31 for 21: Day 14: talent

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Go:

“Momma- remember my talent show last year?”

“Which one?”

“The one at afterschool- where I did gymnastics and concentration.”

“Mmm-hm.”

“Well next year I’m going to do hula-hooping. I’m really good.”

“You are.  You’ve been practicing. That’ll be cool.”

“Well- next year the Quail will have to participate too. I was thinking about it and I think she should do talking.”

At that I stopped typing and looked up at Zuzu from my computer. “Talking? Why talking?”

Truly I was caught off guard by the suggestion that the Quail’s ability to talk was her talent. Both that it seemed a talent to her sister and the fact that we have spent the last three years absorbed by the lack of her ability and trying to rectify that. By definition- her talking is no talent.

“Because she has Down syndrome and she works hard to learn to talk like I learned to hula-hoop. You and Daddy practice with her every day. You and Daddy will have to come to the talent show and show everyone how she does her bite-bites. No one knows what bite-bites are. I told Makaylah about them when she asked why the Quail doesn’t talk. I told her she does talk but it’s hard for her and you have to know her like I do to understand her. I showed her how to know what the Quail is saying.”

Just as she leans down to zip up her new purple boots the Quail wanders into the office and wraps her sleepy arms around Zuzu, wiggling her head into her stomach as she squeezes her tight. “Come on- Quail- let’s go play school- I’m Ms. Dobson- you go get your backpack to hang by your cubby.”

“Kay.” The Quail lets go of her and runs over to give me a quick explanation signing as she presses the words out with intention from her soft round mouth, “Zuzu. Me. School. Play.”  

As I turn back to the computer, I hear them giggling through the hall back to their daily business at hand leaving me with a new perspective on what real talents live in our home and in these girls. These girls that get to take for granted their hard work and natural inclinations and each other. It’s easy to forget how much of your own beliefs and views your children naturally absorb each day and on the other hand, how much you can learn from them when you pause to listen.

Stop.

31 for 21: Day 13: full

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Zuzu was just about 12 months old the first time it happened. She stood in the carpeted hallway staring unhappily up at me as I answered her request for another cracker with a not right now. As she wasn’t going to stand for it, she oh-so delicately laid her small body down, ensuring not to bump or bruise herself and set to wailing and kicking after a quick glance in my direction. My lips turned up as I turned away to hide my laughter at her first tantrum.

Within a year it was not nearly so cute and the next year after that it was downright infuriating. These days when the fury bursts from her you can feel the floors shake as she stomps her twinkle-toes sneakers back into her bedroom.

But we knew it was normal development emotion-wise and set in for the duration. Like clockwork at her next half-year mark she would set into a new range of developmentally expected behaviors that would ease up as her birthday approached. Convenient isn’t it?  The sudden return to being a sunny little bout of sunshine just in time to ensure a good birthday gift or 12. Downright Darwinian.

Then along came the Quail. We had read and bore witness to a series of offhand comments about “those kids”. You know God’s angels, the sunny, happy-go-lucky carefree children who never get angry? The passive full of light and good cheer children who didn’t know any better than to just grin at you and passers-by? Even though she showed a full range of emotion, these images held enough water to make me think that perhaps the personality trait of cheerfulness itself resided on that 21st chromosome and that our Quail maybe did have a little bit extra. 

That is until about the age of eighteen months. When, one day, the Quail sat happily humming into a plastic microphone in the sun-filled living room. When in skipped Zuzu who also had a song on her lips. Zuzu donned her sweetest “Momma” voice and leaned in to pry the microphone from her sister’s hands. The Quail, she gripped that tiny pink cylinder of plastic firmly with one hand, placed her other little hand square in Zuzu’s face and hollered “STOP!”  Zuzu was crushed as we turned away to hide our giggles and mental high-fives at the Quail’s newfound feistiness.

