Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Two 2.0

It's possible I've overcommitted myself you guys. It is 11:45 on a school night the day AFTER Wes's birthday and I'm only now getting around to writing about it. And only because I feel really guilty that I haven't written anything yet. Poor Wes. I'll consider it training to be the middle child.

We started the birthday like we always do, eating cake for breakfast. Well, that's not exactly how we started the day. We started the day trying to get Wes to go back to sleep in our bed after he woke up at six o'clock (which, strangely, is the exact same time my water broke two years ago on the day he was born). We were unsuccessful so I took him downstairs for his pre-breakfast while I made the frosting for his cake. So Wes's birthday breakfast included a frosting-covered beater, a banana, and a cupcake. Parenting WIN.

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He does love cupcakes. So does Rossby. Somehow, Wes already knew how to blow out candles. Pretty cute stuff.

Later, after a late-September birthday trip to the pool, Ryan came home and it was time to open his presents. This is as far as he got. Charlie helpfully unwrapped the playground ball he got for him, but Wes was long gone, flying around the living room. Later when I checked on him before bed I found him fast asleep with one arm curled around his airplane.

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He sat patiently at the kitchen table while I made him his spaghetti dinner. Spaghetti is Wes's favorite real food. Since I couldn't interest the family in a big bowl of bananas for dinner, this was the next best thing. Wes and Charlie had three helpings each.

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But Wes still had room for cake. He blew out those candles too.

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Mmmm, spaghetti-cake. Delicious.

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Charlie was SO proud of his brother. He told everyone he saw on the way into school "It's Wes's birthday! He's TWO!" Wes trailed along behind him, holding up one fist and four fingers "BIRTHDAY!! BIRTHDAY!!" When we dropped Wes off I gave his teacher the bag of cookies (gingersnaps, THAT I MADE, you're still the baby for another few months, Wes) for the special snack time I explained to Charlie that Wes was going to have a birthday party with his class, but that Wes had also put two cookies in Charlie's lunch. Charlie ran to his teacher and told her "It's Wes's birthday. He's TWO! He brought cookies for all his baby friends and he gave ME two!"

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Wes came home wearing a green construction paper birthday crown. He was so happy and excited when I picked him up. Which may be why he didn't nap. That made the afternoon a little (a lot) rough. But dinner was special and fun and he went to bed with his super-cool new airplane tucked under his arm! Yay!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Screwing and Banging

Over dinner tonight (peanut butter and jelly because we are awesome) Ryan said to the kids "OK guys, you're going to hear a lot of screwing and banging tonight, but I need you to stay in your beds and try to sleep, alright?"

We've had a whole weekend of screwing and banging around here as Ryan and my dad framed the new wall upstairs. The wall that will create "the gutter room" as Charlie calls it, because if he looks out the window he can see the gutters on the roof. Big stuff when you are three, apparently.

I'm more excited about the linen closet they're incorporating and the fact that I will have two fewer people whose sleep habits mirror those of the inmates at Guantanamo.

Here's where things stand tonight. If you want a before picture imagine this picture without the studs (the wooden ones and the human ones) and a whole bunch more furniture and useless miscellany in the background. And yes, they removed that giant chair before nailing everything together. It's now in my bedroom with all the other useless miscellany. It's like sleeping in a yard sale.

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Oddly, though the boys cannot sleep through a brother climbing into their bed at five o'clock in the morning, they can sleep through the symphony of hammering and drilling that's been going on up there since before they went to bed. It's a good thing, too, because the more Ryan gets done while they are sleeping, the less time I spend averting tetanus and head injuries because the little rascals are just too quick for me to grab as they dart up the stairs to check out the progress. I've used about a half-tank of gas this weekend taking long slow drives to the Sonic three counties over just to get them out of the house. Playing outside simply wasn't an option until late this afternoon when a cold front finally knocked our humidity back down to habitable levels.

