Friday, November 30, 2012

Changes at the 100 Acres....

Hey everyone!  It's Kanga here.  I've often thought about posting insights or ideas under "Kanga's Korner" for the past three years but for one reason or another, never got around to it.  I think it has to do with the fact that my partner in poopy crime is a fabulous blogger.  She's so insightful and hysterically funny...I knew I would not do better.  It's one of her many strengths.  She is awesome; I love her like my sister. 

To say the last three years have flown by is an understatement.  My first day here was a whirlwind.  I was married with a seven month old daughter, I learned so much just that first day.  And the lessons never ceased.  This place became my home away from home.  I made a lifelong friend with K.  As most of you know, we went to high school together but we really didn't hang out together other than being at choir events together.  Through FaceBook, gotta love that, we reconnected and she offered me a job as my employment search yielded no leads.  To say that this job became more than I ever imagined is another understatement.  This was where I found out I was pregnant with Tigger, where I came after Roo was diagnosed with spastic diplegia (a form of cerebral palsy), where I watched her almost miraculous progress with the ladies of ECI, where I felt safe while going through a divorce and where I have rediscovered who I am.  Not to mention, I learned to be a better parent, remembered how precious childhood is and discovered how strong the bonds of parenthood are.  Nothing like finding the humor in poopy diapers, lack of sleep, mounds of laundry, feeding picky eaters or getting through "terrible twos" tantrums to validate the amazing craziness of parenthood.  What started as working as an assistant at an at-home daycare became an indescribable journey that I treasure and hold so dear.  I've had such an amazing time with all the families that have shown us extraordinary trust with their little ones.

Speaking of families, I have had the immense pleasure of meeting some incredible families who have honored me by placing the care of their children with us.  I thought I knew what that meant but realized more so how precious that is when I began the progress of finding daycare for Roo and Tigger.  I cannot thank you enough for the trust you have placed in me as I now truly understand what that entails.  All you want is to find someone to love your kids as much as you do and the bonus of that person to help teach them the little lessons they will no doubt need as they face life's situations as young, productive citizens of this world.  I hope you know how much I have enjoyed spending time with your little ones and watching them grow.  It was truly a privilege and I'd like to think that I've contributed in some small way to their childhood.  It's been fascinating to see the progress of those who have moved on and I will be checking in with K on those still here.  They are in amazing hands. 

I think of K as Mother Earth.  She was meant to be a mother, is incredible with the kids and just has the perfect mixture of loving counselor and supportive teacher.  I've learned so much from her about being a mom, I call her my guru.  It should come as no surprise that I have patterned a lot of my parenting style from her, it still makes me smile how much I sound like her when talking to the kids and every now and then, I hear my branded sayings spoken in her voice. I could go on and on about her but that will only embarrass her.  She is such a life force, I will never be able to tell her how much she means to me and how much I have leaned on her.  No matter the situation, she has been the shoulder I needed to cry, vent or laugh on.  I will miss our daily rants about anything and everything.  I will miss her immensely.  I will also miss her kids.  I love Duchess and O'Malley like they are my own.  They are such exceptional forces of nature.  Duchess has her mother's love and touch with the little ones and O'Malley has great wonder and affection for babies.  I hope Roo and Tigger turn out like them, even if just a bit as then I will know that I have done a good job.  

As I leave, I have two strong emotions.  I am sad.  I don't want to go.  I will miss seeing these bright, funny, lovable balls of energy.  I love being able to sing and dance while laughing at the hilarious and often brutal honesty of the children I have come to love and enjoy spending time with.  I will miss the hugs and kisses I get from everyone.  Hugs will always make everything better and unconditional love is such an extraordinary gift from children.  I will absolutely miss being with my Tigger everyday.  I have been able to spend the first (almost) three years of his life with him everyday.  It has been time well spent.  Roo has moved on, there are days she doesn't ask about me until she sees me after I get home but I will miss getting her ready for the bus every morning. 

But being who I am, I am also hopeful.  I am excited, nervous, anxious and yes, hopeful about my next career move.  I hope to be able to make a difference.  I know that I have changed from my time being here.  I am a result of all the lessons I have learned along the way and the friendships I have been blessed with. 

