Thursday, August 27, 2009

School and three little words.....

"Serious learning with Daddy",
Mommy & Margo walking to school
First Day outfit,

Meeting my teacher

Margo has been in school 4 days in a row, tomorrow is Friday, and then Saturday and Sunday, when she gets to sleep in. That is what we talked about as we walked home today. Gee she learned that concept early. In many ways the first part of this week went by as a blur, so I shall try and tell her story of the first and second day of school. Why those two days, you may ask? Those two days are the most important times of her elementary educational journey. Really, the first day is for the parents, more than the child, and the second day is just about her.

We all woke up at 6:45 AM on Monday morning. Mark, her daddy had taken the day off to participate in the traditional sending off of the child to school. Of course we had no tradition to follow, but decided to start the process with Kindergarten. We heard the alarm turn off, and the pitter- patter of little feet, soon to be jumping into our bed for the prescribed snuggle time. Yes it went a little longer than I expected, but that was fine. I raced little Margo to see who would get dressed first, (the right motivation for focus is to win the race,) and she joyfully won. Next, we ate breakfast, as a family. Now that was a little wild, because daddy was playing with the doll at the table...and yes you guessed it, she was not eating. I soon realized I not only had to get Margo focused on the job of eating, but her daddy as well. This was done by removing the object of fun from the table, and quietly letting the adult offender know, he is not making this process easy by playing at the table! We do not want to be late, now do we?

It was at this point, I realized I was up-tight. But what about, I mean I already successfully passed kindergarten, and was a successful Explorer Preschool mom, but why was I nervous and emotional? Teeth brushed, hair styled with curls, bible reading and some praying together and we are out the door, walking to school for real. We arrive, line up and wait.

Mrs. Bridgford comes out and begins to kneel in front of every child to introduce herself to them, shakes their hand and welcomes them to class. Next she rises and meets the attending parent. Ok, I am thinking, she is friendly to the kids, and talks to them at their own level, to make them feel comfortable. Great, this is the teacher for Margo. Such a simple gesture brought a sense of calm to my heart.

We all enter the class room at the sound of the bell, and the kids sit on the rug in their own little spot. At first Margo is sitting in the back, but then when the teacher beckons some of the kids to move forward, she arises and sits in the very first row. I am thinking this is great, (did you know kids who sit in the first row get higher grades, and learn more), hopefully this means Margp will be less distracted by the other kids. Yes I really thought all of that in one minute or so. Mark and I were very proud of our little daughter. Not that she did much of anything else at that group time, but we are the doting parents. (Poor girl).

The parents’ time in the kindergarten room ended with an opportunity to participate in a scavenger hunt with our own child. This allowed all of us to get to know the class rooms, (yes there is a separate craft area), and restrooms etc...We also were able to help our children feel comfortable in their new learning environment. But I really think it was for the parents. The kids were all having a great time; we were the ones stressing to get through the list before the lights went out.

The final 45 minutes were spent in the assembly hall listening to the principal discuss her philosophy for the school. RESPECT, that is the philosophy of the school, so we figure all will be well here with little Margo.

We go back to the class room and pick up our little ones, relieved the first day is over. We say our goodbye's to the others in the class, exchange a few names and phone numbers and walk home. So Margo, did you like school? Did you say anything to the teacher? "I love you" was her response. What Margo? "I said I love you to the teacher, really quietly". Did she hear you Margo? What did she say back? "Thank you", and again there was that big Margo smile, showing there was something treasured in her heart. Three little words, "I love you," spoken to her teacher, and I knew all would be well.

The adventure day, ended with a trip to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, and dinner at a restaurant. Mark and I were totally emotionally drained. We decided we were drained, because we just let our daughter go. Kindergarten is a different letting go, then preschool. I am not sure why. Perhaps it is because their long journey through education begins here. Or it could be that we won't be able to watch what happens the next day, it is a goodbye from the outside with a little wave.

