Saturday, February 23, 2008

Happy Dance!!!

When I went to look at today's mail, I noticed a letter addressed to the parents of Grace from Milwaukee Public Schools...GASP!!...Grace's enrollment information for K4 next year.

I took a deep breath, said a little prayer, and opened the letter...

She got into Tippecanoe! I am so excited!! I had posted an entry in January about some school tours that we went on to check out our neighborhood schools, and in that entry, I had concluded that I would have been happy with Grace going to either Tippecanoe or Burdick Elementary. Since then, I have done some extensive research into test scores and things like that and out of the two schools, Tippecanoe by far has better scores and overall ratings than Burdick. And, I also found out that since Tippecanoe is a specialty school, if a child is not enrolled there by first grade, they can't be enrolled there after that at all. Also, every time we pass Tippecanoe, Grace says, "That's going to be my new school!" so I wasn't looking forward to having to tell her otherwise. So, recently I have been really, really hoping that Grace would be enrolled at Tippecanoe. Oh, I am so excited. It also helps that I can see the school out of our living room window, so we won't have to worry about transportation.

Oh happy, happy day.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Tonight, Grace, Aaron, and I were doing some shopping at our favorite store in the world, Target, when Grace made fun of me for the first time ever. Here's how it went down:

Me: (after noting that Grace had not one but two new holes in her relatively new pair of jeans and thinking to myself that her day care teachers must agree that I am the world's worst mother for sending her child to school with torn pants [I swear there were no holes in her jeans this morning when I dropped her off]) Let's find some iron-on patches. I think they might be (biiiiiiiiiig yawn) over there.

Grace: (mocking my biiiiiiiiiiig yawn) Over there?

Me: Are you making fun of me?

Grace: (Giggling at her funny) Yep.

Geez. She's not even four and she's making fun of her mom.

Don't know why I have been so tired lately. Sure, it could have something to do with the fact that I have been going to bed later than usual because Aaron and I have been up after Grace goes to bed working on our reception invitations. Could be because I have been working like a dog trying to keep up with house work now that I am working full time again. Could also be because the sickness that seems to be plaguing the rest of the nation has descended on our house and has made its way through Aaron and Grace, setting its sights on me. Either way, I'm frigging beat and to top it off (or because of it), I've been totally spacing out today. Mama needs a good nap or a morning to sleep in.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Winter, Schminter

I took a peek at while I was at work today because I had heard that we are in store for another bout of snow, and I found this:


This is Sunday’s forecast…yet another six inches of snow are predicted, but at this point, after getting roughly 8000 feet of snow this winter, does it really matter? What made me chuckle was “…to cause major impacts to commerce and society.” Ah yes, the writer of this warning clearly must have been sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic with me earlier this week during the most recent snowstorm, when my thirty minute commute took me an hour and a half. The only saving grace about this upcoming snowstorm is that it’s predicted to hit on Sunday, so at least it won’t affect rush hour traffic…at least it won’t if all of the roads are plowed by Monday morning. I think I’m going to just try to ignore winter from now on. Maybe it will go away.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Parent/Teacher Conferences

Last night, Aaron and I attended our very first parent/teacher conference for Gracie. When we were first invited to sign up for parent/teacher conferences, I wondered what to expect…I mean, she’s three years old, so I wasn’t sure how much information the teacher would have for us regarding academics and things like that. And, I drop Grace off at day care every morning and Aaron picks her up each night, so I would have thought that if there was a serious problem with the little one, we would have been informed by now. But, I signed up anyway, just in case Grace’s teacher had something new to tell us and ask her if she had some suggestions on how to get her ready for K4.

Turns out, I am glad that we decided to go. Granted, there weren’t any huge surprises, but it was nice to hear how Grace has been doing during the long days at day care and how she is interacting with other children and her teachers.

Overall, Gracie is right about where she should be at her age. Academically, she recognizes all of the letters and can write a few, can draw shapes, is able to at least trace all the letters of her name, and knows her numbers beyond 20 and can write a few of those as well. She can draw pictures on demand—for example, her teacher asked her to draw a person, which she was able to do and she even drew a person in a house and drew snow falling outside the house. She can tell a story from her imagination (she has the most amazing imagination) and remembers things well. The only thing that was on the teacher’s list that she was unable to do was to cut out a large circle, but my mom loves telling the story of my kindergarten screening when I was unable to cut a straight line but entertained the teacher with a long, rambling story that I made up on the spot, so Gracie comes by it naturally.

Socially, it seems that Grace is doing well, too, and honestly, this was the most important thing to me. After leaving her day care in Oshkosh where she cried daily when I dropped her off, I was concerned about how she would adjust long-term to a new center. But, it seems that she is doing very well—she joins in quickly with the other children during play time and is respectful of (although a little shy with) her teachers. She loves creative play time with the other kids and she has a handful of really close friends. (Sadly, I learned last night that her very best friend, who she talks about incessantly at home, is moving away in two weeks! My heart is breaking!!) She generally transitions well from one activity to another and isn’t having any trouble with nap time or lunch time. The only thing she has trouble with sometimes is when her teacher redirects her to another activity if she gets upset about something or is doing something she shouldn’t be doing. This is not a shocker to me, as she can get pretty stubborn at home, too, if she’s upset or in trouble. She definitely knows what she does and does not want to do.

