redshirting: an update

We made the decision to redshirt Ethan, which essentially means hold him back a year. While the rest of his similarly aged peers have begun Kindergarten this year, Ethan is in Pre-K. Because of his summer birthday, holding him back a year will make him one of the oldest in the class instead of one of the youngest. This was not a choice we made for any academic interest, but simply because we feel like true enrichment is still happening at home. I don't feel modern day Kindergarten is biologically appropriate for a young five year old and I just wanted to tack on some extra time to his carefree childhood.

So how's it working out?

Pretty spectacular, actually.

Last year, Ethan wasn't ready for school. He was working through attachment and coming into his personality on his own time. I'm a firm believer in following the child, and I didn't feel like school should be any different. This year, Ethan is ready for school. While we hit a little road block after pulling him out of a preschool that wasn't a good fit and then getting snagged on a waitlist until January, Ethan cannot wait to start preschool again after the holidays. Seeing him ready and excited instead of apprehensive and unsure has really eased a lot of stress that I've been prematurely carrying around for years. It has also helped me to feel pretty confident that he will be ready and excited for Kindergarten next year, which is the best thing I could ask for.

Ethan is reading, writing and thirsty for knowledge. I try to follow his lead by balancing fun outings (the park, the museum, the zoo, etc.) with structured homeschool activities in the theme he's interested in at the moment. However, knowing he's academically ahead of where he should be leaves me with more wiggle room to plan more fun stuff. Or not plan anything at all. Hours of backyard play? Baking and cooking and painting and coloring all morning? Of course. There's nowhere else to be!

There is a huge noticeable con, however, and that is the fact that all of his friends are in school. The kids he's spent the past few years playing with are mostly all gone Monday through Friday. For Ethan, that has been the hardest adjustment in the sense he's trying to understand why his playmates have suddenly all disappeared into thin air. Making new friends at the park is tricky when they're all three or younger and he's the only five year old who isn't in school at the moment. This has forced our mornings to slow down a little bit.

I've enrolled Ethan in extracurricular activities of his choice every afternoon, which he is ecstatic about. It sort of takes the bite of all of the children his age being in school away and helps him feel like part of a group or a class. He takes engineering, art, yoga, gym and music and it's been amazing for me, as his mom, to see his independence blossom. He is fascinated with his classes, his classmates and getting that time to be around other children in a group setting.

People ask a lot how it's going at this point and I really have no regrets. Actually, I'm so happy that we made the decision to redshirt. While it totally stinks that Ethan is now in Pre-K limbo until January when his spot opens up at his new school, I'm excited that his entrance into school is age appropriate and on his own terms. Beginning school again is something he's excited for, which makes all of the difference to me. We'll see how our journey goes the further we delve into school but as for right now, we're just taking it day by day.

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diy dinosaur christmas tree topper

On the last visit the kids and I made to the beach, we were strolling downtown (looking to see what time Ben and Jerry's opened, I'm just saying) and found a little boutique selling the cutest dinosaur tree toppers. For $60 each. Ethan and I promised one another we would actually attempt this project but then everyone got sick, and life happened, and our dino topper just sort of got pushed to the back burner.

Until today!

This was pretty inexpensive to create. Our dinosaur came from the dollar store, the spray paint was $5 and the spring -- the most expensive part -- was eight bucks on Amazon. I'm sure you could find the spring for cheaper if you, you know, actually went to a craft store instead of ordering online.

First we gathered our supplies and used hot glue to fasten the dinosaur to the spring.

During Carmen's naptime, Ethan helped me spray paint. Spray paint with kids is sort of a nightmare, so in hindsight, I wished I just bought acrylic paints and let him sit and paint it. Either way, our drippy, gloppy dinosaur only adds five-year-old charm, which is what will make it so special in the long run.


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the one about america; the one where i can't even think of a title

Like many Americans, I am mourning. I'm no stranger to mourning and so I understand that grief comes in waves and phases. I am feeling every bit of those phases as the hours roll on. My eyes burn from lack of sleep and I keep apologizing to my children for the world ad nauseum. The bulk of the people I surround myself and my children with are also sad. They're also terrified, understandably. Many of our friends were able to marry the loves of their lives -- finally -- thanks to marriage equality. Some have transgender children. A few are post-abortive women and mothers. Many are a part or have children who are a part of the LGBTQ community. We're also fortunate enough to have many friends of varying cultures, races and religions. We have Muslim friends who have already experienced the shock of Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric. And then there is a small portion of people I know who cast their votes loudly and proudly for a Trump/Pence ticket.

Cry babies, they say. Get over it, they urge. We must be one country now, they preach.

It occurred to me (albeit a little too late, if I can admit my own naivety) that people believe the outrage stems from people disappointed their side lost. Their team. They are likening a Trump/Pence victory to someone who made a bet in a coin toss and lost, resulting in some kind of tantrum. I can understand this feeling if this was a normal election, with normal candidates. I was terrified when Romney was running against my main man Obama during the 2012 election. I didn't want Romney to win! I didn't like his platform! I didn't like his politics! But I would have survived -- and, fine, maybe posted some sore loser memes and angry rants on social media. But this is different, because this isn't just politics. This is so, so much more. Sure, maybe you like Trump's policies and politics. Maybe you think he really is the guy to fix whatever it is you find wrong with America. I can respect that, as much as I don't understand it.

