Monday, September 15, 2014

We Did It, Ma!

First full day of JK for the Big Yam.  First day back to work for me.  First day where I've only spent 3 of the babies' 11 waking hours with them.  As one would reasonably expect with that number of firsts, the last week went largely smoothly but not without some hiccups.

For example, after dropping the Big Yam off at school and going through the whole "furtively-wiping-tears-off-our-faces" bonding camp with the other JK parents outside in the kindergarten pen, I met up with the Roomie for brunch.  We were in her car on our way when I got a call from my nanny saying she was "concerned" because she had heard an announcement on the PA to the effect of: "Will Master T please go back to his classroom."  She was worried so the Roomie and I turned the car around and headed to the school.  I went into the office, got the attention of the Vice Principal and said, "Um, I heard that there was an announcement made for my son?" And he said, "Oh, are you T's mom?  After music class, he got swept up with the big kids and ended up outside with the big kids during their recess.  Don't worry, we found him very quickly and had all hands on deck looking for him!"  At the time, I was pretty blasé about it and the Roomie and I had a big laugh, but the more I think about it, the more I'm a bit, "WTF?"  How the heck did that happen?  Isn't 75% of the make-up of a primary teacher's day lining kids up, making them hold hands, and counting them?  Later on, after quizzing our nanny, she said she was first twigged to there being an issue when a man I now suspect was the VP came running into the drop-in centre (which is in the school) inquiring if there was a "Master T, in JK" there.  Five minutes later (by her accounting), the announcement was made on the PA.  That's a long time for a kid to go missing!

Later in the week I emailed the principal because I felt like the communication from the school was lacking.  The Big Yam's teacher made a cursory mention of it in passing during the frenzied cattle call that is pick up.  The principal INSTANTLY responded and said he was going over the procedures with the Big Yam's teacher and that he was actually the one who found the Big Yam and it was only a minute, but one minute is a minute too long in his books (I can't believe he wrote those words!) blah blah blah.  

One thing of note that I've experienced since starting this whole "parent-of-a-school-aged-child" thing this year is how the Dotytron's loyalties are weighed disproportionately (in my opinion) towards his fellow teacher brethren (and sistren?)  When I went out and dutifully bought fiendishly expensive lunch containers for the school's "literless lunch" program, I was chastised because the Big Yam couldn't open the leak-proof clasps and that this would now be the "teacher's" responsibility.  I was criticized just this morning because I had the temerity to put the Big Yam in jeans that had a zipper and one of those sliding hook/tab closures because it would make it so much harder for "teacher" when he had to go to the bathroom.  When I balked at buying the Big Yam a pair of sneakers JUST for indoor use at school (my rationale being, why can't he wear his sneakers to school and indoors and then, if it's raining or snowy, then transition them as his indoor shoes?) the Dotytron gave me a hard time and told me that I was being unreasonable and why can't I just follow the school's directives?  

The point being: he's slowly letting slip whose team he's on and he's making an enemy of me.  Haha, just kidding (OR AM I?!?)  When I told him I emailed the principal and that my intention wasn't to get the teacher in trouble, he got all accusatory: "So why didn't you bring it up with the teacher?  Why did you have to escalate things and go straight to the principal?" In my defense, blog readers, my rationale is that this was an operational/management issue.  The communication protocol was really ad-hoc.  If my nanny hadn't been at the school that day, I would have found out at the end of the day, through the teacher's hurried, over-the-shoulder account, which, incidentally, varied substantively from the report of my witness?  Why are the JKs being transitioned from their rotary classes at the same time as the bigger kids?  If it was from music class, why isn't the music teacher responsible?  Who is responsible?  What procedures do they have in place to make sure this doesn't happen again?  At the very least, what can we do to make sure this doesn't happen on a kid's FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, EVER?!?  

Full disclosure: this principal is already on my s**t list, so yeah, and has already made an enemy of me so yeah, I'm going to be looking for his administrative failings and bringing them STRAIGHT TO HIS FRONT DOOR.  The story of how he finds himself so low in my standing is a tale for another day.

The first day at work was invigorating.  I nailed my outfit, unpacked all my shoes, felt good.  A lot of things change but your day to day doesn't.  That seems to be most jobs.  You're just right back into it.  It felt normal, and right.  There was a brief moment at the end of the day, when the realization that I was supposed to come back, every day, FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE set in, that got a bit grim, but then I shook myself and soldiered on.  At the end of the day, I am extraordinarily lucky.  I have a job I love, that I do well at, that I only rarely take home with me, that's a 25 minute bike commute from my home.  That's pretty darn good, folks.

We've got a good system set up, too.  We get up just before 6am (yes, you read that right).  The Dotytron does his thing, he sets out the Big Yam's breakfast (his current cereal breakfast fixation lends itself to set-up): a bowl of Shreddies, a glass of milk he can pour into the bowl, a vitamin, and then assembles the Big Yam's lunch, and does his thing.  I either go for a run, or eat my own breakfast and do a bunch of dinner prep.  By the time the Dotytron leaves for the day at around 7am, the babies are awake (and bless their souls, they're usually just lying awake, quiet in their cribs, waiting for someone to come and get them), we bring them down, I feed them breakfast, get myself ready, and our nanny shows up in time to clean them up and get all three boys changed and out the door for the day.  The Dotytron comes home, usually overlaps with the nanny for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, and uses that time to have her occupy the kids so he can get final dinner preparations done, and I walk in the door around 5:45pm.  It's a very sane, sensible, and manageable system.