Day two, we arrive at school with a bit of time for Margo to play in the playground. I think every parent is lined up pressed against the fence, three rows deep, watching their children play at a distance. Others are in the open area, outside the door, holding their kids, or really their kids holding them. I think the kids knew this was really the first day of school, no mommy, no daddy around to give them a high five, or to run to when they accomplished some wonderful task of learning. We wave to the kids’ goodbye, as they walk in a line into their kinder classroom.

Five hours later, we return, all waiting under the eaves, away from the windows to the class room so as not to disturb the kindergarten class. At 1:45 pm, the doors open, and the children are allowed to leave one by one, if they see their parent. Ah ha, there she is, my little Margo, beaming when she sees me. She has a superstar tag, as do all the other little ones, but she is so proud of that star! (To date we now have three super stars.)

We begin our walk home, and I try to understand what she did today in class. She "...played, and played, and got to play with the dinosaurs, but the doll house is not open yet," Margo said. "Mommy today was better then yesterday!" Better then yesterday, the words I had encouraged her with earlier in the morning. "No worries mom, not for me," was some additional chatter.

Margo arrived home very hungry, so I opened her lunch and found most of it in tact. I served it on a plate with a fresh glass of milk, and soon learned she had to play, and did not have time to eat. This is something I have grown to expect since that second day. So our time together after school starts with Margo eating her lunch and telling me about her day. It is nice, it is simple and it is all good.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ready or not here "we" come! ooops I mean "I"....

We, yes I said we, have passed these last few days 'practicing' for school. Margo's first day of class is on Monday, August 24th. Sunday night, little Margo set her own alarm to awake at 7:00 AM on Monday morning. Her assignment was to wake up, climb down the ladder, turn off the alarm, and get her snuggle time with me, her mommy. After which said time is done, mind you it may include reading a few books, negotiating the possibility of watching a TV show, and the list goes on; Margo is to go and put on her clothes and yes brush her hair. Now realize she rarely brushes her hair at all, but hey it never hurts to dream. Next she is to come downstairs to eat her breakfast, have a quiet time with mom, (some type of bible time together), brush her teeth and walk out the door by 8:35 AM. Aha, we were successful the first day, by a few minutes.

I realized day two needed to start a little earlier, at 6:45 AM. Believe it or not, day two had room for tears, her telling me all her sorrows from days and weeks and months past. Yes even with the tears, we were still on time to leave the house and walk to school.

Day three went well too, I was impressed. She still asks to watch TV, aka cartoons, but only if she completes all her other tasks first. However the issue of choice came up for little Margo. This meant I was making all the choices. Her solution, to put the bible reading ahead of breakfast but still after she was dressed. This worked out fine too.

Day 4, today, I failed! We did not get up before 8:30 AM, I purposely did not turn on her alarm the night before, she went to bed way too late. No way was I going to go through a day with a tired kid if I could help it. So yes we would have basically missed school today, if it was already in session. Tomorrow, which will be Friday, and our last day to practice, is set with the alarm going off at 6:45 AM...the question is will she and I get up? I hope so, then all the practice would have been worth it. I wonder what the real day will be like? I promise to let you all know, on Monday night the 24th, or perhaps I will wait till Tuesday night the 25th, when she would have been at school for her first full day without any parents there. She will be fine, however the question remains, will I?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Birth Day

My hubby Mark showing me our little bundle of joy, November 21, 2003 , Proud daddy and daughter.

Dr. Mark Sloan and Clair holding little Margo

Grandmanma Margo cleaning up her little namesake, and Daddy and Grandmanma ready to enter the O.R.

I read parts of Birth Day, by Mark Sloan MD, while it was being written, perhaps before the book even had a title. I must confess, I know Dr. Sloan personally, he married my fact I am the godmother of his daughter. You see a copy of her feet at birth in the opening pages of the book. This all started a little over 5 years ago, I was pregnant with little Margo, and nervous or oblivious of the birth process to say the least. I kept secretly hoping Mark would finnish writing all the chapters of the book, Birth Day, before it was time for delivery...but alas I never told him that. I am not sure that would have pushed his process of writing this wonderful book along faster. It too seemed to be a long process of pregnancy for him, if I may use that term. We never can push the process or length of our pregnancy along, it is what it is, long or short.

