Friday, June 6, 2014

First Grade....

In five hours Addie will get off the bus for the last time this year.   First grade will be history.  And I find myself unexpectedly teary.  If I am this emotional about first grade ending, how will I ever survive high school graduation?
This year has been phenomenal for Addison.  In the words of her teacher, whom I adore, Addison has truly blossomed. 
Without a doubt she started the year excited, but anxious.  She didn't go to St. James in Kindergarten, and was one of only nine new kids in the three first grade classes.  She needn't worry; within days I was being told stories of Lily and Riley and Alyson and Melanie.  I heard about Noah and Charlie and Jack and Joseph.  Every day I was told about their routine; about morning work and journaling and computer class and whatever other wonderful thing happened.
At our first teacher conference, Andy and I were told what a conscientious student Addison was becoming, almost to a fault, as her teacher said Addie was her own worse critic.  At the start of school Addison struggle a bit with reading, particularly her fluency. Now books are a huge part of her day, we give her a  few minutes at bedtime to just read to herself, more nights than not, I take her book out of her sleeping hands as I head to bed.  Just the other day Andy came inside from the patio and declared Addison was obviously my child - she was curled up in one of our Adirondack chairs reading a book of fairy tales silently to herself.
The worst spelling grade she got this year was a ninety percent - and you would have thought we told her the world was ending.  She has maintained solid As in all subjects, including that Spanish class that she hates so much. 
Addison's writing has also improved by miles.  She loves to write and illustrate stories and works very hard to spell everything correctly.  I find scraps of paper daily with notes to Andy, Brenna or me, sometimes telling us she loves us, sometimes a poem or short story.  I love her imprecise, yet perfect, first grade scrawl.
She worked very hard this year on several written projects for school.  She wrote about Saint Joseph, President John Adams and the Red Panda.  With each project she worked hard to find out about her subject and took enormous pride in illustrating her report - those too, were marked Outstanding by her teacher.

First grade had its rougher days too.  Turns out girl drama starts early and often occurs at recess or the lunch table.  Who you sit with or play with or talk to can really influence your day - or so I learned.  I am biased, of course, but it seemed that Addie wasn't often the drama creator, but nonetheless was easily sucked into the drama of her six and seven year old friends. 
I know of only three times that Addie had a truly bad day at school.  One was in the first few months, when one of the little boys in another first grade class punched her in the stomach as they were on their way to the bus.  She had been complaining that he was bothering her and wasn't until then that I realized how serious it was.  Her teacher took care of it as soon as I reached out to her and, luckily,  I never heard his name mentioned again.  Her second tough day was when she was fired from being class messenger.  Addie had separated from her partner while running school errands and her teacher, who was strict but fair, took the job away.  Addison cried for a day or two; but it was a wonderful lesson learned on listening to directions.    Finally, just in the last weeks of school Miss Thang started to become very forgetful on bringing home all her homework assignments - after her second or third time forgetting an assignment she lost five minutes of recess time and had to "stand on the line".  When I asked her how that felt, she said it felt like much longer than five minutes.  A shining star moment though - Addison never had to move desks and ended the year in the exact same spot she started in, meaning she never got reprimanded for her behavior in the classroom. 

In this year, she has grown in so many immeasurable ways.  She is compassionate and patient.  She is generous and intuitive.  She is deeply creative and very spiritual.   She has grown in noticeable ways too - she's gone up one and a half shoe sizes.  We had to get onto my lap, but she scarcely fits. 

Two nights ago, as  I tucked her in, she told me, with a few tears, that she was really sad that school was ending.  She was going to miss her teacher and the learning that she does each day.  I assured that second grade would be just as wonderful and she looked at me with those eyes that know so much and said I just don't see how, Mama.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

In two months time

 It may have all started with my new iPad Mini.  Or maybe with my attempt to work out consistently.  Or perhaps it was that my baby started to talk and then never.stopped.never.  Truly, I don't know, I don't have a specific answer why this glimpse into my life got put to the side, but it did.  I keep saying I am going to make time,  find time, but rarely do I.   It's been two months since I've powered up this page to write.  Two months.  In the words of the great Vizzini "inconceivable".

So here's recap of the past two months, more or less. 

