Monday, 24 September 2012

Nicolas surviving Isabel and other things

 First, the skirt I made.

 I love it.

 Silly faces.
Isabel is CRAZY.  Good thing she makes us laugh so much, otherwise I might give her away.  A friend babysat her for me last Wednesday, and she said, "She never stops!  None of my kids were like that."  Hmmmm.....

And for those of you out of the know, I volunteered to plan our ward's Halloween party.  Only, then it turned into a TRI-ward party.  How do I get myself into these things?  Anyway, now Leo and I definitely NEED pirate costumes.  I think Leo should be a cosair from the Barbary Coast (ignore the guy in the middle, I mean like the guys on the sides.)  However, I have neither the time or the money, so instead, he will be the guy in the middle.  Sniff.  That's really too sad.  I, of course, will just be a pirate wench.  Lucky me.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Why do I live here and when can I leave?

First this:

Tammy Cooper, a stay-at-home mom who lives in La Porte, Texas, was arrested earlier this month after a neighbor reported her for allegedly letting her kids play outside on their motorized scooters unsupervised.
Cooper, who spent 18 hours in jail overnight, says she was watching her children, ages 6 and 9, from a lawn chair during the time of the incident. The family lives in a cul-de-sac, and Cooper told KPRC that the safe location was one of the reasons she had chosen to reside there.
When police showed up at Cooper's home to arrest the mother for child endangerment, her kids protested.
“My daughter had him [the police officer] around the leg saying, “Please, please don’t take my mom to jail. Please, she didn’t do anything wrong,’” Cooper told the station.
The charges against Cooper were dropped, but she is now suing the City of La Porte Police Department, the arresting officer and her neighbor for damages.
Cooper's arrest caused a bit of outrage, even making the news in Australia. On the Internet, some moms rallied to Cooper's defense, saying that she didn't deserve to be arrested for child endangerment.
"All children may not be old enough to handle such a situation, but some definitely are, and it should be a parent's right to decide if they are," Julie Ryan Evans wrote on CafeMom.
It is worth noting that some parents are proponents of a hands-off playtime.
HuffPost blogger Lenore Skenazy, who holds a class called "I Won't Supervise Your Kids," notes that it's good for children to figure out how to play on their own.
"For the last few decades, child development experts have been telling us that the crucial thing missing from kids' lives is exactly what used to fill them: Time with friends of different ages, playing outside, on their own," Skenazy wrote. (Here's the article I copied from.)


Elena goes to all day kindergarten from 8:20 till 3:40.  I think this is much too long, and she comes home exhausted each day and cries half the mornings about having to go to school. However, I figured, it's kindergarten, they'll have lots of play time and recess, and she'll adjust.  At the open house, I received a detailed schedule of their day.  Guess how much time they have for recess during the entire day???
15 minutes!  

Seriously??  I would be exhausted with the schedule they have these kids on.  I literally cried when I was telling Leo about it at home that night.  (Okay that might be a bit of postpartum hormones.)  She does have PE for 55 mins, once or twice day a week--it varies.  But that's not the same as unstructured play and downtime.  Here's her schedule:

8:20-8:30 Morning announcements and pledge
8:30-8:45 Calendar (reviewing days, months, seasons)
8:45-9:00  Phonemic Awareness (ABC chants, sight words review)
9:00-9:45 Writer's Workshop (kid writing)
9:45-10:30 Extended Learning/Developmental Centers
10:30-10:48 Handwriting
10:48-11:18  Lunch (this does not include recess time, I asked)
11:30-12:35 Math/Science
12:35-1:30 Specials (Art/PE/Music/Library)
1:30-1:45 Recess
1:45-2:00 Snack/Quiet time
2:00-2:20 Themed Interactive writing (science/social studies)
2:20-2:35 Shared reading/read aloud
2:35-3:20 Literacy Centers/Guided reading
3:20-3:40 Pack & Stack/Dismissal

So is it just me, or does this seem crazy?  And the teacher kept explaining how the district upped it's standards this year, and kids have to be reading at a 1st grade level by the end of kindergarten, and how they're requiring more sight words to be memorized, etc.   Really?  I know I'm the odd person out by not having Elena in preschool, but Kindergarten, I thought, was still supposed to be a transition into regular school.  But not only that, I would want my older kids (1st graders, 4th graders, etc) to have more recess too.  Even the national recommendations are at least 20 minutes of recess a day.   

My father referred to my school district as "abusive," and said that "No educator in the country would consider that as developmental appropriate for that age group."

