Thursday, August 23, 2012

All The First Days of School

As we come to the close of our second week in school, I’d like to write a few words about the first week of school. I am absolutely finished with the defining “first” moment of school. That’s too much pressure for this nutcase. I took the machine gun approach to celebrating the return to class.

There was not one single moment of reflection and melancholy, but a whole blob of them coming at me fast and furious. So many of my friends and family have asked about Mason’s first-first day. Did he cry? How did you do? Yada yada and all that.

Well, here’s the thing. No one cried. Well, no one from our family cried as they walked into class on the first day that attendance was taken. But there were some tears. Since everyone is looking for a sob story, I'll piece it together here.

On New School Year’s Eve the kindergarten teacher hosted an ice cream social. Brilliant. There was ice cream, no tears. Well, except from me when I watched her love on another person’s kid that I didn’t even know. She was so amazing that I teared up with awe at her ability to love small, grubby, children who were for all intents and purposes strangers to her. I also breathed a major, and I do mean major sigh of relief.

Then there was the meet-and-greet. This is a new tradition at our school. It’s like freshmen orientation for everyone, all grades, all students, plus parents. It’s also the day you haul all your school supplies to school. They take attendance, which is to say they check to see who brought 4 reams of paper, 120 paper plates, 100 gallon-sized ziplocks, 48 sharpened pencils, 24 glue sticks, etc. I know for a fact that when I started school back in 1980 all of my school supplies fit nicely in my backpack. Someone needs to teach the district about supply-chain management and the power of buying in bulk. Wait, that’s another post for another day.

No one cries at the meet-and-greet. We had some nerves. Namely Mason absolutely could not bring himself to eat breakfast. But Cooper was delighted to see his buddies and settled into his seat in the middle of his very favorite people. Cooper’s teacher has previously taught 6th graders. I believe that 2nd graders will try her patience, but could not be happier with her level of expectation.

As we walked the halls of school we bumped into our friendly principal several times. He’s a greeter and a small-talker. So, he spoke to us at least 3 times in the 2 hours we were on campus. Mason yanked on my skirt and asked, “Who’s that strange guy? He’s everywhere.”

Following a very busy but mostly positive day we drove to Mason’s swimming lesson. Guess who was sitting in the lobby of our swim school?!?!!? Our principal! Mason stood still in his flip-flops but did not say a word. He went into his lesson and I proceeded to explain to the principal why it was a special treat to see him outside of school. When Mason was done with his lesson he leaned in and whispered to me, “See, I told you he. Is. EVERYWHERE.”

Please note Coop's choice of socks.
By Tuesday we were all photographed to pieces. But this was the real first-day of school. The boys elected – independently – to wear matching, highlighter-yellow shirts. (Jenn Webinaci you better find this reference amazing.) Then, we were late. We were late to the FIRST day of school! Yes, we’re those parents. So, Cooper ran to his line all by himself and barely waved goodbye. Steve and I walked with Mason to his.

Again, the amazing kindergarten teacher led the kids in a cheer about having no fear and being brave. This cheer was for the parents. Then she posed with each child for a picture. Then they went into class. Mason did not cry. I did not cry. Steve did not cry (well, maybe he did but he wears really dark sunglasses). Then my bestie came up to me and gave my arm a squeeze and I wanted to cry, but I did not. The corner of one eye got a little wet, but it could have been allergies.

Kisses all around and parting of ways and I was off to start my new life as mother with things to do without two in tow. I didn’t miss them until 2:30 when I would normally be picking up Mason from preschool. Then I basically drummed my fingers for an hour before I picked them up.

No one cried. Well, not until Thursday evening in the car. All good questions come while driving in the car. Mason blurted, “Hey mom, when is my half day?”

“Oh buddy. You don’t have half days anymore. You’re all grown up.” Then I looked back to see his response.

His chin actually quivered, he sniffed. Then he bravely blinked away a tear and a half, and stated, “OK, I can handle it.”

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pinterest Myths

As you know I have a penchant for debunking myths – except when I’m promoting them. Now that the kids are back in school I’m going to hope the myth of having more time proves to be false. Already I’ve taken on some Pinterest projects to make my life more fabulous. (That last bit should be read with a hint of sarcasm.)

The recipes.

Pinterest recipes are a literal mixed bag of fantastic ideas, foodie impossibilities, Mormon casserole crap, and a fair share of alcoholic non-sense. Or at least the ones I seem to be drawn to and pin. Here’s the key to getting your recipe pinned on Pinterest, take a good picture of it. And here in enters the first myth. Food that looks good doesn’t necessarily taste good.

I used to work in television, so I knew this was true. You see, we used to say they could call this smellevision. Namely half of the folks on air have actually been up all night and haven’t showered in a while – especially when it is flood and fire season. But they can do wonders with MAC Studio Fix in the back of a live truck and make themselves look good from the waist up. Same is true for food photographed and pinned on Pinterest.

This comes as no surprise to anyone, yes?

I don’t usually take pictures of food. I’m not a food photographer and I usually like to eat up before I plate up and make it look all fancy. Plus, I’m not trying to make a career of food reviews. But I do like to share what I’ve learned. In fact, I’m a bit of an over-sharer.

This week I have made three (for reals) Pinterest recipes.

1.     The Pizzadilla from Budget Bytes.
2.     The 2-Ingredient Berry Cake from The Frugal Girls.
3.     The Cheesy Chicken Tater Tot Casserole from The Country Cook.

