Notes from the first day of school

Today was Maddie’s first day of school.She is now officially pre-K. It’s going too fast!!

First and foremost, she looked gorgeous. I got this dress during our trip to Paris:

Notes from the day:

  • This year she’s in a bigger class — 22 kids, with two teachers, two aides and three paraprofessionals (they help specific kids — including Maddie — who have physical challenges and need extra support). I got to meet Maddie’s para and her new speech therapist. She has the same PT and OT as last year.
  • The bus driver’s name is Preston. No, seriously.
  • Maddie said hello when she noticed me hanging around the back of the class, but then mostly ignored me. She was busy!
  • Sam seemed maniacally happy this morning. All is right in his world again. Of course he was also maniacally happy when she returned at the end of the day.
  • Quote of the day: “Sam might be sad today because I’m going to school. He might cry. Mommy might need to comfort him.”

And one last quick snap. This one taken during one of her activities — “painting” with glue and affixing torn paper to the glue. There is a lot of skills in that one activity!

Maddie and Mommy Hit the Town

The Mission: Get ready for school (first day: Wednesday, September 7)


Stop #1 Barnes and Noble: Might as well start out with something fun!

Choice Maddie quote: “First we’ll look at books for you, then we’ll look at  books for me.” (Apparently this is what we do when we go to B&N. I didn’t know she noticed.)

Purchases: For Maddie, Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet and Don’t Let a Pigeon Drive the Bus. For Mommy, the September issues of In Style and Martha Stewart Living. (What?)

Stop #2 Children’s Place for leggings.

Choice Maddie quote: “I’m hungry. I’m tired.” (Seriously. Stop #2.)

Purchases: Four pairs of leggings. One pair was mislabeled and has to go back. Awesome.

Stop #3 Duane Reade for a notebook.

Choice Maddie quote: “I’m hungry. I want a snack. I’m hungry. I want a snack. I’m hungry. I want a snack. I’m hungry. I want a snack. I’m hungry. I want a snack. I’m hungry. I want a snack. I’m hungry. I want a snack. I’m hungry. I want a snack. I’m hungry. I want a snack. I’m hungry. I want a snack.” (For those of you who think she’s always delightful, not so much.)

Purchases: Purple composition notebook. And Fig Newtons.

Stop #4 Sephora (What??)

Choice Maddie quote: “More cookie please.”

Purchases: Clinique Chubby Stick and hand cream. Plus, 500 point bonus gift!!

Stop #5 Hairdresser

Choice Maddie quote, after I told her that she is always beautiful: “No Mommy, I’m not always beautiful. Sometimes I’m gorgeous.”

Purchase: Very cute hair cut.

Stop #6 Cheeburger, Cheeburger for LUNCH!

Choice Maddie quote, after scarfing down a hamburger and fries: “Tomorrow when we come here I’ll have chicken fingers.”

Purchase: Lunch and a much needed break.

Stop #7 Blue Elephant for shoes

Choice Maddie quote: “These shoes make my feet dance!”

Purchase: Grey Ecco Mary Janes.

Last stop: Nap for Maddie. She may sleep until next week …

Hell is Other Parents

Today was orientation for Maddie’s pre-school.

This is for PRE-SCHOOL. As in FOUR-YEAR-OLDS. This is important. I’ll come back to this.

Orientation is a chance to meet the teachers, get the packet with more papers that need to be signed than a refi, see the classroom and ask questions.

It’s that last bit that inevitably reveals the very worst in my fellow parents.

So one parent asked a question about when the kids would start learning the alphabet because while his son knows the song he doesn’t recognize the letters. The teachers talked about the ways they would learn in class and also gave a few pointers for teaching this stuff at home. They emphasized that learning through play — rather than drills — is really best for this age.

Then the subject of snacks came up. Our school requires that we send lunch but snacks are provided in class.

If you want to see how crazy parents are, bring up snacks.

One woman, who is now my Mortal Enemy (you’ll see …) wanted to know precisely what snacks would be provided. In fact, she wanted to inspect the snacks because “I’m very picky about what my kids eat.” Congratulations, you are Mother of the Year. Your plaque is in the mail.

But then she asked the question that made her my Mortal Enemy. She said “I want to ask about academics.”

Before I go on, I want you to absorb that. She wants to ask about ACADEMICS. For FOUR-YEAR-OLDS.

So then she goes on to say that her child knows his letters and the sounds they make and she’s really worried that he won’t be challenged.

