The ABCs Of Getting Into Kindergarten….

This year my son turns five, meaning that this fall he’ll start his long journey on the road of knowledge, otherwise known as attending kindergarten. Well, that’s only if his mom can figure out the registration process!

Over the past few years I’ve heard horror stories from some of my mommy friends about enrolling their children into the school system.  Waiting lists, long lines, getting recommendations, playing every angle, etc. However, I always chalked it up to the quirks and annoyances that come with living in “The Big City.”  Out in the ‘burbs, life was simpler, surely getting the little ones into public school would be a breeze.  Boy, was I wrong.

I got my first inkling of what this whole kindergarten registration process entailed when I visited our town’s Board Of Education website last week.   The Hubs & I figured that kindergarten registration would take place sometime in the spring, we’d have plenty of time. Ha! Much to our surprise, registration had already started!  It’s only the middle of January and I’m already behind on getting my kid into school for the fall?  I quickly clicked on the “Incoming Kindergarten Registration” tab to find out more.    Here’s the letter that greeted me:

Dear Parents and Guardians,

 Welcome to the ****  Public School System. Our district is composed of two K-5 elementary schools, **** and **** Elementary Schools and **** Middle School for grades 6-8.  ****  has a well earned, outstanding reputation.  I invite you to become part of our award winning school district.

So far, so good. It went on:

  • Step #1: Fill out the on-line preliminary registration form (Click here)
  • Step #2: Please down load and fill out the enrollment, medical, and residency forms (Click Here).
  • Step #3: In April, your building Principal will contact you to make an individual appointment.

Wait, did I read this correctly?  I need to pre-register my kid online now only to have to register him again, in person in April?  I was confused.  It ended:

  • **** and **** Elelmentary Schools will provide new kindergarten students a visitation where the children will meet the staff and take a tour of the building with principals

The only part of this bullet point that confused me is how could the BOE actually misspell “Elementary” in the last line!  You’re the education system in this town, and you can’t even spell?

So, I got on the phone to the BOE to make sure I read it correctly, and apparently I wasn’t the only parent baffled by their process. A rep explained the January enrollment was just a way for them get a rough headcount for the classroom.  Personally, I think it’s a way for them to keep neurotic parents busy and stop them from calling them every two seconds asking when registration will start, what teacher they’ll be assigned and a million other annoying questions!  I was also told that pre-registering guarantees me a one-on-one registration with the principal of the elementary school my son will actually attend (determined by where you live in town).  I asked “If you don’t pre-register, then who do you get assigned to register with?”  The rep kinda chuckled and said “that’s a good question, the vice principal I guess.”

Anyway, I downloaded the forms, which amounted to about 10 double-sided sheets of paper, about half of which you actually have to fill out.  There are lots of official law codes listed on these papers, most of these papers determine whether your child can actually attend school in the district.   There is a student registration form, a health history form,  a residency affidavit AND a Domicile form.   In addition to having the residency affidavit signed by a notary public, I also have to bring FOUR different proofs of information that demonstrate I live at my address.   My state’s DMV requires only TWO forms of acceptable ID.  Now I have to dig thru property tax bills, deeds of sale for the house, voter registrations, utility bills and delivery receipts to get the appropriate documentation.

Is getting into school really this hard?  This is kindergarten, not Harvard!

Out of curiosity, I called my mom to ask her what registration was like for me more than 35 years ago.   She said she showed up on the first day of school with a birth certificate, a neon yellow card that proved all my immunizations were up to date, and a piece of mail that had her current name and address on it (she couldn’t even remember if it had to be something “official” like a utility bill).  That was it, I was “in.”

Times certainly have changed.  I guess when you live in a desirable school district, some people try to take advantage and sneak their kids in. That begs a larger discussion about this country’s entire education system, clearly a column for another time.

Right now I’m keeping my April schedule WIDE-OPEN so I’ll be ready when the Principal calls on me!

What was kindergarten registration like for you and your kidlet?  What are you most looking forward to about that first day of school?

Wordless Wednesday – Jonesing For the Jersey Shore

On this day when I bundled my kidlets and myself up to go out, I suddenly craved summer and the Jersey Shore.  This is a typical site “down the shore” – storefronts where you can get all sorts of crazy decals pressed onto your summer shirts! Here’s what Wildwood, NJ had to offer this past summer.  Only 147 til the official start of summer….

What I Learned About Parenting From My Dog

Last week I introduced you to Bailey, our cockapoo.  Bailey means a lot of things to our family – she’s a loving pet, a trusted friend and our “starter child.”  Because before we had the kidlets, raising Bailey up from a pup was the first stab at this whole parenting thing for Hubs and me.

