Monday, September 24, 2007

Packin' A Piece

I got a slightly uncomfortable call this morning. From Nicholas' teacher. Asking me if everything was OK at home. "um, yes, thank you. Everything is just fine and normal here at home. Why do you ask?" Well, it seems she felt the need to call and ask because Nicholas has been "sad" a few times at school and she wanted to make sure. She asked if he's said anything about school that is making him sad or upset that she doesn't know about. "No, he leads me to believe everything is fine at school." We both think he's still getting adjusted.

But Friday was a complete disaster.

My FIL arrived for a visit on Thursday afternoon and was there when Nicholas got off the bus. Nicholas was so excited to see his Opa that he took a picture of Opa to school that day for Show & Tell. Opa went with us to his ballet class and then we all went out to dinner. It was fun and exciting for the kids. Opa spent the night and saw Nicholas off at the bus stop. Then, as a surprise, Lauren, Opa and I all went to school so we could join Nicholas for lunch. He didn't know we were coming and was happy to see us. We sat with Nicholas, met a few kids from his class, said hello to old friends from Kindergarten, and had a lovely visit. When lunch was over we all went out to the playground for recess. Opa sat on a bench and watched as I was led around by Lauren from one play structure to the other, and we both kept an eye on Nicholas, who was running all over the place having a grand time with his friends. Towards the end of recess Nicholas asked me to talk with him through this pipe thingy on one of the structures. We were talking when the bell rung, signaling the end of recess. Nicholas, being very rule-bound, immediately started running toward the place the kids line up to return to school. I gathered up Lauren and walked back to the bench and Opa. We then proceeded around the school to the front so we could check out at the office and head home. All was well, or so we thought....

5 minutes after we walked back in the house the phone rang. It was the school secretary. Nicholas was there in the office with her, crying, and she said she'd told him he could call me. He was upset and bawling, saying he missed me and was sad he didn't get to say good-bye to us - (?). So I talked with him, trying to keep it upbeat, and Opa talked with him, telling what a great time he had with him at lunch and recess, and then I got back on the phone. He was still miserable, poor kid. Poor dramatic kid. He wanted me to come get him that very second. I told him no - he needed to finish the school day and I would see him afterwards. We compromised and I agreed to pick up him up from school rather than have him take the bus home. That way he could see me sooner. Which I did, and he was all chipper and in good spirits. I took the kids for Slurpees as a treat because Nicholas had had such a rough day. By then you'd never know he'd been upset enough to have to go to the office and beg to call home.

So his teacher, who was out on Friday, heard about this from the notes left by the substitute. And she called, as she should. And I reassured her that everything was fine at home and at school, as far as I knew. 6 yr olds aren't always terribly forthcoming with details about school. She had a good suggestion for us to try: let him bring a small - very small - special toy or something to keep in his pocket. When she heard he had a VERY special blankie she suggested cutting a corner from the blankie so he could carry that to school. Her niece had to do this as a kidlet. When I asked Nicholas about this idea, he was horrified at the thought of cutting blankie. NO WAY! He vehemently declared. When I suggested he take a piece of Blue Blankie - his backup - he was more open to the idea. So out of his eyesight, I cut a small corner from Blue Blankie for him. I told him he could keep it in his pocket and if he ever felt sad at school he could simply hold a piece of Blue Blankie and that would help him feel better. I kissed the piece of blanket and gave it to him for his pocket. He liked this idea. We talked more about it all the way to the bus stop. About how he could keep the piece during the school day, but that maybe he could tuck it into his desk when it's time to come home so it'll always be at school and he won't forget it the next day. He's going to give it a try.