Taco's picked a particularly ill-timed moment to start trouble. I've been sailing along for twenty some-odd weeks with nary a care in the world and now that it's time to play general contractor I can no longer move any body part below my shoulders without touching off an achy, stabby storm of pain in my lower back and ab "muscles". I found myself trapped in Charlie's bed the other night, unable to roll over or sit up from the sciatic nerve pain. I kept trucking through Stuart Little, willing Ryan to walk close enough to the door that I could yell for him to get the fork lift and hoist me back into a standing position, but he never did. I figured it out myself eventually, but then tonight I somehow pulled an ab "muscle" while lying in bed reading Goodnight Moon to Wes. I would have preferred laundry to be the task I was incapable of doing, but apparently I'm on the bench for bedtime stories until after December.

We're so lucky to have lots of help from my dad, who today helped Ryan carry a queen sized bed, chair, and ottoman down the stairs and six huge sheets of sheet rock up the stairs. If not for him I'd still be sleeping in the double queen room at the Ramada Inn. Only without the indoor pool.

I'm really pleased with how the wall is looking and I'm hopeful that one day I can show you some "after" pictures. Until then, I will be keeping my kids off the second floor during waking hours and carefully hiding all the power tools before I go to sleep.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A note for my future self

I thought I should make a record of my day today so that one day when I am sitting on a porch overlooking the ocean, drinking a cup of coffee and reading a book it feels well deserved instead of self-indulgent.

My intention was to work all morning while the kids were in school, but an early morning laundry crisis changed my plans (as a pre-coffee, running late, hunt for some 2T shorts, ANY 2T SHORTS is wont to do).

After I came back from the preschool I thought I'll just stick a load in the washer and fold those two loads that have been on the floor since last week. That started a kind of June Cleaver chain reaction wherein it suddenly became very important to get EVERYTHING THAT HAS EVER BUGGED ME IN THE LAST SIX WEEKS DONE. So here's what got done before preschool pickup:
  • 4 loads of laundry folded and put away (and yes, I found many pairs of 2T shorts IN WES'S DRESSER. It's always the last place you look)
  • 2 loads of laundry washed and dried
  • Enough chicken for the rest of the week poached (and chicken broth for another recipe made at the same time)
  • Made a bed
  • Spot cleaned the carpet
  • Cleaned out my car (Necessary after a mortifying drive from a hotel to a restaurant with an out of town, childless friend last night. Welcome to town, sorry you have to sit with a child-sized backpack and fourteen Matchbox cars around your feet!)
  • Delivered first trunkload of clothes and bedding to the children's home
  • Returned overdue library books and CDs
And then I picked up the little guys and we went to the playground, came home for Wes's nap, made a craving inspired run to Sonic, rode bikes, and made dinner.

Ryan forbade me to lay so much as one finger on the remaining two loads of laundry or the dinner dishes and is now doing bedtime all by himself before coming down to his own "second shift."

So now I have some blondies in the oven and I am going to sit down with my heating pad (thanks for the sciatic nerve pain, Taco, it's pretty great) and grade a huge stack of labs so tomorrow will be free for proposal work. Why did I set up my weeks so the busy part is at the end? I do not know. Go ahead and use real cream in that coffee, future self.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fair warning to Dunkin Donuts

Hey donut people, I had to bribe my kids into the car this morning by promising to take them to Dunkin Donuts after school today for being so wonderfully behaved on the plane. They went to bed at one o'clock in the morning. So, yeah.

The late arrival home was so worth it, though. We went to the mountains in New Mexico to visit friends Ryan has known since he was a teenager. They've been like an extra set of grandparents to him and they've never met the kids, so we took advantage of one last weekend of free plane tickets for Wes and made the trip (and he ended up getting his own seat on all of our flights anyway, which made it nice for everyone).

We spent a lot of time relaxing and exploring the woods around the cabin (Every time I said "cabin" I thought of the song about the little cabin in the woods and the bunny and was in the middle of teaching it to the boys, hand motions and all, when I got to the part where the bunny says "hunter man will shoot me dead" and had to abruptly change the subject. What kind of sick people ran my summer camp anyway?).

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When we arrived we had lunch and then Ralph immediately put the boys to work feeding the animals. There was bird seed to distribute, hummingbird feeders to fill, bird baths that needed water,

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and enormous squirrels that needed to be hand-fed peanuts.

