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 toddler (11)

    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.

     

    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…

    Tuesday
    Jun172014

    Judging drivers by cars

    For the past week, my family has been here visiting. In order to accommodate everyone, we had to rent a vehicle, and when it came time to select what to rent, the only two vehicles that would fit everyone were a minivan and an SUV. I was not looking forward to driving a minivan but we thought it would be easier for my dad to get in & out of (he has physical difficulties) than the SUV, and probably more spacious for everyone crammed inside. So I reluctantly hit reserve.

    Turns out it is awesome. With one notable exception of black leather seats - a bad idea anywhere in the summer but most especially so in Phoenix- it was undoubtedly the right choice. Comfy seats, enough room for everyone, cup holders galore, and...an entertainment system that allows us to play movies. Okay, yeah yeah, those have been around awhile, I guess, but not for those of us driving a 2001 vehicle. So we decided that Dawdler Toddler would get to ride in the "special vacation van" to take advantage of watching Cars...in a car. Her little mind was blown. The very first thing she said to me after getting in the van & me showing her that it played movies was "Mommy? How come our truck doesn't play movies?!?" And she cried when we told her we had to take the van back last night.

    I always knew our kids would eventually judge us for driving a piece of crap car. I just never thought that would happen before one was even 3 years old.

    Tuesday
    Jun102014

    Curses

    This morning walking out the front door, the strap on one of my shoes broke. "Oh shit," I said.

    "Oh shit!" a tiny voice right behind me immediately echoed.

    Upon hearing this anecdote, My Better Half groaned "ohhhhh shit. Wonder what else our little sponge repeats."

    Monday
    Jun092014

    Hair don't

    Yesterday was my first haircut in ages. I generally have low-maintenance hair, and it doesn't bother me if it's longer than usual, but ever since I had kids, all I can see when I look in the mirror are the gray hairs sprouting here and there, so it drives me nuts if I don't get in every 8 weeks. But it had been more like 11 weeks since my last appointment due to me having to reschedule, then my hairstylist having to reschedule and then forgetting that she had rescheduled me, which meant that she had to work me in among already-scheduled clients on a weekend. But I was just relieved to finally get in and address my gray hair problem at its roots.

    When it came time for me to leave for my appointment, Dawdler Toddler insisted on coming along. I didn't mind, though I did try to convince her going to the salon is not all that fun for her in that it's loud, has strangers everywhere, and involves sitting and waiting a lot. In other words, her worst nightmare. But she wanted to come and who am I to say no to that cute little face? In the past, my stylist has said to bring her in with me to an appointment and she'd trim her hair & give her a cute little 'do for no charge. I texted my stylist beforehand to check if it was okay if I brought her and she said of course! That's one of the many reasons I like my stylist -  she's got a daughter the same age and understands the rigamarole of hauling a toddler around.

    So Dawdler Toddler sat patiently while I got my hair colored (or "painted" as she said) and waited for the color to set, she sat patiently while my hair got trimmed, dried, and flat ironed. And then the heartbreaking part: we got escorted to the desk to pay "Thanks for coming! Here's your next appointment!" As I mentioned, my stylist had to work me in among standing appointments, and so she had 2 or 3 other women to attend to and didn't want to fall behind. So I get it - not having time to do a cute little do, but Dawdler Toddler was in tears. "That was supposed to be MY turn! What about my haircut?!" 

    I felt terrible.  But, I told her, you're getting older and with that comes some tough lessons. Like this is just the first of about a million times a stylist will disappoint the crap out of you, if my lifetime of experience is any predictor.