Wednesday, September 21, 2011

And there went the summer

It's really hard to write a blog when you realize that so much time has passed. I thought about it all summer and yet I had nothing to give. It's not that the kids weren't there typical cute selves, it's just that the more time that passed the more pressure I felt. And the more pressure that I felt (self-imposed) the more it felt like work.
I've been keeping little Cady-isms on the fridge at home this whole time. I'll be sure to post those. Not today though. For now I felt like I needed to strike while the iron was lukewarm.
To pick up from May. Cady graduated from preschool. Coben was glad to be done with childcare. Even if it was only two days a week it was not his favorite place.
I was offered a position that I couldn't refuse but it involved going back to work full time. I would get to work on a teen parent initiative district-wide, or so that is what I was told by the Director of my department when he offered it to me. Fast forward two weeks after an HR approval for the position and I'm sitting down with a team member at Tony's Market Cafe (Do NOT eat there) and she starts talking about team members and all of these other initiatives and cross-training and I'm sitting there white-faced thinking, "this is NOT what I agreed to go back to work full time for" but life goes on right?  I always think of things in nine month blocks. Not only is this position very likely only a 9 month stint anyhow, but even if it wasn't I can try it on and choose something different next year.
The summer. It whizzed by. I was taking Cady to Occupational Therapy twice a week to work on sensory issues and that seemed to eat up way too much of our summer. There wasn't as much swimming or playing as I'd hoped, there was anxiety on my part about going back to work and having NOTHING in place from child care to Cady's school and the kids fought like crazy.  As you all know we managed to slip in a surprise trip to Disneyland. Lesson learned, do NOT try to surprise a child who is overtired and gravitates toward the  predictable. Nevertheless it was a magical trip. We were on the go pretty much from sun-up until well after sundown the entire trip. We visited the beach with the big waves. Cady was a huge fan and Coben not so much. I suppose when the waves are about four times your size it takes on a different feel.
I won't go into the school fiasco in it's entirety but sit back because even if I fast-forward to August it's long. School "choice" has no meaning when your choices have way more demand than the school can meet. We were wait-listed for pretty much everything. We had received our acceptance from Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy on the south side of Denver but we hadn't had a chance to meet teachers and tour the school so we didn't have much to base our decision on. Finally at the end of July we got a call from our neighborhood school Colfax (where Cady attended 3 yr old preschool) and they had a full-time spot for her with Ms. X(Ms. WHO? I had requested the other teacher who I know is phenomenal but was told they couldn't acommodate requests). So I did what any reasonable parent would do who is faced with having to make a quick decision without getting to meet the teacher. I pulled up her facebook profile, hehe. (I think they call that stalking). And I don't know, she didn't look like a Kindergarten teacher but what can you really tell by a picture. So I made an appointment with the principal and went in and spoke to her. I explained what Cady's needs were based on last year and her OT evaluation. When I pressed the principal on what Ms. McFadden was like her response was, "she did a nice job for us last year". NICE???? That's like the running joke between Rob and me when he said that our relationship was "fine" in our early stages, lol. How about, "she's great! you'll love her! she's very good at what she does." When pressed further she elaborated, "I think that things will be better for her this year. She had some rough kids last year and came on mid-year?" So I ask, "came on mid-year?" and I'm told that the other teacher resigned suddenly. Okay. STRIKE. I work in DPS. I know that the only teachers who have been around yet remain jobless in October are the ones that don't have a very good reputation. So, I ask about art. Art REALLY engages Cady. She gets absorbed in it and is able to tune everthing out around her. I was told they don't have an art teacher and haven't had one. BUT, last year they were able to get a volunteer for six weeks. Six whole weeks huh?  So I walked home feeling that it just wasn't a good fit. And I was having a hard time with it because I have always had a "rah rah neighborhood school" mentality. And I'm the first one to say that your neighborhood school is what you make of it. Get involved. Yadda yadda. That day I had a complete and total shift in my thinking. My thinking became, "if a school can't provide what you need. Think of them as a business. If you have a choice why give your business to anyone who offers less than what you are asking for?" And so we accepted at Kunsmiller. On  a side note, a friend of mine has her child in Kindergarten at Colfax and says, "That Ms. X scares me. She's the type that takes the fun out of learning. If my child had gotten her as a teacher I think he would probably need psychotherapy."  Score one for facebook!