Enter a year later. And yes, there has been all the typical naughtiness you expect from a pre-schooler, laced with just enough mischievous sparkle in her blue and Brushfield spotted eyes to keep any grown-up from disciplining her too sternly. And then one weekend, perfectly timed with just enough of a snot-filled nose to make us question the origin of her fury; also timed perfectly within a month of her turning 2 and a half; our cheerful little helper, one day out of the blue refuses to pick up her crayons. Not only refuses, she stomps her foot (which we silently applaud since up until the last few weeks her balance wasn’t sturdy enough for her to not topple over in the attempt) and then goes in for the kill. She kicks over the little yellow bucket of crayons she’s been directed to fill. Silence fills the room, as she waits for our response and we wonder briefly at the skill of the kick and the pile of colorful crayons spewed across the black rug. Then she gives her age-old gesture of discontent- a version of flipping us off with her arm and attempts to leave the scene of the crime. I return her to it, with low firm instructions, no longer humming our clean-up song. She plops down, fixes her glare on the rug and growls. This continues for another minute until I’m clear she isn’t going to clean up her mess and so off to time-out she goes as an angry wail fills the house. Finally, shuffling slowly back in, head hung low, bottom lip bird-perched out and her hand sorrying circles on her small heaving chest she bends to pick up first a yellow, than a purple crayon and drops them squarely back in the pail.

Typical pre-schooler right? Shouldn’t have been so surprising. Except we’ve been marveling for months at how much the Quail enjoys helping grown-ups clean-up and this seemed to blow in out of nowhere. Apparently someone forgot to inform her of her abundant cheer that her syndrome relies on. A series of similar versions of the story ensue over the weekend involving, animal puzzle pieces, Cheerios and far-flung cups of kefir. Enough so that by Monday afternoon Lovey declares she’s going to the pediatrician tomorrow. I agree, this behavior is unusual. We know one ear tube came out a month earlier and she’s had a cold for a week and we have entered cold and flu season without the start of last winter’s daily breathing medications. She probably needs to start up her pulmicort and maybe an antibiotic or two.

The next day Lovey calls me at work. “She’s fine.” She’s up to 30 lbs 15 ozs. Her lungs and ears are clear. It’s a cold. That’s all.”

We both sat calmly contemplating what this banal diagnosis really meant. It may very well have been our first visit to a pediatrician that was met with the response of nothing here to see folks.

What it meant was that our ordinary child, was not filled with that magical sparkle that would cheer her all the way through her angelic life. What it meant was that she was developing socially and emotionally on time.

What it meant was we couldn’t be prouder.

What it meant was that we needed to buy a second plastic microphone and keep the bucket of crayons up off the carpet.

Stop

31 for 21: Day 5: pressure

 

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Go:

Just as I arrange myself on the ground I hear little footsteps flying up behind me. First one than the other girl lets out a loud whooping roar. “Get her!!!!!!” As is not surprising, these bear-cub girls of mine pile on top of me with abandon. What is surprising is who lands first. The Quail giggles as she feels the full impact of her sister land on her back flattening us both. The wrestle. They rascal. They run together now. That Quail, she pretty much keeps up with her big sister these days, and together they slow their play, their pace when they can manage for their littlest sister who this time, thankfully has stood to the side with her hands entwined behind her back eyeing the pile up. They do this so routinely that I don’t think much of it other than to quip the old stand-bye at this point of how one day we’ll give birth to a sweet little girl.

“She was really sensory seeking today. That’s unusual for her.” Ginger the occupational therapist we’ve come to love tells me about her session. As I feel the hackles go up on my neck, ready to defend the Quail against yet another label, I, instead share back how earlier at lunch she and her sister had taken to imitating each other as they pressed up against Lovey and I throughout our lunchtime in the restaurant booth. I commented how Zuzu is prone to do this with me. That I often think she would still reside in my womb if left to her own devices, this almost seven-year-old of mine. I tell Ginger how it was noticeable that the Quail was imitating her sister with this behavior during lunch since she isn’t usually one to do that and how once Lovey left the booth briefly Zuzu slipped under the table to her sister’s newly vacant side and commenced a round of in-house dog-piling with her always-willing-partner-in-crime.

As we talk, Ginger points to the Quail who by this time has worked a large heavy wooden box across the floor and continues to press it into circles across the sleek, new floor. We pause and then Ginger goes on to say that they went ahead and did a number of sensory based activities in both OT and PT to help her center herself and afterwards she worked for a long time in quiet concentration on her table work.

