Friday, August 29, 2008

My pair

It's not the best photo, just a random one Jim snapped of the kids. But he took it, and I love it, because they are sitting on the couch together, holding hands. Until, they spotted Jim with the camera, they were happily sitting like that and looking at Ben's Pokemon cards.

Okay, I don't fully understand what or who a Pokemon is, and I'm not sure my 9-year-old really needs to be quizzing my 3-year-old on the various monsters (are they monsters?) powers.

Still watching my pair together gives me a jolt of joy like almost nothing else. They do not share a blond line, a skin color, a hair type, a gender or an even reasonably close birth date. But their brother-sister bond is as tight as they come.

Kisae wants to do everything with "My brudder Ben." And Ben frequently says she is his favorite person in the world.

Not that they don't have their spats, their "you can't come in my room for a month!" and "no look at me!" moments. They do. But they are short-lived.

Today, as were were picking Ben up from school, we saw one of his teachers. She stopped to chat, mentioned how cute Kisae was and then said, "Oh, I wish I had a Kisae."

Ben put his arm around his sister and smiled. "Too bad. She's mine."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I like that girl!

I showed Kisae a photo of Tirunesh Dibaba, the Ethiopian runner who won two gold medals in Beijing. I told her Dibaba was really fast, "super fast," in Kisae speak.

Kisae seemed quite interested in the whole thing. "I like that girl!" she said. "Her pretty."

Oh, it made me happy to hear that. Not because pretty matters, in the shallow sense of the word, but because it does matter that so often black girls (at least by those depressing studies) don't really see themselves as pretty. And it terrifies me (in a way I can hardly articulate) that with white parents, Kisae will be particularly prone to thinking girls who look like her aren't pretty. Never mind that she is, hands down, the prettiest among us.

So whenever she points out that a black woman is pretty, my heart does a little leap.


I woke this morning to find Ben at the kitchen table doing the spelling homework he'd deemed too much last night. That was good. Of course, he also said maybe he would do just 3/4 of it - the teacher wouldn't be too mad, right?

Sigh. Just finish it, I said, then it will be done. So he did, without too much complaining.

I would like there to be less stress about homework this year. I really would.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tricycle as an amphibious vehicle

The early part of Sunday was, gasp, actually sunny. And so I insisted the kids and I get outside. It seemed nobody had any chance to run around for a week. So Ben took off to explore a bit, and Kisae and I took her trike out.

There were a few issues.
First, it was like I had forgotten, oh, it's a sunny day in August, and it's gonna be hot. It was 90. Ugh. I told her not to wear jeans but she wanted to wear the new pair she'd just gotten. Oh well.
Second, the sidewalks were covered with water, so so were we.
Third, Kisae had a major meltdown when she realized Ben was going to go ahead and bike by some friends' houses. "I bike with my brudder!"

Eventually, she calmed down and had fun, peddling through the giant puddles.

Homework hassles...and school only started last week. Ugh

School started a week ago and was closed for two days because of Tropical Storm Fay. So it's really hardly begun. Yet already we have homework issues.

It seemed to me what was sent home needed to be done tonight (that's what the teacher's newsletter said). Ben insisted it wasn't due until Thursday. A call to a friend didn't offer much clarification, but the friend was at least doing most of the work.

Ben was trying to figure out how to do the least amount possible. I was trying not to get annoyed, not to start our pattern of having these battles over homework. Truth is, it did seem like a lot of paper work -- but most of it also seemed ridiculously easy. Like if he stopped complaining, he could have finished it easily.

In the end, with much harumpfing (and some storming off) he finally did most. Then he said he was going to read and finish the last sheet in the morning. I just decided he needs to start taking responsibility for this, so I wasn't going to argue about that. Though maybe I need to get a clarification from his teacher on actual due date.

In any case, it was more stress than anybody wanted or needed. At least the rain stopped enough that I could go walking with D. tonight. That was very needed.

Now I find myself looking at old photos of Ben, missing the little boy he was. Not that I don't appreciate, and often delight in, the 9-year-old he is. But I just could really deal without all the attitude that comes along with the new passions and interests and skills.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Rain, rain go away. Really. We mean it!

Okay, we are not flooded like our neighbors to the east. But Tropical Storm Fay is dumping tons and tons of rain on us. As I was leaving work, I felt like I was in some comedy scene from a movie -- it was raining so hard my umbrella was flipped inside out and pulled behind me. So of course, I got soaked. Plus, the water in the lot was up to my ankles in places.