Thank you Giant Steps families, from the bottom of my heart.  I will never be able to fully express the impact you have had on me and my children.  I'd like to think that I am a better mother, daughter, friend and person in general because of the phenomenal three and a half years here. 

Much love, joy and gratitude,


Friday Focus: Kanga

Around the start of 2009 I began looking for help.  Basically I had two reasons- a) it can get a little lonely only talking to toddlers all day and b) I was only getting infant calls.  I LOVE infants and love starting when they're so little and I can watch them grow up.  However, the type of license I have is weird- I can keep 10 kids all alone if they're over 18 months.  If I have more than two infants, the total I can keep drops to five, and that includes my two school age kids.  It makes no sense.  But with a second adult here, I could keep up to 12 of any age.  I thought about just switching license types, but my rep recommended I hire help instead.

It only makes sense to hire the most capable help you can find, right?  With no previous child care experience, she still became a pro wicked fast.  It's what makes her good at everything she tries- she gives it all she's got.  Love her.

I went to high school with Kanga, and so through Facebook I kept up with her pregnancy with Roo, her layoff from work, Roo's birth, and her subsequent job hunt.  It seemed to be a perfect match to have her come work with me- she got to be with Roo and oversee her therapy, I got some help so I could keep more babies, and we got to reconnect and have fun every day.  Then Tigger came along and we've all been a big happy family for almost four years.  I've loved it.

She loves it too.  And she humors my kids and lets them take her picture long after I'm saying, "stop that!  go away!  no more pictures!"

There are so many great things about this job.  One of the big downsides of being your own boss is the healthcare situation.  Obviously I can't offer it to Kanga.  Her needs have changed, and so today is her last day with me.  She's going back to the corporate world because she needs those benefits.  I'm happy for her because she gets them.  This will make her life easier and less stressful.  I'm sad because I'm losing my daily buddy.  I can do this job alone.  I did for four years before she came along, and it's still a fun gig.  But I will miss her and her babies so very much, and so will the other kids. I know Alice will be asking for her every day for weeks.

She's gotten to spend some awesome quality time with her kids in their formative years, and help shape many others too.  She's brought Thai culture and Songkran festivals into my house.  She cooks and cleans, she sings and dances.  We talk each other off the ledge and enjoy the good times.  Every Friday is a celebration of another great week.  She's become more important to me than I ever imagined when I said, "hey, why don't you bring your daughter and come work with me?"  Her kids call me auntie.

Eat some.  Quit making that face.  It's good, I promise.

And here we go.  It's time to take that ride.  What are you waiting for?

And now I'm very sad.  Good luck, my fabulous, awesome partner in crime and poop.  We will miss you lots, but I know you're going to kick butt and take names no matter where you go or what you do.

And just so you know- it'll be less acceptable to pass gas in the next job.  On the other hand, they're much less likely to call you out publicly if you do it.  I'm not sure if that's a plus or a minus.  Just some friendly advice so you're laughing at the end of the post.  :)  Love you, friend!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Feast Preparations

I had such a good time with the kids yesterday, getting ready for our Thanksgiving feast today.  Alice, Lady, and Mater got to be the big kids for the first time and they SO enjoyed it.  It took all morning to do just a couple things, but I really loved having them help. 

The first thing we did was wash the potatoes.  Everybody wanted a turn with the stool and the water.  Very exciting.

 Mater takes his job seriously.

 All nice and clean.

 And into the pot they go.

Once we had them cooking, the next task was to smash gluten free graham crackers so we could make our pie crust.  I put them in a bag and told Alice to jump on them.

 I'm sorry, you want me to do WHAT?

 Clearly you have lost your mind- we don't jump on food.

Mater had no such concerns.  He leaped in with both feet.

 Then Lady decided it was okay so the two of them jumped.

 Alice is still not really sure why I'm asking them to break the food.  It just doesn't seem right to her.

After the crust was done, we started in with the apples for the filling.  None of them could really get the hang of turning the corer, but the girls both wanted a turn up close to it to watch.  Mater got bored of cooking and went to play trains.  I think he was pleased to have the playroom to himself for awhile. 

