Kindergarten, check

Last day of school (K)_edited-1


And then a year happened.

At first I wanted to insist Sam cooperate with me to get “a better picture.”

But really, this is a perfect, accurate reflection of reality.  He was so not down with this clever idea of wearing the same outfit he wore on the first day. He did not care that it was trending all over Pinterest and Facebook. He just wanted to get out the door already. Also, the pants so did not fit. And he’d outgrown his new shoes by November.

Note to self for next year: do not blow school clothes budget so early.

In some ways that first day of school seems like such a long time ago, in other ways this year was a blink.

This has been such a huge year of change for our family and I’m so thankful to have some record of the little things marking our journey … personally and as a family.

Here is Sam back in September rocking his first day of school outfit, carefully selected and coordinated by himself.

And, there’s Jake not really sure what is going on but he’s got a backpack too, so it’s all good.

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I hope I never forget this moment:

Mama, I want to hold your hand for this part..

Especially because it may never happen again. Sam suddenly said “I want to hold your hand for this part” as we rounded the corner toward the main entrance to school. It did look bigger somehow. I tried to be cool. He needed me to be cool. But I wanted to be all THIS IS MY BABY!!! LOOK OUT FOR HIM, PEOPLE! Instead I said, “you’ve got this, bubba. I know you do.” But inside, you know… … this is my baby!!!

By June we were rolling like this:


I’m in the way back trying to keep up. First they couldn’t ride bikes, like in January Jake couldn’t at all, and now I’m beating feet to keep up. Also, the outfits got a little more … casual. The coordination was more like this: pants, check. Shirt, check. Two matching shoes, check. Helmet, let’s go.

At the end of the year the kinders got to eat lunch in the cafeteria as practice for next year.

Sam came home after that and reported he was: “ready to be a real grader.”

Congratulations to my little grader. You’ve arrived.

Want to know what happened to Giraffe?

He went to Kindergarten almost every day tucked in Sam’s backpack.

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Until the very last week of school when, at the corner before school, Sam asked Jake to carry Giraffe back home so he could “hang with Zebes.” And there’s Jake no longer tentative … and more … like a boss.


You say bored like it’s a bad thing

By NATHALIE HARDY | June, 2014

Published in the Yamhill-Valley News-Register

At the time of this writing, there are precisely 11 days until we experience our first summer vacation with a grade-schooler.

Sam is already counting down the days, not because he doesn’t like school, but because he can’t wait, and this is a direct quote, “to use my new skills to have a lemonade stand.”

He tells me, “There’s going to be a lot of math to count all my money. But first I need some money to buy supplies. Can I match socks or something for money?”

Of course, Sam isn’t the only one thinking about summer. I’ve noticed social media is all aflutter with posts like, “How to beat boredom with these easy, low-cost ideas,” which touts ideas that, in fact, don’t appear to be either easy or cheap.

You know what’s actually easy and cheap? The library. Local parks. The backyard. A picnic.

Kids don’t need gourmet sandwiches, right? Anyone who has ever prepared an elaborate spread only to be met with a tearful, “But I wanted peanut butter,” knows what I’m talking about.

You know what bugs me the moYou say bored like it’s a bad thingst about all this advice to help parents “beat boredom?”

First, I think it’s twisted to tell parents they need to find ways to fill all the moments of a day now unoccupied by school. That’s just crazy.

Second, I can assure you that my mom didn’t worry about this kind of thing. Not. Ever. This whole movement to keep kids occupied and engaged all the time seems to be a modern “problem,” and I’m not a fan.  

Third, it’s a lie. In truth, boredom is awesome.

There. I said it.

For those treating boredom as something to be cured, I beg to differ. Being bored is a luxury. Being bored is having long stretches of time with nothing to do but think, which leads to creativity.

Nobody in history has ever died of boredom.

Boredom leads to having ideas, both good and not so good ones. Boredom means time to try something new. Time to wonder. Time to stare out the window. Or, to count cracks in the ceiling, or blades of grass.

But to read some of these articles, you’d think parents everywhere should prepare to be doomed if they haven’t already scheduled every second of summer.

What am I going to do this summer? Um, laundry, maybe minus sorting socks. Supervising backyard play, from a distance. Like from inside the house, where I will be folding the aforementioned laundry. And going to the park. Also, the library. A lot. I’m also open to visiting most places with air-conditioning.

God help me, the boys seem to want to get into BMX biking, so I’m sure there will be a lot of that in my near future. Also, more stained laundry.

But other than that, we’re wide open. And that’s by choice, not chance.

I want my kids to have windows of unstructured time because you know what actually “cures” boredom? Imagination.

If well-meaning adults can stay out of the way long enough, without pressing play on a show or offering up a cure before the child has time to think up something on their own, the kids will be fine.

Obviously, I’m not advocating leaving kids to their own devices for hours on end. Some guidance and simple supplies are needed.

