Kindergarten Update

1. Sam made a friend on the bus. He doesn’t know his name.

2. Sam made a friend in his class. They played on the playground together. He doesn’t know his name.

3. Sam had a substitute teacher yesterday, the second day of school. His name was Mr. A. “Well, actually, it was something else, but he said it was harder, so we just called him Mr. A.” Or, as he referred to him later, “the guy.”

4. Sam has voraciously eaten every bite of every food that we have put in front of him since he started kindergarten. And then he asks for seconds.

5. Oddly, he has not seemed to be more tired than usual. Which is what everyone told me to expect. And was what I was hoping for.

6. The bus—that usually comes at 3:30—came at 3:20 today.

7. I am curiously dependent on Sam. As are Jack and Quinn.

8. Our house has gotten very quiet between the hours of 9 and 3:30.

Oh, Thank Heaven…For Cheap Diet Coke

One of the places that I go almost every day, though I’m not proud of it, is 7-11. See, I’m addicted to Diet Coke. I know lots of you are too. For me, it started when I had braces and my mom let me drink soda, but nothing with sugar in it. At first I thought Diet Coke was the grossest thing I’d ever tasted. Days later I was mainlining it. Those of you who who are not addicted may be of the opinion that drinking a six-pack of soda a day is weird. To you, I say that I think drinking a pot of coffee a day is weird. So there.

There are differences in Diet Coke based on the type of container it is in. Aluminum can is better than glass. Glass is better than a 20-oz plastic bottle, and they’re all better than a 2-liter bottle, which although perhaps the most economical way to procure Diet Coke, is also the worst.

I believe that the fountain drink is the best way to drink a soda. Clearly McDonald’s has the best Diet Coke. AND they have a drive-thru. But their soda costs $1.57 for a large, and comes in a brand new plastic cup every time.

If you go to 7-11, a Super Big Gulp (my preferred size; it’s embarrassing, I know) costs a mere $1.25. AND if you bring in your old cup and just get a refill, not only are you keeping one more plastic cup (or can or bottle) out of the landfills, but it only costs, with tax, $.83.

But they don’t have a drive-thru and I am rarely without children. I used to refuse to go there with three kids. I’d drive through a fast food place instead. I’d only hit 7-11 if I had two or less children with me, and preferably only one. But at some point I decided to suck it up and just go buy the cheap, more environmentally friendly version.

Which brings up a whole slew of other problems.

The jerks marketers at the 7-11 corporation have taught their franchises well. Sugar cookies dotted with M & M’s in packs of three (count my children) sitting in little baggies at the counter? Done. Doughnuts in a transparent case between the door and the soda fountain? Done. A display full of chocolate candy in bright, attractive wrapping directly in front of the door? Done, and done.

My two-year-old knows what “7-11″ means and when we pull in to the parking lot starts yelling, “I come! I come!” because I let him push the button to dispense the soda. And I can’t help but think what a bad example I’m setting, buying soda in front of them. I mean, it’s not like I’m buying crack or anything, but I drink it like it is.

And whereas they might be daydreaming away in the car if I pass through a drive-thru, our trips to 7-11 (or “Sev,” as we used to call it when I was growing up) are such a production that it MUST stick in their minds.

How, you may ask, are they a production? Well, aside from the begging for candy and pastries, Jack requires that we walk up the wheelchair ramp, often dangerously crossing half the parking lot to do so. Quinn always demands change from the cashier or me because he likes to play with coins. And someone almost always tries to hold the door for us, but because it takes us fifteen minutes to navigate a door, s/he ends up standing there for a substantial amount of time while no one walks through. Add to this the occassional tantrum and you’ll see why I’m sure the staff at my 7-11, where I’m a regular, must wonder what craziness I’ll bring to their store that day.

You try wrangling three kids while holding a giant cup of soda and a bag of cookies.

I haven’t dropped a full cup yet, but if I keep going there every day with my kids, it’s inevitable. It’s kind of embarrassing, but one of the things I’m going to look forward to doing when the kids are in school is buying my daily soda in peace.

This post is cross-posted at DC Metro Moms.

