Tuesday, September 29, 2009


It's gloomy and windy today, and I'm trying to decide whether or not to turn the heat on for the first time this year. I wore a scarf to get Annie from school this morning, and she wore a hat on the playground. It's crazy to think that, in 24 hours, I'll be stepping off a plane onto an island, where the weather forecast is for a string of sunny days with highs in the upper 80's.

As of this minute, I am packed. The girls' laundry has been freshly folded and put away, tonight's dinner is in the fridge, waiting to be baked, and the four-page Word document telling my in-laws how to live our life for a week is sitting on the dining room table. My toes are painted. The six books I checked out of the library are packed. My carry-on is filled with snacks, magazines, sunglasses, a straw hat, and a camera.

I don't think it's possible to be any more ready. For the rest of the day, you can find me snuggling my girls extra close, dreaming of tropical beaches, and alternating between panic and anticipation. After that, you can find me here. And here.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Recent High Points

Annie decided she kinda likes soccer, after all.

I cooked something that was both yummy AND looked almost exactly like the picture in the magazine! (Everyday Food Chicken Pot Pie)

We took the girls downtown to check out ArtPrize last night, realizing mid-way across a bridge full of fascinating sculpture that we (minus girls, of course) had been in that exact spot at that exact time thirteen years earlier, on our first date. Awwwwwwww . . . .

Jemma was intrigued by all the art. She also felt that it was there to serve as a backdrop for modeling.

Annie in front, Jemma's arms peeking out from behind.

Jason spent this afternoon hunkered down with the neighborhood guys, sans kids, playing cornhole, deep frying every single item of food available to them (including bratwurst), and watching Michigan football. Then he came home and posed Jemma in this victorious shot.

Tomorrow, we're opting out of the rat race for a day, scorning the usual scramble to church and Sunday School in favor of some good, old-fashioned hanging out in the morning, followed by some to-do list tackling later in the day. I watched an episode of Toot & Puddle with the girls today, one in which the pigs venture to Hawaii. I dare say it increased my excitement level more than is probably normal after watching a cartoon. So tonight, I'm settling in with a giant glass of ice water (still re-hydrating after this morning's boot camp workout), readying a long to-do list, and perusing the Frommer's Hawaii 2009. Allowing myself a few fantasies about yoga on the beach, biking down a volcano at sunrise, a morning at the spa, and books by the pool, too. Four days to go.

Friday, September 25, 2009


I have spent the better part of this week trying to squeeze in all the little things that have to happen before we can leave for Hawaii. People have been asking me if I'm excited, and, frankly, I'm the least excited I've ever been before such a big trip. I mean, I'm 100% glad we're going (obviously!), but right now I'm just consumed with Is the laundry done? and Did I re-stock the shampoo and body wash? and Don't forget to print out a map to the soccer field and Finish the list of important phone numbers that I can't even focus on getting my brain into the "excited" gear.

Once I get on the plane, I hope I will be able to let go, to be excited, but even then, I am not sure how it is going go be. This week, I have let my mind go to the Unspeakable Crazy Place, the place where I envision all sorts of tragic outcomes to the decision we made to take this trip. Most of these fears stem from my deep dislike of being on a plane with Jason, but without the girls. I don't like it one bit, and it scares me, but the rational part of me knows that it is far, far more risky (statistically) to ride in a car with my husband, so if I were to follow this hysterical logic, we'd never go anywhere again, and that's clearly no way to live. It just feels weird, to me, to know that I'll be so, so far away; to know that it would take me a full day to get back home to them.

When the girls were very, very small and constantly needy and hardly ever sleeping, I was occasionally somewhat desperate to get away from them. I felt suffocated by their need, exhausted by it. I distinctly remember fantasizing about giving Jason a bottle and a can of formula, wishing him well, and checking myself into a hotel room for a day or two. (I didn't; maybe I should have.) I was nursing exclusively, and I wanted to control every minute outcome of their day, so I didn't let myself leave, much, those first months of their lives.

