Sunday, August 24, 2014

ROUTINE

Ahhh, we are on the eve of having a routine again.  I have a ridiculously great work set-up, getting to work a flexible, part-time schedule doing something I love, BUT the downside is the summer schedule.  I'm busiest in July and August during our summer professional development and school start up times.  (My charter school network starts school mid-late July).  This means I'm busiest at the time of year when our childcare set-up is least set up.

Before Camp!
Every week this summer we had a different set-up.  Every. Single. Week. For three full months, our morning start times, days on/days off, locations, and caregivers changed.  This had some fun perks (lots of help and visits from family and a string of 9:00 camp weeks which was such a nicer, slower start to the day!)  But I don't think constant change was good for any of us.

So with Jack's and Cora's first day of school last Friday, this week marks the beginning of their new school year and coincides with when I can finally start working my set, 20 hour/week schedule.  (To make this wonderful part-time position work, I voluntarily work more hours in July and August.)

Jack and Cora are both going to the Waldorf School of New Orleans this year.  Jack has been at Waldorf for two years now in the Nursery class.  The Waldorf early childhood program consists of a Nursery class (roughly ages 2.5-4) and a Kindergarten class (roughly ages 4-6).  Jack went 2 days/week his first year and 3 days/week last year.  I added a weekly sitter on to that to make a complicated work schedule, but this year it's just straight up school.

Jack is in his first year of Kindergarten (and boy is he proud of that fact) and Cora is the youngest child in the Nursery.  They both will go Monday-Friday 8:30-1:00.  I will work Mon, Tues, Thurs, and Fri from 8-1, with Jacob handling drop-off and me doing pick-up.  Also for the first time since I've had children, I will have childcare on a morning I'm not working.  I imagine an occasional special day with Jack or Cora on those mornings, but overall I'm downright excited to have a little time to myself!

I'm a big fan of the Waldorf philosophy.  For early childhood:

The early childhood teacher in a Waldorf school works with the young child first by creating a warm, beautiful and loving home-like environment, which is protective and secure and where things happen in a predictable, regular manner.

The classrooms are sunlit, calm, and natural.  There are flowers and nature items.  The toys are simple (lots of wooden blocks and handmade objects) and require imagination to be brought to them.  The kids are involved in home-like tasks in a weekly rhythm.  One day might be folding the lunch laundry, another day is baking the kids' snack.

There are two times outside each morning and both classes have their own gardens to tend.  They go outside in all weather and seasons as a way to explore the world around them. 

There is an emphasis on nurturing the body as well and the snacks are very healthy.  Jack was quick to ask what the snack rhythm is for his new class.  Mondays: oatmeal, Tuesdays: quinoa and vegetables, Wednesday: bread or something else the kids bake, Thursday: fruit salad or vegetable soup, Friday: popcorn.  The kids are involved in making the snack every day.

Jack and Cora went to different schools last year on different schedules.  Logistically, it's going to be a great year, especially since their school is close to where I work.  I also have an idyllic notion of them walking in together holding hands and giving kisses between the fence that separates their play yards.

The first day was sweet (thought not kisses through the fence perfect.)  Jack was so excited to be in Kindergarten that he pretty much forgot Cora was on the premises.  Cora was a little overwhelmed and cried when we left.  But both had great days.

I love that they'll be sharing in their school experience this year!  And I LOVE that we are about to start having some weekly ROUTINE again!



There is no significance to the helicopter.  Jack was just attached to it that morning.


Jack gets to ring the "fairy bells" - the sign for parents to get going!



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Realizing a dream: first step forward

My husband quit his job this month and I'm 100% supportive. 

Jacob has had dreams of owning his own business all his life and has been writing and researching his business plan to launch a brewery for more than a year now.

It's time for big steps forward.  I'm not nervous because if there is one thing I know about Jacob Landry, it is that he makes things happen.  We've also approached this step very seriously, saving and preparing to live without his income while he works to launch Urban South Brewery.

If you know anything about craft breweries, you know they are a rapidly growing industry.  And if you know anything about New Orleans, you would imagine this would be a city with several locally owned breweries.  You'd be wrong on that point.  New Orleans, and the South in general, have been slow to take ownership of this growing market.

Jacob likes to create.  He was the vision behind our home renovation, he's the mastermind behind the "Landry Farm," and I benefit regularly from his canning, baking, and cooking projects.  He home brews, but he won't be the brewer at Urban South.  He's recruiting a seasoned brewmaster for that role.  He will be heavily involved in sales and building a local brand.

