Wednesday, September 30, 2009


The joys of life with a baby in the house: daily sleep deprivation. (He totally makes up for it when he smiles that huge grin at you, first thing in the morning, having not the slightest idea that he's bugged you all night long.) Mr. Maxwell has been waking up at night a lot more lately. Apparently a lot of kids do this at 9 months. Teething. New skills like crawling and cruising. Not that he has ever been a sleep-all-through-the-night kind of kid; lately, it's just been much worse.

Last night, he fell asleep around 8:30. He slept soundly in his crib until 11 o'clock. I held him against my chest, with his head laying on my shoulder, and then he was back to sleep and so I laid him down. He slept for awhile and woke up again at 1 AM. He's sitting in his crib, banging his fists against the mattress. It feels like every time I put my head down on the pillow, two seconds go by and again there is crying. I get up and try to console him. At 3:45, he stands up and holds on to the bars of the crib and starts saying "mamamama" and crying half-heartedly. He briefly falls asleep in the big bed and then I lay him back down in his crib. Just 30 minutes later, at 4:15, he's up again. By 5 o'clock, he's awake again. He wakes and sleeps intermittently for an hour and a half (meaning I am not sleeping during this period either). Then around 6:30, he's up and happy in the big bed again. Can't get him to go to sleep. Starts crawling with a big smile on his face toward his dad when he walks in from the bathroom. Willie picks him up and rocks him a little, but Max is definitely not going back to sleep then. And Willie has to finish getting ready for work. Since the rest of us usually wake up around 6:45 or 7 o'clock to get Zahra ready for school, I figured I'd just be up with him. Instead, somehow he manages to fall sound asleep, just as we are waking up. This turn of events frustrates me and I'm very tired at this point. He stays asleep until I put him in the stroller to walk Zahra to school (we leave the house at 7:40). He stays awake for awhile until we are back from walking Zahra. I try to get a nap in and lay down with him at a quarter to 9. We nap until 10 and this rest makes me functional for the rest of the day. Tired, but functional. Here's the cute little guy you see smiling and you just can't be mad at. We were at Disneyland, eating at Cafe Orleans, on Friday night (the first night of Halloween Time). I think he was chewing on a french fry when I took this picture.

And, on another note, no, the title isn't a spelling error. Just the way Zahra is currently pronouncing the word "lemonade." I thought I'd do a random post and didn't know what to call it. Every time she says, "Mom, can I have some more lemolade?" it cracks me up. Maybe you have to be there in person, but it's funny.
Big foot. Here we have Zahra wearing her dad's shoes around the house. She was clomping all over the place last night and it was really funny. I couldn't quite capture how funny it was, but she and I kept cracking up. It was bedtime but I couldn't resist a few pictures. (At the point the picture was taken, maybe around 8:50, Max was sound asleep upstairs.) The pictures of Big Foot didn't come out very good but the one above was decent.

And Zahra's afro. I was washing her hair on school picture day last week and her hair made these beautiful halos in the water. They were pretty neat looking, so I decided to capture it. She loves taking baths and frequently pretends she's a mermaid.
That's all for now. With any luck, tonight will be a good night and we'll get some decent sleep in the house. Fingers crossed. Bye.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Classroom Volunteer

