Monday, August 14, 2017

Kate Goes to School

{First day of Kindergarten, just a couple weeks shy of five and a half years old}

I have some authority and control issues. I know this about myself. And when I found out two years ago that the Nevada legislature had mandated full-day kindergarten, I was irate. Not that I have anything against full-day kindergarten: I think there are some kids who need it and some parents who want it, so I believe everyone should have the option to choose which option works best for them. But Kate doesn't need it academically, and I didn't want her to be away from me for an extra four hours a day when it wasn't necessary, so over the past year I have called dozens of charter and private schools and spent many hours trying to find a place that would allow Kate to do half day kinder. 

{Kate wanted her hair in one braid "like Elsa," so I tried my hand at a little french braid. I had flashbacks to living with my cousins in fifth grade when we all got our hair tightly braided most mornings. You can't see it, but she has a batman lunchbox in her backpack. She likes what she likes, and I love it.}

And I found one: the perfect private school. It felt like an amazing fit and meshed with all my educational philosophies (can I just get an "amen" for how crazy it is that public schools are forced to follow protocols (for testing, recess, homework, etc.) that, in many cases, aren't evidence-based and actually go against what research recommends?). But in the end, I couldn't justify it. Because I think Kate will be okay in full-day, even if it's not ideal, and I think it will be fun for her to be in the same school with the kids in our neighborhood. Plus, she got a fantastic teacher, and one of her best buds is in her class. 

Kate has been so excited. Last week she was a little nervous, but after we met her teacher at back to school night, I asked her how she was feeling about going to kindergarten. "I'm feeling wonderful!" she said. 

{Jayne wanted to be in the picture, too. Not sure what she's going to do with herself while Kate's at school--they are the best little friends.}

I took her school shopping last week and let her try on clothes in the dressing room for the first time. She likes her two outfits so much that she told me her wardrobe plan for the school year: "I'll wear this dress today, and that outfit tomorrow, and then this dress again (you can wash it while I'm at school, Mom), and then that outfit again, and then this dress again. Like a pattern." #trendsetter

This morning we were a bit late getting out the door (gotta take those first day pictures), and she said, "Mom, I hope we're not late. I don't want to miss anything." It was adorable. We made it just in time to line up with her class. She was so excited to troop into her classroom that we just had time for the briefest goodbye. 

Kate is friendly, social, and bright. She can write all her uppercase letters and is sounding out basic short words. Her drawings are getting more creative and decipherable. She's articulate and fun, has a great imagination and can entertain herself for hours. We're so excited to see the progress she makes this year.

Monday, July 24, 2017

In Which I'm Thankful for Firefighters

Today, our neighbor's house caught fire when a barbecue exploded next to her house. Flames traveled up a vent and spread to the attic. We had no idea anything was wrong until we were loading the kids in the car to go to Jay's aunt's house for Sunday dinner and saw the firetrucks. As we watched, thick yellow smoke began billowing from the house and more and more firetrucks raced, sirens blaring, up our street. 

Our house is literally ten feet away from our neighbor's and isn't separated by anything but a spit of gravel that runs nearly the whole length of our houses. From the backyard, we saw firefighters battling flames on the roof. The winds shifted slightly, and our yard filled with acrid smoke. After a brief consult with the fire captain, we decided to leave as we'd planned so we could escape the smoke. He told us they hoped to have the blaze under control soon.

It was eerie to run through the house as the kids waited in the car. It felt like a dream where an impending threat draws nearer and time moves in slow motion. If you had five minutes to leave your house for what could be the last time, what would you save? What would you do?

Turns out I get panicky when there's a crisis, so my thoughts weren't the clearest, but I changed from my dress into jeans and a shirt. I grabbed my wallet, laptop, camera bag, and the girls' monkey and leopard comfort objects. Jay grabbed a file of our important papers. I unlocked the doors in case the firefighters needed access. And then we left.

(If I could do it again? I'd have moved Jay's car out of the garage and parked it down the street and grabbed a change of clothes for the kids and work clothes for Jay. Maybe the quilts I made and a box of my journals if felt the need for more. But everything else seemed replaceable.)

We squeezed the minivan between the two firetrucks blocking our driveway and counted eight firetrucks on the scene as we drove away.

We had our car, we had our kids, we had each other. "We have what matters," Jay said. And he was right, but I was still afraid. The thought of "home" didn't feel safe at the moment, and I wasn't sure how to handle the insecurity.

Kate said a prayer on our drive, and though I felt agitated during dinner, several neighbors texted awhile later letting us know the flames had subsided and our house was safe.

I feel so grateful to the firefighters who put their safety on the line to protect our neighborhood in general and my home in particular (three were actually injured on the job). My neighbor's house sustained an estimated $300K in damage. She has been in our thoughts; I can't imagine the grief and shock she's experiencing. My relief that our house was spared is tempered by the knowledge that hers was not. 


In other news, Drewby is 11 months old today, and this is the only picture I took:

He is the sweetest, happiest little nugget. We love him dearly.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Kate Turns Five

Kate had her fifth birthday last month. I can't believe it's already been five years since she joined our family. 

She wanted to celebrate her birthday by playing in the snow, so we went up to the cabin for the weekend. She loved being outside in the frigid temps and happily made snow angels and clambered up snow piles. 

Jay sledded down the hill with Kate, which she liked, and helped her trek back up the hill, which she didn't like as much. 