Now, it is not as big a deal. Of course, I worry a little about everything going smoothly, and I know they'll miss me and I'll miss them. But overall, they're fine, they'll be fine, everything is fine; they don't specifically need ME. I can leave them. And now, I don't want to nearly as much.

So there's that. Tomorrow, or the next day, I promise, a list of all the many tropical things I'm looking forward to doing and seeing and eating and experiencing.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


The conversation I overheard this morning, as Annie got up and talked to Jason:

Annie: "Hey, Dad, my doop smells like Cheerios."

Jason: "Hmmmm," (not really paying attention, mostly trying to measure the coffee.)

Annie: "Dad, I think that, at a little after 6:00 this morning, doop got up, snuck out into the kitchen, AND ATE SOME CHEERIOS!"

Jason: "Hm. Yeah?"

Annie: "Yes. And then she came back to bed with me and I woke up at 7:00." (Hysterical laughter.)


As Jemma falls to sleep, she plays with the big knit blanket my mom made for her when she was born. (This is known as "big doop" and covers Jemma while she sleeps, and is not to be confused with her waffle-weave blankets which are identical to Annie's doop and known simply as "doopy.") When she does this, tiny balls of fiber - cotton? - pill off, and Jemma worries them between her thumb and pointer while she falls asleep.

When she finds these little balls around the house later (and they are all over the wood floor under her bed until I vacuum them up), she takes them in her palm and calls them "chicks." This, I think, is still leftover from the movie "Up." Sometimes, she gives them to me and asks me to "take care of them."


In addition to the many components of her new big-girl bedtime routine (read books to her, snuggle, she reads books TO YOU, snuggle, song, hug, kiss THE END), Jemma is also unable to sleep until the two small plastic twin babies in the dollhouse (Carter and Clara, OBVIOUSLY) are in their cribs, covered with their doops.

Monday, September 21, 2009

What We're Up To

Jason: working, working, working out, working, working, eating, working, talking on the phone in a very loud voice while pacing.

Steph: cooking things, preferably with leeks or caramel (but not together); herding children; moving dishes, clothes, and toys from one place to another place; buying children's birthday gifts; being sore from her Saturday morning boot camp workout; trying not to freak out about leaving for Hawaii in NINE DAYS OMG; constantly updating a Microsoft Word document that is going on three pages regarding care of children during trip to Hawaii; wishing people would return her e-mails.

Annie: surprising us all by liking her soccer game; running in the house to change clothes/shoes/headbands and saying, "Smells good, Mama!" as she flies by; being extra affectionate; still bemoaning the lack of babies and/or dress-up clothes at school this year; being this close to riding her bike without using the training wheels at all.

Jemma: requesting milk and snacks at all hours of the day; refusing to go in the shopping cart at the store by doing a move similar to a cat being put into a bathtub (legs spread wide, whole body very stiff); requiring a long "snuggle" in her chair before being put to sleep at night; asking me to "itch her back" when we snuggle; telling me correctly, letter by letter, how to write her name in chalk on the driveway tonight.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Advice on Sanity and Balance

I got this from a weekly e-mail I receive from www.sanemoms.com, a site a friend told me about. I'm sure everyone would feel strongly about one of these (and maybe disagree with one or two), but the first one is the key for me. I need to be alone sometimes - preferably alone in my own house, though that is especially hard to come by - and when I don't get that time, I get grouchy. I'm also in total agreement with the eat/energize/exercise mantra; when I'm doing all those things, I feel better, even if the circumstances around me remain frustrating. I'm liking this reminder for myself, for now, and for my girls, for "someday."

Seven things that are key to a moms' sanity and balance:

Be alone regularly : This is a must and there's really no arguing it. It's not selfish, it's utterly and completely necessary to your mental health. If 15 minutes of quiet time in the morning before the kids are up does it for you, then move heaven and earth and your sleep-laden body out of bed to get that time! Need 4 hours a week? Barter/beg/hire your way to rediscovering the quietness of your own thoughts. Yes, you still have them! You just can't hear them in the chatter of daily life. This is really non-negotiable.