He gave notice at his job earlier in July and has started meeting with potential investors over the last few weeks.  We are excited at his early progress and I look forward to watching him realize his dream.  I'm not naive to the responsibilities and pressures that inevitably must come from building your own company, but I think they'll be more than worth it to see my husband fully employing all his skills and giving our children a model that you have to be bold to follow your dreams.

Much more to come on this exciting chapter!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Jack Stories: Age 4.5


Jack the Fireman

Okay, if I don't start here, I won't accurately capture who Jack is at the moment.  Ladies and gentlemen, the fireman/firetrucks interest has now been going strong for three years.  I imagine he'll be a fireman for the 4th Halloween in a row this fall.

I think it could get blurry between how strong a child's natural interest in something is and then how much that interest is fostered by supportive parents.  We've visited the New Orleans fire departments so often, he had fire fighters visit his third birthday party.  I've taken him to the library countless times to search the New Orleans library system for fire books and submitted many requests to get those sent to our local branch.  And we did drive across the country and let Jack stop at lots of fire stations along the way.

Whether that's the chicken or the egg, I can't be sure, but Jack's interest in fire fighting remains very strong.  He's incredibly knowledgeable from his extensive reading and touring.  And he has plans to be a "regular fireman" (he doesn't want to be the fire chief as they don't fight fires) at a station with a pole.

He had a fun first in Jackson, when Uncle Chris set him up to visit the forestry service fire division.  (Uncle Chris works for the forestry service.)  Jack got to climb aboard the truck, but that wasn't new to him, as most fire fighters are incredibly generous with their time and their vehicles.  But these firefighters let Jack shoot the hose.  Now that was special!

In Louisiana

In New Mexico

In Wyoming

Jack the Reader

Jack continues to love to read.  On a day we've visited the library, he wants nothing more than to be left alone to "read" his bag of books.  (As a literacy specialist, I firmly believe reading is more than reading words; Jack reads pictures and is developing awesome reading strategies and comprehension skills as a result.) He reads daily during his rest time.   We read to him before rest and night time.  And he insists on picking out books to sleep with, which he then reads by the summer daylight that filters in until 8:00.

Wildfires, fire trucks, and firemen are his main interests, but he's also a fan of police and ambulance related stories and most fiction.  He loves Richard Scarry books, Berenstain Bears, and we've read the first three Laura Ingalls Wilder books together.  Jacob is now reading Shiloh to him.  Other good first chapter books he's enjoyed were Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl. He has a book of 100 classic stories and he loves that one as well. He also loves to listen to books on CD, which I check out from the library. His favorites are Arthur (as in the aardvark) stories, but this week he's been listening to Aesop's Fables repeatedly.


Jack the Talker

On the one hand, we love listening to Jack-speak and he keeps us laughing a lot.  On the other hand, this kid can talk non-stop until your eyes glaze over.  He also is a smart little character, so watch out.  Amidst his never-ending banter, he'll reword things and you'll find that in your dazed out state, you just nodded your head or agreed to what you just said was not okay!

He's got generally good manners and does know to say "Excuse Me" when he wants to interrupt, but if you aren't quick enough to divert your attention you'll find yourself the victim of an "excuse-me-excuse-me-excuse-me" chant with a child climbing up your body and speaking right into your ear.  Recently, Jacob, who must have read some article, told Jack we were going to try a new tactic.  When Jack wants to interrupt, he should say "excuse me" one time and put his hand on our arm.  We will then cover his hand to let him know we heard him and then he needs to wait until we turn our attention to him. This has helped some.


Jack the Messy Eater

We've jokingly said that Jack should put a cup under his chin when eating fruit and then he can just finish his meal with some fruit juice, since so much comes out of his mouth when he eats... but he really should.  Jacob and I are both pretty neat, so it can be hard during a meal to be sitting across from a 4.5 year old.  Or maybe it's on us and we need to set higher expectations for this particular 4.5 year old.  We had cherry pie this week and the first night, Jack never picked up his fork, but instead managed to destroy the pie with hands only.  For leftovers, my mom told him he must use his fork.  He did, but then she found him wiping up the leftover filling with his whole hand and licking it off.