During the final months of pregnancy, I was taking a yoga class for pregnant mom's. We all practiced the positions of balance and strength, and talked. Yes we discussed what our hoped for birth stories would be like. We were encouraged to write out those directives for the time of labor at the hospital. C-section was like a dirty word in that discussion, it was to be avoided at all costs. One woman came back and talked of her birthing of twins, and that in the end she had to have a C-section. She was sad about it, as I am sure others who go through this style of birth may be too. But I was provided the chapter on C-section to read from Mark's developing book, Birth Day. (Hot off the press, or computer I should add.) Reading this chapter changed my perspective regarding the "C-Section birth". From what I remembered, it was developed by those who did not want to choose between saving the life of the baby or the mother. It was developed and refined to save both lives. Now the mother and the baby would live! Such a simple idea, and it is this idea that stuck with me, as I entered the delivery room for little Margo's birth. It was an idea created by reading from Mark Sloan's writing.... I was not disappointed about the upcoming C-section, I was excited to greet this new life entering into the world.

I was at 41 weeks, and was just completing my weekly visit to the OB. We had passed the stress test, however the ultra sound gave signs my womb was starting to get a bit old, meaning, little Margo needed to come out now. So off to the hospital to check in and try for a vaginal birth using pitosin to get things started. Around midnight the process of labor started. Yes the contractions were pounding, but by 7:00 AM not much had changed. I was only dilated to 3 cm, which most of you know is not much. However, the pitosin drip was as high as they could make it, so there was quite a pounding going on. My O.B. decided to break my water for me, no problem, I was not too uncomfortable by all of this. Oh my goodness, then the contractions became more intense, and the frequency was quicker. By noon, the OB nurse made a check, and I had not progressed any further, even though the contractions were long and large. At this point it was decided a C-Section would be the best next step. I forgot to tell you they found a bit of mechonium in the discharge, so they were now more intent on getting little Margo out. I was a bit disappointed to say the least, but not for long...I remembered this time is about birthing life, and now I was excited again to greet little Margo. I walked to the OR, and had the music playing, "Light the Fire Again", my husband Mark, and mom were going to be allowed to attend the surgery/delivery. My Doula was there, now for the purpose of taking pictures. I was sitting on the side of the table, my O.B. holding on to me, as the anesthesiologist, was puncturing my back with the spinal. I looked up to my O.B. and said, "look we are all here to welcome little Margo into the world." That was when I saw my husband Mark and my mom, dressed in their "bunny suits", waiting to enter the OR. At 12:27 pm little Margo was born, and lifted up over the drape, so I could see her beautiful ruddy looking body, crying loudly with every movement. She was rushed next door to the resuscitation room to be checked out, my mom went with Margo, her namesake, and Mark stayed with me. Very soon I was brought to the same little room as Margo and she was placed in my arms. Her grandmother, had helped to clean her up, after she passed the exam. All was well and still is well with our lives, 5 and a half years later.

I am forever thankful, for having had the opportunity to read parts of Mark Sloan's book prior to my delivery. It opened my eyes to the beauty of a Cesarean, and the use of a Doula. This book in its early development prepared me for the wonder of birth. Thank you Mark Sloan! So glad you married the family!

Full Disclosure: Mark Sloan's daughter is the godmother to little Margo, oh yes, I get to call him whenever I have a question about little Margo. He is also a great pediatrician!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

"I am taking two days off", said the 5 year old...

We just completed a wild week of adventure, with travel up north to visit the grandparents and cousins. Four days later we are heading back home to welcome house guests for the next week. On the way home, little Margo clearly states, "I want the day off." 15 minutes later she restates, "I am taking two days off, today, and tomorrow." I am not sure exactly what this all means, because we are driving back home from Santa Rosa. We had already stopped at our favorite bookstore in Santa Rosa, Copperfields books, to pick up a few activities for the trip. I filled up on coffee, Peete's if you must know; Margo had milk and a cinnamon roll. We packed into the car with her new drawing book, and a level 1” I can read book”, in tow. All was well, except for the traffic.

