All me

A can now read one word consistantly.  The word?  It is “EXIT.”  She announced to me today that she is SO happy to be able to read the word “exit” because now she will always know how to leave a building in case of an emergency.  Then she grew concerned because there are no exit signs in the houses of her playmates, and what if there was an emergency there?  She is truely my daughter.


Slowly but surely

Today was a banner day for me.  I handed over a massive notebook of information on a project I was (unhappily) working on for church onto someone else and washed my hands (almost) of the entire project.  I threw the flyer asking for parents to deliver nutrition programing to the students at C school in the recycling bin (although I have reserved the right to say yes to that one if they send out a second flyer).  I resisted the urge to invite the all the parents of kids in C’s class over to coffee as an alternative to another mother’s well-intended but totally unrealistic plan of having 25 people plus younger siblings decend upon a (small) local coffee place.  I announced that this would be my last year managing Breakfast with Santa to my co-chair.  And, finally, just a few minutes ago, I resisted the urge to offer to supply an appetizer for a party that I won’t even be attending.

I feel (almost) free!  Is this how the rest of the world lives life?  Or am I on my way to being a total slacker mom?


C has been having a hard time sleeping for the past week or two.  Today, in a fit of desperation, I took him to pick out a notebook so he could write down anything that might be bothering him.  He raced home and spent a good long time working on it.  And tonight he went happily off to sleep.

What he wrote in his notebook (besides the start of his holiday wish list)?  “Pleise let Mama Hipo sty.”

My heart just broke into a thousand pieces all over again.


This is Mama Hippo.  She is a bit bedraggled these days, having seen the inside of the washer and dryer more than once in her life.  In C’s mind, Mama Hippo was a gift from his beloved Julia (although I can’t quite remember whether Rebecca had just suggested her purchase or had actually purchased her for us).  Mama Hippo was ignored for the first few months of her life at Chez J-E.  But somewhere around 10 months or so, C discovered her soft, squishy head.  By two, Mama Hippo was a constant travel companion.  By three, I had managed to convince C that Mama Hippo couldn’t travel out of the house anymore, except if we were sleeping overnight somewhere.  I was terrified that she would get left someplace, as she was our key to a good night’s sleep.

When Mike and I traveled to Alaska earlier this year, Mama Hippo made the journey to Nana’s, of course.  About half-way through the week, the kids went to spend a few nights with my dad and Mama Hippo got left behind with Nana by mistake.  When I spoke with my dad, the first words out of his mouth were “C is rather attached to Mama Hippo, isn’t he?”  Without Mama Hippo, C had apparently sobbed for several hours before falling asleep mid-heave from utter exhaustion.

On Wednesday C had his first show and tell day at school.  When I asked what he was planning on bringing in to class, he looked at me as if I was crazy and said “Why Mama Hippo of course, she is my favorite thing and we are supposed to bring in our favorite thing.”  I panicked.  The thought of Mama Hippo roaming the halls of an elementary school, perhaps even seeing the playground, was a horror I had no interest in contemplating.  But C was insistent.  She was carefully tucked into his backpack, and off they went to school.

Standing around with the other parents, I got the rundown on what everyone else had brought in.  A Nintendo DS, a signed baseball, an action hero.  I panicked again.  What if one of the kids made fun of Mama Hippo?  What if C got wind of the fact that his love for Mama Hippo wasn’t socially acceptable anymore?  I spent the day in a state of barely controlled anxiety.

At pickup, as I saw C tumbling down the hill with the other kids, I raced over and asked “Do you have Mama Hippo?”  He responded with “Yes,  Mrs. D made me put her right back in my backpack after show and tell because she was so special.  Mrs. D wanted to make sure she was safe.”  I fell a little bit in love with Mrs. D right then and there.

Then I asked carefully, “How did show and tell go?”  C tilted his head and said “Pretty well!  I told all about how Mama Hippo was a baby gift from my best friend Julia, and how I slept with her every night and snuggled her when I got sad.  I even told them about how when you made her take a bath in the washing machine last week, I stood by the washer and dryer to make sure she wasn’t scared.”  I internally cringed, visions of all the potential comments from 1st graders not yet capable of using a social filter dancing through my head.

“Did people get to ask questions afterwards?”  C shrugged.  “Mrs. D told me that it was clear how special Mama Hippo was, and how lucky I was to have her.  Then she said we were out of time and we had to move on to math.”  I fell head in heels in love with Mrs. D.  Because while 1st graders may have limited ability to filter their thoughts, they also have limited abilities to retain those thoughts when faced with the prospect of math worksheets.

C skipped home chattering about how much fun Mama Hippo had at school, but how she was tired from her long day and had to go straight to bed, as she was used to napping most of the day.  I walked home grateful that my son’s innocence had been kept intact just a little bit longer.  I know that someday Mama Hippo will become “uncool” and be relegated to the back of the closet, only to be pulled out stealthily in the middle of the night.  But for now, she still holds her place of honor on C’s pillow, guarding his bed while he is gone and keeping him safe while he sleeps.


Overheard in the kitchen

M: “I think I am embracing this whole light beer thing.”

Chichimama: “Really???”

M: “Yep.  In fact, I think I might even have to investigate O’Doul’s.  (Pause) I’m old, aren’t I?”

Chichimama: ” You know I have to blog this, right?”

Later, as M is trying to put together some new bookcases…

Chichimama: “Are you READING the DIRECTIONS?”

(M give Chichimama a nasty look.)

Chichimama: “First non-alcoholic beer, then direction reading!  Before you know it, you will be walking into gas stations and asking for help in finding the highway!”

M: “NEVER!  I have GPS!”