But to deny climate change? To pick someone as dangerous as Mike "electroshock conversion therapy" Pence as his running mate? To vow to punish women for having abortions? To promise to rid the country of gun-free zones? A man who has inspired so much hateful, racist rhetoric? The ticket that will undo my friends marriages? Take my reproductive rights away?

That's no longer politics. That's dangerous and downright scary. You see, nothing in this world is more important to me than people having access to their basic human rights and freedoms. Isn't that what America is all about? You can have your opinions (and your religion, if we're talking about my longtime nemesis Pence), but to make laws based on them that force everyone in this country to do as you believe? Dude, that's not America. That's not my America.

So, no, I'm not sad that Trump won. I'm sad that my friends marriages are in jeopardy. I'm scared of the increase in hate crimes and racist backlash facing terrified human beings. I'm sad that some day soon another woman will find herself pregnant with a dying baby just like I did, but her bodily autonomy will really be gone. No, Trump didn't tell his supporters to set out on day one and let the hate crimes fly -- but he emboldened the racists who always existed. He gave them a voice. He gave them their spines.

Maybe you can believe that there are other things more important than my liberties and freedoms, or those of my friends and their children. I don't believe this. I am scared for my children's future and not just because we have a President who wants to "grab 'em by the pussy." I think Trump is a vile, disgusting man who doesn't represent me or my America and, to be honest, I think Pence is 150 times worse -- but this isn't about their personalities (although I believe if Trump's remarks could get him banned from Macy's, they should also disqualify him for the Presidency) or their politics. This is about a promise to take away freedoms and rights from people -- and if that isn't worth outrage, what is the point of anything?

So, I am sad. I am sad because the country has become very murky. I am scared because my daughter is a person of color. I am scared because I am a woman of reproductive age who has stocked up on emergency contraception like a Pre-Roe V Wade doomsday prepper. I am scared because people I love are hurting, they're afraid -- and rightfully so. I'm scared that there are a few -- thankfully, only a few -- people I know who don't seem to find this very catastrophic at all. Do they share these views, or are they just that unimportant to them?

Are we really expected to say things like "oh, sure, void my marriage. We can still be friends!" or "well, they won -- so let's work together to become one unified country who will provide safe and legal access to electroshock conversion therapy?" Are we really hateful if we refuse to hug it out with someone who voted to take away our rights? Am I really supposed to not unfriend my longtime friend on social media when they say (quote): "I guess the black people will have to get out and get JOBS! #blacklivesdontmatterunlessyoumakesomethingofthem?"

There's so much conflict. There's so much pain and so much emotion because this isn't a regular election. We aren't pouting because our candidate lost. We're pouting because we are angry, because we are scared, because we are fearful of an America that sets us back 50 years. We are angry because while maybe you will scoot by unscathed, not all of us will. We're disappointed that all of the sudden, following a Trump/Pence win, we have friends who don't see the horror in someone ripping a woman's hijab off or grabbing another unsuspecting woman by the vagina at a gas station. What is more important than civil rights? What is more important than human rights and bodily autonomy and equality? It's sad to me that other people actually have an answer they feel is valid because I thought so much higher of society as a whole. (That's probably just my white privilege showing.)

My friends and I aren't sore losers. We aren't bitter. We don't have to "get over it." When someone tells you they promise to invalidate your basic human rights, you're not going to just shrug and say "well, that's life." Or maybe you would. But I won't. Pence can take back Roe V. Wade from my cold, dead ovaries. We see the racism and we're raising you some angry, strong activism.

And in my time of utmost disappointment in this country, that's my silver lining: I'm seeing the helpers. I'm seeing the fight and the spit and the strength and the fire in the bellies of the people around me. I'm seeing the camaraderie and the compassion and the spirit in those closest to me. No, it doesn't erase the punch-in-the-gut of seeing people you assumed you were normal suddenly fly off their racist handles on social media, but it gives me hope. And right now, hope is all we have.

Perhaps in four years, if we survive, our Trudeau will come.

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carmen fable: eight months

I am so behind (understatement of the year), what with Halloween and it's myriad of festivities and then strep throat sweeping through our house -- but Carmen Fable turned eight months old on October 27th!

She weighed in at just shy of 16 pounds. She's still cloth diapered exclusively during the day, and is (finally) in size 2 disposables at nighttime. Perhaps the biggest milestone was me getting to pack up her 0-3 month clothing and finally start putting her in 3-6 month clothing! This was a little bittersweet, and it's 99% likely that she will be our very last baby but I'm seeing that with such a teeny little one, it's exciting to see them grow so quickly. (Ethan was already in 2T by the age of 1!)

Carmen is loving solids (finally) and is starting to accept the fact she sort of needs to eat once in a while. She still has no teeth, but is getting better at gumming bigger chunks of banana and avocado. Today she tried the Sprout organic puffs for the first time, and loved them! So far, she's eaten: butternut squash, carrots, green beans, peas, pears, apples, broccoli, spinach, lentils, red pepper, cucumber, zucchini, quinoa and kale.

Carmen can crawl and is thisclose to fully being able to pull up to a stand on any surface. She loves to get around and explore. She is always smiling and happy, which is still so incredible to me.

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