Nicholas has always been emotionally fragile. Thin-skinned. Prone to crying easily. This is not new for him. Sometimes the littlest things can set him off big. And sometimes, big stuff just rolls off him. He's hard to figure out that way. He's a mama's boy - very attached to me. Lauren is more into Daddy right now, so we have a balance. But Nicholas is also very quick to smile and laugh. His highs are high and his lows are low, and his emotions are right there on the surface. I want him to enjoy school, and so far, he seems to be. But it's a big adjustment for him still. He's not accustomed to being away from home for the majority of the day consistently. Today, we're having a friend come home with him after school to play a bit. A good friend from Kindergarten who also rides his bus. I'm hoping this helps him reconnect with pals from last year who aren't in his 1st grade class (his two best pals are in the same class together, but Nicholas is in a different class. They see each other at recess. These two aren't in his reading group, either, which just got assigned on Friday). I'm hoping that packing a piece of blankie in his pocket helps him, too. Reminds him that he's loved and is ok and will see me/us soon.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Hot Off The Needles

Well, it took me much longer than it should have to finish (working a PT job from home really sucks up a lot of hobby time!), but it's done and ready to be mailed off. I knit this sweater for the new baby of some dear friends - a boy - their 2nd child - named Jackson. And not a minute too soon, either, because Jackson decided to arrive early. Like 6.5 weeks early. By crash emergency c-section. But he's doing really well, given his early start. He weighed 5.5 lbs at just under 34 weeks gestation, and was breathing fine on his own almost from the start. He's nursing well, and should be coming home from the NICU this week. Yay! So I had to hurry up and finish the sweater this past weekend so I could ship it off to them. He won't be able to wear it right away, but come next fall, when they're living in Wisconsin, it'll be nice to have.

I made it using Cotton-Ease, which is the first time I've used this brand. I liked it! Good weight and feel. It was a simple pattern with a pretty little design at the hem and cuffs. It was all straight, flat knitting except for the sleeves, which were done with double-point needles. No seams - the body was done in one piece, flat - front and back together plus hood.

I have no idea what my next project will be - I've finished everything for all the babies in my world this year (4 baby projects and counting!). I'll probably start setting my sights towards Christmas gifts now... hmmm...

Enjoy your hobbies!

Only A Little Drama

Mr. Chick and Nicholas had a nice time visiting family and going to the big game in Michigan (Go Ducks! UO spanked UM - woot!) Everyone behaved themselves and it was a good trip overall. Except for the drama Nicholas invoked on Friday night, that is.

My boys were out there to see Mr. Chicks grandmother (we call her Gigi). As it turns out, Mr. Chick's mother also went out for a visit. She went to accompany Gigi to a wedding a few hours away as well as to see Mr. Chick and Nicholas. Fine. My mother-in-law has many, many issues, but I wasn't there, so whatever. I just let Mr. Chick know he was NOT to let her watch Nicholas alone, or to drive anywhere with him. Mr. Chick agreed. So when he decided to join his law school pals out and about on Friday night he left Nicholas with both Gigi and his mother. I'm OK with this since Gigi has it together and would really be the one looking after Nicholas.

My girlfriends came over to my house Friday night for wine and dessert. It was fun to have them all over, laughing and chatting the way we do. Until the phone rang, that is. It was Nicholas, sobbing, telling me his throat hurt and he couldn't sleep and he just wanted to come home. I had to excuse myself from my friends and talk with Nicholas - or try to - and get him to calm down. When he gets all worked up he becomes completely irrational. It took a bit of "mommying", but he was feeling better. I spoke with Gigi and everything seemed OK.

And then he called again an hour or so later. This time, he told me, "Mama, Granny's (MIL) is in my bed sleeping and I don't know what to do!". I had visions of MIL being passed out in his bed in a drunken stupor (has happened before). I couldn't imagine WHY she was in Nicholas' bed. She has a small, yappy dog, Cassie, that goes everywhere with her, and this stupid dog stays on the bed where MIL is sleeping and then barks at anyone who comes in the room. This was freaking Nicholas out. He said he couldn't find Gigi, that Granny was in his bed and Cassie was guarding it, and he was all by himself and didn't know what to do. NOT a fun call to receive where there is nothing I could really do to help the situation. I tried to get Nicholas to go into Gigi's room to wake her up, but he got freaked out because he couldn't find the switch for the light and couldn't see anything. He was crying really loudly, it seemed to me, and I just couldn't imagine how it was possible that NO ONE was waking up to this. I tried to get Nicholas to go lay down on the couch in the living room, but he really wanted his blanket and it was in his room, and when he went to get it the fucking dog would bark at him, causing him to freak out even more. Gah! It was about midnight in Michigan when all this is going on, and my son has not been to bed yet. I would have called Mr. Chick and told him to get back home to help Nicholas, but we don't have cell phones and I had no idea how to reach him. I felt very, very helpless. Here is my son, freaking out and crying, alone in the middle of the night 2000 miles away from me. Eventually I got him calmed down and plugged into our portable DVD player. I gave him permission to suck his thumb. I figured he would crash in the chair watching the movie. Gigi FINALLY woke up (she wears hearing aids and I guess she simply didn't hear Nicholas) and we chatted briefly. When I hung up the phone I had the most unsettled feeling. I went back to my guests.