Bailey was a smart and sweet puppy. She took to toilet training right away — just a few weeks of marching around outside at all hours until she pooped was all it took!  She had a lot of energy, even for a puppy-but we quickly found she maybe wasn’t listening as well as she should to her new mommy and daddy.  As new “parents” we needed a little expert help.  At first, we actually brought in our own low-rent “dog whisperer,” and while she tried her best, she was no Cesar Millan.  So once she had all of her shots, we enrolled Bailey in an obedience class.  The six-week “puppy education” course promised to get us off on the right paw by teaching her good behaviors while helping us to establish a strong bond with our pup.  The Hubs and I were excited to teach her basics like “sit” and “stay,” plus how to socialize with other people and dogs.  Like any newly married couple, and proud new “parents,” we wanted to do this training together.

There was our first problem.

Poor Bailey had the two of us literally “barking” orders at her as we each took turns during the lessons to train her.  I was the stern taskmaster and Hubs was the sweet encouraging one.  Bailey was clearly confused by our different parenting styles and the end result was a big flunk out of obedience school. The only command she responded to was “park it.”  For that lesson, Bailey had only one person training her (Hubs took her to that lesson, I was on a business trip) in one consistent way and ingrained it in her brain.

So we learned an invaluable lesson: that as parents, we needed to be in sync and find a middle ground between our two styles in order not to give our future children conflicting messages.   FYI…this is still something we struggle with.  When we catch ourselves being out of sync on something with our kidlets, we try to take it off-line and discuss it without them around, so they don’t know that we don’t agree!

Now Bailey isn’t the most obedient dog, but she can sit, lay down and definitely knows how to come to the kitchen when it’s dinnertime. We did all the everyday things parents do with their kids…..

We took her to the beach:

To the beauty parlor:

Bought her a winter coat:

And even dressed her in the cutest Halloween costumes:She never ran away or out of the house and into the street, so the Hubs & I figured we had the doggy parent thing down enough to feel a bit more confident about our next big project: having kids!

When I got pregnant with our son, Bailey would not come near me. She totally would snub me, or if she did come near me, she would immediately pee. I guess she was marking her territory – like “hey kid in there, I was here first” – or just doing it out of spite. We were worried that Bailey wouldn’t adjust to the baby and we would have to sadly adopt her out. The night our son was born Hubs brought home a blanket from the hospital to let Bailey sniff.   Bailey went totally crazy, her tail wagging, all excited and wound up sleeping in her little dog bed with it. Much to our relief, when we came home with our son we were thrilled that Bailey loved him as much as we did. Maybe she finally realized she was getting her own new playmate!  We repeated this entire scenario for kidlet number two, but once our daughter came home, Bailey went back to her old self.

Bailey is now six years old and entering middle age – I guess that makes her 42 in dog years, haha, she’s older than me now! – but she’s still a puppy at heart.  She NEVER slows down.  She’s constantly chasing squirrels, chipmunks and birds in our yard. She hasn’t caught one yet, and I’m not eager for her to do so!  The kidlets are getting older and are starting to interact with her more…and sometimes, not so nicely.  But Bailey is very sweet and patient, always wanting to “give kisses” to the kids. No matter how much they pull or tug on her, she’s NEVER growled at them or put her teeth on them.  It’s like she knows they are kids, her “brother & sister” even, and though they annoy her sometimes, she needs to protect them.

With all the craziness of raising two kidlets plus the Hubs and me with full time jobs, Bailey sometimes has to take a backseat.  However, we try to make it up to her – taking her out for some extra playtime, long weekend walks, and plenty of treats (she loves chicken strips!). When she’s at the kennel, vet or groomer – Hubs & I always say how strange it is not have Bailey around. She is truly a member of this family, and the house would seem empty without her.

My Friday Night Fun…

Yes, I totally rocked it out on Friday night…This photo was taken at 10 pm, so first off – it was a late night for me, sporting my PJs, hair piled on top of my head, catching up on some blog writing and yes, that is a basket of laundry that I washed, fluffed and folded. Hold me back, I’m a total wild woman!

10 Things I Love About Motherhood

10 Things I Love About Motherhood

1) The expression of pure joy on my kidlets faces as they shout out “Mommy!” when I come to pick them up each day from preschool/daycare.

2)  The ability to end an argument/disagreement with my kidlets point-blank just by saying “Because I’m your mom, that’s why!”

3)  That I am seen by my kidlets (at least for now) as omnipotent and have the answer to their endless list of questions.

4)  The handmade presents the kids me make for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Christmas & my birthday.