First things first, the Pizzadilla. Not a lot of mystery here. Basically it’s a quesadilla with Italian insides. Easy to make, easy to eat. My family ate it with no complaints. It whips up in about 4 minutes and you could basically use this model to get rid of any leftovers in your fridge. I say you should try it.

Next, the 2-Ingredient Berry Cake. I believe one pinner said something like, "this tastes SOOOOO good and is good for you." It got my attention because it had a cake mix (I’m a sucker for a cake mix recipe.) and it had pie filling. Also, it appeared to be easy. It was easy to prepare. It tasted good for about the first 15 minutes after you pull it out of the oven. After that, it was just a heavy pan of goo. I don’t for one minute think it’s healthy. If I were you, I’d pass.

And finally, the Cheesy Chicken Tater Tot Casserole. I am as enamored with tater tots as cake mixes. So, this was a no-brainer.  This is a slow cooker recipe but could be done in the oven. I messed up when it came to following directions – surprise, surprise – and completely skipped all steps following the layer ingredients in your slow cooker step. That means, I didn’t add all the ingredients and frankly I thought it tasted just fine. This recipe is not healthy. I made it using real bacon, and frankly I think the real bacon is what saved it when I forgot the other ingredients (milk). It’s not really pretty and it comes out kinda like a mash. We served it in bowls and the kids kept thinking it was scrambled eggs. At one point my husband asked, “Is there rice in this?” No rice, just completely unrecognizable components.  If that doesn’t scare you away, please know this did taste good and appealed to my Utah Pioneer roots. It tasted exactly like funeral potatoes with chicken and bacon added.

So, go you out into the world of Pinterest food boards and get your cooking on. But please, report back!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Kindergarten, II

See this picture?

On a campus far, far away in a decade long, long ago.

I’m the one in the ever-so-striking pleated shorts, too much make up, and earrings that are large enough to pick up AM/FM radio. It’s significant, however, because that short imp in second row sent it to me via text message just a few days ago. And guess why she had it? Because our university was going to throw it away. Apparently our legacy is obsolete. We’re old. They took our picture out of the frame and probably put new “kids” in – ones that definitely are not wearing pleated shorts – and threatened to throw it away if no one claimed it.

This blow to the ego was the horse pulling the dreaded cart of a new stage in life. My Masaroni is growing up and stuff. That’s right, the littlest starts kindergarten in less than 48 hours.

Oh yeah, he's that cute.

I’ve been worrying more about how I feel about this. But then, in a quiet voice Mason asked me, “How long until I go to my new school?” There was obvious uncertainty fluttering in his eyelashes. The kind that makes a mother gasp in her heart of hearts and choose her next words very, very carefully. At the time it was a mere two sleeps. In fact, it was this afternoon and he is to report to class on Monday morning. Explaining this time period brought a silence in him that was more silent than usual.

With hesitation I asked him if he was nervous. Pregnant pause. “I don’t know,” he muttered.

“Well, you know," I started, “The Coop will be just down the hall; you can ask your teacher to go and get him.” Mason nodded, thoughtfully.

“You are going to rock kindergarten! They will love you!” I said with just a touch of desperation in my voice.

I knew I should be asking him what he was afraid of, but I also knew if I asked I would cry when I, a) admitted to myself that he was afraid, and b) heard why he was afraid. Also, I am afraid. I am afraid that if my kindergartener leaves the home campus, I’ll step even closer to the “old” that my alma matter has labeled me.

This isn’t my first kindergartener. You’d think I was an old pro at this talk. But, Coop was… I mean is a different type of student. He can’t wait for school to start. He, frankly, thought very little of the first day of school that first year, or this year. He shooed us away when we tried to take pictures and make a big deal of it. Then he walked into class. Didn’t even look back, or hug us, or cry.

Darn it.

I felt cheated that year. Wasn’t nostalgia supposed to drip off the day? Isn’t the first day of kindergarten for the first child you send the very reason Jackie-O sunglasses have never gone out of fashion? I had no running mascara to hide that day. But this year, I suspect this year will be – wetter. Crying-er. Maybe down right pathetic-er.

And Hooorah! Right?

If I missed out on something last time, should I be happy I’ll definitely get it this time? This very last time. Sigh. Nope. I think I’m wishing for some courage for the both of us. Which feels better? That your child hang onto your leg, shed some tears, and hesitate as he crosses the threshold of the classroom? Or should we all wish that our kids bound in, take a seat, and excitedly breathe in the scent of freshly sharpened pencils? I’ll report back once I’ve had a taste of both.

For now, good luck to my two favorite students. Both of you. You have each other. You will be liked at school. And you will be missed here at home. Got any suggestions what I should do with myself?

Monday, August 6, 2012

I Grew These

I planted two trees on behalf of my boys. One was a cherry tree -- planted for Cooper, and the other was an apricot tree -- planted for Mason. The trouble with the cherry tree is that all the cherries were eaten by the birds (I'll have more on the birds, later). 

But Mason treasured his harvest. 

What is unfortunate is that Mason will never meet Nels Nelson. Nels is my grandpa, who had one of the largest apricot trees I've ever seen. When I would visit his house at a particular time of year, I could hardly stand the smell of the backyard. It was sickeningly sweet with the smell of overripe apricots. 

Our little tree is merely a branch. But someday, I hope it grows to rival that old apricot tree in the back of Nels' house. I also think, my little Mason is going to grow to be as big and strong and softhearted as my grandpa Nels.