There is a lot of traffic coming south on 101 around 3:30 in the afternoon. We talked about which bridge to take home, the Richmond Bridge won the vote. I voted based on fee of course. Free is always better, plus we had gone north via the Golden Gate bridge. Margo was satisfied with the choice, so on we drove. Two hours later, and still one more hour of driving to go, I hear her comment about the day off. Sure I said, sounds fine to me. Hmm, now why would she want a day off?

Reviewing our activities and fun times over the past week, were wonderful. We started Monday, with a visit to the King Tut exhibit at the de Young Museum. Dad joined us for this adventure to visit King Tut, but left us to our own devices as we continued on to Santa Rosa, to visit Grandmamma and Grandpapa. Once there, she was greeted with the news that her favorite cousin would be coming over for a slumber party. Nathalie, is 8 years old, and acts like the older sister to Margo. Letting her know what she can and cannot do to have fun. Most of the time, Margo follows her around like a little puppy trying to please her master. Tuesday and Wednesday was set for swimming and diving for dollars at the grandparents’ day affair. Then she was off to stay at Cousin Nathalie’s for two days, which included a wonderful day at the Santa Rosa Fair. It was a wild and fun time. She tried some of her first “grown up rides” at the fair, and now we think she is ready for Disneyland. The nights were long and late, the mornings were early. Margo could never figure out why her cousin Nathalie kept waking her up early in the morning to play. For that matter neither could I, especially since Margo takes after me, her mommy Max, and loves to sleep in. Ok, she takes after her cousin and godmother, Claire as well. So the desire for sleep runs in this side of the family I believe.

Aha, the light goes on!!! She wants a day off because she had too much fun??? That sounds a bit strange to me…I wonder why she wants two days off? Saturday morning, I wake up, and hear her stirring in her room. Her Daddy and I wait for her appearance in our room and ultimately on top of our bed. But where is she? 10 minutes go by and no Little Margo. I know she is awake, but where is she? “Margo! Margo, where are you? Are you coming for snuggle time with mommy and daddy?” I speak loudly from my bedroom. “No”, is her lazy reply. “Really, we are waiting for you, we miss you,” I respond. Silence follows. “Ok, Margo, why are you staying in bed and not coming for your regularly requested snuggle time?” “It’s my day off,” she replies. “What!!” say I, rather astonished; who takes breaks from snuggles? “It’s my day off, the day I get to do what I want”, is her tart reply.

Wait, she just gave me the best definition of a day off…getting to do what I want to do. Mark and I look at each other and think what wisdom or should I say common sense is coming from our 5 year old. For the next week Mark and I both ponder over this statement on our own. What would such a day off look like, we begin to ask each other? He said, “She makes so much sense, I was at home for 4 days without you and all I could think about doing was eating dinner, then getting to bed to make sure I was rested. I just watched a little TV, it was not doing anything I really wanted to do.” Mark really had time every day to do something only he really wanted to do, but was caught up in the basics; food, TV and sleep. We both realized neither of us had a clue how to really enjoy a day off…or steal away the free moments for something each of us might really want to do throughout our day; what has our world become! So yesterday, Mark took his first day off or perhaps half day off on Saturday. He wanted to go visit his dad and hang out at the farm, and then hit a few golf balls at the range. He had received a new club and replaced his grips when he turned 50 as part of his birthday present. Well three years later, he had never tried hitting a ball with those new and refurbished items. Yesterday was the day, and it was something he definitely enjoyed. Yes he came home somewhat refreshed, yet tired, and now, it is my turn to come up with “My day off activity”, gee what will it be. I know I want to invite Mark along, so I suppose I better find a sitter or a play date.

Thanks to little Margo, I now know the definition of a real day off. I hope to take it soon, at least a few hours here and there. Perhaps if we keep ‘The Day Off’ a part of our lifestyle, it will become a family tradition. So what about you, when was your last day off, of “…getting to do what you want to do?”