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When we pulled in the driveway Charlie spotted one of these squirrels, which are at least three-times the size of any squirrel we have at home and began yelling "A SKUNK! I SEE A SKUNK! A SKUNK! A SKUNK! LOOK! IT HAS A BLACK BODY AND A WHITE TAIL IT'S A SKUNK!" We may need to start spending more time outside.

Every evening was Happy Hour on the deck. Wes got into the spirit.

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It was in the forties when we woke up on Sunday morning and Ralph made a fire. The only fire these two have ever seen is the one used to smoke the meat at the breakfast taco place we frequent. They didn't quite know what to do with the cool temperatures either. Also? They were best friends on this trip. Lots of cooperation and almost no fighting. It was wonderful to watch Charlie soak up his big brother role as he led Wes around the woods near the cabin (...in the woods, little old man by the window stood, saw a rabbit hopping by, knocking at his door...).

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We picnicked by a steep rock face and watched a group of Boy Scouts climbing. Charlie was fascinated and had to get in on the act. He's about three feet off the ground in this picture.

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Then we went for a short hike (about a half-mile, which took over an hour, I'm sure you can imagine why) by a mountain stream. Wes found a cave and claimed it as his own. There was about to be a fight but then Charlie had to go potty so we told him to pick out any tree he wanted and everyone was happy.

Wes brought his blanket EVERYWHERE we went and he has it at school with him this morning, so I can't wash it even though it is GROSS. I guess that's why we call it "Smelly."

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Before that Charlie fell into the water trying to grab a stick he liked. All we had to change him into was a Pull Up left over from the plane trip, so Ryan carried him back to the car wearing his soaking wet shirt, a Pull Up, and my pink and purple striped socks, pulled up to his knees.

I call this one: The Ergo, don't go hiking with your not-quite two-year-old without it.

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The flight home was a total pain, but remarkably everyone behaved themselves (With the exception of me accidentally saying out loud "Mother of God!" when they turned off the engines for the SECOND TIME while we sat on the runway at the Denver airport waiting to take off (it took well over an hour). Charlie lightened the mood by yelling "We're never going to go to Texas!"). I was so proud of the kids, though. They picked out breakfast for dinner tonight as their "treat." And of course the donuts.

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It was a fantastic weekend. I'm off to go smell my coffeemaker again, though. Because I am way close to the 200 mg of caffeine mark. And since I was able to cajole everyone into having a magical happy day at school I've been able to do the big grocery shopping, pick Rossby up, start the laundry, clean out the fridge, and think really hard about starting that list of materials I'll need for my lab in the spring, lest you think I spend my kid-free hours lolling around in my jammies, which is what I SHOULD be doing considering it's all going to come to an end in December.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Like I always say, bad weather belongs inside a computer

Forty minutes before Charlie's first soccer practice was to begin the sky filled with dark, foreboding clouds. The first huge drops were starting to fall as I called the Y, dismal radar image up on the screen in front of me, to learn that, no, it wasn't raining at the Y, five miles from my house. We would have practice as scheduled. HURRAY! Because by that point Charlie was standing by the front window, in his cleats, shin guards, and knee socks, singing "Out came the sun and dried up all the rain..." over and over and OVER again. We loaded into the car and backed out of the garage into a torrential rainstorm.

"WOW, kids! Isn't this an ADVENTURE?!" I chirped. No one freak out! It's an ADVENTURE!

Traffic was awful, but by the time we got a few blocks from the field the rain magically slowed to a soft drizzle and then stopped. I breathed a huge sigh of relief. When we got to the field I had to wake Pele up so we could walk to the "orange" field to meet his team.

Which we did right after he paused to tuck his shorts into his socks.

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There will be no folding over of socks in this house.

It was total chaos when we arrived, with little families milling around not really knowing what to do or where to go. Finally an official looking man wearing a name tag and a whistle told us they were still deciding what to do about the weather. Big fat raindrops had started to fall again, but it was hardly the tropical storm we had driven through to get there. A "Real Housewives" type in front of me whined "I don't want to stay outside in THIIIIISSSS" and I used every ounce of self control I possess to not roll my eyes. I said to another woman "I'd rather stand outside in this than get back in my car without playing soccer!" She gave me a knowing smile and nodded toward her son, who was Charlie's age.

