Thursday, June 5, 2014

More Moving Details

So, why are we moving again?

The short version is Jay didn't get approved for "continuing faculty status" (their version of "tenure") at BYU.

We were really surprised.

He far surpassed all their outlined requirements but those pesky politics... I think Jay was advocating for too much change too soon, and it didn't sit will with those folks.

Anyway, we lucked out because when Jay started the application process last fall, Vassar was one of his top 2 choices, so we feel extremely blessed.

It felt like SUCH a LONG 7 months of waiting to figure out where we would be going (or if we would be going at all... BYU allows an extra year to find another job before letting you go) and for a long while, I was making plans to move to Moscow, Russia.

For reals.

We waited through agonizing months of getting response emails, phone interviews, flying out interviews, and then a most painful time where we heard NOTHING when we were expecting to have heard SOMETHING... over and over I had to tell concerned neighbors that "there is no update... we're still just waiting to hear back."  Let me tell you, this made the initial shock and sadness about moving away from all we had built here all so so much worse.  Feeling like we'd have nowhere to move to!

And then when we'd almost lost all hope, in mid-May when we assumed all jobs had surely been given away by then, Vassar - Jay's top choice who he never heard a lick from - offered him a 2-year visiting position with an invitation to apply for their tenure-track opening next fall.

Now that all the waiting and mourning is over, I'm pumped and ready to move on.

We're still not sure where we'll be living, despite my countless hours spent perusing homes for sale in Poughkeepsie.  I've finally decided that I just can't make any meaningful decisions until we actually show up there.  Luckily for us, Jay's parents have so generously offered their summer home in central Massachusetts to us to live in until we know what's going on.  It's about 3 hours from Poughkeepsie, so we're hoping that's close enough to make a few day-trips and check out the homes.

Right now, I'm sort of leaning more towards renting for the first year, just to make sure we will actually be staying there (because if it ends up being only a 2-year deal, I don't think real estate will be a good investment) and to make sure what area I want to end up in as well.

It will be an adjustment going from an awesome house with tons of space and storage and a beautiful yard and awesome neighbors (who I know all of because they all go to church with me...) to a small rental home/apt/condo/who knows? surrounded by strangers, but I think it could be really fun too.  (and I will spend a LOT less time cleaning/fixing/weeding/caring for a home)

A nice experiment.  I do love a good experiment...

We will not have as much space, most likely, and will have to sell things/put things in storage.  It will be good to prove I can live more simply with less stuff.

There is a little part of me that wants to try my hand at home renovations.  Our home here had already been fabulously updated and I didn't need to do much more than paint a few things.  (and really I didn't NEED to do that.  I just wanted to...)  I did install 2 faucets (while very pregnant, I might add...) and a built in microwave (while VEEERRRRRYYYYY pregnant.  like T minus 1 week pregnant...) and I must admit there is a corner of me that wants to find an awesome fixer-upper to try and learn how to fix up, hoping that even if we only stay for 2 years, we won't loose money on our investment.  (though, the property taxes are YEEESHly high and that may deter me...)

Anyway, it's weird having no definite plans and knowing I can't make any for almost a month!  I'm trying to throw myself into moving plans, but it's not nearly as fun as house hunting.

I have never had to move anywhere with a lot of furniture because when we moved into this house we were coming from a fully-furnished dorm at Stanford, so this will be my first big-time move.  AND it's slightly complicated because we will be putting almost all of our stuff directly into storage while living at the lake house, and then later will move most of it out, but probably not all...

I guess what I'm saying is, what do you wish you knew before you moved?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Good Excuse

Well, I can finally FINALLY announce why I have been so preoccupied these last many months and not posting very regularly.

We. are. MOVING!

Yes.  It's true.  I never in a million years thought I would ever have to post something like this because I already had my whole life planned out and let me tell you- moving was not part of the plan.

I distinctly remember having this moment last August- just an average, ordinary day- when I looked around and thought to myself, "wow.  my life is perfect.  could it possibly get better than this?"

So, you see, it's my fault we're moving.  I jinxed us.