The phone rang a 3rd time, now nearly 2am in Michigan. "Mama, what do I do when the movie is over??!" wailed Nicholas. Who was clearly still awake and still a bit agitated. I asked him if he was ready to go to bed - NO! - and then suggested he just put in another movie and wait for Daddy to get home (how much longer could he possibly stay out?!). "But Mama, the other movies are in my room, and Cassie is guarding them!" Great. Back to the fucking dog. Thankfully, Gigi slept with her hearing aids in this time and got up to help Nicholas quickly. Mr. Chick arrived home shortly thereafter and took Nicholas down to the basement where there was another bed and they crashed out together.

I was still puzzled by the whole "Granny is sleeping in my bed" part and asked Mr. Chick about it the next time we spoke. I had forgotten how much sleeping medication she takes (damn near toxic levels), so when she's asleep, she's O-U-T for the count. Nothing wakes her. She had gone in to lay down with Nicholas in an attempt to calm him down, but it backfired. She crashed out and he stayed awake and then panicked, leaving him with no bed, no blanket, and feeling like he had nowhere to go. Plus the whole dog element. It was a mess. I felt horrible for Nicholas, and I felt horrible for Gigi, who is in her mid-80's and having to deal with this when she should be sleeping and getting her rest. It wasn't Mr. Chick's fault, but never before have I wished we had cell phones. Thankfully, Nicholas slept in the next morning and recovered well. He and Mr. Chick had a great time at the game watching the Ducks kick Michigan's ass. And Nicholas didn't seem to hold it against either Gigi or Granny and resumed his normal, cheerful disposition for the remainder of the visit.

I was proud of Nicholas for taking the initiative to call me, all by himself, when he needed me. I'm so glad he knew our phone number! Other than freaking out, which was expected, he handled himself very well. He did what he needed to do. He was very responsible in solving the problem, as we've drilled into him. So as "big boy" as he was, he seemed so little and vulnerable to me over the phone, so far away, and scared. I wanted to reach through the phone and hold him. I wanted to just BE THERE to make it all better. To kick Granny out of his bed so he could go to sleep. To drop-kick the stupid dog. To make him feel safe and not alone. Thankfully, in a small way I was able to do that with just my voice over the phone, but it's not the same.

But now he's home again and everything is all better. I like knowing that.

Friday, September 07, 2007

When The Boys Are Away...

...the girls will play! Mr. Chick and Nicholas left yesterday for 5 nights in Michigan. Bad timing in terms of Nicholas having just started school (hey! at least he got to go to the first day before ditching class for the next week....), having his first soccer game AND pictures this weekend, but whatever. You see, the big Oregon vs. Michigan game is this weekend and a bunch of friends are flying out to go. It was a good excuse for Mr. Chick to check in on his grandmother, who was widowed back in January. So it's a 2-fer trip: check up with Grandma and go to the Big Game (Go Ducks!!). I miss my boys.

But perhaps not quite as much as Lauren does.

Lauren is not overly dramatic or emotional, as a rule. It's just not her. Nicholas, yes. But Lauren? No, not usually. Sure she has her moments when she gets hurt, or Nicholas teases her a bit too much, and she comes unglued. But she can generally pull it together rather quickly. So it was shocking and surprising to me to see Lauren lose it after we dropped Daddy and Nicholas off at the airport. She seemed fine as we said our good-byes and gave hugs and kisses. She was cool. I had promised her we could go play at the Ikea play area, since it's essentially right there at the airport. When I parked the car I turned around and watched in slow motion Lauren's face go from stoic to sad to completely crumbled with tears shooting out of her eyes. She was a mess, sobbing about, "I just miss them! I miss Daddy and Nicholas!" There was no making her feel better. I got out of the car and just held her right there in the parking lot. She took quite a long time to ratchet down the hysterics, which is so unusual for her. I was desperate to make her feel better, offering treats and promises of fun, but she wasn't hearing me, lost in her own misery.