(Photo credit: Matt Petit)
Picture Explanation
I must admit the photo has nothing to do with the topic I'm about to discuss. I just picked it because I have gotten so used to posting things with pictures, I feel at a loss as to how to do it otherwise. Our wedding photographer came over to the house and took some pictures in our living room. He brought the canvas background and special lights, which give it the studio feel. To the trained eye, you can see it's been a while since these were taken. The key is to look at the hair, how long Zahra's is (pre-August hair cut), and how much shorter Willie's locks are here. But anyway, on to the main event...
Room 4 Kindergarten Help
This morning, I volunteered in Zahra's classroom from 8 to 9 o'clock. (School starts at 8:00.) Mrs. Conton had two tasks for me to do. The first involved cutting 24 oval shapes (which were far from perfect; I don't think cutting curved shapes could be described as my forte). The second task had to do with some preparation for the October calendars the kids are going to make. I had to fold large sheets of blue construction paper in half, hole-punch the top, cut a piece of yarn, and tie said yarn in a bow through the holes. (This one I did a better job at, maybe because of all that practice putting our wedding invitations together!)
As I was cutting the oval shapes out of construction paper, Mrs. Conton asked me to supervise a table of kids practicing writing their names. (She was working on assessments and pulling kids up one at a time to her desk.)
It was interesting to watch what Zahra goes through each morning. When you ask her to elaborate on her day, she doesn't usually have much to say. I'm not really sure why she doesn't talk about school very much, as she certainly has the verbal skills to do so. She still seems to be happy when I drop her off in the mornings and when you ask her in the afternoon how her day went, she invariably replies, "Good!"
When the kids first walk in to the classroom, they are seated in front of the cubbies. If they have anything for Mrs. Conton (lunch money, permission slips, et cetera), they are to pull these items out of their bags and hand them in. After that's done, the kids put their bags in their cubbies and then sit on a carpeted area in another part of the classroom. There are different pictures and words up on the wall that correspond to different things they go over each day. There's a September calendar up and a chart that talks about which day was yesterday (Monday), which day is today (Tuesday), and which day is tomorrow (Wednesday). Then they sing a song about the days of the week to the tune of the Addams Family theme. I thought this was pretty cute. No doubt the origin of the tune is lost on 5-year-old kids, but it was a cute way for them to learn the days of the week. ("There's Sunday and there's Monday, there's Tuesday and there's Wednesday..." and then the chorus is, "days of the week" click-click "days of the week" click-click, where the kids either snap their fingers or making a clucking sound with their tongue, Zahra doing the latter.) Also, one student is chosen to describe what type of weather is outside for that particular day. There was some debate among the kids over whether it was cloudy or foggy, but the chosen student had picked "cloudy," so that's what description was posted on the wall for today.
At some point in their morning routine, the class is interrupted by the loudspeaker mounted in the corner of the room. The kids are asked to please stand and say the Pledge of Alliegiance. Mrs. Conton walks around helping some kids remember to place their hands over their hearts. After they finish, they all sit down and continue.
Mrs. Conton goes down the attendance list and asks whether or not kids are going to buy lunch. When she's finished with this, two kids get to take the list to the office. It's these very lists that my mother-in-law will use to figure out how many lunches to cook for that particular day. Some kids buy lunch every day or some kids might only buy when there is a meal they like (of course you know chicken nuggets and pizza are popular!).
The class goes over the letter of the day. Today's letter was "L." There is a chart on the easel that shows the letter in upper and lower case and several pictures of things that begin with the letter (lion, lemon). Mrs. Conton models how to write the letter and has the kids write the letter in the air.
Eventually the kids break up into three groups and go to different stations at different tables. I was asked to look over the kids who were writing their names. (This was when I was working on cutting out those not-so-great ovals.) They all had the kind of Vis-a-vis markers you would use on an overhead projector. (Ah, just the sight of them reminded me of the earlier days of school. I don't really remember any professors using them in college, but they were definitely something we saw a lot of in high school!) Each student had a sheet of paper that had their name written on it a few times and this was inside a clear sheet protector. The kids were supposed to trace their name with the overhead marker and then continue the practice by writing it several more times on the lines below. Some of the kids finished quickly and I'd ask them if they were done. They seemed so surprised and even asked, "How'd you know my name?" Pretty cute. I told them I could read it on their papers. Then they were like, "Oh... yeah."
Another group was working on the letter of the day worksheet and alphabet-writing practice. The last group were supposed to be drawing a self-portrait and something that they could sell that began with the first letter of their name.
It was neat to see Zahra among the other kids, working diligently on her letter Ls. When she got to the table where I was supervising, she didn't seem to be very focused on writing her name. I'm not sure if she was just like this today, or because I was there, or if this happens often. I'm sure we'll hear more about her particulars when parent-teacher conferences happen next month. (I think that's got to be one of the reasons that Mrs. Conton was doing those student assessments.)
I'm scheduled to volunteer the same hours every Tuesday and Thursday. I'm sure I'll have more to report about Zahra's class as the year goes on. (I didn't realize I'd have so much to say about one hour this morning!)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Max in Mischief

