Falling

Anyone else feel like the world is kind of falling apart right now? Record hurricanes, wildfires, nuclear weaponry. I’m a wildfire scientist. I’m trying to channel my calm, educated brain to engage and remember that fire is a part of our landscape. And then I feel a little bit like crying because driving through the Columbia River Gorge was such a special part of my childhood. And then I feel like celebrating for all the woodpeckers and insects that are going to thrive in the post-fire environments that are being produced around the northwestern United States right now. It’s a very complicated feeling to watch a place you love burn when you’re a fire scientist.

I wonder if this is true for hydrologists who study the environmental impact of flooding, or if there is enough benefit from sediment enrichment to offset anything at all. We have friends in Puerto Rico right now and are waiting to hear how they came through Irma. There are places in the Caribbean that have been flattened. Not cities, but entire countries. What do you do when there isn’t another place to go?

I’m doubtful that anyone is pleased with the situation with North Korea though. Nuclear annihilation is an even more semi-permanent negative condition than a warmed climate.

In light of all the enormous changes that we are bringing about through simply going about our daily lives now, I feel like a lot of my time is spent thinking about how to create adaptability in my children. The single most useful trait in a changing world being being able to adapt to a broad range of conditions – something that we humans have already mastered, and will need to draw on deeply in the coming decades if we want to survive. We let our kids struggle with difficult things. I already see successes with Darwin. She’ll get frustrated, but if she really wants to do something, she’ll keep working. Sometimes she’ll ask for help, but often she wants to do things herself once she’s been shown how we do them. Linnea came out trying to do everything for herself, and so I see that personality is a big part of this trait as well. But having children has decidedly made me more aware and more concerned about the future, and today, about the present.

For those of you who are also struggling (and my friends, according to those in my life whose work is ministry, it’s all of us), I found this helpful.

Stay safe everyone.

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Pre-school and daycare: Week One

Darwin’s first week has seen lots of ups and downs. On the first day, she walked right into the classroom with only a little waiver that I’m pretty sure was the result of another kid who freaked out (a younger sibling, not even a classmate). She came home, played quietly by herself for over an hour. It was clear that being around so many people, even for a mere hour and fifteen minutes really wore her out. She even napped.

The second day was tears at the door to the point of walking away up the hallway, so I had to put her in the teacher’s lap and say goodbye and leave, hearing her sob as I walked down the corridor. That was the hardest day. She came home and was very tired. I carried her the whole 5 minute walk home. But she was excited that she got to play with puzzles again, and that there was some new game about being off and on the carpet (I’m looking forward to parent-teacher chats, because I know I’m getting about 3% of the whole story).

Day three, Leah did drop off, and she said it went better, but still involved placing Darwin in the teacher’s lap. I was hopeful that things were calming down a little. Then…

This morning was “I don’t want to be a preschooler anymore mama, I don’t want to go to preschool.” From the time she woke up. We got ready for the day and I reminded her that she had to go to preschool, and it was alright to be sad or upset about it, but that it wasn’t optional. Finally, as we neared our time to go, she doubled down and so I sat her down on the couch and tried, again, to find out why. Turns out she didn’t want to have to use the potty there. The teachers have asked that all the kids start the day by using the bathroom and washing their hands, and we hadn’t been so had started talking about it the night before. We are a five minute walk from home, and this kid pees like, once every six hours. I told her she didn’t have to pee, but she did have to wash her hands, and just like that she was fine and excited to go again. Oh boy. This kid has all the same anxiety traits that I showed when I was little. Once we worked through that though, she had no problems. Today she even walked right into the classroom after we said goodbye and had hugs.

Next week we move to three hour days with all 25 kids, so wish us all luck!

Linnea’s first week of care was also full of ups and downs. She is definitely having some separation anxiety, and I don’t know if I’ve said it before, but she doesn’t cry, she screams. Like, murder-movie, glass-shattering screams. And her caregivers are amazing and patient and text us throughout the morning.

Once the initial shock of mamas leaving wears off, she has a better time. She is searching out both J and D for comfort, and is now going between them as “home base”, which is delightful for us and them. She eats well when she’s there and she’s the oldest (a new experience!) of the three they are caring for. I love that she is getting lots of time with people who are able to really focus on her care, as much of the time we’ve had this summer has been juggling work and kids, and everything gets shorted! Plus, with work time that is dedicated, it means Leah has a little more non-work time once the girls are home.

