Friday, May 29, 2009

this stuff only happens to me

We have a broker who is a family friend, and we used her when we bought our current house. She came over yesterday to do a whole market analysis and give us advice on what to do to the house before we can sell it, and to talk us through whether we should sell it at all. She was incredibly helpful, and I'm 99.9% sure we are going to use her, but I keep hearing that we should get another opinion, another set of eyes on the house.

My neighbor's house sold in less than a week just a few months ago, so I decided to give her broker a try. That broker is someone I've run into numerous times, she lives right in the neighborhood, and she seems to be a high seller and power player in my town. I thought her opinions would be good ones.

I called the brokering firm and asked for her, let's call her Judy Whazhername as a pseudonym. They connect me to her, and I start saying that she sold the house across the street from me, I've met her before, blah blah blah. She doesn't comment on any of those things, but she does say she'd be happy to come by and give me an estimate and talk house selling tips and estimates. I say great, and I clean like a crazy woman for her arrival today at 11am.

I open the door promptly at 11am, and a woman I have never seen before is standing there. I'm a little thrown off when she holds out her hand and introduces herself as Judy, but then I realize there is another woman behind her who looks somewhat like what I remember Judy looking like. She introduces her as Martha, but I am so confused by the whole thing (and sleep deprived, remember), I assume I've misunderstood and Judy is the other woman and this one is Martha. I'm still a little thrown because Judy looks slightly different, but close enough, short blond hair, same build, tall, I figure I'm just mistaken.

Anyway, we start the whole tour of the house and they are a little timid for my tastes. I am looking for some serious opinions/advice since this is my first house sale, and I really want you to tell me what to do. Tell me exactly which books you would move, which chairs and furniture and curtains you would switch around. Tell me my closets are too cluttered and my cabinets need work. Whatever, just guide me and I'll do it, no questions asked.

We would go into the bedrooms and they would just stand there and admire from afar, and that was a little annoying to me also. I want you to ooh and aah over my beautiful closet and tell me my son's room is adorable (which is what our other broker did), or say you hate it. Regardless, we get through the whole tour and settle into the living room for their appraisal.

She hands me a booklet and I read out of the corner of my eye that the name at the top of the listing analysis is Judy Whozhername, NOT Judy Whazhername whom I was originally looking for, and suddenly everything becomes abundantly clear. But what do I do now? We've just finished the whole tour, they've prepared this whole analysis, and it is so AWKWARD! I think she must know she's not the person I was looking for, because I said she sold the house across the street from me and I assume she knows what houses she's sold and she never said anything! Plus, maybe she even looked up the house across the street and knew full well that a fellow agent from her same firm sold the house!

So I did what I do best. I sat there and smiled and nodded through her presentation and tried to get through it as quickly as possible before escorting them out and calling Josh to ask what the heck I am supposed do now! What are the odds that both a Judy Whozhername AND a Judy Whazhername work at the same firm??? We eventually decided to call Judy Whazhername anyway- I explained the whole ridiculous awkward situation, and she's coming over tomorrow. What do I do about the first two agents, though? Do I call and tell them the whole confusing story or do I just say thanks, but no thanks we've decided to go with someone else? HELP!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

where did all this STUFF come from?

I have clearly lost my mind.

I don't have enough with two children, two dogs, a husband who is always working, a house falling apart around me, and dust bunnies threatening to take over. Now I'm also considering selling our house.

Somebody, hold me.

We spent this weekend crunching the numbers, and we think now might be a good time for us to try to make the jump to a slightly bigger house. Our town hasn't suffered much in this real estate market, but it hasn't grown much either. If we can just break even, we're thinking that we can get far more for our money in another town (maybe even another bedroom, which would be great since our parents are sleeping on an air mattress in our living room when they visit).

When we initially decided, I almost peed my pants with excitement. Then reality set in. We have SO MUCH to do before this house could be ready to put on the market, not to mention trying to keep it clean with a five month old and a two year old. I want to cry just thinking about it. We need to paint the exterior, paint all the trim in the house, paint all the radiators, empty out the basement, paint the basement, carpet the basement, and none of that includes emptying the house of all our junk. And we have a lot of junk.