Ryan arrived, we stood around for a few minutes, they told us our team doesn't have a coach yet and they need a parent to volunteer. I elbowed Ryan in the ribs jokingly. He responded "Yeah!" with a LOT more sincerity than I was expecting. I looked at him like "What? Are you Ned Flanders all of the sudden?" but secretly hoped he was serious. Mostly because I like to bake and I would make a kickass Team Mom. While we talked the kids busied themselves with the soccer goal.

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And then the Very Close Lightning and Very Loud Thunder began. If there's one thing small children love, it's Very Loud Thunder. The official looking man blew his whistle and yelled for us all to "CLEAR THE FIELD" in a very official tone of voice and we all obediently returned to our various hatch-backed cars to take our sad little kids to Sonic and Papa John's and Red Box.

Charlie complained in a surprisingly mature way about the thunderstorm and having to leave practice and he and Ryan played in the back yard after it cleared up. Still, we're hoping for sunny skies next week.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

He's back!

After "getting to sleep until daytime," Charlie came home from school the happy, easygoing kid I remember him being.



So we played with his "sad box" as he calls it and then made gingersnaps together. And until about 5:30, when we were about to go home from the pool and he threw my shoes into the water in anger, he had a really good day (when we came home he ate a scrambled egg and a half, toast, applesauce, an apple, and a cream cheese and jelly sandwich, so I'm attributing the shoe thing to low blood sugar).

I'm happy to let my Leave it to Beaver ideal go in exchange for that happy kid!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Good fences make good brothers

At 2:30 this morning, after Ryan and I had tried for nearly three hours to get Wes back to sleep, after we'd decided to gate him in Charlie's old room, make sure he was safe, and then let him scream his fool head off if that's how he wanted to spend his evening, we decided to build a wall.

Not a metaphysical wall or an emotional wall or a relational wall. A real wall. With studs and drywall and a door.

We (I) have been resisting walling off our upstairs "game room" to create a fourth bedroom because I think two boys SHOULD be able to share a room. My parents shared rooms, I shared rooms in college. I share a room right now for goodness sake. I don't even get my own BED! And, I reasoned, we have a playroom full of toys, all they do in their room is sleep! They're too little to need privacy! How many rooms of our house do we need to dedicate to children, anyway?

As it turns out, the answer to that question is "As many as it takes."

Because after an awful day which ended in tears because Charlie was simply too tired to function after two months of being woken up before dawn by Wes (The fighting, the drama, the rudeness, it is so out of character for Charlie. And I know that some of that is normal for his age, in my heart I feel like if he was sleeping better he would be happier. Plus he has bags under his eyes the likes of which I haven't seen since my dissertation defense.) and after an awful few hours of trying to get Wes to sleep by every means possible except for the one method that works every single time (letting him scream for five minutes before dropping out cold in front of the baby gate) it just seemed absurd to hang onto a "game room" that is currently being used to house two chairs we don't want, a computer we don't use, and the Mount Kilimanjaro of Goodwill piles.

And, honestly, the thought of rolling into December with two unreliable sleepers and then adding a NEWBORN to the mix was giving me near panic attacks.

So I lay in bed (awake at two freaking thirty, thank you for that Wes), giddy thinking about the way I was going to make it all work. The extra desk would be moved into our bedroom and I would finally have a desk again! We could Craigslist the heck out of everything else. Ryan and my dad could build the wall in a weekend or two (the room is made to be an optional bedroom, with a closet and everything, so it would be easy, I think). I would paint it a soothing, big boy, khaki color and make Charlie some plaid curtains like The Wonder Years. He could have his own desk and a place for his baby cradle (where Phent sleeps).

I felt even more sure about The Wall this morning when Charlie came to the gate at the top of the stairs at 7:15 and said to me "I got to sleep until DAYTIME!" and then had the best morning we've had in WEEKS after spending the night largely alone in his and Wes's room. Poor, poor kiddo. Wes was another story, obviously, having been awake most of the night. The screaming. OH MY HOLY.