But kids can make a lot happen with a whisk and a bowl. Add water and it’s “Hello, happiness!”

The best antidote for boredom is a kids’ imagination. And like our muscles, imaginations must be used. They must be pushed to their limits to thrive, or they risk atrophy.

Far from being absent in the equation, I see parents as playing a key role in fostering these opportunities by offering suggestions, encouragement and, most importantly, the freedom for kids to exercise their imagination.

It’s true, I haven’t yet made it through a full summer with a school-aged child. So I may have a big, fat mea culpa for you at the end of the summer.

But right now, I’m thinking more like this: If I start getting bugged about small people being bored, I’ll have to start charging a nickel every time I hear it.

That could cut into some of that lemonade profit. Just sayin’.

Of course, looking forward to planned trips and spontaneous adventures is an awesome part of summer, too. But, I tend to have more fun being spontaneous when I, er, plan for it. 

So last night over dinner, we made a list of things everyone in the family would like to do this summer. There are a lot of repeats from last summer’s list: “county fair,” “Tunes on Tuesday” and “camping,” among others. But we also decided to check out each park in Newberg at least once this summer.

The list is long. We might not get to everything. But it’s fun having that posted where we can see the vision we created together.

I plan to master the grill, or at least stop setting food on fire. I also plan to join the kids in the library’s summer reading program. That might be wishful thinking, but that’s kind of the point.

Also on that list are “bike rides” and “play in the backyard a lot.” Just so you know, those came from the kids.

As we enter this season of squeezing lemons, stubbing toes, sunburning shoulders and stretching long days out before us, I want to remember it’s a short season in more ways than one. So, most importantly, I’m planning to soak up as much of it as I can.

Cupcake cluster

A day in the life of a Reporter Mama balancing  deadlines and cupcakes.


I’ve looked forward to being able to bring a birthday treat for Sam at school since he was a baby.

Of course, that was before I realized kindergarten classrooms had 26, plus kids in them and that food allergies and other challenges were so common.

One of Sam’s best buddies has celiacs so I purposely bought gluten-free mini-cupcakes from my friend’s gluten-free bakery (everyone should have a friend with a bakery!)

The teacher and I exchanged a few, brief emails making sure it was okay to drop them off and hide them in the back.

Like Santa, Mr. Teacher said.

Well, more like a ninja.

Except, even ninjas get derailed.

We got to the office to check in because with new security procedures (thank you psychopaths of America) the days of just dropping off a box of cupcakes are long gone.

I was already in the computer system. Oh, but not the right one. Also the office staff was busy. (Been there, get it. But perhaps I could leave the box here, no? Okay, I’ll wait. And wait. And wait. No problem, just on deadline and still have to get Jake to preschool.)

So we get to the class, drop the cupcakes off – literally – twice, on the ground, they were a little disheveled but still cupcakes delivered, check.

As we left the classroom, Mr. Teacher was leading the adorable ducklings down the hall – what is that little girl doing? Oh, barfing. Cool. Also, gross. I got the nearest bucket for her to barf in and held her until she was done. Because I’m a mom, and maybe because that used to be my job and I kinda miss the little ones.

Um, a little help here? Jake looked on wide-eyed. A teacher assistant brought towels and helped get the little girl to the office.

In all of that I forgot to tell the teacher the cupcakes were gluten free.

When it came time to pass them around he erred on the side of caution.

Well, damn. That didn’t go as planned.

In our debrief, he suggested I employ a ninja trick he is fond of: sticky notes to communicate in case of derailment.

Ah, sticky notes! How quaint. And brilliant. Note to self: use them.

We really like Mr. Teacher. Also, I think it is ridiculous that the classroom has so many kids he’s one stuck zipper away from chaos.

Meanwhile … I dropped Jake off, opened my fermented chia drink and it exploded. Again. Only, not with a boom and tiny shards of glass this time but more like a 7th grade science experiment with a silent, never-ending fizzing fountain of slime. Red, chia seed slime coating me and my car.

So I took a bath in sanitizer changed quickly. And wiped up some of the aforementioned nastiness.

Then I found out there was an election story I wasn’t expecting that morning. Squeezed in a quick interview.

Then I filed two stories unrelated to that one.

Another interview, then wrote the candidate brief.

Then I found out I had another one breaking on my beat at the same time I had to go to a meeting.

Wrote that story during and right after the meeting

Got home much later than planned to put together DIY mini pizzas for the birthday boy (even though we had the big party yesterday I felt like I needed to do something fun for his actual day). Then he opened a couple of small gifts and we were off to bed with some very active ninjas.

Made a work call while they got a little of that out of their system. Fretted about the call even though I promised I wouldn’t.

Read a Froggy book and answered a bunch of random questions and then - Finally, I fell asleep snuggling my birthday boy, his giraffe, his book and a sword, natch.

Next year, I’m thinking tattoos or pencils or anything else non-food related.

You’re welcome, teachers and parents of kiddos with food challenges.