Root yourself : Know who you are and what you believe. Stand up for it. Nurture it. Feed it, that fire in your belly.

Eat | Energize | Exercise : A not-so-simple trio, I know. All three center around mindfulness though, listening to your body and what it needs. Eat real food. Make your sleep a priority. Move in ways that make you feel free. Pay attention to how your body reacts, the patterns are there for the finding.

Accept your life : Ok, this is my total stumbling block right now. Sigh. Note to self: Accept where you're at, or you'll never change it. Fighting and fretting don't work. Let it be and find the good, make plans, look for opportunities, set sail but don't expect to see land yet. Find your faith.

Tend your passions : I was asked yesterday what one piece of advice I'd give to someone looking for coaching. What popped out was "Find the one thing you really love to do, and make sure you do it at least once a week." That pretty much sums it up. I need to make things (other than meals and beds) and must do it regularly. Not managed that much lately, and I'm really feeling it.

Have boundaries : Oh yes, that one. Saying no thanks. Setting realistic expectations. Sorry but our kids aren't allowed to have/do that. We draw the lines.

Enlist support : Leaving the hardest for last? Perhaps. Asking for help is extremely hard. Pride takes a hit, vulnerabilities get aired, we are admitting defeat. It's goodto ask. It makes us human, and weaves us together into something stronger than we were alone. Something beautiful, living, and yes, breathing.

Simple thoughts for not-so-simple lives. What would your "one piece of advice" be?

Friday, September 18, 2009

10:00 p.m. on a Friday

I am lying in bed, half a pumpkin beer by my side, listening to the cheers from the football field. It was the perfect night for a game, and we took the girls. We sat with some neighbors and ran into some old friends. We listened to the band and cheered for the touchdowns while the sun set, the lake sparkled, and the trees in the distance let go of an orange leaf or two. We walked home just before halftime, tucked the girls in, and wondered how we've somehow come to the end of another week, just like that.

It's been literally nothing but sunshine since before Labor Day, and each day is a carbon copy of the one before. The days and the weeks whoosh by - how can September be half over? - in a blur of birthdays and walking to school. It's my absolute favorite time of year, and I am trying to take it all in but of course it is going too fast.

I thought having Annie in school half-day, every day would be the just-right balance. And it's fine, but already I feel the tiniest bit of panic, like, where is the time going, and, when do I see you? I remember so clearly the days when she was thirteen or seventeen months old and the days stretched long before us. I remember thinking, just break the day into half-hour increments, and then try to fill each one. I remember running out of things to do, waiting desperately for Jason to get home. Now, we have started rushing, more than I'd like, from one thing to another. She asks to do something - play paper dolls, color, go to the park - and sometimes we can't. I kiss her good-bye at 8:15 a.m. and I miss her. I miss our long, leisurely breakfasts. I miss taking up the whole morning with a walk to the grocery store or the coffee shop to buy one thing.

If there is some compensation for the heartache of watching my girls grow older, it is the new, sisterly affection they are developing. In skirmishes with others (and, OK, with me), they are quick to stand up for each other. Yesterday, for Jason's birthday, they decided with no prompting from me to work together and clean up the playroom and their bedrooms. Of course, it was a "surprise," so I was banished to the kitchen ("Mom, pretend you don't know!") to frost the cake alone, which, truly, I didn't mind. Tonight, walking home from the game, I was giving Jemma a piggyback ride and Annie requested one, too. Jason hefted her up on his back and started walking next to me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw their two hands reaching out for each other, and they held hands as we walked down the sidewalk into our cozy house. Just now, some freshly-folded laundry and a new book by my side, there's no other place I'd rather be.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Light Blue Team

I was busy entertaining Jemma on the sidelines, so I couldn't hear, but here's what Annie's soccer coach must have been saying to her throughout tonight's practice (her team's first):

"OK, Annie, now, just sit on the ground and pick at the grass."