Later that evening as Zuzu pushes her kitchen chair as close up to mine as she can manage without getting scolded to put it back in its place, I think back to Ginger’s explanation of the good the sensory pressure did for the Quail and find myself wondering over her sister. These sisters- they are so alike in the most unexpected of ways.

Stop.

31 for 21: Day 4: five minute friday: write

…where a brave and beautiful bunch gather every week to find out what comes out when we all spend five minutes writing on the same topic and then sharing ‘em over here.

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Go:

I pull the tub’s drain cover and wrap the toddling Quail in her towel, just as Zuzu positions herself at the stepstool between us. “H-A-T” she recites pushing the small square of paper over to me. And there it is, in her four-year-old scrawl. She licks the graphite tip of the pencil mildly as I grin over at her.

“Was Daddy helping you write about his hat?”
“No Momma- I did it. I wrote it.”

And just like that, she cartwheeled into the world of big kids. She did it herself. Probably someone unknown to us helped her figure it out- but as far as our parental involvement was concerned her ability to write and spell and read and talk appeared like magic.

“If I make the dots large enough, she knows now to connect them and form the A. She’s getting good at it. These three were hand over hand, but this one here on the end she did on her own!” Our Early Intervention worker handed over the orange construction paper for us to pin to our fridge a few months ago. Since then they have worked diligently on the next letter in her name with a goal of fading back the prompts and her writing her first name independently before her fifth birthday.

Magic versus practical. So different from her sister’s path into big kid-land. And yet, in the end, they are both there. They’ll both learn to write, to read, to speak and to spell. Lucky for us, Zuzu is a big fan of playing the role of the instructor. Lucky us, the Quail idolizes her. Lucky them, we can take either path to get them there.

Stop.

five minute friday: she

…where a brave and beautiful bunch gather every week to find out what comes out when we all spend five minutes writing on the same topic and then sharing ‘em over here.

Go:

“What did I do wrong?”

I had been sharp with her. Unnecessarily so. She hadn’t done anything wrong. I was just tired of not being listened to and had raised my voice in response to the cacophony of the little ones running away from,  while simultaneously giggling at and ignoring my repeated requests. She had been sitting quietly on the couch watching Word Girl. It was almost bedtime for them and my head was filled with the swirling clutter of our kitchen, the undone daily to-do list, the mountain of unwashed laundry and the books and toys that the children seemed to see as a household obstacle course to be serpentined through rather than picked up after. She was sitting amidst the three ring circus of our living room and I wanted some help cleaning up.

She’s almost seven now. Light years from the toddler who used to grin with a carefree enthusiasm that was hard to pin down. She takes our words, our tones, our looks or lack of them into her tender heart and mirrors them back in her daily interactions with others.  I hear it as she scolds her dolls and reminds her friends and sisters of the rules and how to act in both their very real and make-believe-land and I frown making a mental note to temper myself. To give her more emotional freedom to remain the unencumbered little girl that darts between big-sister-hood and little-girl-dom on a whim. Who frequently entwines her unending mommalogues with requests to be the baby next lifetime around with predictions that when she grows up she’ll be not only a teacher but the person in charge of them.  

She.

She’s not a baby anymore. Not a toddler or a preschooler to be shaped and shepherded at every turn of the schedule and activity. She is venturing out into her school and her community and becoming not just the person I expect her to be, but the girl she wants to be. A girl who matches her striped shirt with rainbow polka-dotted jeggings because she likes the way the patterns play together. A girl who wants to sing Katy Perry loudly in the car with the windows rolled down rather than listening to me sing another verse of the unending family version of the Barney song. A girl who loves to both get a smiley face on her weekly spelling test and ask in baby tones if I’ll carry her to bed tonight. A girl who wants to be the one to choose which restaurant we go to for dinner but will still only eat cheese quesadillas and mini-corndogs most nights. A girl who begs me to not take her picture in front of her friends but photobombs the shots of her sleeping sisters.

She didn’t do anything wrong.

She. She’s just growing up before I know how to let her.

Stop.

corner view: evening

Corner view is a weekly Wednesday gathering, originally hosted by Jane, now by Francesca. A topic is given and you can see impressions; be it photographic or writerly in form, from around the world. Come see the world’s corner view via the links on the sidebar!