So here we go. I go to register for Kunsmiller and instantly love Cady's teacher. She's young and energetic and has a great philosophy. She's a great communicator and has her bachelor's in music and her master's in early childhood. Great combo. Kunsmiller offers arts classes every day. Cady will have visual art, dance, theater and dance throughout the year in addition to the regular pull-outs like library, PE and technology. And it's a K-12 so she could potentiall stay there. So, day one was a huge success. Ms Shaeffer is a big hugger and had colored playdough and Cady bonded with her almost immediately. But that very same day we get a call from the school up the road that was our first choice. It has a fantastic educational philosophy and has been going strong for 30 years. It was an agonizing decision but we switched. And then regretted it. There's very little diversity at the new school which is fine if you are living in rural Montana but we're not. The teacher didn't seem very communicative and three days after Cady started threw her hands up and said, "I don't know what to do" in response to not being able to get Cady to go to the cafeteria for lunch or the playground afterwards. It just didn't *feel* right. Not to mention that Cady had been pining away for Ms. Schaeffer every single day. "Can I go back to Ms. Schaeffer's class now?" And so, Monday morning I took time off of work and begged our way back into Kunsmiller. Cady is a Kunsmiller Dragon and we stand by that choice. It was a long process but maybe just what we needed to do to feel good about her being in the right place.

Coben LOVES his child care center. He has a little boy crush on one of his teachers, Ms. Gina and gets a little giddy when he says her name. He has made lots of good friends and is happy to go everyday. He has not shed one single tear and now he finally tells us that he didn't like the place he went to last year (mommy gut was right). His happiness has made going back to work much much easier.
So, who are these kids?

Coben. Still addicted to my hair. He still strokes it and twirls it and nearly makes me bald when he is nervous. The other day I was putting him in the carseat after school and he even asked, "mommy, I need to touch your hair". He's got a wickedly dry sense of humor and loves to play. Rob and I are finally emerging from our five year cocoon and having more social time. When families come over to play,  Coben gets along with every single kid that comes over. He's just happy to play and have friends. Coben is Rob's child when it comes to rituals and organization. He is very particular about where things go and how things are done.

Cady. I'm not really seeing any remnants of our baby anymore. She is a little girl without a doubt. She still hates shopping with a passion but appreciates cute clothes and wonders outloud, "do you think the girls at my school will like this?" She's becoming a proficient reader and writer and is pure joy when she masters a letter that is hard. She just started Girl Scouts (Daisies!) and is still going strong at gymnastics. She is still best friends with Emma and loves pink, fairies and princesses as much as ever. She wants to me a mermaid for Halloween (as does Coben).  She's growing up so much.

Cady and Coben together. At their best they are so much fun. Their interactions are priceless and you can see the pure love. At their worst they are poking, yelling, hitting and tormenting each other in any way they see possible. It's not much different than what I went through with my siblings but let me tell you being on the non-parental side of it is MUCH easier to endure.

Rob survived another take-over and things are continuing to go well for him at work. He got in a fair amount of bike-riding this summer and coordinates a monthly dad's night out for the neighborhood dads. And right now we are just figuring out our balance since I've gone back to work full time. My job is going great. I was ready for a new challenge and being back full time has been great. The position, although not what I thought I was signing up for, still allows me lots of opportunities to work on the teen parent initiative along with all of the other initiatives that DPS has going on this year in the area of Mental Health and Assessment. I'm out and about running from school to school all day long. I don't miss the politics of working IN the school and I realize that I was really ready for this change (even if it does involve training large groups which I HATE).  I have the best co-workers and I'm doing something that I really feel strongly about. Who could ask for anything more? Well, not having to walk several blocks to park and then move my car every two hours might be something worth asking for but at least I can claim exercise.
Alicja is back in our lives. I can't always get to Kunsmiller in time to pick Cady up from school. So we decided to pay Alicja a flat amount each month to pick Cady up rather than pay that amount for her to sit in after school care when we only need an extra 15 minutes. The nicest perk is that on the months that Cady doesn't have school for planning days I take some pick-up days off of Alicja's plate and trade her to have Cady all day long so neither of us have to take the day off and she is also willing to pick Coben up early on his once a month early release days. I thought she would think I was crazy to propose a schedule where she essentially only works one hour a day but EVERY day but she accepted. And it's working very well. Whew.
I think we are finding our groove. We might even be, dare I say, FUNCTIONING!?
And with this out of the way I hope to return to some shorter and fluffier blog entries.


XLMIC said...

It is so good to get caught up on what has been going on with you! Wow... so much!

I am glad you wound up at a school you are happy with for Cady and that Coben is liking his place, too :)

KK said...

Thanks for the update! I was wondering if you had given up blogging. I'm glad everyone is doing so well.