So lately, as you can imagine, since Max is now mobile, he has become free to get into all sorts of mischief. Some of it is cute, some would border on dangerous if he wasn't being watched very carefully, some of it is messy, some of it annoys the heck out of Zahra. The gamut is all over the place, just like our little guy.
So today, I'm cleaning up the kitchen, and Max wanted nothing of the baby swing or to watch the clothes in the washing machine cycle round and round. He decided that since I was messing with the dishwasher, that's what he wanted to do, too. He crawled over, pulled himself up, and started pulling dirty spoons and forks out, one by one, and throwing them on the floor. This was cute and funny for a little while, but then I had to figure out a way to keep him occupied without getting into my chores.
This portion of the dishwasher, where the utensils belong, can come out completely. Max decided to do a little cause-and-effect research and slide the basket back and forth.

Here he is, still working on things, trying to figure out how all the relevant pieces work together. It's kind of neat to watch him. You can almost see the little wheels inside his head turning. "This is what happens when I slide it this way. Then I can slide it back."
I put him in a laundry basket to keep him in one spot. But sitting all alone in a laundry basket is no fun, so then I decided that he might like to play with an ice cream scooper and a pot. That was entertaining for awhile and then I decided to give him some apple juice in a sippy cup. He doesn't quite have the drinking-out-of-a-sippy-cup mastered yet, so mostly he just drooled all over it and got his shirt all wet.
On Saturday morning, as I was getting Zahra dressed up in her soccer jersey and shorts, Max decided to take the matter of hunger into his own hands, literally. Lately, one thing he enjoys are these little freeze-dried yogurt bites that are marketed for toddlers. They're just the perfect size for little hands to pick up and because they're freeze-dried, they melt in the baby's mouth. One reason I like them is because they have active cultures in them, too. He can feed himself and it's a not-so-messy way for the little guy to consume yogurt.
Apparently, the last time he ate them, I had failed to completely close the ziploc top of the bag. I'd placed Max on the couch so I could help Zahra get her clothes on. Max decides to dump the bag open and help himself. Initially, I was like, "Man! I just washed the slip-cover for the couch and now I'm gonna have to wash it again 'cause it has all these little yogurt pieces all over it!" and then I laughed and thought about how it was cute he just dumped the bag open and started shoveling yogurt bites into his mouth. Then, Willie was nice enough to put all the big pieces back in the bag so Max could eat them later.
Bon appetit!

Soccer in Action

(Zahra's team is purple. The number on the back of her jersey is 2, but it's kind of tucked in to her shorts so it's a little hard to see.)

I took a short video so you could get an idea of the chaos that ensued out on the field. My favorite part is when Zahra is running along and she kind of jumps and kicks her leg in the air a little. For apparently no reason at all. It cracks me up. Anyway, kind of like the trikeathon video from preschool, the soccer game was very much like this the whole time...

Soccer on Saturdays

Saturday, September 12 was Zahra's first official soccer game. She plays on a U6 (kids under age 6) AYSO team called the Purple Butterflies. The team they played against on Saturday was called the Green Butterflies. (All the parents thought this was pretty funny.) As to be expected, the game was chaos. Slightly organized chaos, but chaotic nonetheless. You could see the girls sort of understood what was happening, but there certainly wasn't a lot of coordination. They don't keep score in this division, since the kids are still learning how to play, but if they did, our team would have definitely lost. The score was at least 5-1, maybe 4-1. They also don't have goal-keepers. The kids just try to get it in the goal, defending the best they can without actually having someone stay there and do typical things like pouncing on balls or scooping up a ball before it has a chance to enter the net. The girls on the other team seemed taller and more athletic than our girls, but overall, it was just kind of fun to watch, no matter what level the teams were at.

Zahra seemed upbeat and excited throughout most of the game. She kind of avoided the masses when a bunch of girls would be gathered around the ball, but she definitely kept up with wherever the ball was at on the field and would kind of stay near it. I think it will be especially fun when they understand things a little better. After the game, she expressed that she enjoyed it so that was fun to hear.
Here are a few of the girls lined up during the practice they had right before the game began.

