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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Back to School here and abroad

This summer Colin started Kindergarten. People kept asking if he was excited about it, and he said yes, but really - what did he know about it except the glimpse he got when he was invited to visit back in June.

On the first day parents were allowed to take their children and stay for the first half hour. It was very special to me, not only because our baby started an important phase in his life, but also because it this very Kindergarten I used to attend.

We were supposed to pick him up at 11:45am, and I prepared a lasagna, put it in the oven and thought I had done great - we would be home in time to take it out and eat. Let's just say I got to know all the mommies that were waiting to pick up their kids as well because the children were being dismissed late. Colin, friendly guy that he is, wanted to say goodbye to each and every one of his new classmates, gotta admire that he knew almost all of the 20+ names, and even if our way home is only a 5 - 10 minutes' walk, the lasagna was a bit crispy around the edges. 

How do other mothers of two or three kids do it??? I have one child and can't seem to manage?

In addition I noticed a change in his behaviour. It feels like he has to find his place in the new pecking order. He strikes up altercations with older kids, spills beverages on purpose, calls me stupid cow and gives me the finger. Experienced moms assure me it would go away soon. It rather!! I hate yelling at him but I can't help myself.

After the first week he announced he didn't need to be taken and picked up, he could walk with the neighbors' kids or other children from our neighborhood. There is a whole bunch walking by every morning. We are fortunate to live in a village with not too much traffic, and we have practised crossing the street, so I let him go. I took this video on my last day I was allowed to walk him. 

When I started writing about getting organized for some reason I honestly thought having my kid in Kindergarten would give me more time to do stuff around the house. Turns out I need to get done stuff outside the house while he is out, like groceries runs, post office visits and the like. Once he is finally home he wants to stay and play at home and not be forced to help mommy buying milk and carrots. 
He doesn't want carrots anyway. And he recently told me to stop smuggling broccoli into his snack box as well:

Better broccoli than this, right?

Yes, they have snacks, not lunch. Class is from 8:15 until 11:45am. Then the kids go home or wherever they are being fed. Grandparents, daycare, you name it. Well, they do have lunch. Occasionally. I am still confused about that. We were informed that on the last Thursday of the month the boys would stay and cook their own lunch. (Tuesdays for girls) We obviously were informed that on those days, class would be out at 1:30pm instead of 3pm. I missed that piece of information. Instead I had la leisurely Italian lunch with a friend, and when I got home before 2pm, Colin was at the door, slightly desperate. "Mommy, where have you been, I kept ringing the bell!!" 

If I understand correctly the next cookout will be mid-November only. As I said. confusing. I tried to make it up by bringing his hockey stick and puck to "show and tell day" because he forgot it at home. No, it was not my turn to get him ready!

The other day we attended parent's night. All the parents had to bring a book they liked as a kid or one that their kid likes, and this is how "introduction round" worked. Everybody said something about the book they brought. I thought it was very interesting. Many books from my childhood, long forgotten, reappeared that night. Then one lady brought "French Grammar" and stated that she always hated it. Must have misunderstood something.

What book did I bring? A story about a little girl who needed to go to the hospital. My mom introduced it to me before I had to go in for surgery as a 5 year old. Missed the beginning of kindergarten, by the way. 

Hubby brought a book about encryption. As soon as the official part was over, another dad / IT guy came up and asked to borrow it.

As for Colin I mentioned that he likes science books 

that explain stuff like how volcanoes work and how hot lava is. Plus that his really favorite readings are the ice hockey team booklets ;-)))

On my way back from the bathroom I noticed the fish drawings on the wall. Colin never told me that they were talking about "water" these past weeks. Some artsy girls made wonderful fish families, colorful, with air bubbles and stuff.

Makes you wonder who the black fish in the family is?
This kids' fish must have swum away
And then there were flag fish - guess who draw them ;-)
Enough about us. 

How do other kids' Kindergarten or 1st grade routine work?

