Monthly Archives: September 2012

Kindergarten Funnies


my little apple pickers
Could they be any more different?

I got the chance to volunteer in Piper’s classroom today.  In my first 3 minutes there, I was approached by a student. “Are you a teacher?  I need my shoe tied.”  Love them.  How can you not love those little munchkins.  I told him that I wasn’t a teacher, but very capable of tying his shoe.  I’m loving Piper’s teacher.  I told her that we went apple picking this weekend and that I would be willing to bring in apples if she wanted to have the kids taste the different types.  She said she had it in her plans to do on Tuesday afternoon and would I like to teach the lesson.  Absolutely!  Piper was giddy with excitement over having me in her class.  I was among other parents during center time, and then I joined the kiddos for lunch, and came back to the classroom for our apple tasting and graphing lesson.  I thought it was pretty great that Mrs. Boyd offered to have me there and I want to take the opportunity to be involved because I am sure there will come a time when she won’t want me there (let’s hope not for many years).  As I was helping the kids out at my center, a student Brooke (she has the same middle name as me too) told us that once when her parents were in Las Vegas and her grandparents were watching her she had to have surgery because she broke her arm.  It’s amazing how much you can find out from them in such a short amount of time.  And then Adam, processing the information said, “So that’s a fake arm you have?”  Teachable moment:  you don’t lose your arm when the bone breaks.  It actually fuses back together thank goodness.  I am sure Mrs. Boyd comes home with funny stories like that daily.

Well, the kids were measured today to see “how many apples tall” they were.  Piper is officially the smallest in the class.  Good thing she has a big personality to make up for it.  The funny thing is on the first day of school she said, “Mom, there is this girl Hannah in my class and she is just so cute.  She is really tiny and is just the cutest.”  Newsflash Piper, you’re really tiny and maybe I’m biased, but you are also so cute.

Piper asked me if I had any of my work from kindergarten.  So this weekend we went through the shed and found some work from my elementary days.  Check it out:

“I love my Mom ’cause she lets me sleep in her bed.  Sometimes I hear noises.”

We won’t go into detail about what those noises were.  Their bedroom window backed up to a fairly busy street and both of my parents snored.  Yea, let’s hope that’s what I was talking about.

Man, what a bummer that would be if God made midgets that way and then didn’t love them.  That would stink.

“I like my face.  My eyes used to be hazel but not anymore.  The curlers made my hair curly.  My nose used to be just a dot but now I know how to make noses.”

That’s right.  No more dot noses, I have upgraded to the less than symbol.

St. Hedwig is the best school because.  At public schools they can’t learn about God.  The teachers don’t care as much.  And that’s why I’m glad I go here.

Just a little brainwashing, that’s all.  Let’s hope I got it from my sisters or something and not my teachers.  Kind of ironic that I became a public school teacher I guess.

This one is a favorite.  It is from 2nd grade.  Help my dad to stop smoking and help me not fight with my sisters (a recurring prayer on my papers.  I must not have been praying to the right saint.)  You’re my favorite saint and always will be so, please be helpful, got it?  Okay.  Piper asked me why all my work was so Jesus-y, I should have just told her it was because my teachers cared more ;).

Also in my box of stuff was this picture of me at my first dentist appointment.  I look totally freaked out and it possibly could have something to do with the life-size doll standing next to me.  Anyway, the date said, October 1, 1985.  Piper had her first dentist appointment yesterday, exactly 1 week earlier than mine in our kindergarten year.  Kinda weird.

Some kids make you feel good about yourself.  Mom, you’re the prettiest, smartest, best singer in the whole world.  Not my Piper, she brings me back to reality all the time.  She told me I look chubby in this picture and that I must have been pushing out my stomach.  Seriously?  Come on, besides the deer in the headlights pose, I thought I looked pretty darn normal.  Not everyone gets to be the smallest in the class.


