Posts Tagged ‘kids’

home improvement

There is a reason–a good one–that I don’t usually tackle projects that require any handiness or know-how. Actually, there are two reasons.

Reason 1: I know nothing. Seriously, I have zero ability to do even simple repairs, etc. I can read (obviously), so sometimes I read a whole bunch of instructions and then take on some kind of project. I usually regret it, though, even if I don’t damage anything. (And I never, ever have the correct hardware/tools/parts.)

Reason 2: I’m generally working around the kids. Which means–well, you know what it means. Whatever the opposite of “help” is, that’s what you get.

Over the weekend, the flush handle on the toilet in our downstairs bathroom broke. We were busy and didn’t fix it on Sunday, and Conor made the offhand remark, “Looks like the toilet fairies still didn’t come.”

In case you don’t know any 5- or 6-year-olds, I should inform you that toilet fairies are the funniest thing in the world.

So, after teaching today, we decided that we should fix it. I stopped at the hardware store on the way home, got the part we needed, and headed home.

After making lunch, I started working on it. And this is how things went.

2:14: I take the lid off the toilet tank.

2:15-2:20: The kids stand around, looking in and marveling at the contents of the tank (“That’s where the water comes from! There’s a CHAIN in here! MOM! Did you know there’s a chain in here?”).

2:21: I read the instructions on the replacement part. I realize that I bought the wrong thing.

2:23: I fetch the kids back from the corners of the house (into which they fled when there was some prospect that I would want them to get in the car instead of pestering me). We drive back to the store and exchange our part.

2:45: We return home. (I am exhausted and haven’t even started the job yet.)

2:46: I pick up the new package and read the instructions.

2:47: Wesley says, “I’m hungry.” I fix him a snack. Mary does not want a snack.

2:50: I read the instructions again.

2:51: Mary says, “I’m hungry now.” I make her fix her own snack, but it takes longer than fixing it myself.

3:00: I read the instructions again. I turn off the water source to the toilet. The kids run into the bathroom to look at it. (“What did you do? Did you fix it?”)

3:05: I remove the toilet tank. Wesley stares at it and says, “I thought you were fixing it, not breaking it!”

…and so on. And so on. And so on.

I’m pleased to report that the problem is now fixed (at least, it seems fixed). It’s 7 p.m.


On the other hand…

…here is Mary’s picture of “the toylet fairy,” from the bottom of the note the fairy left for Conor:



Take THAT, Darth Vader!

Wesley and Mary have been playing Star Wars in the yard. He pointed his finger and said, “I’ll get you, Darth Vader!”

Mary shouted, “I have TWO light sabers!” [Query for nonexistent editor: lightsaber? light saber?]

Wesley replied, “I have NINETY-NINE light sabers!” And then, after a moment’s thought, “And 100 hands, so that I can use them all and STILL point at you!”

trip downtown

So, we had tickets to see “Hello, Dolly!” today–turned out to be quite an outing. The kids got dressed up for the occasion:

After the show, we went out to dinner.

The kids drew while we waited for our dinner to arrive:

Mary loved the soup.


We walked around town a bit:

Wesley took this picture of Mary:

We wound up the evening with another walk around town and popsicles. The kids said that their favorite part was the ice cream cart and some ducks we saw while wandering. Just in case you wondered whether the afternoon of culture excited them.

in the car

So, I was feeling a little guilty the other day for how many dinners my kids eat in the car. Mostly, this happens on dance class nights; I pack an after-school snack and a “snack dinner” for each kid.They sit in the back with their lunchboxes, and I drive. (Or Conor does.)

They both end up doing their homework in the car, too. We have a “homework box” with paper, pencils, pencil sharpener, glue stick, scissors, etc.

Anyway, I was thinking, isn’t that lame? I mean, family dinners are supposed to be around the table. And we’re all supposed to be there. And eat together.

But then I thought about it a bit more, and I realized that the dinners in the car are great. I just hadn’t thought it through.

For one thing, while I think snack dinners would get boring, the kids love them. Sometimes I wonder, “Who would want to eat turkey, a roll, and sliced vegetables for the three hundredth time?” But then I remember that the answer to this question is “Mary and Wesley.” They are totally happy to eat the same thing over and over again, and they’re willing to eat healthfully as long as I pack healthfully. It seems boring to me, especially because I prefer my food hot, but they eat well and they’re happy, so who cares?

More importantly, though, I have also realized that the lack of a table doesn’t matter: they tell me about their day, have conversations with each other, and generally do all of the things that a family is “supposed” to do during dinnertime.

Sometimes I ask them to relate the best part and the worst part of their day (Wesley’s “best” part is usually the food he’s eating).

Sometimes we talk about what they learned in school. Or they discuss a movie or a book they like. Or we talk about their homework or their friends or what we’re going to do this summer.

The best part is, I’m driving. I’m not feeling like I need to be putting in a load of laundry or grading a paper. Driving means that I can have a conversation, but I can’t do anything else. So I’m not distracted from what they have to say (unless, for example, someone cuts us off on the highway–but then we can talk about safe driving or good manners or the appropriate–and inappropriate–use of curse words).

So I don’t feel guilty about it anymore. It’s nicer on Fridays when all four of us are in the car, instead of just one parent, but in any case, it’s a family dinner. It counts.


So, I got each of the kids a Very Special Present: a little scrub brush, a tea towel, and a spray bottle of water.

They have been happily scrubbing everything I let them scrub for about an hour and a half now. The front of the refrigerator is spotless; the trim all around the kitchen from kid-level down is gleaming; and Mary is cleaning the bathtub.

This may be my finest parenting moment.

progress report

Conor went to conferences today for both kids–both of them are enjoying school.

Both teachers reported that they are very hard workers and respectful to others, which I was delighted to hear.

Mary’s doing well in all of her subjects, especially reading; she’s working on taking criticism a bit more constructively, but I’m sure she’ll get there, since she does a good job of that at dance class. She is reading Treasure Island (abridged, I assume?) and is always nice, respectful, and patient with her classmates.

Wesley is learning very quickly about things like coloring and math. He knows all of his letters and sounds. I think his biggest learning curve has been social, and his teachers said that he was very quiet and withdrawn at first, but now he plays with the other kids and has lots of friends, so that’s good. They also remarked that he has excellent speech and that they enjoy being able to have real conversations with him, which I suspect is also something that he has improved over the semester, since he was shy with them at first.

So, overall, school’s going great and they both like their teachers very much!

first day of school!

Today was the kids’ first day of school. They had a great time and both of them loved their teachers. (Hurray!)

They had to get up early, of course; Wesley didn’t have much trouble with that. Mary, on the other hand, had to be pried out of bed. As usual.

Here’s Wesley, ready to go:

And here’s Mary in her new first-grade uniform:

Wesley got ready and everything, but he didn’t sleep well last night; he was too excited about school. So by the time we got to the parking lot, he was…well, he didn’t know what hit him.

Mary held Wesley’s hand and led him to his classroom. She said, “Don’t worry, I’ll take very good care of him.” (What a good sister.)

On another note, I just realized that this week is my ten-year teaching anniversary. Ten years ago this week, I started teaching my first class. I cannot believe it’s been that long, but it also seems like I’ve been a teacher forever, so I guess it shouldn’t be surprising.

Definitely one of the three or four best decisions I ever made.