"Annie, your ponytail doesn't look quite right. Fuss with it. Make sure your hands are up there, messing with the elastic. Nope, still not good. Play with it a little more. Now, take your hair, put it in your mouth and chew on it. Yes!"

"Still hungry? I think you should take the drawstring from your shorts and see if it will reach your mouth. Look! It does! Chew on that for a while."

"Whenever you're making your way across the field with your ball, stop every once in a while and, you know, bend down and pick it up. Touch it a lot with your hands. Put it exactly where you want it to be, and then start kicking it again."

"When you're running, make sure your mouth is wide open and your tongue is weirdly sticking out as far as possible. That's how we do it, at soccer."

"OK, now, mid-scrimmage? Randomly hug one of your teammates. Yes, that girl, the one whose name you weren't clear on when you got to practice."

"Good practice, Annie! Now, on the way home, complain about how HOT and SWEATY and TIRED you are. Talk a lot about how uncomfortable your shin guards are. Say you hate your cleats. Tell your mom that soccer is toooooooooo loooooooooooong and you definitely don't want to play in your first game on Saturday morning, even though YOU are the one who said that yes, you did want to try soccer this fall. Just say it. Repeatedly."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dear Annie,

This is the scene that greeted you when you woke up as a big five-year-old on Friday morning. You opened a few presents at breakfast - books, craft items, clothes, headbands, a wand and crown, and new pj's that match Molly's (snuck home from the Chicago trip). You wished me Happy Birthday and gave me a big hug and kiss, too.

You opened the Strawberry Shortcake singing card that Jemma picked out for you.

I think you felt pretty magical . . .

Then, like any other day now, you went to school. We dropped you off, then returned at 10:30 to bring your birthday treat to the class of 23 very excited kindergarteners. You got to take the first "birthday bite" of your Robinette's cinnamon sugar donut after the class sang Happy Birthday to you (the first of three times you'd be sung to that day).

After school, for rest time, you needed to wear your new pj's to be comfy.

At 3:30, we kicked off your Ballerina Birthday party with 9 other little girls and a very capable, patient, fun teacher, Miss Annie.

I know this was supposed to be your day - and you had a wonderful time - but, secretly, my favorite part of this party was watching Jemma. She literally could not believe that she was getting to hang out with you and all the big girls. We had initially not been sure if she'd be able to keep up for the whole party, but we needn't have worried. She was completely engrossed, listening to Miss Annie, doing exactly what the big girls were doing. She danced her little heart out, and then, every once in a while, mid-dance, she'd run over to me where I was taping and taking pictures, give me a huge hug and kiss, and then run right back to her place and twirl and tap some more. A-dorable. You thought so, too.

This cake? So, okay, you take a naked Barbie to this grocery store and they build the cake around it so the Barbie looks like she's wearing a glorious ball gown and the gown is cake. No one could believe their eyes, especially you.

The whole group, just before we said good-bye.

Was the birthday over? Nooooooooooo. We headed back home for family dinner with grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. We grilled burgers and hot dogs, ate at a big table outside, then sat back and ate peanut butter cake as you opened more presents. I think the favorite item was the pink Sleeping Beauty dress-up dress, which you promptly put on and insisted on wearing to the football game. We let you.

When it was all said and done, your fifth birthday (and my 32nd, not that it counted at all) lasted a good fourteen hours, and Daddy and I tucked two tired and happy little girls into bed after 9:00, then settled down on the couch to drink some pumpkin beer, rehash the day, and listen to the lingering sounds of the football game drift in our open windows.