Meet Liam, 5 years old, living in New Mexico.His mom drives him to Kindergarten at a private school every day around 7:30am. It's a 10-15 minutes' drive, and he stays until 3pm. Liam likes to play with his new buddy Michael and read books. In his very cool Angry Birds backpack he brings lunch - his favorite is crackers! This is a bit of a pity because his mom is a very creative cook and baker, just look at that birthday breakfast she made for him! Liam looks forward to playing the kindle when he gets home and to play with his 1 year old sister Kinley.


Meiha from New South Wales, Australia is 5 years old and was a bit nervous about her first day of Kindergarten  29 kids are in her class! So it was a good thing that her best friend Alisha and some other kids from daycare were there, too! She usually leaves home at 8:50am and returns around 3:30pm. It's a 10 minutes' walk. She takes snacks and lunch like sandwiches, fruit and crackers. Her favorite subjects are crafts and writing (I can see a DIY blogger in the future! ;-) When Meiha gets home she likes to play outside. With two older sisters, Ayeiesha (11) and Sierra (8) and two younger brothers, Dredon (3) and baby Callem (8 months old) life is definitely never dull!
Andrew is 6 and lives in Pennsylvania. He started 1st grade this summer. As he is the youngest of three kids, he just about knows the drill. His school is only a mile away, but the "way" leads through muddy, rough terrain, so he and two of his buddies take the bus at 8:15am. Andrew brings chicken nuggets, fruit, veggies and pretzels for lunch. He is just about best friends with everyone. When he gets home at 3:30pm he likes to play outside, otherwise he is a Wii player. When his dad needs to go to the office to work on a project, Andrew thinks that Daddy is building the Eiffel Tower out of popsicle sticks, isn't he cute?

Ryan, Andrew, Victoria

Malin is 4 years old and lives in Bern, Switzerland. She is a new Kindergartner. Her brother Jonas is 6 and started 1st grade. Both are being walked to school by their mom - about a 10 minutes walk. 

Jonas and Malin
Stunning view from Malin and Jonas' balcony

Kindergarten is from 9-11:50 on mornings plus one afternoon 1:45 - 3:10pm. Malin and her class are currently learning about bears; Jonas studies squirrels. She likes to draw or play with her dolls, he sings and does sports. Both kids' favorite snack is a Müesli bar. 

Unlike her big brother who happens to get punished for chatting during class, Malin always behaves well. That is, when she gets to wear what she likes. Otherwise it's "no, not this!!!" and she grabs something else from the closet. Never to early to start, little lady!

Saya was one of Colin's friends at the airport daycare. In the meantime, Saya lives in Singapore and attends 2nd grade. Her school is located at the open countryside, so the kids share the schoolyard with monkeys and snakes. The other day they couldn't go out to play during recess. A monkey had died, and the other monkeys went wild.

(Colin, when he was 3), Saya, then 4

PS: Find out: are you an a** mom?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Getting Organized, Step 6: don't procrastinate

Are you the type who gets everything done right away? I need you as my coach!

I don't know whether it is because I have too much to do, or if it's just my nature. Probably both. Just look at how long it took to write this blog post. 

On July 24 I wrote, no, I promised, I would tackle one of the 8 steps to get organized and report back about my progress every week. So this post was theoretically due Sept 6 - today is... well... still September! 

Phew, that's not too bad, right? Considering I set up this whole kids birthday party. You can't really see it in those pictures, but the living room is much less cluttered than before. Even one of the visitors noticed and said so :-) At least I reached this goal without going here:

The internet is full of tips and tricks on how to get better about (not) procrastinating. I like this Swedish guy, Henrik's positivity blog: 7 ways to move beyond procrastination

I like no 3 "create a flow - instead of doing nothing, do something" and no 7 "work on something for just five minutes", only I know that once I start with the five minutes and for example lay out all the papers I need to sort, I will create a mess that needs to be cleaned up, which takes more than five minutes. So if I start, I want to get it all done. 

Happened today. I needed to find instructions on how to upload and insert pictures onto our #@$!%* charity website which I should have done a while ago. Sorted out invoices, pay slips, insurance policies for two hours, did not find what I was looking for, but at least threw away stuff and have all the charity paperwork in one pile place now. 
Other times "if I start, I want to get it all done" is a stumbling block that keeps me from getting started in the first place. 