I may surprise Ryan this evening by having a pallet of lumber and sheetrock delivered to our driveway.

Monday, September 13, 2010

So it begins

The Schedule I've been longing for for the last five weeks begins this week. Mondays will be our lazy day. Or maybe our laundry day, Goodwill purge day, workout day, grocery shopping day, play in the backyard day, and errand day. Because Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings are school days for the kids and Tuesday and Wednesday I will be working "at home" (Starbucks, Panera, the other coffee shop) on teaching stuff, proposal stuff, and next semester's class during preschool. Tuesday morning is Ryan's men's group at church (which meets at SIX O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING to accommodate all the guys with nine to fives. Which is, apparently, pretty much everyone we know now that we're an age that rhymes with purdy). And if last week is any indication I won't be able to rely on school day afternoons to get anything outside the house accomplished, unless "have huge public fight with my children" is on my to-do list.

Thursday I go to my school right after preschool dropoff and my dad picks the boys up at their school. I come home right around dinner time Thursdays then leave again for my women's group at church. Ryan's meets at six in the morning, mine meets at six thirty at night. Totally fair, I think (Actually, there's a similar group that meets at nine thirty in the morning that I love and went to last year, but I'm going to be teaching Tuesday/Thursday mornings in the spring and I also want to support the evening group because there aren't a lot of activities at church that cater to working mothers).

Friday I go to school for office hours at twelve-thirty then teach at two. Then I hit Charlie's soccer practice on the way home (if I have time I plan to go pick him up and take him myself, but the way it worked out I think I'll be that working mom screeching into the parking lot a minute before it starts, picking my way across the grass in my heels, apologetically relieving the nanny (who is my dad) as practice begins, then taking the kids to Sonic on the way home because I didn't manage to get dinner together AGAIN).

Weekends are soccer games, birthday parties, Sunday School, and church. I am SUCH a cliche. But a happy cliche.

It's not as crazy as some of your schedules (like Kyla, my goodness), but it's certainly more busy than mine has been since I finished school. And I don't love the way the afternoons and evenings at the end of the week are full (that's prime couch-vegetating time), but I think it's going to be good for me (less couch vegetating time). And there's plenty of down time for the kids Monday-Thursday afternoons (hopefully not enough that they will get bored and turn on each other), which seems to be important for their sanity.

And then not long from now we'll throw an extra child into the mix and see what happens, WHOOO!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Exhausted

School might be out on Fridays, but even a lemon slush from Sonic couldn't pep these kids up. I really need to run to the store but I'm afraid someone will fall asleep in the car, take a four hour nap, then be awake until two o'clock in the morning. It's happened before.

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Sometimes it IS good parenting to let your kids lie around eating Oreos and watching TV.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Schoolboy

Guess who LOVES school?

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Every morning we eat breakfast, watch Curious George, and when it's over I say "OK guys! Time for school!" And Wes JUMPS up, turns off the TV, runs to the back door and jumps around begging "BAAACK PAAACK" until I get it off the hook for him, then runs and gets in his car seat. With his back pack on.

When it's time to pick him up they open the little half door and he comes walking out with his back pack on and heads straight for Charlie to tell him all about his day. I? Am chopped liver. Except sometimes he gets a stamp on his hand and I have to ooh and ahh over that before he goes to Charlie. But under no circumstances am I to make a big fuss about our reunion. Any attempt to pick him up, kiss him, or ask him about his day are met with whining and squirming. Puh-lease, Mama.

His teacher has had great things to say, too. He's a GREAT eater! (What?) He loves to participate in all the activities!! (Are you kidding me?) AND now when I try to cajole Charlie into picking up before dinner Wes is quite the happy helper. Help? Clean up? WILL I GET A STAMP ON MY HAND??

And then he falls asleep in the car before we leave the parking lot. Every single time.

Tomorrow they don't have school. I think I'll have Ryan break the news.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tiny chairs, lunch boxes, and lots and lots of rain

This?


