a little bit more about me

My name is Beth and I accidentally have found myself living in Arizona but I'm originally from Tennessee. My education is in history and anthropology, which means that I know a little about a lot of things and can hold my own at a cocktail party in mixed company. I work in museums, doing all sorts of things ranging from researching and writing exhibits to cataloguing absolute wickety wak. I love comedy, baking, photography, my daughter, dogs, and above all else, napping.*

* 2013 edit: Oh yeah, and my new son too.

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    Entries in parenting (7)

    Thursday
    Nov062014

    Let's Make Everything Harder for Parents, Shall We? (Part 2)

    When last I wrote about figuring out how to get Dawdler Preschooler into a preschool, as in a "real" preschool, not the "preschool" room at her daycare, which is where she currently is, we were practically driven to drink by demystifying all the horribly disorganized information provided by the district. We have finally made a *little* progress, so an update. Spoiler: it's still nearly impossible to get through the red tape of getting information.

    Whenever we call to ask a question about something that's unclear from the crazy disorganized and inconsistent information that is scattered across the district website, individual school websites, and the state department of education website, we get asked "Have you checked the website?"UGH.

    We have narrowed it down to 3 preschools that have certified early childhood education teachers AND an after-school program. Y'know, for those of us who don't consider 7:40-11:40 a HALF DAY and have to keep working past 11:40. But when we try to schedule tours of each, we were told "Since the curriculum is the same at every district preschool, you have to choose one to tour." Uh, so entirely dismissing the critical point that the individual teachers and their levels of experience and commitment making all the difference in the world? Eh, any teacher will do as long as they follow the provided curriculum and lesson plans, I guess. (Sarcasm, in case that's not crystal clear).

    Even better though: one of those 3 options gives families a choice between a "traditional" preschool and a Montessori environment. So, maybe we should schedule our one and only tour at that one? "Okay, that's fine. You'll schedule your preschool tour with us, and then let me give you the number of this ENTIRELY DIFFERENT DEPARTMENT to schedule a SEPARATE TOUR of the Montessori class environment." Oh, lovely. Two different people to call. And they can't coordinate tours on the same day because WHY WOULD YOU?

    But wait. So once we schedule our SEPARATE tours of the preschool and Montessori at the same school and want to talk with and observe the after- or before-school care (depending on if she goes to morning or afternoon preschool), that is scheduled, can you guess? By a third, entirely distinct department, here let me give you the number to schedule a tour with OMG, just STOP.

    We'll just save ourselves a crap load of time and headache and logistical nightmares and decide here and now to unschool? Let's just roll with that. I might as well put all this time & energy of tracking district contacts down and returning messages and waiting on people to schedule tours into planning out her K-12 curriculum.

    Kidding!

    Sort of.

     

    Saturday
    Jul122014

    How to avoid bath time antics

    Recipe for ensuring your kids smell straight-from-the-bath fresh and clean with a minimum of difficulty and effort:

    Have older child scrub your face with their bath soap during imaginary bath time. Do not rinse.

    The rest of the day any time you cuddle or hold your child, you will think "Awww. You smell SO good."

    Thursday
    Jul102014

    Let's Make Everything Harder for Parents, Shall We?

    A conversation in our house this morning:

    Me: “…so the bottom line is, yes, Dawdler Toddler can start preschool next month, & there’s still availability, we just have to decide which of the 10 preschools in the district we want her to go to.”

    My Better Half™: “why not just the one in walking distance to which we are zoned?”

    Me: “No preschool there.”

    My Better Half™: “So just send her to the closest one in our district that has a preschool.”

    Me: “oh, sure. You’d think it would be that easy. But here’s the tricky part: preschool in our district is 4 days a week…no school on Wednesdays…and you choose the morning half day, which ends at 11:20 OR the afternoon half day that ends at 3:20…”

    My Better Half™: “…can’t you just do both to get a full day that’s 8:20-3:20? Even though that's NOT A FULL DAY at anybody's work?!”

    Me: “…no, because it’s exactly the same school day, just repeated twice.”

    My Better Half™: “…so what are we supposed to do with her after the morning or before the afternoon? And ALL DAY EVERY Wednesday?”

    Me: “…that’s an even bigger question. So there’s a before/after school program for those of us who, I dunno, work and stuff? But it’s only offered at some of the 10 preschools. There is one full-day option – it’s a Montessori multi-age classroom, but that’s only at 1 of the 10 preschools… and we’d be committing to the Montessori track…which I’m not sure I’m on board with…and anyway we would have had to registered forever ago because there’s a waitlist for that.”

    My Better Half™: “…okay, so I guess we do the preschool that’s closest to us AND has one of these before/after school programs.”