It was a lot. It was maybe too much, for one day, but I think it was your best birthday yet, and I'm convinced you're going to have great memories of it for a long, long time to come. Because you remember things now, not just for a couple of days, but, you know, forever. You are a regular person with a sneaky sense of humor, muscular calves, a love of Crayons and chewing gum, and a stubborn streak a mile wide. We've watched you, these last few days and weeks, surpass our expectations. We've watched you fall off your bike, then get back on and wobble down the sidewalk, determined to master a two-wheeler. We've started having you read to us - just a few words, here and there - in bed at night, instead of the other way around. We've watched you protect your little sister, encourage her, teach her new things (and fight with her, of course). We've felt so, so lucky to be raising a healthy, happy, brave, generous person whose questions keep us on our toes every minute of every day. We've exhausted ourselves making your fifth birthday as special as possible, and it was completely worth it.

I love you, big five-year-old!


And p.s.? Jemma? Thanks to The Sleep Fairy and her never-ending supply of Jelly Beans, Jemma is sleeping in her big-girl bed with gleeful regularity. Laughing with you in it a lot, too.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Just This Minute

Just this minute, Jemma is taking her very first nap in her big-girl bed. Jason and I set it up this morning, frame freshly painted, bedding freshly laundered. The last few weeks have contained a fair amount of sleeping drama from our previously-well-trained little one, beginning, I think with the exit from the Pack and Play at the cottage. That time, I made the fatal mistake of agreeing to lie down with her and/or sleep on a mattress in her room while she slept in the Pack and Play because, well, we were at the cottage with Annie's room just the other side of the paper-thin wall, and I thought I could localize it. When we came home, I said things like, "Well, we don't do that at home, that's just special for at the other house."

Since then, we've had lots of nights of perfectly normal, peaceful sleeping. But we've also had nights of 2:30 a.m. wake-ups, with Jemma yelling, "Mooooomy, I'm UUUUUUUUPPPPPP!" and finally flinging herself out of her crib when we fail to appear in her room. Some nights, instead of heading out for the run I had planned, I've spent up to an hour holding her door shut as she threw a fit inside the room. There was the morning when, pre-6:00 a.m., she woke me up by standing one inch from my face and saying loudly, "I have potty in my dipe," then refused to go back to bed after I had changed her.

We tried adding an extra-long "snuggle" to the bedtime routine, thinking it would calm her down a little and make her drowsier when we put her in the crib. Instead, no amount of "snuggle" was ever long enough, and the moment we moved to put her back in her crib, she'd cling to us and begin climbing right back out. We lowered the crib railing so she wouldn't hurt herself getting in and out. We began priming and painting her bed frame. We invented The Sleep Fairy, who comes sometimes in the middle of the night and leave a surprise under your pillow if you stay in your bed the whole night. We put childproof handles over the doorknobs, and she figured them out. We tried gating the doorway, and she bashed the gate down in a rage of fury and stood in the hallway, triumphant, while I may or may not have used the f-word in desperate whispers with Jason.

What she really, really wants, at this point, is to be held in the rocking chair all night long while she sleeps. And I uncomplainingly got up each and every night for the first full year of her life to nurse her (often more than once); I fully expect to lose full nights of sleep when she is sick; I have sympathy for her needing extra love and comfort when she's sleeping in an unfamiliar place, but I am drawing the line at losing nightly sleep because my two-year-old has abruptly decided that she wants to be held while she sleeps.

So, two days ago, after dropping Annie off at school, Jemma and I ran to Target and then stopped at Lowe's, where for $0.99 I purchased two hook-and-eye locks. That night, the girls watched as Jason and I drilled them into the doors from her room. We explained what they were, talked about how we stay in our rooms and sleep at nighttime, reminded her about her night light and her doops and seeing her at breakfast the next morning.

That night, we tucked Jemma in and never heard a peep from her again. I sat back with a nice glass of red wine and congratulated myself on solving the problem. The mere sight of the locks had inspired sufficient awe that she wasn't going to try to come out of her room again! Success! Victory! Sleep!