Sorry, Jay :(

I admit, I was heartbroken at first.  Even now, I'll have occasional sad glimmers in my eyes to leave behind all we have fostered here...  (or maybe that's the exhaustion?)

But I always like a good adventure too, and this will surely be that.

I should really be sleeping right now, so I'm not going to go into the details.


BUT, I just had to get that off my chest.

We're moving, and that's why I'm MIA.  I've been cleaning and packing and posting pictures of the house, and learning about selling a home on my own, and cleaning, and weeding, and climbing trees to saw out dead limbs and not cooking good meals and allowing my kids to spend WAY to much time in front of a screen and, OH, did I mention that Jay has been out of town for most of all this?

Yes.  He has.

Luckily, I have fabulous parents and neighbors and family and I'm doing alright.

In fact, our home is officially under contract as of a few hours ago, pending the sale of their home, so it must have all worked pretty well.

However, in the contract, I am allowed to take other offers and save them until June 23rd, (Jays' birthday!) the date they have to have their home under contract with another buyer for us to honor the contract with them.  So, in the meantime, I must keep up appearances and keep holding open houses until we are goners.  Most likely we'll be completely moved out by June 27th (my brother's birthday!).

Carazy, eh?

Oh, and just so I don't keep y'all (2 of you) hanging, and if you haven't seen on facebook already, we're moving to Poughkeepsie, NY.


Friday, May 16, 2014

A New Low

I've had some pretty low moments as a mom.  I've had my fair share of shameful shouting incidents.

I have officially hit a new low.

I never should have told Jay.  He thinks it's perfect "kid conversation" material.  But this!  no.  This is not a cute snippet to woo future would-be in-laws (while simultaneously embarrassing my kids).  This is one that will terrify them.  About their future mother-in-law.

Anyway, he said if I didn't write it, he would, and if I write it, I can at least keep it charitable.

I have confirmed to myself that I actually have a rather evil corner of my heart because even now, I'm inwardly cackling that I actually said this.  I ACTUALLY said this.

I spend too much time around children.

No no.  I won't put blame on them.  I said it.  ME. **cackling resumes**

It all started when I so innocently, on a completely normal day, in a completely normal way, needed to use the ladies' room.  Don't worry.  No TMI.

at least not yet...

So, as usual, I make my way away from the happily playing children to sneak off to the loo.

After about 1.43 seconds of walking away, there is an eruption of crying coming directly behind me.

Turn around.

The details escape me.  Nothing out of the ordinary happens.  Give it back.  Kindness.  Get off her.  No hitting... something like that.

All is calm.

Ah yes.  I forgot the announcement last time.  Perhaps it will help this time.

"I need to use the bathroom.  Can we all be kind while I'm gone?"


Turn around.

This time, I actually make it all the way to the bathroom, only to discover (TMI warning) someone (else!) didn't quite make it in time and there is poo smeared all over the toilet seat.

By this time, you can guess I really had to go.  Luckily, I've learned to keep clorox wipes within reach no matter what room one might find themselves in, (just about) and so naturally, I had some on hand for just such occasion.  I finally had it cleaned and wiped dry so as to sufficiently satisfy the needs of my clean little behind when their second volcanic eruption occurred.

This time I decided the only way to pee in peace was to separate the offender (which is almost always unclear) and so I grabbed both Peach and The Frog by the wrist and directed them upstairs to their rooms.

I admit, I may have said this next part a bit louder than I care to admit, "Now you can come out of your rooms after I have gone to the bathroom!!"

Did I mention they were both rather upset about this whole thing?  The Frog especially.  He defiantly rushed from his room and very clearly announced that,

"I'm COMING OUT of my room!!"

There may have been some stomping.

Then, with fire that I didn't know existed, I laser beamed him right in the eyes and said,

"If you do not stay in that room, I will POO in  YOUR.  ROOM."

Well there it is.

