Pre K

Pre K

Mill could not start Kindergarten this fall because of her November birthday. I strongly believe she would have done absolutely fine with kindergarten curriculum however I knew she’d benefit socially from a preschool experience. We decided to enroll her at the private, Christian school closest to our home (it came with great reviews from neighbors and colleagues).

When I visited the school, I was impressed with what I saw; sight words on the walls, daily schedules, letter identification, bookcases of age appropriate books, and clean spaces. I think I was expecting pre-school to look like the daycare facilities we toured when she was younger but this was far from that.

Millie and I went to drop off her emergency medical information and the administrator allowed us to visit her classroom and meet her teacher. Summer classes were in session so when we got to the classroom, Millie was more interested in meeting the students rather than her teacher. They were working on a, “write the room” activity and Millie just joined in. I met with the teacher while she worked and played. When it was time to leave, Mill cried and asked why I didn’t sign her up for summer classes! She was so ready for school.

Getting school supplies for Millie was fun, pricey but fun. She wanted everything to be pink and sparkly; her backpack, her lunch box, her pencil pouch, you name it. We decided on a Barbie lunch box (that was big enough for both breakfast and lunch containers) a Skip-Hop preschool-sized backpack that looks like a koala, and a pencil pouch with a glittery butterfly. We filled her backpack with everything from her class list; glue sticks, safety scissors, colored pencils, crayons, skin-colored crayons, washable markers, and a paint set.

Dietary Needs: I was vegetarian when Mill was born and she was exclusively breastfed. After she’d eat, she’d projectile vomit, and her doctor told me to try limiting my dairy intake (cheese was three parts of my food pyramid). Chris also has a lactose intolerance so this change of diet benefited him as well. Four years later and veganism is our lifestyle. State law mandates that each child receive a milk (specially from a cow, 2% dairy) every day. To not have a carton of milk placed in front of my child, I had to have forms signed my Mill’s pediatrician stating she has a lactose intolerance and that she should be given water in place of milk. Oat and soy milk are allowed however, Millie doesn’t drink either.

Included in the weekly price, her school provides breakfast, lunch, and snacks. I highlight the monthly menu with the foods Millie can eat – apple sauce, tomato soup, carrot sticks, etc. I still pack her breakfast, lunch, and two snacks to ensure she has plenty of food to eat during the day. I also pack a small, daily joke card with her lunch because Mill is super into telling jokes lately. Her teacher reads it to her and she’d recite it back to me when she came home. Here’s some of her favorite lunches:

– left over pizza, grapes, cucumbers

– Pasta salad, peaches, dairy-free laughing cow cheese

– Sandwich (white bread, butter, and strawberry jelly) chips, apple slices

– Black bean and corn dip, tortilla chips, blueberries

The week before school started, I tried to best prepare Millie for pre-k. I made her lunch in the new containers so she could practice opening them. I created a schedule for her mornings and posted it on her closet door so that she would know the routine. I bought hanger labels with the days of the week on them so that we could pick out her outfits ahead of time. We read books about starting school. We took, “first day of school” pictures days before the actual first day of school so the first morning wouldn’t be so chaotic.

I was really anxious about Millie starting pre-k. Chris and I thought up worst case scenarios; what if she went into a bathroom stall and there was poop in the toilet? Would she know to pick a new stall? Would she try to flush it? Would she just hold herself? All the prepping in the world wouldn’t prepare her for every possible encounter she’d experience on her first day.

The night before Millie’s first day of school, I prayed with her as she laid in bed. Before I closed her door, I heard her say, “I can’t wait till I come home to celebrate your birthday mommy.” My heart melted. In the hustle and bustle of the new school year, I completely forgot about my birthday. She’s so incredibly thoughtful. I cried on the couch for the next 10 minutes about my baby (my early baby!) starting school. The next day, I turned 30 and Millie had her first day of pre-k.

Chris took Millie to school in the morning because I started back to work, my ninth year teaching. He said Millie told him that she was nervous which of course made me worry. When I picked her up from school at the end of the day, the nerves were gone. She told me she made a new boy-friend, Daxon, and her teacher said she had a great day. She even slept during nap time! When I told her that she’d be coming back the next day, she was excited.

I was so proud of Mill the day her teacher told me that she was so helpful to a new student. At four years old, her character is so kind. Everyday we received excellent reports on Millie’s work and behavior. They have a weekly special; art, gym, or music. She has learned about about the life cycle of a tree, how different color apples taste, the difference between warm and cool colors, Scripture, etc. Some days she’d come home with her hair styled different – she had the longest hair in her class so of course the other little girls play with it and the teachers!