5)  All the hugs, kisses and cuddles before the kidlets go to bed each night.

6)  Sitting on the couch or lying in bed with the kidlets and reading books.

7)  Getting to watch all the cartoons, like “Tom And Jerry,” that I enjoyed as a kid with my little ones (same goes for toys, I can play with toys again without getting strange looks)

8)  The awesome push gift I got from the Hubs after each kidlet (hey, for the first one it was a Tiffany Charm bracelet and I got a charm with each kidlet – I stopped at 2, I didn’t need to fill the bracelet that bad!  I love showing it off sort of my badge of honor for 9 months of hard work!

9)   The pure joy and delight my kidlets get when they accomplish or do something by themselves for the first time.  Makes me feel as though I have achieved a goal as well – helping them to discover their world.

10) All the ups and downs that are still ahead of us.  I look forward to the adventures we will have together as a family.

This blog post was inspired by:

Wordless Wednesday – Information Overload

This is how I start every morning at work, I read/look thru all these papers and then go onto the Internet to check out a bunch of additional news sites.  I look at it this way, at least I’m still reading an actual print newspaper.  So by 10 am each morning, I’m in total information overload!  At least I’m well-read and up to date on the world.  Geez, I can’t wait for Star & Us Magazine to get here this afternoon….


My magazines have arrived….now I can erase all the usefull stuff I read this morning with this stuff!

Did I Forget to Mention Our First Child…Bailey!

Over the past few weeks I’ve introduced you to me, my two kidlets, the Hubs, but in my old age (I am turning 40 this year, YIKES!) I seemingly forgot to mention one member of our family.   This is Bailey, our first child…

Okay, so Bailey is really is a dog – but I mean that in the nicest way possible! Bailey is truly our first child.

Growing up, I had always wanted a pet, but we never had a cat or dog due to my sister’s supposed “allergies.” That was the official explanation, but quite honestly, I think my mom just didn’t want to have to deal with the hassle of an animal.  Many of my childhood friends had dogs and I was always envious of the affection and true devotion of their loving pets and was awed at how protective they were of their charges as well.

When the Hubs and I got married, we knew we wanted adopt a dog. In fact, taking care of one would be our first test as to what kind of parents we might be, baby steps to raising a baby, you could say.  The Hubs had grown up with dogs in the midwest but was unable to have one while living as a single guy in an apartment, so he was enthusiastic about a furry new friend.  About a year into our marriage, we were ready to expand.

The Hubs and I tried for weeks to adopt a dog from local shelters, but with no luck.   Why, you may ask?  Because even though we had a nice house, a big yard, money for vet bills and lots of love to offer a desperately deserving doggie, we both worked full-time. The people who ran these shelters, while perhaps well-intentioned, thought it wouldn’t be “fair” to the animal that we wouldn’t be home during the day.  I had explained to them that we would have a dog walker come in while we were at work and we would have the entire weekends with the dog, but that wasn’t good enough.   It was quite a disappointment, honestly.  We didn’t really want to go the “buying” route when there are so many dogs in need, but we were rejected by four different shelters, all for the same reason.

So our next step was to buy one from a breeder. Since we now could pick the breed, we first had to figure out the best kind of dog to get.  We didn’t want a dog that was too big, hairy or aggressive (I had a scary experience with a big dog as a child), but we also certainly didn’t want a Paris-Hilton-accessory/barking-rat kind of dog. So, like any good parents-to-be, we did a ton of research and came up with the perfect pooch for us – a cockapoo…a cocker spaniel/poodle hybrid.  Our dog would be smart like a poodle, but warm, cuddly & devoted like a spaniel. Best of all, the dog would be hypoallergenic – having hair rather than fur – so no shedding all over the house and no worries about anyone’s allergies.

We were well-aware of the real problem of puppy mills.  We needed to find a responsible, humane breeder (not cheap) and after more research we eventually stumbled upon Bailey’s breeder in Wisconsin.  Bailey came from a litter of eight.   We had hoped to get the chocolate-colored female from the litter but when we inquired, we were told that all the pups were already spoken for, except one, the runt of the litter.  The breeder sent us this photo:

Notice the dookie on the sheet in the background.  We took one look and knew that this poopy puppy was destined to be ours!  Bailey joined our family at ten weeks old.

And let me tell you, Bailey quickly became daddy’s girl.  I think it’s because Hubs picked her up from the airport cargo depot.  Hubs took her out of the cage to take a look at her and give her some water.  It was just love at first sight for both.  Bailey wagged her little tail at her hero and Hubs just melted.  To this, day he is always the first person Bailey runs to when we come home, and she is always hanging around in hopes he’ll go outside and engage in her favorite activity-chasing a football.  Endlessly. Hot weather, freezing weather, day, night, doesn’t matter. Honestly, it must be instinctual because we never trained her to do any tricks, she just saw the ball one day and literally picked it up and ran with it!