In the blueberry bushes...again
Jack the Artist

It's always nice when a Christmas gift is well utilized.  Jack loves his art easel and can spend 30 minutes on the dry erase side.  He draws a scene, puts it on fire, then draws firemen and trucks, and puts out the fire by covering everything with water.  His scenes have evolved into 13 story apartment buildings and multiple engines.  It's an awesome independent activity!!


Jack, my Heart

As I shared, this kid is just sweet.  He wants to be everyone's friend and he finds the joy in life so easily.  He is still a snuggler and my sweet little boy, but he's growing up fast!  Look, no more training wheels!


Saturday, July 12, 2014

My heart and my spirit

I sometimes think of Jack as my heart and Cora as my spirit.  This anecdote perfectly captures why.

On our vacation to Jackson Hole, the full family (minus Claire who couldn't quite handle the kitsch of a touristy attraction in her hometown) went to the Bar-T Ranch for a covered wagon ride into the mountains for dinner and a show.  Chris, Jackson resident for 10 years now, gamely came along.  It was a super friendly affair with the chance to get to know your wagon-mates on the picturesque trek up the mountain trail.

Jack and Cora were both into it.  Jack because he's read Laura Ingalls Wilder books with me and it was a little dip into history for him.  Cora because we were riding behind "horseys."

At the dinner, my little musical baby was clapping in beat to every song and enjoying being with her adoring male fans: her daddy, her Big Papa, and her Uncle "Tis".



For the "She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain" number, there was audience participation and all kids were called up.  Jack went up right away and after a few minutes, Cora decided to join.  As soon as she walked up, the youngest by several years, Jack protectively put his hands on her shoulders.  As the emcee gave directions and talked to each volunteer, Jack would lean down and whisper things to Cora.  And he'd periodically kiss her cheek and hug her.  SIGH!!

Cora was paying rapt attention to everything going on as each volunteer got their instructions for the song.  When it came to the childrens' part (rub your tummy), the emcee walked over to the kids and Cora stared wide eyed at him without making any other motion.  He stopped the song to say "This one is just precious!!"  And then he put the mike up to her mouth and what did my little just-turned-two spirited child say?

"Yeehaw!"

Heart and spirit.  The best gifts.



Sunday, June 29, 2014

Cora Stories: Age 2

I've felt twinges of guilt after posting about how I've found there are times you can like one child more....even though it's true.  So what's been especially nice about our two weeks of family vacation is how I'm seeing that a change in routine/environment/pace can really reacquaint you with your children.

So here's the first of two posts of what I've gotten to know/see about my kids.

First up: Cora: Age 2


Road Trip Cora


Cora's been a handful lately.  Jacob and I can both attest to this.  Add to that the understandable concerns about a toddler in a carseat for 29 hours of driving and I was a little worried how Cora might do on our big road trip to Wyoming...

Well I was wrong.  As Cora's seatmate, I got to spend a ridiculous amount of quality time with her over four days and it was great!  She had the best seat in the car.  She was in the middle of the second row of our rented Suburban in a front-facing, cushiony carseat.  It was like having a picture window view from a padded armchair.  I was jealous!

She loved her seat and she was way more interested in her surroundings than Jack was.  She was close enough to Big Papa and Grammy in the front seat to interact and she kept up a steady steam of talk with them and me.  She had many snuggly moments when she'd pull my arm across her, wrap her arms around it, and cuddle my hand to her cheek.  :)



Sure she got antsy by the last hour of each day's driving, she had some difficulty falling asleep for naps, and she kept me very busy with lots of requests, but overall we all (me, Big Papa, and Grammy) really enjoyed this time to "hang out" with Cora.

Verbal Cora


From a child that put her first sentence together two months ago, she is talking non-stop now.

She is insistent that you answer her when she talks to you and she just talks louder and repeats what she's saying until you acknowledge her.  (This was also funny in the captive audience arena of the car.)

What she most loves to do is run through checklists.  Every day in the car she'd remind us all of where we were seated.  (And she had me move the one time I thought of sitting in a different spot.)  Amusingly, as we entered a barren stretch of New Mexico, Cora piped up: "Mama wawa?  May-may wawa?  Papa wawa?  Jack wawa?  Me wawa?" Thanks for thinking of our safety Cora.

I've had a lot of opportunity to listen to her talk, so I've figured out she can say all her vowel sounds + "b", "d", "h", "j", "m", "n", "w", and "y" consonant sounds.  She has a big vocabulary but most words need interpretation since she's missing half her consonant sounds.  Think of her saying "Cora" and you get the picture.