Then we sauteed the apples with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  They were thrilled to be able to actually stir real food on the real stove.  And nobody got burned, which is especially nice in my opinion.  :)

Later on after the potatoes were done, I mixed them and then had beaters of mashed potatoes up for grabs.  I offered one to Lady.  I'm pretty sure she was expecting frosting.  Potatoes throw your wheels off real bad when you want frosting, it turns out.

 She told me very seriously, "NO.  Don't like it."

And then after that nobody else would even try it.  They ran from the beaters like I was offering poison.

 Remy doesn't usually talk to me, but he yelled NO! at me today.

And Perdita barely licked it and then scurried backwards with her mouth open, wishing she could scrape her tongue.  She looks like she's happy here, but really she's drooling and trying not to taste the potatoes in her mouth.

Silly children.  Mashed potatoes are so good!

Last night I made jello salad, there's pumpkin pie in the oven now, and we'll have the rest of the sides done by noon.  Excited to see everyone!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Friday Focus: Roo

I think this may be the last post I do on Roo.  She's old.  :)  I haven't done one on Duchess or O'Malley in a really long time- they're off at school and they like their privacy.  MOM! You're not going to blog that are you?  Definitely don't put it on Facebook!!  And Roo is starting to be the same.  She's off at school every morning, and is busy hanging out with her Kunyai many afternoons.  I think she was only here 8 afternoons the whole month of October.  It's Thursday and I haven't seen her yet so far this week.

Roo turned four a few months back and is very much following the pattern I remember of four year old girls from Duchess and Belle.  For the most part, she's inquisitive, helpful, funny, and TALKATIVE.  And then she throws in such utter sass and disrespect that you want to find a large stick to whack her with.  And did I mention she never stops talking?  Never.  There are no secrets with this one.  Talking to her is so much fun though, and she's able to carry on real conversations with insight and witty remarks.  Plus she's in the "actually" stage, which is always a bonus in my book.  And she taps her chin with one finger and says, "I think..." before a lot of her sentences.  "I think... we have noodles and meatballs for dinner, mama."

Kanga went to parent conferences at school a few weeks ago and some of the anecdotes she heard are hilarious.  In the mornings, the kids all meet in the cafeteria to eat breakfast and hang out, and then when the bell rings they walk to class.  Teacher said that Roo wheels herself down the hall very slowly because she loves to be the last one into the classroom.  She stops in the doorway and yells, "Good morning everybody!  I'm HERE!!!"  Every.Single.Morning.  :) 

I don't get to see a lot of her therapy progress anymore, since it's all at school and the ECI ladies don't come to my house.  I hear she's getting really fast with her wheelchair though, and also walking the length of long hallways with her walker.  Here she's still our slithery snake.  She must have wicked upper body strength by now.  She's super fast at the commando crawl.  She'll go up on all fours and crawl if you ask her to, but it makes her tired a lot quicker and she prefers the slither.  Downside to this approach is losing your pants.  She still leaves them behind a majority of the time.  She's very slender and it's hard for Kanga to find pants that fit around the middle anyway, and then dragging her lower half on the floor like she does- off they go.  SO many times she comes into the kitchen and I say, "ROO!  Where are your pants?"  And sometimes she'll say, "They in the playroom.  Can you go get them?"  And if we suggest that she should be the one to get them?  "Oh actually?  I can't.  Because I have no pants!"  Circular logic if I've ever heard it, but it works for her.

This picture makes me laugh out loud and go "Riiiiiiii-cola" every single time I look at it.  She made herself hysterical blasting crazy noises into that pool noodle.

Kanga and Tigger were busy the day of Aurora's birthday party and so I took Roo with me when I took my kids.  It was SO much fun to get to have her out and about.  It was at a tea room and they got to dress up and have tea and then did a parade around the square outside.  She had a blast!

 Wings and a crown!

 Do you take one lump or two?

Duchess and Roo, making their way around the square.  O'Malley's along for the ride but not super excited about being the only boy at a tea party, even if he is the prince.