Eventually she calmed down, but remained sad. She claimed she was ready for a treat so we went to the restaurant in Ikea and got a cinnamon roll to share, a chocolate milk for her and a coffee for me. That helped. The play area was already at capacity at 10:15am with a 40 min wait, so Lauren hung with me as we wandered around Ikea. Agreeing to buy her a $.49 tiny stuffed elephant toy is what ultimately got her over her sadness for the day. She named the elephant "Nicholas" and I think he's a stand-in for her beloved brother while he's gone. Whatever helps. Lauren had a sleep-over in my bed last night and we're all better today.

Which is a good thing because tonight my girls are coming over for wine and dessert! Yeah! I think there are 6 girlfriends converging at my house later tonight for some fun and rich treats. Lauren will have to go to bed shortly after they get here, but she's excited that we're "having a party!". And tomorrow, our neighbors are having a BBQ party to celebrate his 40th birthday. Lauren loves to play with their two daughters, so she's excited for that, too. Parties everywhere! And maybe a trip to the zoo on Sunday or Monday. Why not?

In the meantime, we're going to watch the football game tomorrow and scan the crowds for Daddy and Nicholas. It should be pretty easy to spot them in a crowd of 100,000, right? Right!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Big Day

It's a very exciting day around here: FIRST DAY OF FIRST GRADE! Can I get a "hell yeah!" ? Man, these last few weeks, while busy, have been looonggg. The kids have been grousing and being downright mean to each other. Tempers flare, tears flow, and school couldn't start soon enough. And today was the day. We were ALL ready.

Nicholas only attended a 1/2 day kindergarten program, so this will be a big change for him. He's most excited about taking and eating lunch at school. Picking out his lunchbox was serious business - he finally settled on Cars. And he gets his very own thermos for milk that has a cup on top into which he can pour his own milk - wow! This wasn't a tough sell, but I was ready to had it been necessary because I wasn't too keen on paying $.50 for a milk everyday. After just a few days of that he could have bought a whole gallon, so it's way more economical to buy a little thermos and tote your own milk to school. Like a big boy with a cheap mom. The way I had to as a kid. But I *am* being nicer than my mom had been by allowing Nicholas to buy a hot lunch at school 2-3 times per month. We'll probably hit once a week before too long. But those run $2.25, which isn't too bad all things considered, but I can make one for a lot less and it would be healthier to boot. Although, I'm giving props to our school because they're offering things like brown rice and fresh fruit and not a lot of sugary items. Hence feeling better about buying hot lunches on occasion. Nicholas has already scoured the menu for September and selected the lunches he wishes to buy. He's the kind of kid that must have that all figured out in advance. He's also mega-amped about figuring out his school clothes for the week and putting them into the hanging shelf thingy in his closet, arranged by day. My child, he loves organization.

I didn't cry or get emotional about this big day. Mostly I think I was excited - for him and me. He was excited about starting school and I was excited to have him gone for the majority of the day. Does that sound bad? He's a great kid and I love him to pieces, but he's high maintenance/needy and I'm ready for a break. I'm ready to look forward to seeing him when school lets out instead of feeling exasperated about him hanging off me all day long. Lauren and I walked him to school today and got him settled into his classroom. He has his very own desk and we figured out where to put his backpack and lunchbox. These are big deals and he only feels comfortable when he knows the rules. I must confess to peeking into the window - from a distance - to make sure all was well. And it was. He's off and running as a first grader - yay! I'm going to pick him up after school and we're going to drive behind the bus so he'll learn the route and see where his new bus stop is. It used to be at our driveway (kindergarteners get door-to-door service), but now it's about 2 blocks away. And his morning bus stop is different from his afternoon stop because there is a morning kindergartener on our street just a few houses away. But that won't be his stop after school, so we'll "practice" today.

Oh how I wish we had year-round school!

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