I also found out that she is able to put her jacket, snow pants, boots, and other winter paraphernalia on by herself, which came as a surprise as she usually wants us to help her with it at home. Maybe she was having us help her at home because we always offer…perhaps it’s time to just let her do it herself. Also, when we asked if there is anything we can do to prepare Grace for K4, her teacher just suggested maybe working with her on writing her name and learning to recognize some basic words. Coming up at school, the kids are going to be learning lots of fun stuff, like their home addresses and how to write their last names. Important stuff!!

So, I wasn’t terribly surprised by our findings at the conference. I know that Gracie is learning more about her world every day and is discovering all kinds of new things. I also know that she is one heck of a kid and I couldn’t help but beam when her teacher told me what a great job she is doing. That feeling alone was enough to make the whole conference worth it.

Oh, and Grace is madly in love with Valentine's Day. Right now she has all of her cards and treats from all of her school friends spread out over our coffee table, admiring her treasures. I'm wondering which candy I'm gonna sneak in the name of preserving my child's teeth.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Circle of Life

This weekend Aaron, Grace, and I spent time up at my family's cottage in northern Wisconsin. It has become sort of a tradition over the past few years--my parents, my sister and her husband, and Aaron, Grace, and I choose a weekend in the middle of winter to head up north to relax and just get away from everything. We play board games and card games, walk out onto the frozen lake, eat lots of great food, drink wine, and just generally enjoy each others' company. It's something I sincerely look forward to every year.

Our family's cottage is uninhabited in the winter, but in the summer my grandparents, who spend winters in Arizona, live at the cottage. Because of this, quite a few of my grandparents' belongings remain at the cottage year-round. Whenever we head up north in the winter, I find myself missing my grandparents immensely as I look at all of their stuff and imagine what it would be like to have them there with us. But then again, there's something comforting in seeing my daughter playing with the same toys and reading the same books that I read at my grandparents' farm as a child. Which brings me to my point...

I spent part of yesterday looking at my grandma's old photo albums. In my searching, I found pictures from my parents' wedding and from my infancy. As I looked through the pictures, I was able to remember parts of my childhood that were all but forgotten and I was able to see my parents and grandparents as I remember them from my youth. I let myself remember what it was like to be a kid, running in the fields at my grandparents' farm, sitting under the willow tree in their front yard, and playing with my cousins. I laughed at my dad's 1978 hairdo, shook my head at my huge bangs and power cuffed jeans from my middle school days, and marveled at how YOUNG my grandma looked in some of the pictures. I also came across some photos of my great grandma, of whom I only have a few scattered memories.

Something dawned on me as I closed the photo albums and moved on with my day. It's amazing how life is...seeing photos of my mom holding me as a baby, photos of my grandparents walking my mom down the aisle on her wedding day, photos of my parents as reminded me of how life changes and evolves. Now I am the mom, my mom is the grandma, my grandma is the great grandma, and Grace is the little girl I see in the pictures. Part of it makes me sad, in a way, because as a child it seemed almost unthinkable that the time would ever come when I would have my own child, yet here I am. I couldn't fathom my mom as a grandma, let alone my grandma as a great grandma. It takes my breath away to think of how quickly time passes. But, part of me is comforted by knowing that the circle will continue, and we will always have these rich family memories to reflect on with fondness and nostalgia.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Another Snow Day

Well, it's the end of the world here in Milwaukee. Or, at least it would seem that way, since everything in the city is closed due to the forecasted 18 inches of snow that we are supposed to be getting today. Milwaukee Public Schools are closed, and thus, so is Grace's day care. My new employer emailed all of us yesterday afternoon and told us that if we felt it was too dangerous to come into work today, we could stay at home and work. And, Aaron's employer told their employees to either brave the elements and drive to work or take a PTO day.

So, the three of us are all snuggled up at home today, watching the snow fall. I decided, after much deliberation, that I didn't want to make the 30 mile trek into work this morning and risk my life, so I stayed home and am working from here. Aaron, who is feeling under the weather anyway, took the day off and is busy entertaining Grace (and right now "entertaining" means the two of them cozy on the couch drinking chocolate milk and watching Sesame Street).

It's actually kind of nice for all of us to be home together in the middle of the week. I'm so glad that I don't have to worry about any of us traveling around the city in this awful weather. And, it's wonderful to be able to see Grace's smiling face in the middle of the day.

Often I wonder to myself why I decided to move back to Wisconsin after living in San Antonio. The winters here are terrible, and on days like these, I daydream about what it would be like to live in a place that never had snow or freezing cold days. Today, though, I am grateful for the snow and for the fact that we are stranded at home. I love having this extra time with my family.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Thought For Today

I could never, ever be a smoker. After watching my coworkers sneak outside into the frigid winter air during a break to catch a few puffs, I realize what a total wuss I am. I could never force myself to stand outside, wrapped from head to toe in jackets and scarves and mittens and boots, for five minutes when it's raining ice just to get a fix. Or maybe I just don't understand...

Either way, pretty sure I'm a non-smoker for life.