So far this year, they have had a fall festival where the pumpkin patch came to their school and gave out pumpkins and doughnuts, a trick-or-treat event with the old folks home next door, the firemen did a presentation, and a reunion with a family who’s been apart because of active duty. We are so excited for their upcoming Christmas program. Millie has been practicing hard on the lyrics and the dance moves of both songs they’re performing.

More as she continues the school year!

But I Get Up Again

But I Get Up Again

Maw yelled to the kids, “Stay off the rocks around the pond; they’re wobbly!”

On an unusually warm day in early March, Millie and Wells were playing on my grandmas patio. Wells was finding pebbles (Presumably putting them in his mouth. Once, he spit out four rocks into my hand.) and Millie was rearranging a fairy garden as I tidied up their things, preparing to leave for the day. We waved goodbye to Maw as I backed out of her carport. I called Chris to meet us at the park on his way home but not five minute later, I called him back to tell him that both kids fell asleep. Babies sleeping in car seats always look so scrunched.

Unbeknown to me, Maw decided to leaf blow her patio. Without following her own advice, “Stay off the rocks around the pond; they’re wobbly!”, she stood on the rocks to blow away fallen leaves. I received a phone call from my mom, “Don’t freak out.” Maw was on her way to the hospital.

While leaf blowing, Maw stood on a wobbly rock and fell onto her hip, precisely on the edge of her patio step. She turned herself onto to her stomach and army crawled back into the house where she contacted my uncle, trying to avoid an ambulance ride. While she waited for him to arrive, she crawled herself into the kitchen and ate a lemon cookie. Who’s grandma breaks their hip and struggles into the kitchen to curb her sweet tooth?!

My uncle did not feel like he could safely lift my grandmother so begrudgingly, Maw went to the hospital in a squad. I was desperate to be with her but due to COVID restrictions, only one person could accompany her during her stay. Maw refused pain medication. She was taken for an MRI where it was determined she had a fractured hip bone. The next day, she received a full hip replacement.

Thank God the surgery went well.

The next day, Maw went home to recover. I was in disbelief with how quickly she was discharged. Maw had two weeks of around the clock, family supervision. I stayed over one night, Wells came with me because I was still breastfeeding, and that helped to lift her spirits. It was difficult to see her in pain as she maneuvered her way on and off the bed. I ordered her a hip kit that had long levers to help her with her independence without having to bend at the waist. I also installed a toilet lift so she didn’t have to squat down to use the restroom. She had physical therapists come to her house and they were extremely kind. “Most seventy year olds haven’t left the bed yet and you’re getting around so well!”

As Maw was healing, she also felt guilty for leaving me without childcare. She watched both babes while Chris and I work and with this falling accident, she was out of commission for at least six weeks. I called thirteen child care facilities, desperate to find a reputable establishment that would accept my kids in the middle of the school year, and most could not accommodate both children. Finally, I found a school that could take both kids however, they were almost $3K a month – completely out of our budget.

We were incredibly blessed with beautiful people willing to help us during this stressful time. My friend Lindsey was available to watch the kids on her days off and my friend Shauna babysat the kids while she worked from my couch. My friend and co-worker Amy spoke to her in-home childcare provider who was able to watch my kids on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She was affordable, an easy commute, and had glowing recommendations from other teachers who trusted her care. She was reliable and kind. This was a God send.

A week into our new childcare schedule (Chris watched the kids while he worked from home on Monday and Friday, Tuesday and Thursday the kids went to Rhondas, and Wednesday was a wildcard.) we noticed bite marks on Wells. One on his arm and one on his foot. I noticed that the size of the bite mark was small but there were a lot of teeth. It was confirmed that a little girl with dwarfism was eating Wells up. We found out that she had done this to other kids before and with a new baby brother at home, she started biting again. Another bite happened on his belly and one on his leg. His parents were mortified. Wells learned to say, “No bite!” Which came out as, “O ite”. They actually became sweet friends.

Millie loved playing with the children all day. There were two girls her age; they’d put on tattoos, draw pictures, make necklaces, and put on singing performances like JoJo Siwa. Millie would help me pack their lunches the night before; picking out what fruits and vegetables she wanted included. For breakfast, I would put a pack of pop tarts in Millie’s lunch bag and it was her job to share one with Wells. Millie’s social interactions confirmed for me that she was ready for preschool in the fall (more on that in a later post).