A tropical storm heading for our city? Was not what I was expecting for the first day of school. However, I do love a good tropical storm. The rain, the cloudy skies, the fascinating hoarding behavior at the grocery store? It just makes me happy. Inordinately happy.

This morning was like any other except that I tried to delay my morning cup of coffee so I could enjoy it with the paper at Starbucks BY MYSELF after I dropped everyone (and I do mean everyone) off at school. Given that it took me nearly forty minutes to coordinate my brain and limbs enough to make two lunches and find extra diapers for Wes, I now realize that COFFEE (!!!) will be first on the list from now on.

The kids were their normal sluggish morning selves, but we managed to tear them away from Sesame Street long enough to get this magical and special back-to-school picture (originally this would have been outside, but like I mentioned before, TROPICAL STORM). This is the most magical and special of the ten or so that we took, the others having been wrecked by nose picking, fighting, and Rossby wandering into the frame just as I pushed the shutter. Wes chose the infant hat from a basket in the closet while Ryan dug around for our only umbrella (TROPICAL STORM!).

First Day of School

We made it to the building from the car with minimal distractions (the umbrella mesmerized them) and I handed Wes and his backpack over the half door of his classroom with no fuss, just like I was told to do at orientation. He walked off and found a doll stroller to push around with no fussing, no waving, no "Thanks for breastfeeding me for ten months!" nothing. He's always been an independent kid. Except for this weekend when he walked into our friend's kitchen to see me holding a tiny baby. That time he pointed at me accusingly, shouted "BABY!" then made his angriest face, complete with indignant snorting, before stalking off into another room. School, though, does not appear to be a problem.

For some reason, it was Charlie's dropoff that made me verclempt. He's a Big Kid at school now, so I'm supposed to hang back and let him do everything--hang up his backpack, take his lunch out and put it away--all of which he did with no trouble before he found his name tag among a whole table of name tags, which he also did with no help. And it just takes my breath away how grown up and competent he is. I pointed out that he got to wear a name tag JUST LIKE Papa does at work, gave him an awkwardly long and tight hug and sent him off to play at the table so I could flee the building before I embarrassed myself.

I did get my coffee at Starbucks and I did finally get to buy some maternity jeans (several earlier attempts were abandoned after appallingly awful behavior in the store (from all three of us, ultimately)). And now I'm home (no class for me this week because of Labor Day) facing down an entire August's worth of neglected housework and laundry and seriously considering making dinner (broccoli cheese soup and homemade bread... TROPICAL STORM!!) so I won't have to do it later when everyone is home and overtired.

But I am pretty excited about going back to get them and finding out what they did all morning.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Ding Dong The Longest August in the History of the World is GONE

When I opened the back door to let Rossby out this morning I was shocked to be met with a blast of not-already-stifling-hot air. Indeed, the thermometer said it was a brisk seventy-two degrees, which is a little disappointing, but certainly a nice change from starting the day at eighty-five. When it is still dark. Which is when we are starting our day these days. Today it was because Charlie woke up at six to go potty and turned on all of the upstairs lights like some kind of crazed drill sergeant. Usually it's because Wes wakes up at 6:15 and tries to crawl into bed with Charlie.

It was so cold I thought I better put on a scarf with my tank top and capris when we went out for breakfast tacos.



There were goosebumps on my arms. GOOSEBUMPS.

The second half of this week has been GOOD, you guys. Preschool orientation for the kids on Thursday (they loved it and I really like their teachers. Wes wore his backpack the ENTIRE time), then we went out for lunch with friends (which was crazy, as always, but at least I wasn't dealing with the crazy all by myself), then I went up to school to teach while the boys stayed in the campus apartment of a former student who has turned out to be an AWESOME babysitter. When I arrived to pick them up they had the undivided attention of THREE college women who had helped them make origami cranes and fed them homemade cookies.

I have more responsibility this semester (prepping a class and a lab for the spring, A.K.A. Taco's first five months, so I better do a freaking amazing job of preparing) and both kids will be in school three days a week until one. We are all happy to be getting back into a routine and this morning's taste of nice weather to come was icing on the cake. YAY September.