I've almost thrown the idea out the window multiple times, but I keep coming back to the fact that we really need more space. I love our house, but we are squished to the gills in here. We climbed the stairs last night and the creaking steps were so loud Josie woke up screaming. Then Gabe made too much noise in his room this morning and Josie woke up again. We are in such cramped quarters, every noise is magnified.

Still, this is our first home. I tore up carpet, took down wallpaper, painted every wall in this house. We remodeled the kitchen exactly how we wanted it, decorated every room the way we'd dreamed it, struggled over the grass and the garden. I brought both of my babies home to this little place, and every inch of it is crammed with happiness. It'll be hard to leave.

First things first, though, a real estate agent came over today to talk numbers, and she is coming over again on Monday with a final price and a marketing plan. If the number we are hoping for and the number she proposes are too far apart, then all of this is a no go. We'll be on pins and needles all weekend, and in the meantime, I'll be decluttering and finishing projects like a woman on a mission. Even if we decide not to sell, I need to capitalize on our motivation and get as much done as possible. Wish me luck, and then tell me I'm not totally insane. Maybe just a little?

Friday, May 22, 2009

at least she looks cute in hats

I walked in the door this afternoon with both kids, set Josie quickly in her swing and ran full speed to the bathroom before I peed my pants. I walked back out into the kitchen and Gabe was asking to wash his hands in the sink. I lifted him on top of a chair, turned on the water, and then realized I couldn't hear Josie so I ran quickly to the living room...

And found her face down on the floor next to the swing.

As I walked in, she started shrieking in a high pitched voice. I swooped her up and started looking her over to make sure she wasn't hurt. It is only about a foot and a half from the swing to the floor, but for a baby who doesn't know to protect herself or break her fall at all, it could be bad. All I could see was a small scratch and red mark at the top of her forehead, where the hairline starts, and it only took me about 15 seconds to calm her down, but I still called the pediatrician right away. They told me to bring her in for an exam, so I shoved both kids in the car and we rushed over.

In the 5 minutes it took for us to get there, the red mark on her forehead turned into a lump, but she seemed perfectly content and smiled at everyone in the doctor's office. They checked her over and she's totally fine, but I spent those 15 minutes imagining the worst and thinking I was going to have to take her to the emergency room at any moment. I'm so relieved, and now I'm just kicking myself because I KNOW BETTER. I know I shouldn't have put her down without strapping her in- it was just a stupid mistake.

I'm not sure whether she kicked or rolled over or flung herself off of the swing, or whether perhaps a certain sibling swung the swing (as he is prone to doing) and she slipped off. It doesn't matter, really, I still should have strapped her in. I'm just so happy she's okay, and I have learned my lesson. I'd been so smug about Gabe never falling off of anything, but again Josie has obliged in humbling me. Not much of a surprise there, huh?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I have sunk to a new low

In the rush to get out the door this morning with enough time for Gabe to get to his toddler program on time, I glanced into my purse and saw two of Josie's diapers, enough (I figured) for us to get through the four hours until we'd come back home.

This is called FORESHADOWING.

I rushed the kids out the door and started on our list of "to dos". First, I had to load the car up with the three full canisters of gasoline that Josh needed me to take to our recycling center for dumping. I guess for the past three years, rather than take the unused gasoline to the hazardous waste dumping area, he would just go out and purchase a new gasoline tank. Hence, why my car was loaded up with THREE full gas tanks. I was a little annoyed at the task, but it wasn't until I started driving that I realized that I was driving with my two precious children and several containers of flammable gasoline. I slowed the car wayyyy down and started driving 15 mph, cursing Josh the whole way.

Josie and I dropped Gabe off, and I was afraid to leave her alone with the canisters for even the 30 seconds it would take me to drop him off at the door of the toddler program because I kept envisioning the car blowing up, all lethal weapon style. We made it to the recycling center in one piece, they dumped out that gasoline, and handed the canisters back to me with gasoline dripping all over the outside. I just stood there, because there was no way I was going to get gasoline all over the inside of my car, but I ended up finding an empty diaper box in the recycling area and I put the canisters inside that box.

