Thursday, March 24, 2011

Plan C?

As I have probably talked about before, Ava is starting real Kindergarten in the fall. She’s currently in a half-day Kindergarten program, and could technically go on to first grade. However, she only makes the cutoff by two weeks, and I think in the long run, no matter how smart she is, she’ll benefit from being one of the older kids in her class.

In Wake County, we have great schools. Unfortunately, our neighborhood is not assigned to a great school. It’s a fairly horrible school, in fact. One that I just can’t, in good faith, send my child to. Besides the fact that the school has bad test scores, they are also riddled with discipline problems and low staff morale. Of course, we have not attended school there, so I can only go by what I hear. But the things I hear are from people who had the nerve to try it out. And, for the last couple of years, the school performed so poorly that parents were given the option to go to another nearby elementary school instead.

Knowing that we would not be going to our base school, we applied to a private school, a charter school, and three magnet schools. We got into the private, didn’t get into the charter, and have been waiting to hear about magnets. I won’t bore you with all of the details of what a magnet school is, but suffice it to say, we would have been psyched for Ava to get a spot at any of the magnet schools we wanted. They were all so impressive. More impressive, in fact, than the private school.

So, for the last month, March 24 has been circled in bold on my calendar. That was the Magnet Notification Date. Months of hoping, praying, and making small sacrifices to minor gods would come to an end.

My alarm was set for 5am. I wasn’t really sleeping well, so when a friend texted me a few minutes after midnight, I checked my phone. The notifications were online. My friend had not gotten in.

I got out of bed, and made my way to my computer. With shaking hands, I entered our name, address, and finally, confirmation number. And I could hardly look when the results popped up on screen. This is the message I received:

The Wake County Public School System appreciates your interest in the magnet programs offered by our school district. Unfortunately, we were unable to place your student in the options for which you applied. Every attempt was made to enroll as many students as possible within the guidelines established by the Wake County Board of Education.

Your student's name will remain in the applicant pool for consideration and you will be contacted if we can select your student to fill any additional vacancies.

Please accept our best wishes for a successful 2011-12 school year.

The Staff of the Growth and Planning Department

I was beyond disappointed. I mean, I thought I had prepared myself for the worst. I really did. I think what was most surprising was hw ANGRY I felt. Here I was, having waited months for what I hoped would be what we wanted, only to find that I had wasted my time worrying, touring schools, researching, and worrying some more.

That was really only the tip of the iceberg for my anger. I was mostly mad for my little girl. The one who deserves to be in a great public school. The one who loves school so much, who loves to learn, and who I just know would thrive in one of those magnet schools. I cried for her. I cried for me. I cried because now I have seen the best of what public school has to offer, and I know we won’t have that.

That’s not to say that Ava won’t do great wherever she ends up. And I’ll make the most of whatever school she goes to. I’ll be involved, make sure she’s challenged, and do whatever I can to improve our circumstances. Next year, we may try this again.

For now, I don’t know where she’ll end up. We may try to transfer out of our base into a more desirable public school. I suppose private school isn’t completely off the table. It’s just not the best option for us. Then again, Ava would look pretty cute in one of those uniforms.

Stay tuned, though. The saga continues, and hopefully ends well.



Thursday, March 17, 2011

Current loves

Spring (and fall and summer and winter) always bringsout the shopping desire in me. Spring, though, above all. Adult clothes look better, kids’ clothes look better, shoes are fabulous. So here are a few things I’m loving these days:

1) Wide-leg jeans and wedge sandals.


These are Sevens, image from Piperlime. I love the faded wash, too. So summery. And these wedges? Love. Clearly, at $350, I’ll need to find something a little more, uh, budget-friendly, but they provide good inspiration. Also from Piperlime. (Which, by the way, could bankrupt me).