Last night, we put Jemma to bed, and she immediately began calling for us. "I want you to snuggle me!" she yelled. "I want one more drink!!!!!" "I want someone to sleep with!" "I went potty in my dipe!" and on and on it went. She'd work herself up, get out of the crib, and run from one door to the other, rattling the doorknob in the hopes that maybe this time the door would open and she could run out and demand things of us. She'd finally stop, climb back in, be quiet for 15 minutes or so, and then start all over with a new "need." This went on until almost midnight.

So, just this minute, her sleeping wad of a body in her big-girl bed is great, but I don't necessarily know what's going to go down at 8:00 tonight. Despite all our best efforts, it could go either way. Parenting is like that, a lot of the time.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First Day of Kindergarten

Our day began inauspiciously, with Jemma escaping from her crib and then her room before 6:00 a.m., all efforts to talk her back in a giant FAIL. (More on this ongoing saga later. Maybe.) So Annie was awakened around 6:30 by some sisterly screaming, but she didn't mind. She bounced out of bed, asking, "Mom, when's it time to go to school?"

We had picked out her outfit the night before (something we are doing as a new routine, to make our out-the-door-by-8:00 mornings less crazy), and she chose the dress because "it's a classy one." I. Am. Sure.

I shot a few pictures on the front steps and then we joined the gang from the street as everyone made their way down the two blocks to school. And by everyone, I mean that at one point I looked around and two solid city blocks of sidewalk were chock-full of parents, kids, and strollers heading towards the school.

There were no tears from either of us as we said good-bye. I helped her hang her backpack on her hook, then pointed her toward the daily sign-in sheet for her classroom. She hugged me, kissed me, hugged and kissed Jemma, then hugged and kissed me again. She was happy, and I was happy for her. And for once, I refrained from extrapolating the moment out several weeks, months, and years, concluding with, "And then she was gone from me forever." Instead, I celebrated the sweetness of the moment and was thrilled to head to Target with just one child instead of the usual two.

My parents had sent Annie a good-luck card a day or two ago, wishing her well on her first day. When Annie got home today, we had lunch, did her "homework," and then she wanted to write a card back to tell my parents about her day. She wrote:

Dear Grandpa and Grandma,

I love school. My teacher is good. And wonderful.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day Weekend 2009

It was the last weekend of summer, and maybe that's why we felt we had to pack it all in. We headed to the cottage first thing Friday morning and spent the whole day on the beach: digging holes, taking walks, building sandcastles, splashing in the (freezing) water, swinging on the swings, eating snacks.

Saturday morning, we woke the girls up and popped them in the car for a whirlwind day in Chicago. We got to the aquarium when it opened (good move; the line grows exponentially as the day goes on, and by the time we left a few hours later it was halfway to Lake Shore Drive) and marveled at the fish! The sharks! The dolphins! The belugas! The sea lions! The jellyfish! Jemma was particularly in awe. We took some video of the girls there, and when we watched it again today, every other scene is Jemma, eyes big, pointing, saying, "Look at that one!"

We took a water taxi from the aquarium to Michigan Avenue - something we had never done before - and it was awesome. We had a great view of the city as we cruised Lake Michigan and then headed up the river, past Navy Pier and under a couple bridges. We ate lunch, then unveiled the surprise part of the special day: we told Annie we were bringing her to the American Girl Place.

I had previously vowed to NEVER take my child to that store. I had even vowed that, were it up to me, my child would never know of such a thing as an American Girl Doll. However, I didn't count on preschool Show-And-Tell, where the sophisticated girls brought in their Kits and their Kirstens. I didn't count on the fact that American Girl somehow KNOWS that you have a four-year-old, so they send you a catalog at Christmas time. And even though I put that straight into the recycling pile, my daughter honed in on it with a sixth sense, then proceeded to rescue it from that pile, clutch it to her chest and take it to bed with her for many days in a row, and declare her life to be potentially perfect if she could just have this ONE special Bitty Baby with the bald head and the blue eyes. How can a Mommy say no to that?