Unfortunately, there wasn't enough time to take the canisters home before our next "to do"- the dentist- so that car reeked of gasoline the whole way, and I had some more choice words for Josh. We drove with all the windows down, but poor Josie still sunk of gasoline when I pulled her out of the car.

Josie and I went to the dentist, where she pretended to be a perfect angel from the comfort of her car seat. I was shocked at how well she behaved, really. As we were leaving, I fed her in the car, ran home to drop off the canisters, and then we drove to our next "to do"- the hairdresser- where I was scheduled to get this horror of a haircut fixed. My current haircut has to be the worst haircut I have ever received, and I'm sorry to say that I have actually cried at how awful it looks. I can't do anything with it, I can't get it to work, I just feel like it constantly looks frizzy and nasty and too layered and uneven. Ugh, I hate it so much.

Anyway, we arrived at the hair salon and I decided to change Josie's diaper, thinking it must have been relatively full and maybe changing it now would keep us from having some of the leaking problems we've been having recently. I balled up the diaper, stuffed it under the stroller until we found a garbage can, and started off for the hair salon.

And then I heard it. The unmistakable sound of a child blowing out of her diaper. I was actually relieved Josie had spared me the embarrassment of blowing out in the waiting room of the salon, so I happily headed back to the car where I started another diaper change. It was only then that I realized the other diaper was a size 1. As in, TWO whole sizes smaller than what she wears. I tried to get it on her, and it looked like a speedo. Her butt didn't even entirely fit into the diaper, and I was going to have to hold it together with the floss the dentist had given me.

I had a moment of panic, because there wasn't enough time to go home, not enough time to go buy diapers, and I couldn't cancel my hair appointment because HELLO! disgusting hair here! So I did what any reasonable person would do, and unwrapped her original dirty diaper and put it back on her.

I know. I know. I'm disgusted with myself, and I cannot believe I am putting this down for posterity. Josie need something to talk about in therapy, though, and I figure this will suffice. My poor sweet child sat through the haircut, smiled at everyone, and sweetly watched me get my hair shampooed, cut, and blow dried, and did it all with a very dirty diaper. I owe her. Big.

Let's recap. I made my child stink like gasoline, didn't let her nap, forced her to sit through two appointments and ride around in the car seat all day, and made her do it all in a dirty diaper. Someone alert the press, mother of the year award right over here. Clearly.

Monday, May 18, 2009

on a roll

I don't know if it is the spring weather, or the fact that we desperately need more space but can't afford to move right now, but I am super motivated these days. I am doing some serious decluttering/completing projects/organizing around the house.

Josh and I both have this amazing skill to overlook things that are lying around the house and leave them there for months. Case in point, the aerobed and pillows and comforter that my parents used when they were here in JANUARY are still sitting on the floor of our office. No more, though! I carried them upstairs and then lugged them into the attic and stored them, all by my lonesome, and then I sat around and marveled at the fact that they'd been sitting there for 5 months and it took me 10 minutes to do it.

There is also a coffee cup that has been sitting on the counter for a week because his mom used it from the top shelf of the cabinet and neither one of us was capable of pulling the chair over to stand on it to reach the shelf and put it away. Today I did it, and I was able to stop being bitter about the fact that she used the top shelf cup in the first place. Our laziness honestly has no bounds.

There is a bug in my nonexistent bonnet these days, and for whatever reason, I am Getting Stuff Done.

Remember the monkeys? Seriously, go look at those adorable monkeys. They are pretty cute. Well, I am ecstatic to announce that after one 8-week class, almost 2 years, and a whole additional child added to our family, I have COMPLETED THE FREAKING QUILT. Do you feel the excitement?

The pattern is called "Lucky Stars", and it was a bit of a pain because it was a lot of cutting of little pieces, but for my first quilt ever, I think it turned out pretty well.

I made the twin size, which in retrospect was too big. Lesson learned for next time, I guess.

The quilt is also MUCH busier and brighter than what I'd hoped for, so another lesson learned there. I like the colors, but all of the fabrics were equally busy (read: very much so) and it makes for a very, very, very bright quilt.

