Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Open [school] house

This morning Miriam went to her preschool's open house. She kept calling it the "open schoolhouse" because even though her preschool is in a house it's not just a house. It's a schoolhouse and a house.

The kids have already spent some time at this house, playing with the little boys who live there, so Miriam was already familiar with the preschool room. Rachel was impressed by the idea of having a preschool in a home, run by a friend, though I'm not sure why because her preschool a home, run by a friend. Anyway, the girls had both asked when Miriam would be able to attend preschool and our answer was that we didn't know because paying preschool tuition was a little out of our budget. When the girls came home from playing at this house, Rachel said, "Mom! You can just send Miriam to Sister Lewis's preschool! I'm sure she'll take Miriam as a student and I already checked out the classroom and it's awesome!"

She was a little crushed when I told her that even Sister Lewis charges tuition so Miriam would be just fine learning at home.

But then I found out that Sister Lewis trades preschool tuition for swimming lessons and babysitting and hair cuts.

That is a currency I can work with!

And thus began our summer of basically living at the pool. Seriously. Andrew and I are doing this "bike across America" challenge this year, only we're doing it on a stationary bike in our living room. He's done more than his share of the biking this summer (and he's been doing great because we're still on track to finish by the end of the year) which I almost felt guilty about until I realized that I took the kids swimming a bazillion times this summer. Then I decided that it was perfectly fair.

Today was my first time in the preschool room, though I've been to Sister Lewis's house for book club and playgroup and other get-togethers like that. I have to agree with Rachel. It's a pretty neat school room (though it's probably not quite as neat as the school room that Rachel had for preschool—that

Miriam had to write her name on a strip of paper, and the numbers 1–10 on another. She also had to do a self portrait. These, I know, will go in her end-of-year book (along with the same snippets from around the middle of the year and at the end of the year). I know this because my friend Laura's son showed me his book at the end of last school year.

She also got to decorate a tote bag that she'll use throughout the year. Annie let the kids use fabric paint (with aprons—I'm so glad she has those!) and they all used a lot so the bags are drying all over Annie's house. She said it usually takes about a week for all the paint to dry, which is part of the reason they do it at the open house (so they'll be ready for the first day of school).

Miriam also had a homework assignment. Last night Rachel was complaining about homework and Miriam moaned, "Will I have homework, too?" She tried to suppress a hopeful smile as she said this because deep down inside she has been hankering for homework. Rachel just makes it look like so much fun, I'm sure!

When we got home Miriam could hardly wait to start her project. She had to decorate an "all about me" gingerbread girl. She had to give it a skirt to make sure everyone knew it was a girl. It's a pink skirt because her favourite colour is pink. The shirt is blue because that's her least favourite colour.

It has blue eyes and yellow hair because she's a blue-eyed, blonde girl. She drew fun, fancy shoes on the gingerbread girl's feet.

Once we had the basic outfit in place we searched for pictures of the things Miriam likes so we could print them out, colour them, and stick them onto her gingerbread girl:

  • Pizza
  • Pancakes
  • Books
  • Ukulele
  • Swinging
  • Swimming
  • Ballet
  • Biking
  • UNO
  • Church
  • Elsa
  • Anna
  • Cinderella
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • Fancy Nancy

The pizza and pancakes just shows how much of an influence her father has had on her life.

While I was helping her with this project Benjamin was mucking around. He went outside to watch the boys next door change the tires on their bike. They let him play with a ratchet, which Benjamin thought was awesome. When he came back inside he decided it was lunchtime and started to get things ready. He pulled out all the plates and all the cups and put them on the table. Then he got the big stool from the bathroom so that he could get some silverware.

He somehow managed to flip the stool over while he was reaching into the drawer, causing a big clatter, much screaming, and much blood. His bottom lip got cut open somehow and he was miserable. I had him suck on a cold, wet cloth until the blood stopped and he'd calmed down, but he spent the next few hours with his tongue hanging out of his mouth. I guess his fat lip felt funny. He was drooling all over the place.

When I pointed it out Miriam decided to join in the tongue fun...

These two kids are carbon copies of each other. I think the only differences are (a) gender and (b) Benjamin doesn't have any birthmarks (thanks to his early arrival and the episiotomy I was given to ensure his noggin would pass without causing him undue stress he was spared the stork biting him). Poor Miriam is so fair-skinned she will probably have those birthmarks for life (like her Auntie Sarah).

I suppose Benjamin is a bit smaller, too. He looks up to his big sister and will probably be crushed when we drop her off at preschool next week (because he got to come up to the classroom today).

Fortunately for him it's only one day a week, and only for a couple of hours. It will be the first one-on-one time we've had together for, well, two years! Rachel, Miriam, and Daddy left Utah for North Carolina on August 11, 2012. Benjamin and I flew in on August 20, 2012. He hasn't had a day alone with Mommy since then, really!