My good friend who has a ten year old brother in an elementary school nearby--which is rated the number 1 elementary school in the entire Houston area, and one of the best in the state--told me that her brother is being treated for anxiety.  And the problem is the pressure he feels at school.  That's insane.  She herself went to the number 1 ranked high school in Houston, and she said BYU (most of her classmates went to Ivy League schools) was easy for her, but that wasn't necessarily a good thing, because she was so burnt out from high school when she got there and she felt that her high school had been too extreme and not in proportion to the needs of preparing for college and a career. I definitely want my kids challenged in school, but this is too much. 

Sorry to those who already read this rant.

Then third of all:  

My friend from church picks up and gives Elena a ride to school, because she saw me dragging all four kids to school one morning (we walk, it's only a block and half away).  But literally, I WAS dragging all four kids.  Well, I had Nicolas in a baby carrier on my chest, and Sebastian I was giving a piggy-back ride too, and I had Isabel and Elena by the hands.  It wasn't pleasant, and she was very, VERY nice to offer to stop and pick up Elena in the morning--in the afternoon I walk to go get her--oh, and on this note, I think she's perfectly capable of walking to and from school herself, except I think I would be arrested for child endangerment.  My friend has to drive anyway, because she lives outside our school zone but her daughter is in the same class as Elena for the Spanish immersion program.  So that was nice.

Still very nice, but somewhat irritating is the fact that another lady from our ward who has a daughter in the same school and grade as Ana has offered to give Ana a ride to school, and home from school each day.  This is not on their way like my other friend, but is solely due to the fact that we, (apparently) are cruel and mean parents and make Ana ride her bike the half a mile to school.  Granted, with volleyball on, it is dark when Ana goes in the morning, which I don't especially like, but the lady told me, "Well, this just isn't that good of a neighborhood."  I wanted to laugh.  She probably would be shocked to see where we lived in Chicago.  Anyway, I think she thinks we're terrible parents because we don't go to Ana's games.  Seriously, it's middle school and they charge $4 a person and to keep all my little kids happy would be torture, and as my parents told me and I continue to tell Ana, the sports are for her to have fun, not to entertain me.  I have my own hobbies.  I do plan on going to at least one game, in my defense though. I guess what I'm getting at is that the pressure to parent a certain way is extreme--and I do feel a bit guilty, but only because other people are giving her a ride every day.  I'm otherwise totally okay with Ana riding her bike.  Because, come on, I walked home from school every day in North Dakota and it was FREEZING cold and I survived.  (See, I have my own walked to school uphill both ways story, and now I'm giving Ana a chance to have her own story!)  

And lastly:

Elena has a whole stack of sight words to memorize and trying to help her is like pounding your head against a brick wall.  She doesn't pay attention and she looks completely blank most of the time.  It's so frustrating to me, because of, well, what I described in my last sentence, and secondly because I don't even think they should be teaching her all this in Kindergarten anyway.  AHHHHEEEeerrrrrrrr.  However Isabel had the ones I was trying to teach Elena last night memorized, in about two minutes. Sigh.  But then, why would I expect Elena to have patience with me trying to teach her stuff when she's already had to be sitting still ALL day?

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Picnic and Playing at the Park

A few photos from the week

 Sleepy baby and very tired dad.  I am feeling much better this week.  At the beginning I was still kind of wheezy, but on Friday I felt so good I actually exercised for a full 40 mins.  Then I was sore on Saturday, but I still did my abs workout that day.  Which is good because I'm constantly STARVING and wanting to eat.  Yeah, yeah, I know I'm nursing, but I'm also GAINING weight, which is what I did after Sebastian.  So no more snacking.  Sigh.  If only I had will power.
I finally wrapped our couch in a blanket because I couldn't handle the holes anymore.  The kids (especially Isabel) were picking at them constantly and stuffing was on the floor all the time.  This turned out to be a very effective solution.
 He loves to look in the mirror.  At least that's what I think he's doing.  Sometimes I leave him on the counter there and he's happy for so long.  Weird kid.  Don't worry he can't roll yet.
 Today, a lady invited us over for dinner.  Only I didn't remember her name, and I knew I should know it, so I didn't ask her it.  Then I skipped out of Relief Society for a bit just so I could have someone in Primary tell me who she was, since she's a Primary teacher.  Yeah, I'm an idiot.  Then, after my friend told me, and I SHOULD have known her name--I only chatted with her for two hours at playgroup on Wednesday--I still was worried that it might be the wrong lady because I wasn't sure I remembered her face correctly and so I went up to her very hesitantly, and asked if I could bring something for dinner.  Luckily, it was the right person. Whew.
 Elena made this herself--well she had me draw the mustache and then she colored it and cut it out and taped it on.
 More baby pictures as requested.