Rhonda was so great with our Vegan lifestyle. If there was a birthday celebration, she would make sure there were dairy-free cupcakes for my kids. She gave every child an Easter basket and ours had vegan treats and thoughtful, personalized gifts. The kids noticed that others were eating chicken nuggets for lunch so Millie mentioned that they eat vegan “chicky nugs” at home. Rhonda bought them and kept them stocked in the freezer. It was extremely comforting knowing the sitter was accepting of our dietary needs.

Since starting childcare outside of our home, our family has never been more sick. Someone has had a snotty nose, sore throat, fever, goopy eyes – you name it, since March. We were in and out of doctors appointments every other week; amoxicillin for ear infections, two different eye drops, Tylenol Fever Reducer, Tylenol Cold and Cough. We had a fully stocked pharmacy in our medicine cabinet. Anytime I would try to plan something fun for us to do on the weekend, Millie would spike a fever and Wells would have snot hanging from his nose. We rotated viruses around the house. The germs from childcare were worse than my first year teaching (and I thought that was a kick to the immune system). I’m praying that Millie will have some antibodies to help her with the germs she’ll be around in pre-K.

Wells’ second birthday party was postponed – if we had the party on its scheduled date, it would have been the day Maw got home from surgery. A month after the party was originally supposed to be held, we threw Wells a shark themed birthday and Maw was there to help us celebrate. Maw didn’t let her hip keep her from the kids during the holidays. Millie and I went over to Maw’s house for Saint Patrick’s Day and we decorated shamrock cookies with green glitter and crafted a clover garland out of toilet paper rolls. For Easter, we went to Maw’s community celebration where the kids got to hunt for eggs and win door prizes. It was fun for the children but I was concerned about Maw getting hurt; she could have fallen down, gotten pushed over by a kid, tripped. etc. My anxiety was high.

Three months later and Maws hip healed. She was diligent with her therapy and put in the hard work to feel better. She has a gnarly scar. Her knee is giving her trouble but the hip surgeon mentioned that her knee locked up during the surgery – it could be something she gets work on down the road. She watched a video of a hip replacement on FaceBook and the force that was used to hammer the joint in place could have very well been what affected her knee. Wells will continue to need childcare in the fall and we will split the week between Maw and Rhonda. This will allow Maw to schedule appointments during the week and some much earned rest time after running after Wells.

Toddler Fracture

Toddler Fracture

“Does your grandmother always use the restroom in the afternoon?” What kind of question is that? On that particular Tuesday, while my grandmother was taking care of business, Millie slid on a book and fractured her tibia. There was no swelling, redness, or bruising however, she refused to put any weight on her left foot. I could touch her foot and she could move it, so I knew nothing was broken. I had no idea the process that is healing a toddler fracture.

After two rounds of X-rays, neither of which I could be in the room for because I was pregnant and Mill cried for me the entire time while I waited outside the door and my heart broke into a million pieces, the doctor didn’t seeing anything unusual. The doc explained to us that because of her age, her bones would show healing calcification clearer than it would an initial injury.

It had been eight hours since Mill put any weight on her left foot and she could communicate very clearly which foot had the, “boo-boo”. The doctor wanted her in a full leg splint for one week. She explained to us that Millie could not get the splint wet, walk, or take it off. The doctor referred us to an orthopedic specialist that would retake xrays after she’d been in the splint for a week and would re-evaluate from there; hard cast or boot. I was upset for her because trick-or-treat was one week away and her second birthday was the week after.

Mill was miserable in the splint; longest week ever. She couldn’t walk around or play. She couldn’t sleep in her own bed for fear that she would wake up and stand on the splint. She loves taking baths but those were out of the question. I caught her pulling out the cotton underneath the ace wrapping so we had to cover the splint with her dads sock. The splint made her foot so large that she didn’t fit well into her swing, highchairs, or shopping carts.

One week later, I was so relieved to find out that Millie would be given a boot and not a cast. The orthopedic doctor took an X-ray of his own and saw a tibia fracture above her ankle. Thankfully, the doctor referred to the fracture as, “stable” which meant it was unlikely for it to get worse. By staying off of it, she would heal quickly. The boot was clunky but she would eventually learn to walk with it for the duration of her healing. We were able to remove the boot for bath time and outfit changes. The boot was a part of our fall festivities but was able to be taken off just four weeks after the incident. We met with her pediatrician, who gave us his blessing to remove the boot, and he put her on a calcium supplement due to our vegan diet, just to make sure that she is getting enough calcium for her bone development. Once the boot came off, she walked differently for about a week – like her left foot was still booted.

Needless to say, my grandma hasn’t used the restroom since.