The team sign

Waiting for something...
Running down the field...
And yes, she sat down, on the field,
right in the middle of the game.
However, luckily, this digression was brief
and soon she was back up again and running around...
A little one-on-one coaching from Dad...
Throwing the ball back into play...

And congratulating the other team at the end of the game.
(Nice to see good sportsmanship developing early on.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Kindergarten Kid

Today is Zahra's first day of Kindergarten. She's in Mrs. Conton's class at Golden View Elementary. Right now, as I type this, she's sitting in Room 4, getting used to new surroundings and people. Here's Zahra, sitting on the couch, just before we left the house to walk her to school. Usually, Willie goes in to work at 6:30 (and I don't work until the afternoons), but today he went in later than usual so he could be there to walk her to school for the first day. As you can see in the picture, she seemed so happy and excited to go.
It was hard to get Zahra to look at the camera or keep her eyes open, but here we have her modeling her school bag for us.

She was so happy when we were waiting out on the sidewalk (Willie was closing the door and locking up). She started dancing around, kicking her legs up, back and forth. It was awesome!
On the walk to school....

In front of the school sign...
Hiding behind Max & waiting with Mom...

Saying goodbye to little brother...
Waiting for the teacher to come out of the classroom and take the kids in...
And more waiting...
Once Mrs. Conton announced she would be taking the kids inside and that it was time for parents and kids to say goodbye to each other, Willie and I gave her hugs and kisses and told her we loved her. We told her to have a good day and that we knew she'd do well. The goodbyes seemed to go on for a long time, so long, that Zahra said, "Why don't you just leave already?!" It was pretty cute. She was joking about it and had a smile on her face when she said it, so it didn't seem rude or anything. She seemed ready to go in and get the year started. Since her classroom is an interior one (some rooms have doors that open to the exterior of the building), she had to go through another classroom to get to her own. Willie walked her to the door because she seemed to be walking slow and not keeping up with the rest of the kids in her class. He watched her go in and see that Mrs. Conton came by to help the kids make it into the room. He said that Zahra just kept walking and didn't even look back.
We hope Zahra has a wonderful year in Kindergarten. We know she'll do well.
We'll keep you all posted.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Lazy Friday Afternoon

So if you ever found yourself wondering what we do on lazy Friday afternoons, here's your answer. The kids nap and I read a book on my Kindle. It's not a completely lazy day, because we got a lot done this morning: Starbucks for Zahra's chocolate milk and my mocha frappuccino, a visit to Michael's to buy a canvas tote and iron-on butterfly patches for Zahra's school stuff (the teacher mailed a letter asking parents to get the kids bags instead of backpacks because they're easier and take up less space), a drive out to Fountain Valley to stop by Willie's work to pay for and pick up dinners we order from Jessica Todd's sister (yum!), another drive back to Westminster to go to the mall to the embroidery place to get Zahra's name written on her new school bag, and a quick stop at Chipotle to pick up a barbacoa burrito.
And we planned to go to Disneyland this afternoon, when Willie gets home from work, since our annual passes have blackout days this weekend. I told Zahra we wouldn't go to Disneyland if she didn't get a nap in. Max had just woken up from napping during all those car rides, so I let him play on the floor in Zahra's bedroom. He kept himself busy for awhile, playing with toys and crawling around the floor. I kept the door closed so he couldn't get out to the top of the landing where the stairs are, so I was able to relax and know that he was always safe, even if I had my eyes on the book. I'm currently reading "The Hour I First Believed" by Wally Lamb. I just finished reading one of his earlier books, "I Know This Much is True" and thought it was excellent. One of the best novels I've ever read, which is definitely saying a lot, since I've read quite a few books over the years. (I found out that the print version of the hardcover edition is over 950 pages long and it only took me two weeks to read.)

So after a little while, I could tell Max was getting tired of playing by himself on the floor, so I pulled him up to the bed where I was reading next to Zahra. Pretty soon he fell asleep and the two of them slept soundly, side by side, for another hour. Now they're awake and it's time to get ready for our trip to Disneyland. Willie will probably be home within the half hour. Usually we go earlier in the day, but this time we'll be there in the evening which will be a nice change. Off to the Magic Kingdom!