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Our weekday evenings go buy in the blink of an eye and take these children along with them. They are often backlit with the perfect storm of the baby’s witching hour converging with the school to home transition (read: exhaustion & starvation) for the older girls. These coupled with my own tired thoughts from the day and the ongoing recording that plays on a continuous loop sounding off all of the things we didn’t have time for, and our evenings aren’t always as relaxed as I imagine they could be.

Sometimes though, there is a brief moment of perfect joy and light, and that’s what I choose to capture as I silently send up a wish and a prayer that we get try again the next day.

With my apologies to Mr. Joel….

…but sometimes a tender moment just can’t be left alone. Sometimes, at least when I get to bare witness to it I just can’t help but try to snap it up. You know, in picture form.

Tuesday before last was the first day of public 4k for the Quail. She has been so excited to go back to school and asked after it quite regularly. The other day as I was driving her to daycare we passed a bus on the road and I only noticed it because of her chortle, ” School Bus!!!!”

Last year at this time I was completely overwhelmed by the start of public school for our two oldest girls. It was more emotional for me than I anticipated for a host of reasons. This year for the most part, the start of the school year has gone smoothly. There are still a few unanswered questions we’re working on in terms of the Quail’s IEP. At this fall’s first meeting unfortunately I couldn’t bring another cheesecake, with the extent of food allergies in kiddos these days the school went with a school-wide no bringing in and sharing of food policy, and, well I like to be policy compliant 🙂  So as this school year starts, I’m trying to have a bit more faith in things working out and at least adjust my expectations that we are all now on the same page and working towards the same goal until I see otherwise. The teachers and therapists seem genuinely happy to be with our Quail, she seems to feel the same and the IEP is sufficiently detailed for now. In fact, last night I had reports from both private and public 4k on how participatory and well the Quail was doing. What really made my heart swell though, was a note from the public 4k teacher that in addition to the positive report added a line, “Thanks for pressing forward against our concerns.” So last night when I unpacked the girls backpacks and we pulled out the daily book that is sent home for the public 4k kiddos, we all sat down to read it. Zuzu read as the Quail and Sugarplum listened, and for that brief moment in time, I have to say everything felt normal and great. These are the moments to hold on to.

So last week, the first day the Quail was to go to private 4k in the morning, then ride the regular school bus from there to public 4k for lunch and the afternoon session and then return to the private school for the remainder of the afternoon. We hadn’t heard directly from the school bus office as to what time they would be picking her and a little friend who also will be going. It was making me antsy, but Lovey dropped her off and asked and the private school had heard from them. Later in the morning as I reminded myself that surely one of the schools would let me know if something wasn’t going well, Lovey called to ask if I had heard any updates and when I said no, he indicated he was going to call and see how the pick-up went. So…..ok, it went well. Then come 3pm it crossed my mind again to call and see how her day went, but I let it pass again figuring if something was awful I’d hear about it.

When I picked her up she was cheerfully sandy and sweaty- about how I find her everyday on the playground in the Southern summer. I asked how it had gone and staff indicated she came off the bus no problem and seemed to be in a good mood. Zuzu came bounding over about this time and let me know that she had seen Miss L, the teacher’s assistant and was asked to tell her Mommy and Daddy that the Quail had a good day and was a good listener all day. Whew.

So as we started our walk to the car the Quail started to falter and wilt. I asked if she had a good time with Miss D, she said no. Miss J? No. How about the school bus ride? SCHOOOOOLLLLLL BUSSSS!!!!! YAYYYYY!” The silliness returned for all of 5 minutes, before she passed clear out in her carseat.

We ordered happy meals to celebrate our good days and  headed home. When we pulled in the driveway I turned around as Zuzu was again reiterating how good Miss L said the Quail did today and spied her holding the Quail’s hand as she talked.

Tears.

They aren’t hand holders. Not in the least. Generally they’re too busy rascaling to have a tender moment together. But Zuzu, she’s been looking forward to sharing her school with her little sister for quite some time now and I do think she is sincerely proud to have her there. When the Quail first came home from the hospital I arranged myself on the bed getting set up to nurse and in came a doe-eyed Zuzu. So quiet, so watchful, just sitting there as I lifted the Quail to me. It broke my heart as I heard her refer to Momma & the Quail’s room when just a few months earlier she had shared our room, our bed. So I invited her in to join us in tandem and she happily settled in with a quick reach over to catch her sister’s hand.