Yeah, she really said that.

I give the teacher a ton of credit. She talked about how kids have strengths and weaknesses and it’s okay for a kid to be good at something. That they enjoy having mastery over some skills.

My Mortal Enemy couldn’t let it go though. She is worried her kid will be bored.

I’ll tell you what I’m worried about. I’m worried my kid is going to LIKE your kid.


Mother’s Day 2011

What a difference a year makes.

Last Mother’s Day Sam was just shy of 6 months old. Maddie was almost 2 1/2 and had only been walking a few months. I can’t remember if he was sleeping through the night. I don’t think so. I’m guessing he was still getting up once. But I know he was sleeping in his crib with Maddie in her new toddler bed. In part I remember because the one and only time that Maddie got out of her bed and came to our room was on Mother’s Day last year.

This time last year I had been back to work for about two months. I was in that stage where mommyhood was still consuming me — literally, as it were, as I was breastfeeding or pumping throughout the day and night. I was tired. So, so, so very tired.

This year Maddie is 3 1/2 and smart as a whip. She loves preschool. This year I got the special joy of getting a gift made at school — a necklace made of plastic beads strung on yarn. I’ve promised that I will wear it to work tomorrow.

Sam is 17 months and delightful. Happy, mostly, though guarded with new people in a way that Maddie never was. Eating anything that doesn’t eat him first.

I’m still tired, but not like then. Mostly I just feel like I have a bit of my life back. I was able to go to the gym yesterday and today. I can wear normal bras again. I’m finally back to my pre-baby weight. I didn’t overly stress on that point either time — it took about a year with Maddie and longer with Sam. But still, it’s nice to be back into some of my favorite clothes and to even buy some new things.

I love being Mommy, but I also love being Tami. The past three Mother’s Days have been all about the Mommy piece — in 2008 Maddie was 6 months old, in 2009 I was pregnant again and last year Sam was very little. This year it finally feels like the balance is swinging back, just a bit, to the Tami side.

Conversations with Madeline

Me, to Sam: Sam, don’t eat your socks.

Madeline: Sam, don’t eat your socks.

Me: Maddie, you don’t get to boss Sam around. That’s my job.

Madeline: Oh. Why?

Me: Because I’m the mommy.

Madeline: Oh. And I’m not the mommy?

Me: No, you’re not.

Madeline: Oh man.

Conversations with Madeline

Maddie on using the potty: I’ll use it when I’m ready.

Me: Do you know when you might be ready?

MGF: When I’m 8.

Me: Um, you might need to use the potty before you’re 8.

MGF: How long do I have?

Me: How old are you?

MGF: Three!

Me: How old am I?

MGF: Ummm, 10?

Me: No.

MGF: 16?

Me: No.

MGF: 17?

Me: No.

MGF: Momteen?

You grew in the night.

You grew in the night.

I say this to you sometimes when I come to get you in the morning. I whisper in your ear … You grew in the night. I put you to bed and then by morning you have changed. Your face, your hands.

You grew in the night.

There are so many things I want to be sure to remember but I fear they are slipping away already.

I want to remember how you stretch when you wake up in the morning. Big stretches with your arms high above your head and your little legs flung out in front of you.

I want to remember how much you hated diaper changes when you were very small. You would cry and cry. I want to remember how, later, you didn’t mind be changed and would even giggle while your father got you ready for bed.

I want to remember nursing you in bed and how wonderful and sweet that was even when I was tired from being up in the night.

I want to remember your laughs and giggles and the many other noises you make.

I want to remember every minute because I know you can’t. I want to remember because if I don’t, who will?

I want to remember so that when I am old and you have gone off to make your way in the world I can savor the memories of when you were so small and consumed me completely.

[I wrote this post a long time ago, but never published it. Today seems like the appropriate day.]

First Day of School

We were all down on the corner by 7:15 a.m. Yes, all of us. Sam in his stroller. Daddy, toting the camera. Anashar (our nanny) who normally doesn’t arrive until 8, but who would not have missed this for anything. Maddie, clutching her lunch bag, her backpack and Tubby. Me, clutching my heart.

The bus pulled up to the wrong building and had to turn around. The driver was a bit flustered.  First day jitters for all.