Crunch time


Ahhh, there is so much to write about, but I am distracted.  While I really want to tell you how I have been challenged by my book 7: an experimental mutiny against excess that is going to have to wait.  Right now I am in survival mode and am actually at the gym taking advantage of my free two hours of childcare a day.  I plan on taking a 10 o’clock class, but don’t tell, I actually dropped Tatum off at 9:15.  I am planning ahead.  I can’t assume she will take a nap today, so I figured if I wanted to be guaranteed a little break, come sit on the cozy couches of the gym (I’m not being sarcastic, it really is quite cozy!)  Call me cruel, call me crazy, but I would beg to differ.  If I didn’t put her in childcare for this extra 45 min. then I am pretty sure I would be both cruel and crazy.  Tatum earned the nickname Crunch last summer when my niece Nautica came to stay with us.  I don’t really remember Piper or Nautica’s names they came up with, but Crunch has stuck for Tatum the past 15 months.  It seems inappropriate to call your little girl Tank, but Crunch is acceptable in my mind.

Yesterday morning I took a class at the gym at 5:45 am.  I got ready in the dark and showed up wearing 2 different shoes.  The lady next to me said, “Well, I hope this isn’t any indication of how the rest of your day is going to go”.  If only my morning had started at 5, but in fact the shoe incident was just another example about how my day had already started.  Miss Crunch decided that she didn’t want to sleep.  She was up from 11-2 while we were in and out of sleep.  At 1:22 Brian woke up because he saw a light on and thought she was playing in the play room.  When he got up he found her naked in the bathroom playing in the sink with the water.  Really?  What else is there to say?

This was Monday night/Tuesday morning.  Things weren’t much better over the weekend.  On Sunday evening I left Tatum with my grandma for 5 min. while I ran down to the beach to deliver a message to my mom.  She lives about 5 houses away from the sand, but there is a one-way street between her place and the beach.  I picked up Piper from the beach, walked back with her when this man ran by and said, “is that your little girl over there?”  Standing naked at the end of the alley was Tatum holding her owl.  My grandma thought I took her with me.  Scary, but nothing surprises me.

I have a dog who runs into the street to get to the dogs at the park, and two year old with an endless supply of tricks up her sleeve.  They say cats have 9 lives, but I am pretty sure dogs must have at least twice that because Frankie has escaped death more than I can count.  I have come to realize that birthday parties aren’t for kids, they are celebrations for parents who are rejoicing in the fact that they have managed to keep their child alive another year.  Hooray!  You better believe Tatum is going to celebrate in a big way when she turns 3.  Right now we are just praying that if cats have 9 lives, and dogs 18, that she has an abundance of extra lives up her sleeve, because we have rescued her from falling in pools, falling off the dock into the bay, running into streets, falling off of the counter, and being pushed off of the fort.  Those are just the ones I can come up with off the top of my head.  We’ve only been to the emergency room once, I guess that’s pretty good.

I guess this is what I get for being the parent who drops my kid off in childcare at the gym and doesn’t go work out.  They found me.  Tatum had an accident, I ran to the car, got a pull-up and cleaned her up.  She was clean but only wearing a pull-up and a sweater.  My class was about to start by this time and I asked, “is she okay staying in here?”  To which they replied “yes”.  Tatum, however, was not okay with the idea.  She just saw Mom and now Mom was leaving her…again.  But I didn’t take my class yet!  So I left her crying and ran to go work out.  Two songs.  That’s it!  I made it through two songs before they found me AGAIN!  Now she threw up.  I know I sound like the worst mom in the world, but seriously.  I promise she wasn’t sick.  She knows how to make herself throw up when she is upset.  I don’t feel guilty about putting her in childcare, but I guess it was a sign that I was just supposed to hang out with the little rascal.  I said, “Well, Tatum do you want to go get our toes painted?”  And so we did.  And as kids around the world were laying their little heads down for a nap at 1 o’clock, Tatum did not join them.  My father-in-law delivered us a crib yesterday and put it together for us after Monday night’s fiasco.  We had the mattress on the ground since she was still able to climb out of the lowest setting.  It worked, for one night.  At nap time today, she practiced her gymnastic maneuvers and opened the door and said, “I’m awake, Mommy.  I’m awake.”  So tonight we have added an enclosure.  Sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures.  We call it her fort.  Let’s hope the novelty of sleeping in a fort lasts til Kindergarten.  I share these things with you so that the handful of moms out there who would do such a thing like drop their kid off to go on the computer and lock their kids in a baby jail don’t feel alone!  And also for the rest of you out there who can pat yourselves on the back and say, “well, at least I’ve never done that!”  You’re welcome.  That’s what I’m here for.