For that reason, I picked a simpler fabric for the backing, and I love it. Can you see the actual quilting? It is loops and stars, although I didn't do that part of the quilt. I left that to the professionals with the long arm sewing machine.

Can you see the cute monkeys riding scooters and pogo sticks and hula-hooping?

Best of all, though, there is a very happy boy who thinks the quilt is the coolest thing ever. Somehow, he seems to know this blanket is special. I don't know whether he can really understand that I made it with my own two hands, but he oohs and aahs over each fabric, each little star, each little monkey. He's already told me multiple times that his favorite is the red band aid fabric because the "monkeys have boo-boos". He is so cute, I could swallow him whole.

I do love the binding also- it's made with this brown fabric that looks like a knit but isn't. It is really cute, and considering my hatred for hand sewing (because you have to hand sew the binding), I'm proud that I actually finished it. I'm especially glad it didn't come out looking terrible.

I'm so relieved this is done. I was emotionally unable to tackle other sewing projects because I kept seeing my poor innocent quilt squares sitting in my sewing box and I felt too guilty to try anything else. Now that the quilt is finished, I am free to do whatever I want again.

It isn't perfect, by any means, but I've learned some lessons. First, next time I will do a simpler pattern. I knew when I first saw the pattern that it wasn't quite my cup of tea because it looked a little too "country" for my tastes. Everyone else in the class was completing that pattern, though, so I went along with it, and I thought stars would be cute for a kids quilt. Next time, I know I prefer something simpler- more streamlined. Second, the fabrics. I will definitely pick one main fabric and several simpler ones for my next quilt (i.e. Josie's quilt). Perhaps the colors will be no less bright, but I will stick with one patterned one and the rest in stripes or plaids or something like that. Lastly, I will just DO IT. I will make the quilt and finish it, because the finishing process took so little time that it was ridiculous for the quilt top to have sat in my box for over a year. Now that I know, I'll just take one afternoon and get it done.

I have finished several more sewing projects in the last week and a half since I finished the quilt, but I have to get some sleep so the suspense will have to continue. Da dum da dum da dum (cue Jaws theme music). I'm sure you'll be on the edge of your seats, right?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

negligent mother of the year

I have a confession to make. I haven't made Gabe a baby book. And let's not even get started on Josie. I haven't even PURCHASED her a baby book. Negligent mother, indeed.

I finally cracked open Gabe's baby book last night in my new quest for organization, and all I have to say is THANK HEAVENS for blogs. If I didn't have all of you, I don't know what I would do. At least I wrote down some of the milestones here, and I can spend hours going through my blog posts and piece together some of his firsts. The rest, well, I guess I'll make it up and hope Gabe never reads this post.

Some of these entries, though, GIVE ME A BREAK. First time he sang a song? Drew a picture? Talked on the phone? Held a bottle? I have no freaking idea. Plus, is he really going to care? Somehow I doubt it.

Here's an aside to report that Gabe is standing 2 inches from his monitor and screaming, "Is someone coming for me please?"

It's going to be even worse with Josie, I can tell. I am already realizing that everything you hear about the second child is true. I'm 100% as obsessed with her as I was/am with Gabe, but writing it all down doesn't have the same priority. It's funny, I also worry so much less about all of the milestones. At this age, I'd already been coaxing Gabe to sit up for months. I would get him to sit in that tripod position (legs spread, arms between knees, leaning forward), and encase him with pillows to make sure he didn't fall over. I was doing daily exercises to encourage him to roll over. I'd stimulate him with toys like crazy. With Josie, I do less of the tummy time, sitting, or exercises, and more time just enjoying her.

I don't worry (much) about the milestones, because I know she'll get there. I especially know that she has the rest of her life to grow up, and only now to be a baby. My baby. So if she wants to hang out in my arms, be carried in the sling, spend a little more time being rocked, that's okay by me. She'll eventually sit, roll over, walk, run. All of them way too soon for my tastes, I'm sure.