    Me: “…agreed. So now we get to the next question. Of the preschools that also have the before/after school programs, which of those do we want her to go to Kindergarten at?”

    My Better Half™: “…okay, now you’re just talking crazy. She’s only 3!”

    Me: “…yeah, I know. But here’s the thing: Since our elementary school, the one in walking distance, doesn’t have a preschool, she can either go to preschool wherever we choose and then switch at kindergarten to where we’re zoned OR continue on to kindergarten wherever we send her to preschool. There’s this thing where if your elementary school doesn’t have a preschool, and as a result you send your kid to a district preschool somewhere else, you can choose to continue on at that school where she started for kindergarten & elementary – y’know, so your kid doesn’t have to make all new friends at a new school all over again. So it’s really a question of where do we want her to ultimately go to kindergarten & elementary school.”

    Both of us: <banging head on counter>

    Me: “…and there’s actually kinda significant differences in curriculum & in quality in the different district elementary schools that also have preschools so…”

    ----

    Is it absolutely bonkers that we’re talking about WHERE TO SEND OUR JUST-TURNED-3-YEAR-OLD to kindergarten?! Is this INSANE or normal these days? Hard to tell…

    Friday
    Apr252014

    Bringing children & work together every day

    Yesterday, at least at my workplace, was Bring Your Child to Work Day. It was also, at least in my job, Bring Work to Your Children Day. Aka Thursday. Aka my telecommuting day.

    I think when you say 'telecommute' a lot of people picture some kind of tech startup employee who works from cooler-than-thou hipster coffee joints all day. In my case you should envision me surrounded by the detritus of toddler & baby toys trying to respond to emails with one hand while nursing and shushing Baby with the other, sipping room temperature coffee all day (so as not to burn Baby when he inevitably flings his hand into the mug sending its contents all over my applesauce and GoGurt-encrusted jeans). I've telecommuted one day a week ever since the nearly 3 year old Dawdler was born - and it was fine when it was just her. Now my telecommuting day just feels so overwhelming. It's impossible to compartmentalize anything. I'm trying to work while also pick up the ever-growing clutter around the house, I'm trying to put away laundry amidst work and a crying Baby, and I'm trying to convince the toddler Dawdler to shuffle off to daycare so I can focus on only two things at once, with the ability to give neither my full attention.

    It's nearly impossible to give my full attention to anything at all anymore, least of all myself. I get it, it's a mom thing to never have any time to myself, but for crying out loud, I've got to find some time for myself. At my cubicle, I'm occupied with work. At home, I'm occupied with the kids. And during the rushed commute in between? I'm trying to slough off the day's work and get into parenting mode with no space for my own occupations in between.

    I have turned to working out before to solve this problem and decompress. Before I had kids, I went to the gym every night right after work before I got home. Now that just seems unfair to My Better Half. Right now, he has the responsibility of getting the kids up, dressed, fed, and off to daycare (and in the case of Baby, full-time parenting some days of the week), on top of adjuncting and trying to write and make dinner and. And, and, and. So it feels awfully selfish of me to tack on an extra couple of hours to his days to stop off at the gym for myself. When I explained this to someone, they said "oh! So that's just mommy guilt! You gotta shut that sh*t down."

    Please don't 'just' that. That 'just' you threw in there implies that it's all in my mind, that it's 'just' a small problem, that it's insignificant. Baby is now 7 months old and I've never managed to get in a single workout or find any regular routine of time for myself since he was born. That doesn't feel insignificant. Sure, it's true that this is just a phase, as my mom says. But it doesn't feel temporary living in the midst of this phase.

    So until I can sort this out and/or afford a gym membership, you'll excuse me while I carve out time for myself at the bottom of this bag of Pepperidge Farm Molasses Crisp cookies. It's 'just' one bag. A week.

    Sunday
    May062012

    Excessively Permissive Parenting, Take 2

    Yesterday I was at the receiving end of a woman bitching about me to her 3 year old because I wouldn't accommodate her excessively permissive parenting in letting her 3 year old manhandle Baby's face.

    Excessively permissive parenting seems to be a theme this weekend.

    I just came back from Target, and in the baby section was a woman and her son, maybe 2 1/2 years old. Her son had taken something off the shelf and was running around with it in a game of Chase Me! He thought it was delightful, but the mom...not so much. So what did she do? She repeated "[Name], stop that." At least 26 times.

    I stopped counting after the first few dozen times. I don't mean to sound like old-fashioned here, but hey, why not? I'm Officially Old™, anyway. But back in my day, no parent would have let their child get away with that. Do you know why your son wasn't stopping it? Because your threats and warnings were...idle. They lacked any consequences and I guess you're too tired to make an effort to redirect his attention to something else. If it didn't work the first 20 times to tell him to stop, what makes you think that continually requesting that he stop will work?