Oh and while I’m at it, let me just tell you that I ate it on my bike yesterday riding Piper to school with her.  Awesome.  Fifth day of school, cars stopped because we just crossed at the crosswalk and my foot gets caught in Piper’s spoke.  I got to be the mom who walked up to the class with a fat lip from hitting the handle bars and wet grass stuck to my legs.  

Tatum’s fort

First and last


Well, we made it.  I made it through the first day of school, and Piper did too, by the way.  She walked in a bit uncertain, just as I remember doing so; not the crier, and not the super outgoing, overly excited kid either.  On a scale of 1-10 it was “great”.  That’s what she said.  I guess the concept of a scale is unfamiliar to her.  After all of the positive things she had to say, I said, “well, then are you glad you went to school or do you still wish I homeschooled you?”  Now I realize this could be a premature question, but she had nothing but good things to say…up to this point.  “Homeschool.  Yeah, definitely.”  And then she proceeded in her exaggerated tone “we had to always sit criss-cross applesauce.  And then I was like, ugh!  My knees were stuck together when I tried to get up.  They were so sweaty in between and sticky.  And then we had to play a game at lunch and it was not fun.  And they wouldn’t let us eat.  They had to talk and talk and talk before we could eat.”  She cracks me up sometimes.   I think today the teacher was probably working on rules and routine and will be for the next couple of days, but Piper just interpreted it as bor-ing.  She is, however, excited to go back tomorrow.

This is probably picture #8 that Brian took because the lighting wasn’t good. You can tell that it was becoming difficult to keep the smile.

In Germany, when you start school there is a tradition where kids get a schuletüte (school bag) filled with goodies, kind of like a stocking, but it is cone-shaped.  So yesterday I made some for the two boys on our street that I heard were starting kindergarten, but I don’t know these families.  I thought it would be a good way to meet them.  Today, as we were walking, we realized there are 6 kindergarteners on our street!  Crazy!  We made a schuletüte for Piper as well.  Brian is a big Dodgers fan and Piper calls every hat she wears a Dodger hat.  Even her wide-brimmed orange sun hat.  And so Brian really wanted to put a Dodger hat in her cone.  I got her a “big kid” water bottle to take to school and some other goodies, as well as the book I made her with pictures of her school and our letters to her.  She had so much fun opening it up!  And Tatum didn’t even seem to mind that she didn’t get one!

To celebrate a successful first day of school for Miss Piper Lee and Mr. Ristow, we went out for sushi with Piper and her daddy sporting their Dodger hats.  She goes by Piper Lee now, kind of funny, but since there are two Pipers, she chose that over Piper R.  I don’t blame her.


So, how did we celebrate our last days of summer?  Well, for one we moved the bathtub outside.

And Brian and I snuck away for a night on the town.  The Fig restaurant at the Fairmont in Santa Monica.  Go there.  The food was amazing and if you know me, then you know I am all about bargains.  They have an amazing happy hour from 5-6, they call it Fig at Five and their entire menu is half off!  Need more details?  Just ask.

Goodbye summer, hello school!


Back to School Blues


In two more days I am going to be experiencing what many parents have already experienced.  I am going to have my first “school night”.  Piper is going to have to get to bed early because it’s a “school night”.  I have already been a big blubbering mess about this whole thing and won’t go into too much detail otherwise the tears will just start flowing again.  We got to visit her school yesterday and were able to meet the teacher.  We only were informed about this on Wednesday.  I was feeling a little uneasy not knowing all the logistics, so it eased all of our nerves to walk around the school and get to see the classroom and meet the teacher.  She rode around the playground on a tricycle and when we got home she said, “Ugh, I do not like those tricycles.  The are cheap and they just tip so easy!  I mean I don’t know if they really are cheap but they seem like it.”  Funny kid.  While we toured the grounds, we took some pictures and then I came home and made her this little book of what to expect as a kindergartener.  Years ago, I was a bit critical of homeschooling.  Maybe it was because I was a public school teacher, but now as a mother, my mind changed.  I have friends who homeschool, it seems like you can take the classroom on adventures where ever you go, and also, how cool would it be to teach kids who you think are so great!  I have taught some great kids, but I have also taught some not-so-great kids.  I dream about teaching again, but in my dreams my classroom would be much smaller, like my own children.  And then we decided on sending Piper to school.  We have a peace about it and nothing is forever.  We said we’ll give it a try.  We are not “stuck” with our decision on way or another.  I usually have a bad case of the blues in September, but this September is especially challenging with Brian and Piper going off to school.  I wanted to write her a letter and when I told Brian that I thought before she starts school seemed like a good time to do so, he wanted to partake as well.  So, I apologize for the letters I have enclosed.  They make me cry and possibly will make you cry too.  So don’t read on if you don’t want to.  Also, perhaps you will see us as “newbies”.  If you have older kids, you might think we are weird and that we should be celebrating the fact that I can get rid of her 5 hours a day.  Well, I’m not there.  Perhaps it’s because she entertains my crazy 2 year old and now that is going to be left only up to me.  She also translates for me sometimes too when I seem to be struggling with understanding toddler-talk.  Anyway, here it is.  Oh, notice the girls got hair cuts, cute huh?  Okay, sorry, here are our letters.