Anyway, I just placed an order for about 130 pictures off of the Kodak website and I'm going to try to put them in an album. I'm trying to get some of Gabe's baby information down into the book I have, and I'm on the hunt for a baby book for Josie. Any recommendations?

And please tell me I'm not the only one who hasn't made a baby book for their child. I'm feeling totally guilty about this. The only thing that is making me feel better is the knowledge that I have about 7,000 pictures of my children, I just don't have them printed out. I'm not a TOTALLY sucky mom on that front.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

cleanliness pays

After visiting my sister in law last month, I've been motivated to undertake an extensive cleaning and decluttering mission in our house. My sister in law is one of those people whose house always looks impeccable. I got into her car when she picked us up from the airport and it could have been a test drive in a model car. I could EAT off of her floor mats. She never has piles of dishes, or laundry, or stray papers lying around. She is crazy organized. She works out 6 days a week, takes care of her two kids, helps them with homework, pays attention to her husband, goes out with friends, cleans her own house, AND she goes to bed at 10pm every night, so it isn't even as if she stays up all night to do everything. Granted, her kids are 9 and 5, so they are in school 5 days a week, but still. On a great day, my house doesn't look half as clean as hers.

The truth is, though, I think I just don't care enough to make it happen and therein lies the biggest problem. I want to spend FUN time with Gabe and Josie and Josh, and when I have downtime, I want downtime, not cleaning time. However, I need to find a happy medium between perfection and a pigsty. Since I've gotten back, I'm trying to slowly work my way through every drawer, every shelf, every pile of papers. It is slow going, but I am making some progress.

Today, I emptied out my car for the first time in, well, we bought the car 4 years ago, so the first time in FOUR YEARS. I took several large grocery bags out to the car and removed the following:
- One hooded rain coat
- One spring light jacket
- Snow hat for Gabe
- Fireman rain coat for Gabe
- Snow hat for Josie
- Baby Bjorn
- 2 dry cleaning hooks
- 17 (SEVENTEEN) kids' cds scattered throughout the car and under the seats
- 6 holiday cds (fyi, it's May, and I actually think these cds are from 2006 holidays when I was pregnant with Gabe)
- 3 chapsticks
- 2 song books from a music class we took last June
- 37 cents in pennies
- $2.45 in other assorted coins
- 1 Josie diaper
- 2 Gabe pullups
- 9 random books
- 1 large box of Kleenex
- 1 small package of Kleenex
- 1 golf ball
- Empty yogurt container
- 32,467 cheerios
- 1 sippy cup
- Countless baby rings (those rings you use to hang toys from the car seat or stroller or whatever)
- 89,000 receipts (not an exact number)
- Multiple expired coupons
- 1 sandal
- Lunchbox with moldy grapes inside
- 4- 37 cent stamps
- Shirt for Gabe
- Onesie for Josie
- Empty package for Robeez shoes
- 2 pamphlets
- 1 clothes hanger
- Address labels
- 2 phone chargers (none of which are for my current phone)
- Packaging tape
- Nylons

And worst of all...

- Staples gift card (amount unknown)
- Starbucks gift card (amount unknown)
- 2 Gap gift cards (amount unknown)
- Bloomingdales gift card... prepare yourself... $209.79 remaining on card from 9/30/2004 (I have no words for this one)
- Babies R Us gift card (amount unknown)
- 3 gift cards for a local toy store

Do you see that list? I do not drive a semi, but rather a perfectly reasonable petite Honda CR-V. There is no excuse for that kind of junk. And I'm not even listing the straight up trash or the stuff that is staying in the car- the maps, map books, changing pads, Gabe's placemats for restaurants, the double stroller, Josie's toys, Gabe's pacifiers, my coin purse, my cds.

Additionally, the removal of the above items has made it abundantly clear that the car is disgustingly dirty. I mean, DISGUSTINGLY DIRTY. I'm surprised mice haven't taken up residence in the car. Since I couldn't see the floor mats, I couldn't see the ground in crumbs and dirt. Today I drove 25 minutes to a car wash, only to discover that they stop vacuuming and shampooing rugs at 4:30pm, so tomorrow I am dropping Gabe off at school and Josie and I are taking a trip to our friendly car wash. I'm just hoping they don't charge me extra for "total slob upkeep".