Brenna is a busy little bee.  She loves the playground, the zoo, going to the YMCA and exercise class with me.  She likes to explore our backyard, the new garden and our neighborhood.  She, like her big sister, is a chatterbox.  She never.stops.talking.  Okay, she does take a break to sleep, after she rambles to herself until she passes out.   She also pauses to laugh, something she absolutely loves to do.  And she is forced to stop talking when she is screaming about a perceived injustice, which sadly happens several times a day.  Such injustice could be her toast cut in strips instead of squares, or having to wear her polka dot shoes instead of her red slip- ons.  So, you know, the really important stuff.

Miss B.  has always been a bit more cautious than her sister.  She is just as brave as Addie, but she really assesses her situation before acting.  She can now go up and down stairs unassisted, albeit slowly (goodbye baby gates forever). We have officially retired the baby swing and Brenna often complains that she wants to go on Addie's big swing (she is fine with her big girl swing that is lower to the ground, unless Addie is present.   In that case, she must have the higher swing).  Slides are her  thing though.  She loves to slide and begs to try every slide we pass.  And, like any good two-and-a-half year old, she loves, loves, loves bubbles.  We spend a lot of time, every day, blowing bubbles...kind of like another little girl I knew.

Our mornings, once the school bus has pulled away, are still spent snuggling watching Curious George and sometimes the Cat and The Hat.  Beyond those two shows, B isn't big into TV.  She likes Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First, but rarely sits to watch them.  She adores belting out Let it Go or Do you want to Build a Snowman but won't sit through the entire movie.  She is on the go, she is curious and inquisitive.  She thinks she can be sustained on snacks alone.
Brenna continues to be a total PITA when it comes to eating.   Some days, she eats virtually nothing.  If she had it her way she would exist entirely on fruit snacks, peanuts, milk and strawberries.  There are rare days that she eats whatever we put in front of her, we call those her eating days, but they are truly rare.  Most nights are the dinner table are a nightmare with us having to trick her into eating (don't you eat Cameron's pineapple!  That's not your chicken, don't you eat it!).  And while the eating thing is a pain, and a tad stressful being that she is just a wisp of a thing, we are rounding the corner on potty training.  Brenna is in undies all day except for nap times and bedtime.  She adores her Doc McStuffins and Elmo undies, and heartbroken if she lets a little pee
escape into them.  Two weeks ago she insisted that we no longer need her training potties and she pulled stools up the our regular toilets.  So far she has only fallen in once, and sadly I didn't have my camera handy!
Without a doubt, in the past two months Brenna has become quite a grown up girl, I can't say a big girl, as she has yet to register 25 pounds on the scale.  Such a peanut.

And then there is the endless Miss Addie E.  I call her Addie E. all the time, although a few weeks ago she turned those gigantic gray-green eyes toward me and said "Mamma, I really prefer to be called Addison."  Yep.  She really prefers that.  This past school year, and even these past two months, have really turned my baby into a kid.  A kid with opinions and ideas, a bit too much sass, and tons of energy and creativity.  In first grade Addie, er, Addison, has truly blossomed and bloomed.  She loves learning, and has, to my complete joy, fallen in love with reading.  We still read to her at night - sometimes picture books, sometimes chapter books.  Sometimes she does the listening, and sometimes she does the reading to us.  It's amazing.  In the last four weeks or so, since it is still light at bedtime, she reads a few more pages to herself after we've tucked her in.  Currently we are reading Ramona Quimby, Age 8.  We tried reading this a  year ago or so, but it was a bit beyond her, now it is right up her alley.  The other night she told me "Mom, just like Ramona has Silent Sustained Reading at school, so do I.  I love the part of the day when I can just read to myself."  My heart damn near burst.
It's not just reading that she's kicking butt at - it's school in general.  According to Addie she loves every single thing about school, except for Spanish because the teacher speaks in a different language and "how am I even supposed to understand her?".  In fact Addison told me a few months back that she wishes she could go to school all year long.  I resisted the urge to point at her and yell NERD...because, I totally felt the same way when I was younger.
She continues to be completely enthralled with all things Star Wars and is eagerly anticipating the release of the next episode - I don't think she realizes it doesn't come out until 2015.  She has informed that she "isn't really into" princesses anymore - well, unless those princesses are Elsa or Anna from Frozen.  If it's them, then she's totally still into princesses. 

Miss Thang has been doing dance all year and started soccer back up earlier this Spring.  I love that she continues to do both and love both.  This weekend is the big dance recital - don't worry, the Daddy Daughter dance will be back on stage!  Soccer is just starting to wind down, and Addison has already asked to be signed up for the Fall season.  The difference in her skill and understanding of the game this year compared to last is astounding.  She is a leader on her team, and while she hasn't scored any goals this season, she has blocked a few and assisted a few.