All-in-all I would call this week a win. I feel like we’re finally on the road to a clear, semi-manageable schedule after years of juggling month-to-month and term-to-term, and I can feel my stress levels dropping. We’ll see how that goes when gymnastics and swim start up again at the end of September…

Changes

Both girls start morning care tomorrow. Linnea, 8-12, Darwin just 9-10:15 for the first week. It is…strange. I feel simultaneously nervous, and really, really happy that Darwin is about to have someone who isn’t me telling her to drink her water, how to do different work projects, and how to greet people politely. I feel mostly gleeful at the idea of Linnea playing with our friends and the other children they care for all morning. She needs more stimulation than our quiet household provides. As long as she doesn’t decide to scream for 4 hours…

This morning is the first time Darwin has said she doesn’t want to go to school. I think she’s feeling a little anxiety, which I hope is just normal new-thing anxiety. The teachers have a wonderful description of how to do drop off. Walk to the door, say goodbye and let her walk in. If she doesn’t walk in, put her in the teacher’s lap and head down the hall. I’ve gotten very good at the quick exit (not running away, but not trying to sooth a child who just *doesn’t want me to leave*), so I’m not too worried about it. I hope by tomorrow morning she’s excited again, but I’m allowing space for her to be upset at drop-off.

 

Childcare for Linnea

Our little bee is the same age Darwin was when we began our childcare swap with Darwin. This time around, however, we have even less time and energy, and so we were thrilled to find out about a new local childcare center that was opening this summer that would take kids part-time, and had a compatible approach to childcare as us. We were in, but then the center bumped back it’s opening twice, and still doesn’t have an opening date. There had been a handful of issues that cropped up before this, and we had been a little nervous already. The “heart of the city” ended up being a little farther than expected from work (though not prohibitively). Some of the funds being raised were through a crowdfunding site, which just felt a little odd. And finally, the center doesn’t require vaccinations other than pertussis (this was the last thing that we were informed of at our visit, and took us totally off-guard).

So the final straw, that it wouldn’t be open when Leah goes on-contract, made us realize that we really needed to reassess seriously what other options we might have. Well, we had a huge stroke of luck. A couple of our friends (one who is in Leah’s program, in fact), decided to start an in-home childcare operation this year. And they have one spot left (unlicensed, they can take up to three kids right now). I wouldn’t consider an unlicensed in-home care…except for these people, who we know, and are a few blocks away from our works, and have dogs who love kids (have I mentioned that Linnea is obsessed with dogs?), and costs $200-$250/month less than the new center (because centers have more expenses, I get that).

She starts Friday.

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Orientation

This morning I walked with Darwin (who ran almost the whole 4 blocks there) to her new Montessori school for a 30 minute introduction to pre-school. I walked her to the door of the classroom, said good morning to her teachers, said “goodbye”, and walked down the hall, while Darwin walked into the classroom without any difficulty. I’m so damn proud of this kid.

On the walk there, I tried to gauge her feelings without being super intrusive. I reminded her of some of the feeling words we use about other people, like “I feel scared about them” or “I feel happy about them.” She came back with “I love my teacher and I’m happy she came to our house yesterday.” I’m so damn proud of this kid.

After 30 minutes I stood outside the classroom and waited for her teacher to bring her out. She smiled at me, but was not super excited like she usually is when I come get her from, well, just about anywhere. I told her I was happy to see her, we said goodbye to her teacher, and headed out the door. When asked if she wanted to talk about her time there, she said “no mama, I don’t want to talk about school. never never never,” which is a pretty common phrase right now. After a bit, she told me she had washed dishes (one of her favorite things to do – wash anything). When we got home, Leah learned that she had also done puzzles – her other favorite thing to do ever.

I have a feeling this is going to be a great year.

Thoughts on 3

Our oldest child is on the cusp of three. The great adventure of childhood really feels like it’s beginning with Darwin. Preschool is a mere week away. Last night she slept in her big kid bed (a crib mattress on the side of our bed) all night long, for the first time ever. We are down to nursing at bed time and wake up. No more overnight nursing. No nap time nursing. I suspect nursing will be done entirely in the next few months. The playground no longer requires my direct presence to get up the biggest slide. The difficult bathroom gate was opened and closed today by dextrose little hands, the potty was used and emptied, and clothes were replaced. This kid is suddenly so capable.

All of this leads to questions about the other three. Are we done having children or is a third in the plans? Honestly? We thought I was going to ovulate on the eclipse and we’re considering trying for a sun baby, but my hormones laughed and now it’s too late for that. But it has definitely cracked the door. We confirmed with our donor that he’d be willing to help us out again. Started temping. And trying to figure out how the hell I might tell my boss/handle continuing working on soft money (because that’s full of stress – even though I love the work. I just need the Forest Service not to be dissolved by 45, and a permanent position to come available at one of the fire labs). But the hard part is, when it comes down to it, I want another child in our family, and the real question is, can we make it work logistically?

I mean, who wouldn’t want more of this insanity?