We'll be doing a co-op another day of the week, which should be fun, though I'm already stressing out about having to get two children to two different places in a punctual fashion. 

And Annie's street is so narrow. Guys. It's. So. Narrow.

I had to have my friend Kari guide me as I backed out of Annie's driveway this morning because someone parked next to me and I seriously cleared their mirror within a centimeter. It was terrifying. And then I had to navigate Annie's narrow street with a car parked on this side, and then a car parked on the other side, and then a car parked on this side. It was like weaving my way through (very expensive) traffic pylons! I almost cried. And now I get to drive there once a week for the rest of the school year. What was I thinking?!

PSA: On narrow roads, only park on one side of the street. Think of the...

Me. Think of me

Speaking of pylons, someone in our neighbourhood posted "free traffic cones" to our neighbourhood listserv-thing. Benjamin and Miriam and I took a walk to look at them and decided that we'd take them. I was hoping they'd be smaller but they're actually huge. 

We put them up in the backyard to use as soccer goal posts and the neighbour kids played soccer until it got dark (there's no school tomorrow, so...). They've played soccer in the backyard before but I think they enjoyed it more with actual goal lines marked out. 

When I was growing up we'd just use our sweaters because we knew we'd get hot running around eventually. But we live in the south and children don't wear sweaters in August here (where it's still in the 80s and 90s (where I grew up the daily high is already pretty low, only reaching to the 60s/70s)). 

Anyway, they spent however long playing soccer after swimming for 2.5 hours this afternoon.

Somehow I was shocked that Benjamin and Miriam came in crying and could not stop. Both of them were just wailing. That's when I decided it was probably bedtime.

Miriam kept getting in the way of the more serious soccer players. After being trampled a couple of times she decided to be the referee "and if you get two yellow cards then you are just out of the game!" But when that didn't work out for her because no one was going to listen to a four-year-old she decided to just be a "cheerer in the audience" and came inside to find the USA scarf Andrew bought for Rachel (to take to the women's soccer game they're going to tomorrow). She spent quite a lot of time whooping and hollering from the safety of the deck while waving that scarf in the air.

But she came in when the ball was kicked too high and ended up hitting her. Again.

"This is the seventh time I got hurt!" she wailed when she came in. "Three more times and..."

I was expecting her to say something like, "I'm going to lose it!" because that sounds like something I might say to the kids when I'm all out of patience. 

Instead she said, " will be ten times of getting hurt! That's just too many!"

Then during family prayer Benjamin was being my "helper" by reminding me to bless everybody.

"And Daddy!" he said. "And Sasha! And mine! And mine! And mine! Mommy—me! Bess mine!"

"And bless Daddy," I repeated obediently as he listed each family member. "And Rachel. And Benjamin. Yes, bless Benjamin."

"And Mimi!" he added.

And while he said this he decided it would be appropriate to steamroll into Miriam, who was kneeling next to him. 

We allow our children to pray, as an aunt of mine not-so-delicately described, "as heathens do," with their foreheads on the floor and their bums in the air. Of course, we don't think people who pray this way are heathens. And once, at another aunt's house, to shock a visiting (and fairly conservative Christian) friend we called everyone in for family prayer and then had a relative who'd spent some time in Turkey (like the vast majority of his childhood) recite the call to prayer and then we all prostrated ourselves on the ground. This friend was so shocked. It was...priceless.

That's how you battle racism, right?*

So, anyway, Miriam was kneeling with her head on the ground and Benjamin was kneeling beside her in a similar manner. I was kneeling right beside him—technically I was supposed to be kneeling by Miriam but he squirmed his way between us (because sitting on the other side of me wouldn't have been fair because then Miriam still would have been kneeling beside me and he wanted to be the only one to kneel beside Mommy)—but I wasn't kneeling with my forehead on the floor because I was saying the prayer and in our house you're not allowed to have your forehead on the floor (or have your face squished into the couch or bury your face in your arms) when you say the prayer. 

He pushed off my legs and rolled over on Miriam and their heads clonked together and Miriam sobbed (in the middle of the prayer, mind you): "THAT MAKES EIGHT!"

She was up to eleven by the time I kissed her goodnight, poor thing, but if you ask her today was the best day ever because she got to go to her open schoolhouse!

*Possibly, because this person ended up taking Arabic 101 from Andrew a couple years later.


  1. Does she start over at zero tomorrow? :o)

    1. I think so. :)

      I'm also pretty sure she got hurt more than eleven times today. She only started counting the when she started playing soccer.

  2. So two years ago today you arrived here with Benjamin!

    I'm glad Miriam enjoyed her time at the open house, but sorry about the very narrow streets!

    That's funny about the call to prayer. I'm not a fan of Muhammad being the last prophet, but I think the call to prayer can be very beautiful.

    I pray like that sometimes, too. Seems biblical to me though we don't pray that way at church.

    I hope Benjamin's lip is better today, and that Miriam doesn't get knocked around so much!