2. Dresses.

Dresses, to me, are the very best part of warmer weather. I mean, you don’t have to think about an outfit. Just throw on your dress and go. And talk about versatile. With flats or Jack Rogers, perfect for daytime. A higher heel and the right jewelry and you’ve got yourself a nice little date-night ensemble. On the more casual side, I just ordered this one from Boden:

Stripy Tunic

For something a little dressier, I love this (thanks again, Piperlime):


And for something adorably whimsical, this bird print from Modcloth can’t be beat:

Girly Bird Gets the Dress

In fact, I think that print would be so cute on some pillows in a sunroom. Not that I have such a room. But I still think that would be nice.

3. Ikat on anything.

But especially on this Mat and Nat bag. How great is this? Great little summer tote, that would easily go into fall.

4. Glee.

Oh my. I’ve watched from the beginning, and my obsession only grows stronger. I love, love, love this show. And I have the biggest crush on Blaine. So excited that he and Kurt are together.

I will also admit here and now that I have all of the Glee CDs except for the newest one. It may get purchased today. I have even got Ava loving it. She doesn’t watch the show, of course, but she does love the music. I burn her copies of the CDs for her to play on her Hello Kitty CD player. We like to have Glee dance parties on Friday nights. Maybe I just revealed too much?

Okay, I was going to add a #5, but Davis is demanding my attention, and he’s been sick all week, so he deserves a little of my attention.

Happy St. Patty’s day, everyone!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fine! Whatever!

As I have mentioned many times, raising a 5-year-old girl appears to be a preview of raising a teenage girl. Frankly, this has come as a huge surprise to me. This may be because I was the perfect child and never even thought to question my parents’ authority. Seriously. I’m not sure what they did to scare the hell out of me, but I just didn’t talk back. Well, not until I was about 22, anyway.

Ava, on the other hand, seems to think we are equals. It comes across not only in the occasional (ha!) backtalk, but also in the sharing of my possessions. For instance, I bought a headband at Nordstrom a few weeks ago. I let  Ava wear it to school one day, because honestly, she takes really good care of things, so I knew it would be okay. A week or so later, she asked to wear it again. I told her that I was thinking of wearing it that day. That was not okay with her. I told her, “Honey, sometimes you can borrow it, but it is my headband, and I’m wearing it today.” You know what she said? “It’s not just yours! It’s BOTH of ours.”

Needless to say, I wore the headband.

I’m pretty sure she also thinks she shares mothering duties with me when it comes to Davis. This, of course, can be quite helpful. But I’ll catch her telling him “no” in a very authoritative fashion, or doting on him in a sing-songy voice. And she’s sent him to time out on more than a few occasions. I’m sure he appreciates it.

Twice last week, Ava actually said, “Fine! Whatever!” to me. Clearly, this is not acceptable. The first time, she had a friend over. I think they were watching a movie. The snack requests wouldn’t stop, and I told them to wait a little while before having more snacks. Ava’s response? “Fine! Whatever!”

Um. Really?

I had to pull her aside and have a little come-to-Jesus talk about that, but apparently, it had no effect, because I got the same response a few days later.

I’m not entirely sure of the best way to handle the teenage backtalk. We’ve tried time-outs, taking away privileges, taking away Emily (the beloved American Girl doll), but nothing seems to stop it. It’s as if she just can’t filter her words at all. And maybe that’s part of being a precocious 5-year-old. She just lacks judgement.

The one thing we haven’t tried is a behavior chart, so I think that’s up next. If anyone else has suggestions, I welcome them!

One more quick thing: when Ava’s friend was over last week, they were watching “The Wizard of Oz.” Ava’s friend had been at our house a few weeks back. So she said to me, “Why didn’t you tell me you had this movie when I was here before?” And a few minutes later she asked, “Why don’t you have a Dorothy costume for me to wear while I watch this?”

Now, this is a sweet, sweet little girl. But I was a little taken aback by the questions. And happy to  think that despite Ava’s cheekiness with her daddy and me, she exercises total restraint when talking to other adults.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Indentured Servants

*edited to add eggplant parmesan recipe*

The other night, we had a fairly pleasant family dinner. Ava  asked to be excused after 3 bites of food, but didn’t balk when we made her remain at the table. Davis only threw about one-fourth of his food, and actually ate an entire serving of eggplant parmesan (speaking of which, easy “recipe” at the bottom of this post).