 I love his hair.  It's so dark.
 I love the startled baby look.
Do you like my bright red nails?  I painted them in another futile attempt to stop biting them. It worked for a week.
Adios muchachos.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Thank you, thank you.

My friend Carlie at nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award.  She said, and I quote, "she is just amazing. She has darling kids, but shares all the funny and frustrating moments as well as the happy. And she is the best seamstress I've ever known!" 
Thank you Carlie!  I love hearing myself described as a seamstress.  Makes me think of this.
(That's a good thing.) And, well, to be described as the best, that's just making my head swell.

So, seven things about me.

1.  I should be making lunch for my kids right now, and I am not.  
2.  I have at least fifteen projects planned in my head or half started in my sewing room at all times.  And ideas for so many little time......
3.  I hate running.  (That's why I'm so impressed by all your 5ks Carlie, that's amazing!)
4.  I'm seriously homesick for Utah and Provo right now.  I want fall, and BYU performances (that are affordable) and school's with a decent amount of recess, and my family, and Natalie, my old neighbor, and I even miss taking classes at BYU.  Sigh.
5.  I have all my Christmas shopping done.  Except for Leo's Christmas present.
6.  My favorite colors are hot pink and red.
7.  I don't like planning meals, and menus, and shopping lists, but I don't really mind cooking, and I love to bake!  All the best things to eat are baked, except for steak.

I nominate Kayli at for the One Lovely Blog Award, because I love her photography.

Halloween yet?

Elena's been begging for months for me to go up in the attic and get down the two bins of Halloween clothes (as opposed to their normal dress-up clothes).
I finally had Leo grab them down a week ago after Elena was particularly good about doing her chores and not screaming.

We've had some pretty fun outfits around since then.  This is Isabel's favorite.  She wears this combination a lot.

This is Nicolas in my favorite pajamas.  He doesn't like dressing up quite yet.
I love the matching accessories.

My happy boy.
Err...goofy boy.
Sebastian likes to dress up too, mostly in capes though.  Poor Ana, she's just stuck in the background doing homework.  She has a really busy schedule with volleyball.  But I'm glad she made the team, and they won their game last night!

Sunday, 9 September 2012


I just wanted to share a little bit about our local wildlife.  Specifically, the wildlife in our front yard.

And don't worry about this little guy, Ana went out and removed the screen, I'm sure he eventually would have figured it out, I mean he got in there, so he must have been able to get out right?
 We've seen those lizards quite a bit.  It's a green anole.  I rather like them.  They're kind of pretty.
This is what they do when they're threatened, like as is in when Leo's trying to catch it.  
This is a Mediterranean gecko.  It's an invasive species from, yeah, the Mediterranean area of Europe and Northern Africa.  They are EVERYWHERE.  At least five are around our front door light catching bugs each night.  They are ugly.  And they are invasive.  Which is why I don't like them.  The little baby ones aren't very bright, and every so often we catch a couple in our house.  Errrrr..... Me no likey. Just this week one went behind the refrigerator and it's probably rotting there still.  
 Okay I don't know the name of these, and I'm not sure if it's exactly the ones I've seen, but there is a huge toad, (think fist-sized) living in our front yard.  It's ugly.

 Maybe it was this guy.  Anyway, we see these large dead toads ran over in the street all the time. Oh and yes we see dead possums and armadillos too.  The other day I went out my front door and stepped on a little frog and killed it.  Oops.  

And this is our most fun resident.  The Texas Tree Roach. It's about 2 inches long.  Not joking.  Luckily they don't get inside very often.  However, I hate them.  Even finding one in your house every couple of months is too much for me.  Yuck.

I've also found a snakeskin in our front yard.  But I refuse to even think about it, because of how much I dread snakes.  Shiver.

And that's our front yard.  And actually, most annoying of all is the mosquitos-- (I actually don't mind the geckos and toads and lizards because they eat the mosquitos--except when they come in our house.)  Because we have beautiful, lush tropical plants in our front yard that have nice big leaves that catch water and store it, it is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitos.  I literally get a mosquito bite almost every time I spend more than 30 seconds in the front yard. Ugh.  Not to mention the outbreak of West Nile Virus here, the worst it's ever been--47 dead this year in Texas.  Joy.

So I'm just continuing my quest in convincing people to come visit me.  Is it working?