I am shamed, people. Really and truly shamed. Good news, though, I can apparently go shopping with my gift cards to cheer myself up! Silver lining, I guess!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

in which I lose the rest of my dignity

If you know me in real life, or are squeamish about too many personal details, you may want to click AWAY NOW. This little story is chock full of embarrassing and TMI moments.


I went in today to be fitted for a diaphragm. That's right, click click click away.

I hate hormonal birth control, and I didn't want to try a copper IUD since I want another baby in the relatively near future. We've traditionally used condoms, but (a) that didn't work out perfectly for us as a method of birth control last March, and (b) now that we've had sex without condoms, it's hard to go back. So, my OB and I went through the options and settled on a diaphragm as the best choice for me. It is easy, effective (according to my OB, 97-98% effective when used correctly), and non-hormonal.

I got called into the exam room and stripped from the waist down and attempted to cover myself with the tiny paper sheet, which is a joke, but that is a conversation for another day. I had Josie with me in her bucket seat and I was trying to keep her entertained while also keeping myself somewhat covered. Anyway, the OB comes in, explains the whole process and we get started.

First she sized it by putting it in and removing it, and then she handed it to me and told me to put it in myself and said she would check to make sure I did it right. Then she leaned against the counter and looked at me expectantly. As in, she wanted me to put it in RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER. She pushed the stool over to me and started describing how I was supposed to do it, and I swear to you, I almost died right then and there.

What could I do, though? She was standing there, nodding at me, so I did. To make matters worse, I couldn't get it in, so I had to stand there, basically buck naked, and keep trying to get it in, becoming increasingly flustered and the whole process was incredibly painful and she just kept encouraging me and giving me tips on how to get it in. Finally, THANK YOU GOD, I got it in. She checked and it was in correctly, so she told me to take it out now. AGAIN, RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER.

I am a pretty modest person. I didn't wear a bikini until college. I never wear revealing clothing, much to the chagrin of my law school girlfriends and my husband. I'd never worn anything remotely low cut until I was pregnant with Gabe and acquired The Rack and still, those low cut shirts are not even that low cut and there aren't many of them. I'm not a prude, but I'm also not flashing parts of my body publicly. Having to practice all of this in front of her was BEYOND MORTIFYING.

Anyway, I did finally get it out, after many attempts, lots of pain, and buckets of cringing. To my OB's credit, she acted like this was all perfectly normal and not strange at all. Clearly, she has been down there numerous times, but even during labor, I never stood around naked in front of her or anyone else. For goodness sake, I kept my underwear on for most of both of my labors until we were close to the end. I'm telling you, I really am pretty modest. I have cellulite I need to keep hidden, people!

I survived, though, with diaphragm prescription in hand, orders to practice putting it in and taking it out at home, and Josh owes me. He owes me BIG. I am going to spend the rest of this psychologically traumatizing day stuffing cookies into my pie hole. Maybe I'll make him bring cupcakes home tonight.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

must be catching

There have been some days recently where I’ve thought to myself, “Wow. I can totally doing this. This is actually going really well!” And then, well, there are nights like tonight.

Nights where Gabe has a cough and runny nose and case of Whine-itis, Josie has her first fever (fluctuating in the 101-102 range), and Josh has to work super late (like midnight late). Nights like tonight just plain stink.

On nights like tonight, it takes me over 2 hours to get Josie down to bed, and I’m frustrated with her because she won’t just go to sleep. I had to leave Gabe alone in his room and ask him to be quiet, but he keeps banging his trucks against the wall between the rooms and rattling the doorknob. Every time the bangs echo through her bedroom, Josie’s eyes pop open and I have to start the process all over, and I’m seething with anger because Gabe can’t just be quiet.

The dogs keep scratching at the door to Josie’s room because they are hungry for dinner, and I would give them to the first passerby if I could. I keep watching the clock anxiously, because it’s 7pm, then 7:30, then 8, then 8:30, then 9, and Gabe is still awake and hasn’t had a proper dinner because Josie won’t calm down long enough for me to feed him and get him to bed.