Meet Molly (who has been out of Annie's arms for less than ten minutes since Saturday afternoon).

It would not surprise me at all if Jemma grows up and decides to live in a big city. Walking down Michigan Avenue, she was all confidence and joy. She would have run a block ahead of us, never looking back, if we would have let her. She loved the noises, the street musicians, the mimes, the big buildings. She's going to be a city girl.

Lastly, we met Jason's cousin Nate and his growing family at the Brookfield Zoo for the rest of the day (where they are members and generously got us in for free with guest passes, too). We got to meet baby Finn, see the lions very up-close and personal, and wander around to let the girls burn off any energy they had left after a whole day of adventure. We put their jammies on in the parking lot of the zoo, popped in Nemo, and headed home, arriving back at the cottage after 9:00 p.m.

Yesterday, we could hardly stand to close up the house or leave the beach, knowing it was likely our last time there in the warm sunshine of summer 2009. So we didn't (leave), and we played and ate and laughed right up until we finally drove back in our own driveway (our "real house," Jemma calls it) after 9:00 last night.

We are beat, the girls are fried, and we've sucked every last ounce of summer out of this, the last weekend. It's been the crappiest, coldest one I can remember. Still, it's been the best one I can remember. And now the backpack is packed, the outfit is chosen, the camera is set out: Annie starts kindergarten tomorrow. In the garage, a bed frame sits, tacky with two coats of paint, waiting to be assembled in Jemma's room; this may be her very last night in a crib. Time marches steadily on, and just this minute, I sort of wish it would stop.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Meet and Greet

Annie's kindergarten teacher sent a welcome letter that arrived last Friday along with a packet of paperwork and the complete list of students who will be in her class this year. She was pleased to see one good friend from previous dance classes as well as two little girls from this summer's Safety Town on that list. Her teacher included a photo of herself and a bio explaining that she has a 6-year-old, a 4-year-old, and 22-month-old twins (WHO IS THIS WOMAN AND HOW DOES SHE SHOWER AND ARRIVE IN A CLASSROOM BEFORE 8:00 A.M. DAILY??? I am in awe already.)

We've enjoyed perfectly perfect weather this week, with chilly nights and bright sunny days, and I've been hit by the knowledge that it's our last, last week of summertime. So we've bopped around happily, soaking up rays, biking and roller skating, painting inside and out, and going to the park. We were there Monday morning, the girls going down the same slide together over and over and shrieking with delight, when I spied a woman who looked like the picture we'd received, walking in with her four daughters in tow. Annie noticed, too, so I tried to take her hand and bring her over to say hello. There was dragging involved; there was an attempt to hide between my legs. Oh, hi, I'm the crazy mom who felt the need to involve the principal and the superintendent in my school situation before we'd even set foot in the building, and here's my daughter who is clearly TOTALLY READY FOR KINDERGARTEN.

Good grief. The teacher was great, and Annie, who spoke maybe four syllables, was instantly in love, memorizing her daughter's names and noticing what they were wearing. When we got home, she got out her crayons and got right to work on an elaborate picture of Mrs. G. plus her daughters. The next morning, while at the farmer's market, Annie was fixated on buying her a bouquet to bring to today's open house, so we did. More pictures have been drawn, watercolors have been painted, and all things Mrs. G. were brought to school this afternoon by my proud little kindergartener wearing a very heavy backpack to tote her many school supplies.

We got to look around the classroom, take some pictures, do a little scavenger hunt. Annie had a joyous reunion with said friend from dance, played with Legos, mourned the lack of dress-up clothes (Me: "But we have tons of those at home!" Annie: staring at me, not convinced.) When we said good-bye to Mrs. G., she hugged Annie and said, "See you Tuesday! Look at the door on your way out!" There, taped neatly, was the picture Annie had drawn of Mrs. G. displayed in all its glory.

As we walked out to play for a few minutes on the playground, Annie skipped a little, smiled a little, then asked, "Mom, when's Tuesday?"