Dear Miss Piper Lee

Tuesday will be your first day of kindergarten.  It is hard to believe that the time has come already for you to start school.  It doesn’t seem like very long ago that we found out there was a baby in my tummy.  Wow!  That was a big surprise!  And now you are 5 ½ and ready for a new adventure.  You have such an adventurous spirit that I know you will look at kindergarten as just another adventure on your journey through life.

I want to tell you a few things that are so important for you to know that I wanted you to have it in writing in case you ever need to look back and be reminded. 

First of all, you are beautiful.  You are my child and you are made in the image of God.  You are beautiful on the outside of course, but on the inside too.  I love watching you play with Tatum and showing grace with her when she knocks down your Legos.  I love when you make me pictures and write i love u on them.  I love your ability to memorize Bible verses.  I love your excitement when we go on our family adventures.  These things show me how beautiful you are on the inside and I want you to always know that. 

 Secondly, I want you to know you are loved.  You are loved by me more than you could ever know, Daddy, and it is obvious how much Tatum adores you.  But most importantly, you are loved by God.  You are going off to school and though you won’t be around me, Daddy or Tatum, you know that you are never alone.  And the one who loves you the most, the one who placed you in my tummy is always with you.  Never forget that.

You are getting bigger and I love it!  I really do!  I love reading chapter books with you and look forward to when you will read them to me.  I love going and seeing movies with you and riding our bikes together too.  All these things you have to be big for.  But it also seems that the bigger you get the more independent you get.  The more you don’t need me.  And the funny thing is, the bigger you get, the more I need you!  I wanted to say thank you and let you know that I am grateful for your help.  Thank you for cleaning up messes that Tatum makes.  Thank you for helping me make dinner.  And thank you for putting your clothes away even though I know you hate doing it.

So, my child, go and “let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven”  And what was the verse again?  Oh yeah, you know it, and I always forget, Matthew 5:16.  I love you Piper and am so proud of the girl you have become in your first 5 ½ years of your life.  I can’t wait to see what is in store in the future!



Dear Piper

Summer is over and many great times have passed- like paddle boarding to the Newport Dunes and sleeping out in our fort.  But September will be different this year, we will both be going to school.  I’m so excited to see all of the students and do many great things.  And I’m so excited for you too.  Your mom and I have been praying and praying, asking God to put you in the perfect school, in the perfect class, with the perfect kids.  Not that everyday of school will be perfect- some days will be hard, some will be boring, some kids might not be friendly, and some kids might even be mean- but perfect meaning just what God wants for you.  Sometimes he might want you to be nice to kids who are mean and sometimes he wants you to be patient when it’s not your turn.  God is making you perfect, just like he’s perfect, one day at a time.  So even though Mommy and Daddy won’t be by your side, we’ll be praying for you each and every day, that you might remember your God bump, that special place where God lives within you, going everywhere with you.  I’m so thankful for the Bible verse you taught me recently: “God loves you where ever you are”.  Jesus is the best friend, the best teacher, and the best father you will ever have.  Thank you Piper for teaching me so much, I am so proud of you and always will be.  So to my special little girl, my schatzi, I wish you a wonderful first year of school- you’ll do great!

I love you- Te Amo


“Do not seek your own good, but what is good for others”  1 Corinthians 10:24