Jay let Kate pick out her birthday cake mix and frosting at the store: funfetti cake and super-pink frosting with pink sprinkles. 

Everyone cringed at the finished product; the frosting was so lurid that several of us didn't even try a piece (these pictures don't do it justice). Even Kate had just one bite of cake and then ate around the rest of it to finish her ice cream. 

{I have no idea what is up with Jayne's face in this picture. There were three other similar pictures, and she looked the same in all of them, so it's not like I caught her mid-blink.}

The next morning, my brother Steve looked at the barely touched cake still sitting on the counter and said, "Is it just me, or did that thing get pinker overnight?"

Drew got really excited about Kate's presents and wrapping paper.

He scrunched the paper and tried to eat Kate's presents. Typical.

And check out Jayne. I don't think I've ever seen a cuter snow-suited-up kid.

She went sledding with her daddy and loved it. 

Within a five day period, Jayne turned two and a half, Drew turned six months, and Kate turned 5. It was a week of age milestones.

On Kate's actual birthday several days later, we had a very small gathering of some of her friends. 

Event planning gives me hives, so I was hoping to not have to do a friend party for another year or two, but Jay promised her one, so I threw something together. 

It was super casual and chaotic, but Kate seemed to have a great time. Ultimately, it was a pleasure to do something for her because she was so grateful and pleased with everything. 

She said she wanted chocolate cupcakes with yellow frosting. I borrowed a friend's frosting bags/tips and piped some frosting for the first time in my life. It was far from professional, but Kate looked at the finished product and said, "Mom, these look perfect! This is exactly what I wanted!" My party-Grinch heart may have grown three sizes that day.

Drew's double chin is everything.

Happy birthday, dear Kate!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

One Year Later: The Exclusion Policy

One year ago today, my church's new policy regarding LGBT families was leaked. In essence, it says that same sex couples who marry are apostates and must be subjected to a church disciplinary hearing. It further states that the children of homosexual parent[s] in a same-sex relationship (or even who were previously in a same-sex relationship) cannot be baptized, cannot be ordained to the priesthood (just boys, obvs--girls aren't ordained), until they are 18 and "specifically disavow the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage." These children are also not permitted to receive a name and a baby blessing (the Mormon equivalent of a Christening).

I cringed even just typing that out; it's so embarrassingly draconian. I remember the night of November 5th a year ago: an article about the leaked policy popped up on Facebook and I read it to Jay as we drove to Costco. I was shocked, disbelieving. In the weeks and months since, I spent hours upon hours reading articles, listening to podcasts, and trying to understand. While I feel I've been able to grasp the apologetics and reasons behind this policy, the fact remains that the gut-punch sensation I felt when I first read it has never gone away. 

I'm not looking to have a discussion about the ins and outs of the policy. I don't feel qualified to say too much about its effects because it hasn't affected me directly. But I will say that I think it is deeply harmful, needlessly inflexible, and fundamentally unchristian, and I do not condone, agree with, or support it. 

As I've looked into some of the sketchy parts of church history, I have viewed controversial (and now repudiated) quotes and practices through the lens that these early church leaders were products of their time. Indeed, the church itself acknowledges this in regards to the former priesthood/temple ban for black members, among other things. Looking at our current leaders through the same lens, however--that they are men influenced by their culture and preconceived notions about the world--seems to be discouraged. Yes, I believe in revelation. I even believe in a living prophet. But I don't believe in infallibility. I think the church can (and does) make mistakes. I believe this policy is one of them. 

In the past, I turned my moral authority over to the leaders of my church: "If the prophet/apostles say it, it must be right." If I did question, I did it under the assumption that I was the one in the wrong. It was easy, in a way, to let the church decide things for me: what God wanted me to do, what my stance was on select political issues, what is right and what is wrong. And while I do still align with the church on many issues, I don't take it for granted anymore that they're always right, especially if it doesn't feel right to me. 

I've reclaimed my moral authority, and I am at peace.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Happy Birthday, Drew

Andrew Jayson
Born Tuesday, August 23, 2016 at 7:22 PM
9 lbs, 21 inches long

Kate calls him "The Baby Brother." As in, "Can I hold the baby brother?" She and Jayne both love helping with anything he needs. Currently, Drew's "bed" is a swing just outside our bedroom, and sometimes when I'm sleeping in the morning or taking a nap, Drew will wake up and start to fuss. I often hear Kate's sweet little voice talking to him, followed by silence from Drew. When I get up, Drew is asleep, covered by a fresh blanket, sucking on a pacifier. The small ottoman is pulled over close to the baby swing, and I know Kate sat there, offering the pacifier and watching her brother until he fell asleep.

Jayne calls him "Baby Jew." She loves touching him: "Can I touch a head? Can I touch a ear? Can I touch a hand?"

Jay was talking to a friend and said, "I'm not going to lie: it's pretty great to have a son."

As for me, I'm just trying to memorize the heavy weight of him curled up on my chest, his small, downy head cradled against my neck, his whole hand clenched around my finger. 

And Drew? He really is a little sweetheart: snuggly, easily calmed, and a good sleeper. His skin is covered in peach fuzz and his hair is strawberry blonde. He has scrawny little legs, a flat tush, and a double chin. He's three weeks old today, and it feels like he's been here forever. We love our little guy.