DCMM: Oh, Thank Heaven…For Cheap Diet Coke

One of the places that I go almost every day, though I’m not proud of it, is 7-11. See, I’m addicted to Diet Coke. I know lots of you are too. For me, it started when I had braces and my mom let me drink soda, but nothing with sugar in it. At first I thought Diet Coke was the grossest thing I’d ever tasted. Days later I was mainlining it. Those of you who who are not addicted may be of the opinion that drinking a six-pack of soda a day is weird. To you, I say that I think drinking a pot of coffee a day is weird. So there.

There are differences in Diet Coke based on the type of container it is in. Aluminum can is better than glass. Glass is better than a 20-oz plastic bottle, and they’re all better than a 2-liter bottle, which although perhaps the most economical way to procure Diet Coke, is also the worst.

I believe that the fountain drink is the best way to drink a soda. Clearly McDonald’s has the best Diet Coke. AND they have a drive-thru. But their soda costs $1.57 for a large, and comes in a brand new plastic cup every time.

If you go to 7-11, a Super Big Gulp (my preferred size; it’s embarrassing, I know) costs a mere $1.25. AND if you bring in your old cup and just get a refill, not only are you keeping one more plastic cup (or can or bottle) out of the landfills, but it only costs, with tax, $.83.

But they don’t have a drive-thru and I am rarely without children. I used to refuse to go there with three kids. I’d drive through a fast food place instead. I’d only hit 7-11 if I had two or less children with me, and preferably only one. But at some point I decided to suck it up and just go buy the cheap, more environmentally friendly version.

Which brings up a whole slew of other problems.

The jerks marketers at the 7-11 corporation have taught their franchises well. Sugar cookies dotted with M & M’s in packs of three (count my children) sitting in little baggies at the counter? Done. Doughnuts in a transparent case between the door and the soda fountain? Done. A display full of chocolate candy in bright, attractive wrapping directly in front of the door? Done, and done.

My two-year-old knows what “7-11″ means and when we pull in to the parking lot starts yelling, “I come! I come!” because I let him push the button to dispense the soda. And I can’t help but think what a bad example I’m setting, buying soda in front of them. I mean, it’s not like I’m buying crack or anything, but I drink it like it is.

And whereas they might be daydreaming away in the car if I pass through a drive-thru, our trips to 7-11 (or “Sev,” as we used to call it when I was growing up) are such a production that it MUST stick in their minds.

How, you may ask, are they a production? Well, aside from the begging for candy and pastries, Jack requires that we walk up the wheelchair ramp, often dangerously crossing half the parking lot to do so. Quinn always demands change from the cashier or me because he likes to play with coins. And someone almost always tries to hold the door for us, but because it takes us fifteen minutes to navigate a door, s/he ends up standing there for a substantial amount of time while no one walks through. Add to this the occassional tantrum and you’ll see why I’m sure the staff at my 7-11, where I’m a regular, must wonder what craziness I’ll bring to their store that day.

You try wrangling three kids while holding a giant cup of soda and a bag of cookies.

I haven’t dropped a full cup yet, but if I keep going there every day with my kids, it’s inevitable. It’s kind of embarrassing, but one of the things I’m going to look forward to doing when the kids are in school is buying my daily soda in peace.

This post is also cross-posted at Jean’s blog, Stimeyland.

Today Was The Day

My brave little guy.

Sam was so excited for kindergarten. Before bed last night he told me be sure to wake him up at 6 o’clock so that he would be on time for school.

This morning the whole family drove to the school together. While Alex circled in the car, I walked Sam to the kindergarten playground where the classes were lining up. And there he had his first moment of hesitation.

“I want you to come with me,” he said when I told him to go play on the playground.

But his class was already lining up, so I gave him a hug and a kiss and told him to go stand behind the girl in the green shirt. Seconds later as his class filed by and I took a picture, he didn’t even see me, so hard was he concentrating on staying in his line.

And that was it.

We drove home to drop Alex off. Even though I had a nagging feeling that I should be at home waiting by the phone in case something should go wrong, I took the kids to the mall to pick up a couple things I needed at Target and for a little bit of play at the mall’s PlayTown.

Jack easily fell into Sam’s void and took his place racing ahead while Quinn took Jack’s old spot meandering behind me.

At home, the phone rang at 10:35. The caller ID read, “MONTGOMERY CNTY.” Oh no, I thought, he only made it two hours. But it was just Jack’s teacher calling to schedule a home visit. Jack and Quinn, seemingly lost without their leader, milled around me like baby birds desperate for sustenance from an elder.