Except the consequences will be bad. It can be simple things. If I don't move my a*** to the market, there will be no dinner. Or, I want to wear a specific clothing item tomorrow - so I need to do laundry today. Deadlines work, too. Like Colin's birthday party was coming up if I was ready or not, and I'd rather be prepared! Now I only need to know what day will be the first day of snow, and I'll make sure to make that tire changing appointment for the day before! Because I don't have chains and I certainly don't know how to put them on ;-) Not that we usually get that much snow around here.

I don't quite agree with "don't manage" and "don't (over) prioritize", because I can get distracted and side-tracked easily. At the end of the day I might have done something, but not what I needed to do.

As part of a hiring process many years ago, I had to hand in a handwriting sample, and that psychologist later told me "you've got great ideas and enthusiasm, but you've GOT to bundle your energy! You are the driver of your carriage, and you have to make sure that all the horses run into the same direction - otherwise you'll never arrive at your destination!" 
No kidding! 

Now I wonder about my horses. If I've got horses to haul me to places, who / where are they, and how do I get them to move? 
  • Are they all inside of me and need to get past my weaker self? Think self-motivation? Reward system? 

  • Are appliances my horses? Dishwasher, steamer, laundry machine, dryer,..? I want to take the opportunity to thank them for their loyal services! 
  • Are the people around me my horses, and I need to ask for their help? Kinda hate that. What if they don't do it right or don't do it at all?

I will need to reflect more on that - tomorrow!

One can still dream - right?
PS: Remember the unsolved shoe rack situation?? This very moment I get an e-mail from my old ex-boyfriend, yes the one who "Buster" is all about! He seems to be doing some purging in his life as well and wants to get rid of this cabinet, and obviously, back in the days, I told him I wanted it! I vaguely remember, but really what does it matter, I need this piece!!

PPS: Are ex-boyfriends my horses? Too bad I don't have more of them ;-)

PPPS: I found the website instructions... On the nightstand pile!!! So now you can find some pictures of our recent activities.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

5 years old

Dear Colin,

As I am putting those pictures together I can't believe how fast those past five years went by. One day a baby, the next day a big boy attending Kindergarten. And I can only assume that the next five years will pass equally quickly, and I will see less of you.

I want to thank you for the joy and laughter you are bringing to our lives. You are a smart, charming and observant guy, and I have no doubt that you will be very successful in whatever you will be doing one day.

Have a wonderful birthday :-)





Watch the birthday cake video here - I can't seem to be able inserting it the easy way!?



Saturday, September 14, 2013

Colin's Birthday World Trip - Version 2013

I have been offline for a while - busy organizing Colin's birthday party. Last year he wanted a world trip theme. I implemented all the ideas I had and was a bit at a loss when this year he wouldn't embrace a pirate or cowboy theme and instead announced he wanted an ice hockey party or something with countries, flags and planes again

Luckily I had purchased a cricut mashine a while ago and added a "destinations" feature. So the invitations were suitcases with sightseeing stickers.

Thank you, Pinterest for providing ideas for activities! 

I tried hard and long!
Can you believe the litte guy wanted more planes from all the other airlines..?
Now that we've got a plane, what are we going to do with it? I had the guys set up a runway and I printed out food items like coconut, pineapple, coffee,... which the little pilots would need to procure from the appropriate continents:

They did great - even found some popcorn!
Speaking of pilots, I didn't have the opportunity to order these cute pilot hats 

so I had to improvise and download some party props. They were fun, too:

We played sightseeing / flag lotto:

Painted the Eiffel Tower:

Look at the talented artists!
And had some donuts - store bought, after the ones I test baked had failed miserably!

Kids have an admirable amount of energy! They were running around outside while I prepped for the parents' happy hour and started thinking about going to sleep early tonight...

Not all the kids' moms and dads made it to a glass of wine at our place - Jessica and Romina's parents had spent the afternoon at the hospital giving birth to baby boy Timon Dominik! Congratulations :-)