Then a couple of years later we had reports from school when the Quail was old enough to start coming out on the toddler playground that whenever the class came out and the older kids were out on their playground, you could count on Zuzu and her posse coming over to the fence that separates them to check in on the Quail and sometimes they would see the sisters holding hands through the fence.

Sisters- I think that it is the unconscious moments that say so much of their bond.

back to school week

…is officially behind us and it’s been a busy one for the Sistred. They each have big changes coming this fall and being the happy little nerds that we are- we’re excited!

Zuzu has finished up her first summer of daycamp. She attended the same facility that she always has but for her age group the summer includes additional outings and activities during the week. Last spring, shortly after we told Zuzu that she was officially signed up for her “camp”. She started fretting over where she had stored her sleeping bag. When I asked why she responded with a, “For camp of course!” We tried to explain that she was not now going to be sleeping over there and in fact she was really just going to be doing more activities with the same teachers and kids without quelching her excitement. Always a balance with her. She had fun though- her first time rollar skating, blackberry picking, she saw a couple movies in theaters (a rare treat in our house due to their ages even though I’m generally happy to see whatever as long as I have a kiddy-cup-combo for myself!), a few rounds of bowling and twice a week water days.  She even got invited to the birthday party of a fellow camper who was turning 12. Once we squeezed in a second week of swim lessons,  let’s just say the girl’s summer was made.

So on to first grade. She admitted she was a bit nervous and checked a couple of times to be sure that we were not going to follow her kindergarten teacher’s explicit end of the year instructions to purchase walkie-talkies so that she could be kept in the loop and at the ready for whatever that teacher needed since rumor had it that her new students were much younger and wouldn’t know half as much as Zuzu’s class. There are some days that Zuzu’s literalness gets the best of her. She was most definitely willing to lend a helping directive or two to the new class. The fact that the teacher that puts the kind in kindergarten sent her a “wish you were here” postcard over the summer probably just cemented the seriousness of those instructions to her.

The other major concern for our rising first grader was  the subject of binders. She had *heard* that certain first grade teachers provided binders and that first graders were to keep track of these. She wondered often and at great length about whether or not she would need to purchase a binder, would it be provided or was the binder a teacher specific issue. When we attended Meet the Teacher a couple of weeks ago, she was absolutely thrilled to see a binder all shiny and filled on the class tables- one for each and every student. The binders contain the homework for the year. It’s an interesting system, pretty different from last year. So for Miss J’s class the year’s focus is to get a good foundation in reading and writing, so Zuzu is to read for 15 minutes each day. Then in said binder is a section for “reader reaction”, spelling games and math games. They are to complete one activity of their choosing from each category each week. There are also some baggy books that come home once a week to practice reading. Being the happy little nerds that we are, Zuzu in all her binder-exuberance dove right in and completed two homework assigments even before the first day of class. I have to say I had to squelch my spoil-sport-I’m-tired-I’m-overwhelmed-I-probably-should-have-weaned-the-baby-before-now-so-I-don’t-have-another-human-being-attached-to-me-on-school-nights- I-have-too-much-to-do-just-now-reaction.

And I did.

I know a lot of people have differing opinions on the value of homework, but right now I have a kid who is excited about it- so I’m going with that.

It’s this funny balance of practical magic that blends its way into Zuzu’s personality that amost always surprises me in the moment and then after the fact I find myself nodding along and thinking, “That’s about right.” The binder joy was not unlike the way she organizes her “facts, rules and routines” along the lines of “writing, not a wishlist/letter to Santa in, but rather placing a rather detailed, terribly specific order; that TJ the Elf must have a very good reason for not having landed in a new spot the next day from where she last saw him the night before; that the Tooth Fairy has made a big mess with glitter like they use at school all over her bed-it’s not fairy dust Mom and that the rascally leprechaun that left green footprints on our kitchen table leading up to the “That’s not gold, it’s chocolate coinsin foil wrappers Mom” in March had gotten into the paint left out on the front porch after her and her sister’s were done painting the day before, rather than being willing to believe he is just green and was barefoot when he left a pile of loot straight out of that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. She was more excited over the homework binder than the magic spell packet the teacher had made for each child that indicated once they squeezed the playdough and repeated the rhyme if it turned another color, they were certain to have good luck for the year. Mind you, she believed enough to locate a packet that was in her signature color of pink and to work the dough thoroughly enough until she was certain it showed enough of the good luck magic and then excited enough about it to pack it in her backpack to show Miss J her good fortune, but she did all of this while still chattering on about the best spot at home to keep her binder in so that the littles wouldn’t get into the ever-important First Grade Work. I love that kid. We all do.