I don't know when I blinked and missed my chubby baby transform into a lithe and long little lady, but she has.  It's next to impossible for her to curl up on my lap, as she is not much shorter than me now.  We are constantly needing to buy new pants, as it seems as soon as we get them home they become floods on her.   Shorts are an absolute nightmare. 
I love her toothless smile and silly ways.  I hate homework time and trying to convince to keep her room tidy. I am not at all prepared for the preteen and teen drama, but I fear it may be just around the corner.

And then there is Andy and I.  We are just, as I often tell anyone who asks, living the dream.  We go to bed exhausted and wake up exhausted and in the middle of all that we make it happen.  Lawns are mowed, gardens are planted, car batteries are changed, cocktails on the patio are enjoyed.  We are both trying to be healthier, to hit the gym consistently, to eat slightly better, to guarantee that our little ladies get decades and decades more of our wisdom.
In April the two of us escaped to Napa and Sonoma for a  long weekend of sleeping, sipping wine and a small bit of silence.  Our summer is about to explode into trips to the beach, summer camps and busy weekends.   Andy is trying to get a few rounds of golf under his belt, I am trying to log a few more miles on to my sneakers, and we are both attempting not to miss all the little miracles and moments that happen each day.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I love you

When I was in high school, twentyersome years ago, there was a very nice boy I dated.  I had known him since we were in middle school, we had a lot of the same friends from our middle school years through high school graduation.  I thought he was adorable;  I am not sure if had ever thought of me before we starting dating.
But, yet, we dated.  Dated as fifteen year olds do - hung out after school, watched TV on the weekends with friends, ate ice cream at Ben & Jerry's.
Now that I think back on it, I have no idea how long we dated - weeks?  months?   Truly, my very fuzzy memory has no idea.  I do know that we eventually became friends after we broke up.  We have pictures together on graduation day.  He picked me up from the airport my sophomore year at college so that I could surprise my mom with an unscheduled visit.    When my mom was in the hospital after her mastectomy, he took me out to Ben & Jerry's, where we spent our silly teenaged dates, to comfort me with a milkshake.  Bottom line, he was good, kind guy.

One day, somewhere in our teenaged romance, he turned to me, in front of his locker, and said I love you.  He probably meant it as much as any fifteen year old boy could.  And I, in my ever sensitive and intuitive way, looked right at him and said Thank you
To his credit, he rolled with it and gave me a hug.  I, of course, went on to process every second of the interaction multiple times with multiple girlfriends.  One of them couldn't believe that I didn't say I love you back.  One of them gushed that I was so lucky.  One of them rolled her eyes and told me to give her a break.  Either way, he said I love you and I said thank you.

I hadn't really thought of that day or, really of him, in years.  Sure, I heard from him through Facebook a few years back and occasionally I see him tagged in a picture with his family.  Yet, in the past few weeks I can't help but think of him. 

You see, I tell my sweet daughters, as often as I can, that I love them.  Addison often plays a game with me called I love you.  It goes a bit like this - I love you bigger than the sky  I love you deeper than the ocean.  I love you to the moon and back.  I love brighter than the sun. We go back and forth like this over and over until one of us says I love you just the way you are.  Who ever says that first wins the I love you game.  We are pretty well tied in our score.

Brenna, however, when I say to her  I love you, looks up at me, with those chocolate brown eyes that look just like her father's, and says Thank you or I know or Yep.

I now think about how harsh my fifteen year old self was.  I was honest, but harsh.

I am hoping Brenna is not being harshly honest, just two and a half.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Mother Nature continues to mess with our minds in southwest Ohio.  One day it feels like Spring has finally graced us with her presence and the next there is snow falling on the ground and winter jackets once again being put on.   Unfortunately, this St. Patrick's day is one of the latter.  It is gloomy and cheerless and currently only 25 degrees.
Luckily for a moment this weekend there was enough sunshine to feel like a gin and tonic was in order (that may have been overly wishful thinking), an impromptu game of soccer in the front yard and plenty of bubbles on the driveway, topped off with steak on the grill.  All those wonderful things almost made up for the fact that it seems that we are running headlong into the start of the terrible threes. 
 I would love to tell you more about the threes, the horrific, bossy, opinionated threes, but right this minute I am being screeched at for attention, to get dat, to come here, to do it all NOW MOMMY.   {sigh}.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