Buses for wee ones include a matron who helps the kids on and off the bus. The matron looked a little alarmed when I climbed up with Maddie. “Are you coming too?” she asked.  “No, no,” I said, though the thought suddenly crossed my mind. “Just making sure she’s okay.” Maddie was strapped into her car seat, I gave her a quick kiss and hopped off.

The doors closed and just like that the bus was off. I immediately began to cry. Oh my god. What if she’s scared? What if they don’t understand when she asks for something? What if she spends all day crying? WHAT HAVE I DONE???

I went to the school around 12:30 and huddled in the doorway of the classroom watching her eat her lunch. So grown up.

By all accounts she did great. She recognized her Dora lunch bag (thank you Bubbe!) when lunches were handed out. (My kids don’t miss meals.) She played with the other kids. She did not pee in the potty, but one day at a time, right?

She came home and took the nap of all naps.  It’s a long day.  As weird as the timing is, I’m glad she has the next two days off for Rosh Hashanah. She is excited to go back on Monday.

I’m better now though I have cried about three more times.

Preston will put up pictures later. Meanwhile, here’s  a cute one from my iPhone:

Vacation Week #2: Back in NYC, More Museums

Read about our summer 2010 vacation week #1, here.

For our second week we were back in NYC, doing a few boring things (lawyer visit, trip to Target, etc.) but mostly relaxing and enjoying all the fun New York stuff that we actual New Yorkers never have time to do because we, you know, work here and stuff.

I’ll skip the boring stuff and just report on the three highlights:

The Cloisters. This is an outpost of the Met up at the very tip of Manhattan. It has all medieval and Renaissance art and architecture. Very cool. Maddie pointed out the animals in the tapestries. When she saw this painting she declared “They look grumpy.” And she was fascinated by all the different pictures and sculptures of the Madonna and Child. “There’s another mommy and baby! And another mommy and baby!”

MoMA: So fun! Maddie was primed for a museum visit because of the Cloisters. When we walked into the Picasso room she said “Oh, look at all the paintings!” A Matisse with three women and a bunch of flowers inspired this: “They are playing ball like how I play ball. I like ball.” Unfortunately we didn’t get to spend as much time in the Matisse as we’d have liked because someone declared “I want lunch!” (Sam, for his part, loved the nudes. Everytime he saw breasts he cried out with delight. He too was thinking about lunch.)

Check out Maddie playing with blocks in the children’s area:

And here’s Sam, being Sam:

Lots more great photos from MoMA here.

Beacon: After MoMA we decided to try a real restaurant with the kids. We figured a Wednesday in August at 5 p.m. was a good time for such an experiment. It was hilarious. First, Beacon was more kid-friendly than I would have guessed. They gave Maddie a coloring book and crayons. The kid’s menu included a steak dinner with a tiny filet mignon, mashed potatoes and string beans. Maddie and Sam were both on their very best behavior and the staff was amazing — so lovely and gracious. It was a whole new twist on family dining!

Great week.  Now to get a good night’s sleep … I’ve got more than a thousand email messages to wade through tomorrow …

Vacation Week #1: The Beach (Plus a museum)

This year Preston and I took a two-week long vacation.  It’s the first time we’ve taken that long off since our wedding in 1995!

For the first week we rented a house in Scituate, Massachusetts.  It was on Humarock Beach which is beautiful.  We had great weather and lots of fun.

There are lots of pictures here, here, here, and here, but here’s a real cute one of my three favorite people:

Meanwhile, here’s how the week went down:

Saturday: We arrive! Long trip, lots of stops. Auntie Tracy greets us with pizza. Hooray! Tracy and I run to the grocery store for party supplies and provisions.

Sunday: Party! Friends and family converge and Grandpa Monahan mans the grill and serves up yummy hot dogs and burgers.

Monday: First day on the beach.  That night we headed to Nana and Grandpa’s house to celebrate their wedding anniversary with lobsters. So fun.

Tuesday: Another nice beach day.

Wednesday: Beach day. Sound boring? It wasn’t.

Thursday: The Boston Children’s Museum. Super-fun. Check out the photos here. I haven’t been since I was a kid. It was awesome watching Maddie run around and have a blast. After we had dinner with Zeyde and Uncle Craig.

Friday: Last day at the beach! It was beautiful. Perfect weather. Nana and Grandpa came and spent the day. That night we headed back to the house for steak tips and potato packets on the grill.

Saturday: Pack ’em up, move ’em out. The trip back to NYC wasn’t too bad and we looked forward to another week of R & R a little closer to home …