Then the resentment comes, because it feels so unfair that we have no family close by, that Josh has to work late, that I always do this alone. That’s crazy, of course, because Josh is working late to support us and it isn’t his fault, and I don’t always do this alone, but the resentment is there, nonetheless.

Nights like tonight just stink. But the good news is that tomorrow will be better. It almost always is.


10:42pm- Another Josie wakeup and subsequent nursing. I think I may just have caught a case of Whine-itis.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

to school or not to school?

I made the decision a few months ago to keep Gabe at his toddler program for another year. He loves the program, adores the woman who runs it and she adores him (she hugs and kisses him and tells him she loves him), I think he is learning a ton from her, and he is doing it all in a wonderfully kind and caring environment. Plus, it is literally 3 blocks from my house, the timing is great (9-1pm), and she serves snack and a hot lunch. Right now he is going 2 days a week, but for May and June he'll switch to 3 days a week, and next year he is also going to go 3 days a week.

You would be shocked at the thinly veiled and/or outright criticism I have gotten over this decision. Every single other mother I know put their child in an "official" preschool for next year, and can't seem to understand why I wouldn't do the same. Gabe and all of his little friends are 2 years old, and will be 2 for the rest of this year (Gabe's birthday is in December and all his friends' birthdays are January or later). The school system in our town and neighboring towns requires a child to be 5 years old on September 1st, meaning that no matter what we choose for this upcoming September, it will be another 3 years before our children can go to school. This is the same whether they stay home for another year, do a toddler program for another year, or go to preschool for an extra year.

Certainly, I'll admit that having Gabe stay at his toddler program is convenient for us. It is very close, it is cheaper than preschool, and she FEEDS him. Do you know how much this child eats? Truthfully, though, I feel confident that this is the right decision for him. I believe Gabe is a very bright little boy and I also believe he is receiving a tremendous amount of nurturing in this program.

Gabe knows his numbers in English and Spanish, he knows his colors, he knows number correspondence (i.e. can connect numbers to objects, like counting how many cars are driving by or how many cookies are on his plate), knows most of his letters and tries to make words with those letters, he can cut well with scissors, holds a pencil correctly, shares nicely, chats up a storm in complete paragraphs, and is virtually potty trained (minus naps and nighttime) thanks to the insistence of the woman who runs the program. Most importantly, at least to me, he is happy. Happy when I drop him off, happy when I pick him up. Happy to learn new skills, happy to share what he knows. I write this not to brag about how awesome he is, although clearly I am biased on the topic, but rather to say I think he is doing just fine at this program.

Some of my friends, however, act like my decision is going to set him back for life. He may not get into an Ivy League university if he doesn't get 3 years of preschool! He won't learn to read! What about writing? Obviously, the new trend is preschool for 3 years is the Right Thing To Do. You are a Good Parent if you pay for the extra year of preschool.

Don't get me wrong, I really don't care whether people want to send their kids to preschool next year, but I do care that people seem to think what I am doing is out and out wrong or borderline neglectful. I am all about doing what is right for each kid, and I also feel strongly that we are over-educating children, over-committing them, and ending up with children who are stressed and burnt out at a young age. Those are my opinions. If you have a super fabulous preschool that is perfect for your kid, though, then of course that is what is right for you and your kid! I'm not walking around telling these moms that they're crazy.

It isn't just preschool, lots of toddlers we know are in 5 classes a week- art, music, gymnastics, etc. The parents we know are quizzing their kids over breakfast, buying educational videos that promise to teach your kid how to read, worrying when their child isn't leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else.

I will be sending Gabe to preschool in another year, and the preschools I am looking at are relatively academically rigorous. I am not anti-education, and I'm not completely immune to the Must Have Super Smart Kid pressure. I just think there is this crazy trend of more is always better these days, and alternatives are not welcome. I know Chatty Cricket has encountered it in her neck of the woods, and My Wombinations has blogged about preschools that cost more than college too (both of whom has BRILLIANT children, by the way, and aren't obsessed with the more is better thing). What about you? Is this trend limited to the Massachusetts moms?