At the end of the meal, I asked Ava to rinse her plate, as well as Davis’, and put them in the dishwasher. She was thrilled to do so. Pulled a chair up to the sink, rinsed, and put them haphazardly neatly into the dishwasher. Davis was jealous, and immediately tried to pull his own chair to the sink.






It’s fun that my kids are young enough that they can be tricked into doing household chores. I mean, what’s the point of having kids if they aren’t going to be useful around the house? I know Morgan can’t wait until one of them is old enough to mow the grass. Last week, Ava kept complaining about being bored. I told her my bathroom needed a good sweeping, and she eagerly got to work.

A couple of days ago, Ava noted that we had not made our March calendar. (This is not unusual. In January, our calendar was still November. Or October.) Again, I took advantage of her eager beaver attitude and asked her to make the calendar for us. She thinks dry-erase markers are one of the greatest writing tools ever, so she was all over that like white on rice.


Please note that she is wearing a necklace, a bracelet, and a CHRISTMAS headband. I’m really surprised I have a tongue left, I bite it so much.

Also, please ignore the mess that is my kitchen’s natural state. Ugh.

I know the days of enjoying chores are limited. Just this morning, I told Ava that I want her to start making up her bed every day. She balked. She said, “(*SIGH*) NO ONE in my class has to make up their bed!” Now, she also tells me I treat her like a baby, so I used that as my defense, telling her that big girls make up their beds. She then said, “But I always get the bed wrinkly. I can’t do it good enough.” I’ll admit….it pretty much takes every fiber of my being to even think of letting her make up her own bed. I want it to look a certain way. The pillows need to be just so. But I have to let go of that and let her be. Give her a little responsibility, and know that with practice, she might just achieve my bed-making skills.

And really, I just think kids need to help around the house. In fact, I wonder if Davis is too young to clean toilets? Hmmm.

Oh, and about Davis. This is the look he sported during breakfast today:


Pajama bottoms? No, thanks. Headband? Yes, please.

I’m going to hang on to this picture to show at his wedding. Or his civil union ceremony.

Absurdly Easy  Eggplant Parmesan

-Cook one box of Trader Joe’s breaded eggplant cutlets as directed (425 degrees for 12-14 minutes)

-Layer cooked cutlets in a small casserole dish with your favorite marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until cheese on top melts.

It’s so insanely easy, and very tasty. Serve with garlic bread and a salad on a pressed-for-time night.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Kid-Free Weekend

One of the best things about having my parents close by is that they are occasionally kind enough to take Ava and Davis for the weekend. My parents aren’t so close to us that they can just babysit on a whim, but with some planning, we do get a couple of days off once in a while. This was one of those such weekends. Lots of fun stuff went on in Ava and Davis’ absence.

We had some drama before the kids even left, of course. I walked out the door to put the kids in the car, with the intention of going back in to get one other bag and my keys. Poor Ava thought she’d help, so she locked the door and pulled it shut. My bag and keys and phone were all inside. For some reason that is beyond comprehension, we don’t have a spare hidden anywhere.

I tried hard not to panic, but I was totally freaking out. I mean, I was supposed to meet my mom 20 minutes away. I ran to my neighbor’s house and asked to use her phone. Called my mom….was shocked when my DAD answered the phone. Long story short, my mom had forgotten her phone. That’s right. I had NO WAY to get in touch with her to say that we were stranded at home.

We were scheduled to meet at Nordstrom Rack (and yes, I also intended to shop), so I got the number to the store, called and spoke with a very competent and lovely person who found my mom waiting outside, and put me on the phone with her. My mom then drove 20 minutes to my house to retrieve my kids.

Okay. Kids gone. Time to play.