This time last week my house was overflowing with people.  We stacked, for at least one night, twelve adults and six kiddos, throughout the house.  It was nothing short of barely contained chaos.  There were bodies and shoes and toys and cocktails everywhere you looked.  Most importantly, though, there was laughter.  Lots of wonderful, loud, raucous laughter.
The adults decided to take on yet another Cincy Winter Beerfest and the kiddos played under the watchful eyes of my wonderful neighbors.  But beyond Beerfest, the weekend was an excuse to get some old friends, with busy schedules, together for a few hectic, wonderful moments. 
There is a mountain of towels and sheets hibernating on my basement floor, I am still trying to catch up on sleep, but it all was so very worth it.
There is a beautiful ease in being with old friends that warms my heart.  The ability to laugh about old embarrassments, to understand unspoken words, to just sit and be.  Be comfortable.  Be supported.  Be happy.  And in all of that there is the beauty of watching the next generation form their bonds, watching them laugh and be silly and remind us how fortunate we all are to have them and each other. 

And large pretzel necklaces.  Large pretzel necklaces are a true blessing when it comes to Beer Festivals.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Photos on a Friday

We are defrosting around these parts.  The grass is showing, the cul-de-sac was full of kids on bikes yesterday, Addie hasn't worn tights to school for the past two days.   But not so long ago we were cooped up, sipping hot chocolate, trying to survive yet another snow day.
I was pretty sure that the snow days this year were going to be my demise.  They were novel and fun at first, but by our last one I was convinced Andy was going to have to hospitalize me.  I was out of crafty ideas, we had seen too many movies, I couldn't play anymore dolls or supermarket or blocks.  I needed school back in session.  This week is Addie's first full 5 day week of school since Thanksgiving.  No joke, she has had either a holiday, snow day, or early dismissal every week since the last week of November
Oops, I'm wrong.  Addie only had a four day school week because of Presidents Day. 
Good darn thing, I like these little ladies.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Oh, hi, there.
You're still here?  Really?  That is so kind of you.  I surely don't deserve the 30 seconds you just took to navigate your way over here.

So here we are - 2014.  The kitchen is cleaned up, Miss B Bear is still sleeping soundly even though it's 8:21 a.m.  The school bus left 35 minutes ago, I'm caught up on Game of Thrones, and my cup of coffee is begging to be enjoyed. 

Us Neyers survived the chaos of the holidays and the first of the year.  Our house is bursting at the seams with new toys and gifts.  Addison is heavily into her Rainbow Loom - she has gone to Rainbow Loom classes at Michael's, and we are now officially subscribed to a Rainbow Loom channel on YouTube.  If you need a pretty elastic accessory, we are the people to talk to.  Brenna's latest joys are playing MegaBlocks and coloring.  She builds towers and houses every day, and as much as she loves building, Andy and I are pretty convinced she likes cleaning up her blocks just as well.  Yesterday she spent several minutes standing about three feet from the blocks container trying to throw her blocks in it.  Each time she missed, which was every time, she would look confused and mutter Oh darn it, one her favorite things to say.  When she isn't immersed in blocks, she sits at the kitchen table scribbling masterpieces for neighborhoodShe has quite the color sense, I must say.

Over the course of the past few months I have found myself short on patience and quick to raise my voice.  It has been frustrating and borderline ridiculous - so this year instead of resolutions that I never follow, I thought I would just try to be a little more present, a little less distracted, a lot more patient.  So far it's going slightly better. 

Speaking of being better, we have decided to be slightly healthier humans over here.  Our family joined the YMCA at the end of October and Andy and I have both been working out at least three times a week since then.   Somehow being more active has parlayed into eating better too.  Our house has been well renowned for cream cheese products and pepperoni - these days you more than likely will find us snacking on hummus and skinny pop popcorn.   It's crazy.  There have been nights where our entire conversations revolve around what new exercise we did at the gym, our split times on the treadmill and what appropriate serving sizes are.  Don't get me wrong, people. our fridge is still well stocked with beer and wine, and when our friends suggested the house made donuts when we were out last weekend, we didn't think twice about sharing a double order.

They are predicting more snow and a freezing mix later this week - which means I'll be housebound, as Cincinnati shuts down at the mere mention of snow.  Perhaps I'll find a way back here for a bit - I'd like to.  I won't promise though because I just don't want  the guilt of breaking my word.