Outta Luck

Last year A missed not a day of school.  C missed one, and I actually could have sent him that day but we were all tired and it was March and the child hadn’t been sick once so I decided that a day on the couch was warranted.  We didn’t even have runny noses once all year!  I chose not to mention such things on da blog because, well, no point jinxing myself now was there?  But now I feel free to do so as it appears that our luck has run out.

The kids have been in school for three days.  We all have the worst coughs we have ever had, except for the pneumonia incident. The cough is the worst illness, as your child sounds awful and no other parent wants your coughing child in school.  But yet, the cough is no where on the list of illnesses that require you keep your child home from school, unless there is a fever.  Plus, unlike some other illnesses, the cough drags on forever, so it is not even like one can fudge it and say “You feel a little hot, I think I will keep you home.”  Because if you do, they will still be coughing ten days from now and you can’t fake a fever for ten days.

So I apologize in advance to all the parents who are going to be whispering in their children’s ears to “Stay away from that coughing child over there, GERMS!”  But my kids will be headed to school tomorrow, although I fully anticipate that C will be sent to the nurse at least once to check for a temperature.

The First Morning of My (New) Life

6am: Wake up. Look at clock. Ah, can sleep another hour. Life is good. Have finally reached the stage where the children don’t wake up at the crack of dawn.

6:20am: Why do I feel like someone is looking at me? Argh! Why are you here? And dressed? With a backpack on?

6:21am: Argh! School!

6:40am: Toast Make breakfast.

6:50am: Dictate Discuss lunch options. Realize that making a lunch that a) fits in a lunch box, b) can be eating cold, and c) will actually be eaten, is harder than it looks.

6:55am: Make note to self that one must think about lunch at least 12 hour in advance, in case one needs to make an emergency provisioning run.

7am: Throw random fruits and vegetables into small containers and threaten gently remind soon to be 1st grader that what goes to school in the lunch box must come back.

7:15am: Where is the backpack? It was right on the bench last night. Packed with all the required school supplies except the now “made” lunch.

7:29am: Find backpack stashed in linen closet. Scream at Remind soon to be Pre-K student that backpacks are now important school supplies, not toys to be used for imaginary camping trips.

7:30am: Console weeping soon to be Pre-K student and apologize for using the word “imaginary” in conjunction with the word “camping trip.” Of COURSE it is a real camping trip when one has hike up and down the stairs 14 times.

7:35am: Decide that if everyone is already upstairs, it is time to get dressed.

7:36am: Realize that no one has a blessed clue what the weather is going to be like. Assign soon to be 1st grader to watching the weather channel.

7:38am: Find soon to be 1st grader watching Magic School Bus instead of the weather. Scream Gently remind everyone that there is no TV on school mornings. Discuss why the weather channel is OK, but Magic School Bus is not.

7:45am: Remind soon to be 1st grader and soon to be Pre-K students that Crocs are not acceptable school footwear. Discuss WHY Crocs are not acceptable school footwear. End discussion with “Because your teacher said so.”

7:50am: Where ARE the newly purchased, school-approved, footwear items?

7:51am: Return to linen closet and find them tucked into guest towels. Make mental note to wash towels before any guests arrive.

7:53am: Tie one set of sneakers while lecturing soon to be 1st grade student on the importance of learning to tie shoes.

7:55am: Console soon to be Pre-K student and promise that the VERY NEXT PAIR of shoes she gets will have laces too.

8am: Frantically search house for new directions on where one can and can’t park at elementary school. Discover that the “usual” parking spot is now a “5-second” loading and unloading zone.

8:05am: Shepard soon to be 1st grader and soon to be Pre-K student out door.

8:06am: Look down and realize that yes, soon to be 1st grader is correct, and Mommy is still in pajamas.

8:07am: Shepard soon to be 1st grader and soon to be Pre-K student back into house. Quickly run upstairs, insert contacts, throw on running clothes. Because once both children are finally ensconced in their respective locations, it will be time to JOG!

8:17am: Shepard soon to be 1st grader and soon to be Pre-K student back out door.

8:25am: Realize that not only has the preferred parking spot become a 5-second loading/unloading zone, but that the preferred route is now comprised of one-way streets going the wrong direction.

8:30am: Finally find parking space nowhere near where soon to be 1st grader is supposed to line up. Drag soon to be 1st grader and soon to be Pre-K student out of car and race to the other side of the building.

8:34am: Located appropriate 1st grade line just in time to see the soon to be 1st grader’s new teacher walk out to collect her students.

8:35am: Marvel at how young said teacher is, and wonder if she is really old enough to be teaching. First bell rings.

8:36am: Newly-minted 1st grader stands stock still and watches the rest of his line enter the school through 1st grade door. Newly minted 1st grader’s teacher returns to take newly minted 1st grader by the hand.

8:37am: Newly-minted 1st grader’s teacher beckons to librarian for assistance, and newly minted first grade student finally agrees to enter building while clutching the librarian’s hand.

8:38am: Wipe tear from eye as newly-minted 1st grader finally disappears from view. Grab hand of soon to be Pre-K student and race back around the building to car.

8:51am: Arrive at soon to be Pre-K student’s school and discover all parking spaces are gone. Park illegally in reserved parking space.

8:53am: Marvel at the fact that soon to be Pre-K student’s teachers have not yet retired.

8:54am: Look around for soon to be Pre-K student and discover that she has already entered her classroom, found her name tag, picked a book, and sat down on the rug. Try to give newly-minted Pre-K student a hug and am given the hand. Shrug and quickly exit the room.

9:15am: Flop on couch and decide that tomorrow is another day.