At daycare they have a homework time and last year I forwarded the class newsletter on to school and homework was completed there. This year I’m not entirely sure what I want to do. I want the binder kept at home so I think we’ll send books to school and have her just focus on reading while she is there and the actual activities we’ll save for home.

The Quail is set for public and private 4k now as well. She started private last week and public starts today. Private feels easy-peasy- we love Miss J and she and the afternoon teacher Miss A are fairly familar with the Quail already. There is also another little friend in her afternoon class who will be attending k4 in the afternoon so it is good she’ll have a buddy when the big school bus comes to pick them up there for afternoon school.

This year’s Meet the Teacher night was cathartic for me. I think a bit for the Quail too since we caught her literally twirling through the halls. Last year I was completely overwhelmed by all that had to be done going to one of them. Aside from meeting the teacher, it was a new building, paying the cafeteria for lunches, a car rider line to get tags, a bus line to find out that our bus wasn’t what they meant, a school packet line, a PTA line, a Girl Scout sign-up line, volunteer training and all during the witching hours with 3 hungry, tired and over-stimulated kids.

Times two.

 Because the Quail was attending the school that had the self-contained classroom, in a town 10 miles away. 

Needless to say we didn’t get everything done and on the way home when Zuzu innocently questioned why we weren’t able to spend as much time at the Quail’s school as her own and why couldn’t the Quail just go to her school to make it easier, I found myself turning up the radio and adjusting the rearview mirror so they wouldn’t have to directly witness how very much I agreed with them.

This year, I intended to be prepared.

One school.

Two kids.

No standing in unnecessary lines.

And possibly Girl Scouts, if a local troop can get together.

We planned to pull in at 2:45, 15 minutes early, childless to get all the lines  and training done efficiently, then run out to pick up the kiddos and bring them back for the fun- actual meeting of the teachers portion of “Meet the teachers”. We pulled up, maybe 5 minutes later than intended- to what can only rival a Who concert.

Lines.Out.The.Door. Wow.

And we forgot to bring the school supplies to drop off. Other than that, it was old hat. Not overwhelming. And frankly good to get to spy so many of our friends and neighbors- exactly the reason why you want your children to go to their homeschool.

So we finished up. It was nice to see the girl’s rooms, both were excited over the little house/kitchen centers that would be part of their day and of course we went down the hall to say a quick hello to our kind kindergarten teachers while we were there than ran off for a celebratory burrito! When she started to joke with Zuzu over helping to teach these new kiddos what all goes on I cut her off with a funny little story of repeated requests to purchase walkie-talkies.

In the weeks leading up to school we managed to fit in a couple of parent-single child lunches with the girls and a trip to our favorite “Big Sale” as Zuzu calls it for back-to-school clothes. And once again I felt oh-so-in-the-know. Growing up, picking out sweaters and jeans and tennies for back to school and then stopping off for a shared cup of cheese fries is one of my happiest memories with my Mom. Last year when I started early trying to create this tradition we were faced with left over, neon, stringy, clearanced summer duds at our usual shopping haunts. This year we skipped the lure of no taxes and held out till the next large-scale consignment sale with the promise of a Panera Breakfast treat and a run through the Halloween Costume rack to see what the options might be AFTER finding our favorite winter jackets, fall vests and a suitable amount of legging/tunic top/dress and tiger wear to carry us into the spring.

Last year the night before classes started we read, The Night Before Kindergarten, The Night Before Preschool & The Kissing Hand, luckily even with our distinct lack of household organization we were able to locate them this year too. Zuzu was a little sad to realize we hadn’t purchased The Night Before First Grade, and I have to admit I was too. I have a feeling I did and lost it over the summer, clutter purging  time will tell.