The idea of school lunches seems to strike fear in the hearts of many parents.  It was listening to the neighbour-moms nattering about it that was the catalyst for me outsourcing the task to the Dotytron.  My neighbours swear by the hot lunch program at school, but it's $90/16 instructional days and I felt like we could make jumped-up substantial-snack type lunches for much less.  Really, it ain't no thing.  It takes him a maximum of 5 minutes.  Unlike my halcyon childhood, where I had a deli meat sandwich every day for my entire school existence,  we try to limit processed meats, so he only gets that twice a week.  One day he gets a homemade "lunchable" of crackers, kolbassa cut up, baby carrots, and cheese (curds, Babybel, cut up whatever we have in the cheese drawer).  One day he gets a mortadella/ham tortilla roll-up thing.  One day he gets a Wow Butter sandwich.  One day he gets leftover breakfast from the weekend (so, pancakes, waffles, French toast with a little container of syrup).  One day will be either dinner leftovers, a thermos thing like soup, or us trying to get him to try something new (egg salad, tuna salad, etc.).  He always gets a fruit on the side, or we bulk it up with yogurt.  So far our main problem has been him losing the spoons we give him to eat the yogurt with.   Today he took leftover Indian food from Friday Night Takeout Night (at his request): "I want to take the chicken and the rice and the beans.  Lots."  

I've also got a system in place for the weekly menu planning so that we can eat at a reasonable time and still give the kids time for outdoor play with the neighbourhood rugrats/bath/extended stories, etc.  I do one night a week where it's a prepared meal from the freezer, one night where it's a slow-cooker type thing, one night where it's a simple, one-pot pasta type dish.  One night is leftovers.  The idea is that this way, you're only ever doing night-of "cooking" twice a week (not including weekends, which is when I get to go to town, and when I produce those double-batches of things that end up in the freezer).  Listen people, there are people who have made careers out of this (Dinner: A Love Story blog, I'm looking at you!).  

Also, our nanny does LIGHT HOUSEKEEPING!!!  Every time you see the words "light housekeeping," please imagine me on my knees, raising my hands to the heavens in thanks.  Hiring a nanny was the best decision we ever made.  Before, when we left for work, the house would be in a state of disarray that ran the gamut from, "dishes left on the counter" to "dishes left on the counter AND vomit of unknown origin (cat/human?) left to solidify and turn crusty on the floor."  It wasn't pretty.  Now, I come home to a clean house!  Our amazing nanny tidies up so that I at least come home and I'm starting from a reasonable point.  Like, at the top of a pile of excrement with a backhoe loader, and not having to dig through the excrement to GET to the backhoe loader.  That's Booker Prize nomination-level writing there, folks.  She folds our laundry!  Cleans our floors!  Tidies the bathroom!  Vacuums!  I've got a system going where I do the laundry and leave the baskets out and if she has time, she does them.  I stressed to her that the main focus is obviously, the kids.  So the laundry will get folded only if she has time and has made sure to take a proper lunch break, etc.  I told her that between the three of us, it will get done.  

I've also made a point of staying device-free until everyone is put down to bed, because I only get two hours with those nuggets, and I want to be as present as possible for them, so they don't forget that I brought them into the world and as such, they OWE ME, DAMMIT.  

I took the Big Yam to see the Wiggles on Saturday and spent a pretty penny on seats (considering it's the Wiggles, after all).  The best part was that the night I told him at dinner we were going to see them, he spent a good ten minutes laughing, and shaking his head in disbelief going, "Nooooooooo"  "Noooooo!"  "C'mon, Mama, nooooooooo!"  "They don't even live here!"  "Noooooooo!"  That alone, made the price of admission worthwhile.  

Here are some photos of recent life:

I just have something stuck in my eye.

At the Wiggles concert on Saturday.

Goodbye, fall dinner: roasted chicken thighs, corn pudding, and a zucchini, potato, and tomato gratin with a breadcrumb topping jacked up with chopped capers and anchovies and fresh oregano.  So good!

I made a brown butter custard raspberry pie.  Lifted almost straight from this recipe here.  My only substitutions was upping the amount of butter to 4T in the filling and omitting the vanilla bean.  I would take out the nutmeg next time and maybe sub with ground cardamom.

Corned beef hash!

Kathi rolls from one of my favorite restaurants near my work, the Kathi Roll Express, which serves New York style kathi rolls.  Lamb seekh, butter chicken, chicken tikka, paneer skakslik, and the channa.  So freakin' good!

A late summer meal we had of steamed clams and arugula salad

Leftover lobster roll filling got repurposed for lobster carbonara pappardelle which was SO EFFING GOOD.  

Trout with browned butter, that gratin again, and sweet corn.


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