She's at the fun age where she constantly is saying things we didn't know she could say/conceptualize.  My favorite Cora-talk story comes from when we were eating dinner at the end of the final day of driving.  Cora had a bagel with peanut butter along with fruit.  She wasn't eating much and announced she was "All done!"  I assumed she was just too tired to eat, so I took her bagel and ate it instead of putting peanut butter on another bagel for myself.  Well Cora reached back later and grabbed her plate and ate some of her fruit.  My dad made a joke about how he was sorry she couldn't have her bagel but I'd eaten it.  A few more minutes passed and Cora asked for a cookie.  My mom said she was sorry, but Cora hadn't eaten much dinner.  Cora then gives everyone at the table a serious look and says "Mama ate my bread."  From a child who just started making sentences, this was hilariously surreal.

Stinker Cora


She still is keeping us on our toes with a few difficult behaviors.  She is very attached to me and often cries when I leave.  (Ask my mom how she cried for me all the way down the mountain...) When I'm around she's always saying "Mama hold!" but it's not enough for me to pull her into my lap.  She says "Stand up mama" or "get up mama."  And she'll say it over and over well past the point I've said no.

The 9-hour drive to catch our return flight from Denver didn't go as smoothly as the drive to Wyoming.  As I tried to nap, Cora squealed (FOR TWENTY SOLID MINUTES) "No mama sleep!"  "Mama wake up!"  "Mama no close eyes!"

And when we were stranded overnight in Denver, she held us all hostage in the hotel with her "Mama hold!" screams.  This child has a STRONG will and she will drive you to the point of near insanity without backing down.

BUT, overall, this special time together has really brought out all that is precious and beautiful about this little girl.  She has so much joy and spirit in such a cute little package.  And she can be so very loving.  It's been fun having all this extra time to hang out with her!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Let It Go

I'm probably one of the few Americans that made it to May 2014 without hearing the Frozen song "Let it Go."  Maybe that comes from having a 4.5 year old boy.

The first time I heard this song was toward the end of my miscarriage as I was overseeing a student field trip to the movie Frozen at The Prytania Theater.

I wasn't looking for a theme song, but that song will forever be linked to this experience.  The day of the field trip was my first attempt at reentering my life.  I was really committed to the idea of holding it together after five days of falling apart.  Luckily the theater was dark when that song came on.

The song is emotional and the refrain just got to me.  For me, a miscarriage was like having something you thought was safe in your arms, ripped away from you.  But not all at once. Tentatively at first so that there was hope you might not have to let go, but then gradually more certainly, so that a happy fullness slowly, achingly, became a sad emptiness.

Let it go? I didn't want to let this pregnancy go.  I didn't want to have a miscarriage.  I didn't want to NOT be pregnant.  When I first heard the song, I was wanting everything that was happening in my body to stop.  And I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster that I wanted off of.

I pulled the song up on YouTube a week or so later and it brought on wracking, head on the table, sobs that left both me and Jacob feeling like, "Damn, but I thought you were doing better?!"

In an effort to disassociate the song from my sadness, I let Cora sit with me and watch some Frozen songs as we are just letting her watch TV for the first time.  She was spell-bound with rapt attention and I found her later that day singing "Eh-ih-go, eh-ih-go, eh-ih-go."  That helped.

But now what I'm wondering is when/how/should I let this experience go?  I've had the kindest friends who've shared their own miscarriage experiences with me.  I've seen them move on and be happy and so I feel confident that will be my experience too.  And for the vast part of my days, I do feel normal and happy.  But the sadness is still there and part of me can't/doesn't know how to let it go completely.


Monday, June 09, 2014

Happy Birthday Cora!

Breakfast in bed for a 2 year old involved co-opting the guest bed and laying down a picnic blanket!




Cora's present from Jack, a hand-decorated piggy bank complete with coins he shared with her





Present from Daddy: The Girl and the Bicycle by his friend Mark Pett - a tearjerker!



2 year old Miss Priss is off to her first day of summer camp at her school, the Child Development Program.

Lunch with Daddy



Running around Daddy's office was the best part


Now I can face forward!






 Nap and then dinner outside, per Cora's request





 Ice cream at Creole Creamery



Present from Mommy: "A Baby Girl Named Cora" (www.blurb.com - pretty easy to make your own book!)






I love you!