And the littlest Sistred, well she started her preschool lessons. She moved into the Toddler room and is making herself at home with circle time, playground time, lunch-at-big-kid-tables time and now-I-nap-on-a-mat-like-a-big-kid time. She’s happy to go and happy to be picked up, if not a tad grouchier tired from her busy days. When she and the Quail received their welcome to the next class postcards from their upcoming teachers they were equally tickled.

The Quail also had a home visit from our public school k4 teacher and assistant. I had big plans for this visit- we had blackberries from a recent berry-picking expedition and I thought we might make a cobbler to welcome them and make the house smell homey the night before. Neat in theory, impractical for middle of the week. As it was we managed to take the trash out, put the dishes away and hide the week’s wash from public view. All in all, a good visit.  And we’re excited to start the new year.

I had a dress with apples for Zuzu’s first day, but being the Fashionista that she is, it got the thumbs down and a combination of twinkle-toes, stripes and more stripes won out. The Quail chose Zuzu’s graduation dress to wear to school for her first day today. She smiled her brave smile and carried her Dora Backpack to the car leading the way for her little sister. I’ve purposely not called to see how it went. Her getting off to school on the bus, today that is.

I’m cool.

It’s cool.

But Lovey just called as I was typing this and asked if I had heard anything and said he was thinking he might call the daycare and check in to see how her getting on the bus went anyway.

And that’s cool.

Oh, and it went smooth.

Tooth Fairy Time

Our rising first grader spent her Kindergarten year hoping to lose a tooth at school. You see her friends had done it and when the tooth came out at school they got a visit to the nurse who gifted them a little tooth necklace to deliver their prize home to their parents and The tooth fairy home to. So really, for Zuzu, it was all about getting that necklace. One day she was so determined that she spent recess convincing her BFF to use a paper towel and twist it out for her. This coming from the girl who flinches during nail clippings, screams while her hair is being brushed and used to require a parent to sit on her in order to get her toddler self’s teeth brushed.

But see there was that necklace. She reported back to her teacher at the end of recess with a handful of bloody paper towel and a loose tooth and earned her visit to the nurse. Unfortunately for her, the effort wasn’t quite enough. The nurse would not pull it out, just store it if it came out on its own. By the time I picked her up from after-school and she relayed this story the tooth was perpendicular to its mates.

So began our family’s tradition of outting loose teeth with popsicles. Of course the Sistred are more than happy to join in and eat popsicles in solidarity with Zuzu, loving bunch that they are.

Personally I had no desire to pull out the tooth myself. I remain shocked at her insistence that we help her with each loose one. The look on Lovey’s face as he witnesses her little bloody antics is enough to know he isn’t going to do it either.

So she slowly bites into a popsicle with the though that the cold and biting will enable her gums to numb up a bit as the tooth is wedged down into the ice. And if nothing else, there is the distraction of Momma having handed out popsicles!  Once she’s made her way part through the popsicle I’ve twisted it for her and if it comes out easily she’s good to go. If it doesn’t than back to the drawing board the next night with the possibility of it coming out in school and earning her a necklace.

She’s lost 4 now. The front four and 3 of the grown-up teeth have started to push on through. Our family’s tooth fairy has been waiting for this since she was a little tike. We had purchased a yellow, ladybug covered tooth pillow during a trip to Asheville shortly after she turned one. The first time I was worried the tooth might slip out so we put it in a tiny little bag in the pocket. The next time she actually asked if she just put it in the pocket like a regular kid does. Our tooth fairy leaves gold coins and sprinkles glitter over the sleeping girls. Zuzu has a love/hate relationship with this. She complains about the mess of the glitter, but also refuses to have it brushed out of her hair. Since the Quail and her are sharing a bed, they both go off to school all sparkely for a good few days.

When Zuzu lost her second tooth she got it in her head that she wanted her gold coin AND her tooth. I tried to tell her that wasn’t how it worked, but what do I know according to her six-year-old mind. So our compromise was for her to write the tooth fairy a note and let her answer for her own fairied self. Interestingly the answer was no.

So she heads off in to first grade having grown her third row of molars in and having lost and partially regrown her front four teeth. Ever the eager beaver to take another shot at the school’s coveted necklace treasure!