Needless to say, I finally got to relieve myself.  In a toilet.  (ew)  The look on his face told me I wasn't going to have to prove myself.

and now the cackles return.

what if I he didn't stay in his room?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Grotto Falls

We've been getting sporadic awesome weather lately, and a few Saturdays ago I just got it in my head that we should try to go on a short hike.  A quick google search and the shortest hike I could find that we hadn't done before was Grotto Falls - .25 miles each way.  

That's what I'm talkinbout.

So we headed off to Payson with packed PBJs and apples.  
 Though the weather was perfect, I hadn't anticipated the trail being covered in either snow or mud.  It was SO muddy!! Luckily, there was a big mound of snow near where we parked and we could kinda get most of it off our shoes before getting in the car.  (Our pants, however...)
 We got to cross over this creek many times over these nice log bridges.  At first The Frog was really scared, but as you can see, after a few of them, he eventually did it alone, no problem.
 We made it without any crying or complaints from anyone, and I'm glad it was so short, given all the mud.  Hazel was very content in the carrier too - that had stopped us from hiking when The Frog was young because he was not happy unless he was walking himself.
It looked like it would be really fun to splash around in when the weather is hot, but for now, we would have frozen our buns off if we got in the water.

 Peach was perched on a log to eat our sandwiches, and she got all spazy and posed many ways.  It was hard to narrow it down, but these are my two favs.
I love this shot so much, I've changed her picture on the side (finally!)  She has appeared 2 for two long there...

This was so successful, I think we might just brave another, longer hike! :)  Any suggestions, locals?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Neighbor Swap Preschool

Disclaimer: this is more of a post for me and anyone who is thinking about teaching preschool to their kids.  I have a really bad memory and so I'd like to remember what went well and what didn't with my "neighbor-swap" preschool for Peach.

Something else that has been taking up additional time is my preschool swap for Peach.  There are 4 moms that take turns hosting, twice a week for 2 hours, and we have a schedule laid out for a letter of the week, just going through the alphabet.  We are cheap and didn't want to pay for a curriculum.  And also, all the kids but 1 were just barely 3, so they'll have another year for preschool.  We just wanted it to be low-key, a semi-introduction for them to sitting still and playing nicely in a group.  I thought about enrolling Peach somewhere, but I just wasn't ready for that.  She seems so young!  And we are doing homeschooling with her already, so I wasn't really concerned about her learning the academics- we are doing that at home.

Anyway, I finally finished my last week of teaching preschool, the week before Easter #thatwasabusyweek and I must say, I'm glad it's over.  It was fun, but I'm just not really the preschool teacher type.  I prefer teaching calculus. :)

However, if anyone else is interested in trying it out, I'm happy to share what I've learned.  It is important for kids to have familiarity, especially if you want any learning to be going on, and since each week was going to be taught by a different mom, we thought it would be wise to have some kind of schedule, so the kids knew what to expect, as far as what types of things would be happening.  This is ours, and I thought it worked out perfectly:

I made a little sign that we could hang up to remind the kids (but mostly the moms) about what was going to happen.  We kept it in the box of preschool supplies that we passed around to whomever was teaching that week.  Mostly it just had a ziplock baggie with a change of clothes for each child (in case of accidents) and also a little flag for the pledge of allegiance and some laminated cards I made that have the alphabet and numbers up to 10 on one side, and shapes and colors on the back.  I made one for each child and the mom so we could point to the letters while we sing the ABCs every day.  I later added to the sign, really small in pen, what time it should be when the task was over.  That was really what I looked at more often.  I also have a little visual timer and I would set that so the kids could see how much time was left before the next activity.

So here's a description of the schedule:

