could hear above the others and she was missing all the notes. If I could hear it, everyone could. Gracie is much more sensitive, because she can hit a lot of notes. She’s not ever going to be able to pursue singing as a career or anything, but she does have a bit of talent. And because Ricki and I were having fun commenting (quietly) on everything going on around us, she and I looked over at our daughter’s and Ricki had to stifle the giggles. Gracie was slunk down in her chair, eyes wide, her hand slapped across her mouth – which you could tell was jaw-dropped in horror. Our girls must’ve felt their mamas eyes on them because they turned to look at us and I shot Gracie my best “Sit up and be-have!” eyes. It worked. Mostly.

Two groups knocked it out of the park. One of the middle schools had a really strong music program and a bunch of talented kids to work with. A smaller group sang a gorgeous rendition of Carol of the Bells, parts and all. There was goose-bumpery all over the auditorium. And then there were our kids. Our rather large group sang a couple songs, including some Christmas parodies of some pop songs, like TaySwift’s Shake It Off. There was a bit of a hip hop vibe to our 2nd and 3rd songs (god, why can’t I think of what else we sang?!) and the kids had a ton of dance moves and nailed them all. Everyone in the audience was on their feet applauding. So while our director might not always get that he’s over-committing our kids, he is certainly very creative and knows how to pick songs that will engage his chorus.

The girls were thrilled with themselves when the show was finally over. I got a big hug from Gracie’s bff when they came over (her mom confessed that D. was mad – she thought if her mom didn’t show, she could come home with us. Ha!). Bee was still beaming and even Gracie looked pleased instead of pretending to be blase about it all. I lavished them all with heavy praise, and then shepherded my crew back home to bed.

I love the Christmas season, you guys. You knows I do. But mostly, right now, I am just very glad that one very big piece of the Christmas madness is over.