I spent the second half of the school day waiting around to pick up Sam. His bus leaves school at 3:12. By 2:35 I was compulsively checking the clock every four minutes. I didn’t want to leave too early and have to mill around the school bus stop for 15 minutes with my other two small children, but I was so excited to see my kindergartener.

So at 3:15 we went down to the school bus stop and milled around for 15 minutes. When the bus finally came, Sam leapt off of it into my arms.



He was ecstatic and ran home at the speed of sound. Because a friend of mine had suggested that I have something nice waiting for him when he got home from school, I had whipped together a pan of brownies (from a box, don’t get any ideas about my domesticity here) and we sat around the table eating brownies and drinking milk while I tried to pry information out of him.

I didn’t get much other than, “I didn’t wear a seatbelt on the bus,” and, “I have to take my art back to school tomorrow because it’s on that side of the folder,” and “We had Oreos for snack.” He couldn’t remember anyone’s name (except his teacher).

He colored an incredibly beautiful teddy bear at school. According to the paper, the skill he learned from that was “self-esteem.”


Tomorrow I’ll chill out a little more. And the day after that I’ll get used to him being gone all day. Then next week I’ll go through the same thing with Jack (and to a lesser extent, Quinn), and before you know it, I’ll be surly when there’s a school holiday and I have to take care of all three of them all day again.

And so it begins…

DCMM: Home Sweet Home

I am very particular about where I live. My biggest deal-breaker is noise. Moving traffic is fine. Kids playing is fine. Even the occassional dog barking is fine. It’s people’s personal noise that bothers me. It’s the one thing that I am the most uptight about. I have a very physical reaction to certain types of noise. Such as:

When I lived in Oakland, Calif., I lived in a neighborhood that a lot of cars with deep bass thumping on their stereos drove through. And I lived near a stop sign, so the cars would idle there for a few minutes before moving on. Lots of people had loud, late parties in my neighborhood. And there were people diagonally across the street who stood on the corner and played their car stereos for hours on end. And I could hear it all in EVERY room in my house. Clearly I have issues, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about. There are other things that make a house unpleasant to live in.

This morning on the local news I heard about a block in DC that has suddenly become an undesirable place to live. You can read about it here. Basically a giant flock of starlings has chosen this particular block to function as their home: their living room, their kitchen, their BATHROOM.

Bird droppings everywhere. They are coating the street, sidewalks, and cars. Apparently it’s so bad that the postal service won’t even deliver there some days. Yeah, that’s right, the “Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet…” people.

Glad I don’t live there.

Between Oakland and Maryland, I lived in Alaska. In an above/below duplex. On the top. With a toddler. Over a guy who worked nights and slept days. Thank God he was the coolest guy in Alaska. We didn’t see him much (for obvious reasons), but he always claimed that we were really quiet and he couldn’t hear us at all. Yeah, right. He couldn’t hear our one-year-old running his plastic dumptruck in circles around the living room and over the kitchen linoleum? When his seasonal work ended and he left, our new neighbor told us she could tell we weren’t native Alaskans because we wore our shoes in the house.

Okaaaaaay. But we get your point. We’ll tiptoe from now on. Barefoot.

Ever since then, I have sworn to never share a wall, floor, or ceiling with anyone again. And I am fortunate to not have to. We live in a nice neighborhood here in Maryland with lots of kids and very little ambient noise. Every time a house goes up for sale, I get nervous that the new owner will be loud. I couldn’t care less if they’re housing a meth lab in there; I just don’t want them to have parties that I can hear in my house. Knock on wood: so far, so good.

The worst thing that has befallen us since we moved here was the 17-year cicada plague of aught-four. Click here. Aaaaaaaahhhhhh! I know. Freaky, huh? 2004 was my first summer here, so when I heard people talking about waiting for the cicadas, I just assumed that they came every year. Not so. I am someone who generally runs screaming from bugs, but it was sort of impossible to sustain that for the whole cicada season. These insects were so numerous and dumb that they would do things like fly into my head. A lot. You get used to it.

I guess there are challenges to living anywhere. I’ve loved things about every place I’ve lived, but I tell ya’, I’m happy to be living here in my quiet, starling-free, mostly cicada-free, no-shared walls home.