30 minutes of free play - kids can just play, and also made it low stress for us to get our kids there on time and so the mom hosting could have a little time to get last minute things together also.
5 minutes to clean up toys
20 minutes of "circle time" - we would say the pledge of allegiance, sing the ABCs with our chart, bring the letter, number, color and shape of the week, and read a story or two about one of said topics and maybe sing a song or two.
5 minutes to use the potty and wash hands before snack (really only needed a couple of minutes for that, but it's nice to have a bit of a buffer to finish up the story you're reading)
15 minutes of snack - we had a diabetic girl and a gluten free girl in our circle, so we had only no carb foods for snack.  Things like lunch meat, pepperoni, cheese, hard boiled eggs.  It would have been fun to do more fun things with the snack to go along with the letter of the week, but it actually made it less stressful to prepare a snack when your options were so limited.
15 minutes of outdoor recess - we almost always went outside during this time.  Occasionally if the weather was really yucky, we'd stay in and dance to music or something active like that.  One time I took them out to help me rake leaves.  I felt a bit guilty for getting chores done with them around, but they had a lot of fun doing it!
25 minutes of an activity -  These were usually more crafty things to help with fine motor skills (cutting, tracing, gluing), but one time, for example, we did Yoga for Y week.
5 minutes of clean up, and get shoes on to get ready for mom to pick up.

Some things I found particularly successful:
The kids love the "Shake your sillies out" song. (I only did the shake your sillies, jump your jiggles, clap your crazies, and itch your itchies verses).  When circle time was getting noticeably restless, we'd do that and it gave them an outlet and they were ready to listen again.

Glue sticks with pre-cut shapes are a very simple activity for young kids.  Have them put the shapes on the glue, and not the other way around.

They love the "hide the object" game, where you have them take turns hiding an object in a room while everyone else is outside the room and counts together.  Whoever finds the object gets to hide it next.  You have to make sure that everyone gets a turn to hide, though, or it can turn ugly.

They love pulling things out of a bag.  I would often have a bag full of objects that start with the letter of the week and then we'd think of other things that start with that sound.

They love finding hidden things.  I would often hide printed out letters in the room (of different fonts, so they could get used to seeing there is more than one way to write a letter) for them to bring back to my white board, and then we would take turns writing one on the board.

They like making noise- musical instruments or bells, even tapping spoons would probably be enough.  Turn on some music, everyone's happy.  However, that kind of activity is better as an intermediate.  It won't hold them more than 5 minutes.

Bubbles.  There's a reason they're still sold everywhere.  A giant bubble maker would be awesome :)

Balloons.  What kid doesn't love balloons?

They love dressing up.  One time I gave them each something to wear made out of yarn while we read a story.  (for Y week)

I printed out some simple worksheets online and laminated them and gave the kids dry erase markers to work on them.  Some were matching capitol letters to lower case, some had simple addition, some just had the alphabet and they could try tracing it.  I was surprised by how much everyone liked this, I mostly did it for the 5-year old so she would have something to do when she finished her tasks before the younger kids.  (everyone else was barely 3 at the beginning of the school year)

They like feeling skilled and like they're doing something tricky.  (I guess everyone mostly does, but they particularly like to prove how "big" they are.)  Can you stand on one foot?  Can you do a somersault?  Can you hop over this?

Not so successful.
I found myself over estimating their abilities.  a lot.  Only one of the 5 kids (and she was 5) could really use scissors.  We tried to do a little bit of sewing for J week (we had a coloring page with a Jellyfish and I thought it would be fun to sew some tentacles- if that's the right word- out of yarn through some holes in the paper I had poked with a large needle) and that was SO way beyond them- even the 5 year old was flummoxed.  We did something similar at the end - Y week, where I gave them the letter Y I had hole-punched and cut out of card stock and they could just sew wherever with their yarn- they did a bit better with that.  Maybe it was because there was no needle to fiddle with?  Maybe because the holes were bigger?  Maybe it's because it didn't really need to look like anything?

I found myself over-estimating how long they would spend on a task.  a lot.  Never did they spend more time than I thought.  I still have no idea how to predict what activities will be fun and keep their attention.  It's best to plan more than you think you'll need, just in case.  That's where the laminated paper activities came in.  They were backup that needed no prep.

I was really bad at getting kids not to interrupt the story with some tangential story from their life.  I would just listen and acknowledge and try to get back to the story, but usually one life story would remind another kid about their take on it, etc.  It didn't really stress me out... I mean, this is preschool people, we're not exactly prepping for the SATs, but it made me wonder if there was a way to get them not to do that, but still feel like their point of view was valuable.  thoughts?

"guck guck moose!"