The grass in our yard is like a sponge, there is water standing on our front walkway and it just keeps coming down. It has been raining on and off since Monday and seemingly non-stop for the last 24 hours. In one town, officials said it got as much rain in one day as it usually gets in six months. This is nuts.

We just got an automated call tonight (at 9:30 p.m., mind you) from the school district that schools are now closed tomorrow because of flooding and power outages. They were closed Tuesday, too. Ugh. Nothing stresses out two-working-parent families than unexpected school closures (And thanks M. for that phone call offering to help. So appreciated).

Plus, everyone is getting stir crazy. The kids haven't been able to play outside. I haven't been able to walk with D.

Go away Fay. Far away.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hurricane Days

The kids and I have been inside almost all day because of Tropical Storm Fay. School is closed (though thankfully opening tomorrow), so I worked from home. Hurricane days are Florida's equivalent of snow days (which I used to, of course, just love as a kid). But now, as one of two working parents, I just dread the unexpected school cancellation. I was able to work from home -- but I really didn't have any other options. And it's just very stressful when you feel like you should be at work and just can't be. But we've had quite a pleasant day together, considering we got only one short walk outside.

Anyway, so far this storm has just brought some wind and some rain, none of it very significant. But the worst of the storm is still a bit south of us, so we'll see what tonight brings.

It certainly (and thank goodness) won't be like the storms that hit here in 2004. Central Florida was hit with three hurricanes in a span of seven weeks back then. We lost power for several days during each storm. August in Florida is NOT a good time to be without power. Ben, who had just started kindergarten, lost a week of school after the first storm and days after the next two. Jim was sent to the cover the storms, and I was home trying to work and scrambling for child care. Crazy. But we were lucky as the damage to our house was not terrible (roof leaks and a crushed carport -- but it was old and ugly anyway). Many others were not as fortunate. Our neighborhood was hit the worst by Hurricane Charley, which knocked down many, many live oak trees.

These photos were taken the morning after Charley (which came through about 8 p.m.). This is our street, and my mom (who happened to be in town in a stroke of extraordinarily bad vacation luck. Though it was wonderful for me, as she stayed a week to watch Ben, then 5, so I could work) and Ben checking out the damage. I still find it stunning four years later.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Beach week in photos

Some more photos from our week at the beach. I ended up with more of Kisae, probably partly because she's at that cute stage (she even looks cute in that ridiculous hat) and partly because Ben spends so much time in the water (often "wave bashing," as he puts it) often nearly being demolished by waves, that he's harder to photograph.

I did manage to get one sweet one of him and his cousin C. walking together. They are 14 months apart (she's older), but this summer we realized Ben is now the taller one.

Kisae, with her love of the "deeper," may soon be harder to photograph at the beach, too, but this summer she was still a pretty good subject.

A new school year, with new teeth

School started yesterday (and stopped today, thanks to a Hurricane day. Ugh). Ben was quite nervous in the morning, which seemed odd as he isn't changing schools and is now, as a fourth grader, among the older kids. He was even worried about his bag. He'd wanted a messenger bag, not a backpack. But yesterday morning was very worried the bag "looked dumb."

But he came home from school very happy and excited, about his teacher, his friends, school in general. So that was good.

Also, his teeth were fixed so when he smiles for real - not the sickly grin I got in these shots -- he looks back to normal. Of course, his teeth are forever compromised and the whole accident still gives me shivers...but hopefully these fixes will last him into adulthood.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Six fun days at the beach, three miserable hours at the ER

We came back from our annual beach vacation in N.C. with the usual assortment of sandy towels and seashells. Ben also came back missing chunks of both his front teeth (and, yes, they were his permanent teeth).

He smashed his face on the bottom of the (too-shallow) pool and broke both teeth. Fortunately, he did not expose or damage the nerves (or his jaw or the rest of his face). So while we did have to spend three hours at the ER at the Outer Banks Hospital (Sunday evening in that beach town there were no other options) to get him checked out, we were able to wait for teeth repair until we got home. And while he was freaked out (and I was really freaked out, though trying really hard to hide it), he was not in pain.

Other than that our trip was just lovely. Beautiful weather and lots of fun catching up with relatives we hadn't seen in a year.

Chakisae, already our little swimming pro in the pool, also decided she loved the ocean. All week she kept asking someone to take her "in the deeper," meaning out into the waves.

After I recovered from the stress of Ben's accident (which happened on our first full day there), I think I did manage to relax, forget about work, unwind. That was good.