As for me, Bailey and I have sort of a love-hate relationship.  I’m much more of the disciplinarian of the household, so I was constantly ordering her to get off the couch, get off the bed, don’t chew my shoes…you know, the usual routine.  If I scolded her, she would immediately run over to Hubs for some comfort.  But I am her mommy in every way.  When she was sick and wouldn’t eat, I hand fed her food with a fork.  For her first birthday I even got her a doggie cake to celebrate the day! And like any first child, we took way too many pictures of her!  She soon became well represented in any family event, usually giving us a “what the heck is going on here look” for the camera.

In my next post, I’ll tell you about our first serious attempt at parenting Bailey – taking her to obedience classes. Let’s just say, I think we learned a lot about how to raise kids from the mistakes we made with our “starter child”…

Does your family have any four-legged members? Did they arrive in the family before the kids did?

Wordless Wednesday – My Household Helper…Sort Of

I guess I should have asked for a Roomba to help me with the housework instead of borrowing my son’s “Cars 2” Zen Master.  He works diligently, but at his size and speed, my carpet may never get cleaned!

I Resolve Not To Make Any Resolutions This Year…

Happy New Year!  That’s what I’ve been saying for the past two days…and I’m sure I’ll say it and hear it a few more thousand times when I return back to work today from the holiday break.  I’m sure it will also quickly be followed with “What are your New Year’s resolutions for this year?”  And my reply will be “None.”

Now it’s not what you think.  I do believe in resolutions. I’ve made many over my lifetime and I’ve even managed to stick to a few of them!  However, resolutions – at least to me – always seem to be temporary and usually only for one very specific period of time. I’m turning 40 (YIKES!) in 2012 and think it’s time to do something a little more permanent, so instead of making resolutions, I am going to work this year on making two lifestyle changes.

Lifestyle Change # 1 – Get serious about my health & fitness

Last year over the course of the first six months of the year, I managed to tame the battle of the bulge and lost 30 lbs.  However, over the last six months, I’ve been a naughty girl.  I mistakenly thought I had the metabolisim of a teenager (which sadly actually vanished two decades ago) and gained 20 of those pounds back.  The hubs is totally on board with me here, we started a new meal routine — planned out our meals, will eat lots of veggies and less fat & our biggest sin, no more easy weekend fast food lunches with the kidlets.  I will also be moving a lot more, whether it’s walking the dog, taking the kidlets to the park or playing “Dance, Dance Revolution” on our XBox Kinect. I will not sit back and be lazy! (Who knew playing video games would one day be my exercise)  My daughter is a bundle of energy, she’s constantly on the go.  I have a hard time keeping up now, and can only imagine trying to keep up with her as we both get older…so I need to get myself in shape pronto!

Lifestyle Change # 2 – Enjoy Life More

My kidlets are only going to be this little once. Right now all they want is to be with mommy & daddy — to play with, to cuddle with, to talk to, to sing with.  My friends with teenagers and those that have sent their kids off to college always tell me to enjoy this time with them now, while I’m still the center of their universe, because all to quickly they grow up and mommy will start to take a back seat to their friends.  I guess that means that I also need to curb my obsession to have everything “be perfect” beacuse in trying to achieve that perfection I’m causing myself tons of stress and not enjoying life.  I just need to “go with it.”  Is my son going to care if his Cars t-shirt is ironed perfectly instead of having a wrinkle or two?  No, he doesn’t.  And as long as his t-shirt is clean and my son is happy, I shouldn’t care either.  I also vow to  put down my Blackberry and iPad and not obessively check my Twitter feed, Facebook page or this blog (I can totally hear my hubs laughing as he reads this one, but you’ll see, I will!).  I also need to not let myself get upset over or stressed out about work. I need to keep in mind that it’s a job, not my life – my life is my family!

There are only two changes, but I think they are pretty major and impact many areas of my life.  I think that tracking Lifestyle Change #1 will be easy, the scale doesn’t lie.  If I’m not moving and eating healthy, I won’t lose weight.  I will know whether I’m succeeding or not.  Tracking Lifestyle Change #2 will be a little more difficult.  There aren’t clear-cut benchmarks to hit and I’m not 100% sure how to determine if I’m cutting the mustard on that one. But I’ll figure it out.  There’s probably even another blog post in there somewhere….

Have you planned on making any changes in your life this year??  Do tell…..