We went with about 4 or 5 other couples to dinner at Vivace here in Raleigh. We then followed that up with a PTA fundraiser for a local elementary school. The highlight was that The Connells were playing there. Yeah. So. I used to listen to them in high school. Maybe even middle school. I thought the guitar player was sooooo cute. I had lots of their cassettes, and later, CDs. So, I felt a little old seeing them at a PTA event. And that guitar player? Well, he’s a dad. And he looks his age. But they played really well, and it was tons of fun. And it was over at 10:30. Big night!

Yesterday I got up and went to a class at HEAT, this crazy new gym here. I’ve been there the last 3 Saturdays. It’s intense. And great. And the 9:30 Saturday instructor is just a little hottie. So, worthwhile. I’m sore today. Just not sure why I don’t have the body of a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model after all these classes. Hmph.

The rest of the day was spent doing house stuff. Morgan worked on the part of the yard he likes to call “Sleepy Hollow.” I wish I had taken a before picture, but it’s a part of the yard that has been taken over by ivy. He pulled most of it up:


Lots of bags o’ ivy and dirt:


There’s still a  bit to be removed:



It was a lot of work. He smelled manly when he came back in.

I don’t do yardwork, so I did some indoor organizing. First, the laundry room (again, wish I had a before pic, but trust me when I say that it was BAD. I could hardly open the door).


I’d like to move that broom/mop hanger to the wall behind the door, so I don’t have to look at it when I walk in. Yuck. Hello, Swiffer!

Then I tackled our linen closet. Got rid of LOTS of stuff. I am the opposite of a hoarder. I like to purge. Goodwill is my friend. That and what Morgan calls the “Satellite Dump.” That would be the dumpster an an apartment complex a mile or so from here. I’m pretty sure we aren’t supposed to take stuff there, so please don’t report me.

Anyway, here’s our linen closet (I need Martha Stewart to give me a tutorial on how to fold fitted sheets).


So, that was the day. Then we grilled out and watch Good prevail over Evil. You may know this better as UNC vs. Duke. This dunk by Strickland was classic Tar Heel basketball.

So proud of how far these boys have come this season. GO HEELS!

Morgan is currently on his way back to Raleigh with my kiddos. I have to say, it’s been a great weekend, but I’m looking forward to seeing them. Hopefully they’ll be tired and get to bed early. ;-)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Baby Fever is Better Than Bieber Fever

Our next door neighbors, who are also close friends, brought home their first baby last week. We went for a visit, and I was surprised to hear myself saying, “Awww….I want another one!”

Thankfully, that feeling didn’t last. I love my own children beyond words, but a third would probably send me over the brink. I’m not really sure that I handle two all that well sometimes. No need to inflict my instability on yet another  being. I’m glad to have one next door, though, so that when I need my baby fix, I can just walk over for a quick snuggle. And, I can take a quick look at the parents’ weary faces and relish in my restful nights.

I’m sure some of these feelings came about because my little baby is getting ready to turn 2. TWO. Impossible. It’s such a fun age. It’s such a trying  age, too. But mostly fun. He talks a lot. In his little Cro Magnon way, he told me today that he had juice and crackers at school, and that he really enjoyed them. It went something like this:

“Snack.” (pointed at high chair in his classroom)

“Oh, did you have a snack today in that chair?”

“Joos. Ca-cah.”

“You had juice and crackers?”


In-depth conversation, toddler-style. Love it.

Also, he and Ava play so well. He loves her. Adores. He calls her “Sissy.” But it sounds more like “See-See.” And he pulls her by the arm, saying, “’Mon, see-see!.” (That means, “come on, sissy!”)

He also throws food. Often. As a result, my less-than-svelte dog is getting, well, quite plump. I just know we’re going to get a lecture from the vet on doggie fitness when we go for his checkup next month.

I’ll conclude today with one final thing: two friends today mentioned to me that it was Justin Bieber’s birthday. You know how they knew that? Because it was in the morning announcements at their kids’ schools. Seriously?