On Graduating Preschool.

IMG_5464First and Last Day of 3K

Noah is officially done with preschool, now giving him the privilege of saying that he’s done something I never did – he has gone to school outside of his home before college.

I know. Quite an accomplishment.

It was strange for me, being a parent in a world I’d never experienced, trying to learn what carpool is and how to pack a lunch box and where in the world to put all of the twenty-dozen construction paper crafts he brought home every day. But I managed to make it through the entire school year without doing the one thing I feared the most: forgetting his backpack and, therefore, his lunch.

(Because it would be the homeschool mom who would let her poor kid sit in school lunchless while the other kids with more experienced moms ate happily, snickering at the kid whose mom was clearly not “socialized” as a kid.)

But this year has been good. The experience has let him learn some independence, and more importantly, learn SOMETHING – anything at all. Because he had no interest in learning from me prior to his preschool career. Now, after ten glorious months of Miss Janey inspiring him to allow himself to be educated, the kid will actually write letters – any letters I tell him to – when I tell him to do it.

It’s like she turned him into a superhero – albeit a fashion-confused superhero.

IMG_5393

(Every superhero got their cape tangled up with their backpack when they were four. I’m sure of it.)

He learned how to fall hopelessly in love – it’s a shame that Miss Kelly The Art Teacher was already taken. He learned the depths and breadths of 3K Spanish, and as of last night prefers to be called “Cinco” instead of Noah.

He also learned the importance of personal space. When I told him the morning of his last day that he needed to hug his friends because he wouldn’t see them again, he quickly told me “I can’t hug my friends!”

“Why not?”

“Because Miss Janey told me to keep my hands to myself.”

He did not learn, however, how to perform in front of a group. Which became painfully obvious at the onset of their year-end recital.

While the rest of his preschool happily sang and hand-motioned their way into their parent’s hearts, Noah was cool with sticking out his tongue.

Preschool 2

And checking out the awesomeness that is the back of his own hand.

Preschool 4

And tasting his pinkies for remnants of breakfast.

Preschool 6

And, when the other students joyfully sang, covering his ears to block out the rising tones.

Preschool 9

And pretending he was talking into his secret spy phone.

Preschool 10

And erasing all the shiny parents from his eyes.

Preschool 12

And maybe, just maybe, feeling slightly morose at his own lack of participation.

Preschool 13

After the performance, the rest of his classmates congratulated each other and said tearful goodbyes to their dearest friends (okay they really just sat on the rug like they were told), but Noah found his own rug. And his own quiet place. Because he was clearly extroverted out.

IMG_5475

He adored school. He already misses school. But the introvert inside of him gives me hope that maybe he’ll be suited just fine to homeschooling (at least next year) after all. No crowds, no performances, just books.

Mommy Jeopardy!

Mommy Jeopardy

“Welcome to this very special episode of Mommy Jeopardy! Our contestants, all too sleepy to actually introduce themselves, will choose from six categories today, all related to their occupation of Motherhood. Let’s get started.”

“I’ll take ‘Kids are for the Strong of Stomach’ for $200, Alex.”

“The answer is…”

Mommy Jeopardy

“What are toddler boy feet after marinating in shoes for two-plus hours, Alex?”

”That is correct.”

“Let’s go with ‘Kids are for the Strong of Stomach’ for $400.”

“The answer is…”

Mommy Jeopardy 2

“What is the car seat?”

“No, but a good guess.”

“What is the bathtub, Alex.”

“Yes.”

“Let’s go ahead to ‘Kids are for the Strong of Stomach’ for $600.”

“The answer is…”

Mommy Jeopardy 3

“What is chunky vomit?”

“Of course.”

“’Kids are for the Strong of Stomach’ for $800.”

Mommy Jeopardy 4

“What is removing a splinter?”

“That is incorrect. Anyone else?”

“Yes. What is removing a deep, long, slippery booger from a tiny toddler nostril?”

“Very good.”

“I’m going to try ‘Kids and Logic Don’t Mix’ for $200, Alex.”

Mommy Jeopardy 5

“What is whining, Alex.”

“Exactly.”

“‘Kids and Logic Don’t Mix’ for $400.”

“The answer is…”

Mommy Jeopardy 6

“What is the sibling?”

“Exactly.”

“‘Kids and Logic Don’t Mix’ for $600.”

Mommy Jeopardy 8

“What is that they can actually go to the bathroom without informing me first?”

“No. Anyone else?”

“What is the fact that I cannot pick up whatever crap they dropped in the floorboard while I’m driving down the interstate?”

“That is correct.”

“‘Before and After’ for $200.”

Mommy Jeopardy 7

“What is a car trip?”

“Yes, but no.”

“What is paying bills?”

“Yes, but also no.”

“What is cleaning the house?”

“That is the question we were looking for.”

“I’ll take ‘Before and After’ for $400.”

Mommy Jeopardy 9

“What is Play-Doh?”

“Obviously.”

“I’d like ‘Cold Hard Truth’ for $200.”

“The answer is…”

Mommy Jeopardy 11

“What are from old pajamas to new pajamas?”

“Correct.”

“Let’s try ‘Cold Hard Truth’ for $400.”

Mommy Jeopardy 10

“What is getting into the shower?”

“Worse.”

“What is while I’m flossing?”

“That is correct.”

“Can I have ‘Cold Hard Truth’ for $600?”

Mommy Jeopardy 14

“What are my infant’s brand new teeth?”

“No. Anyone else?”

“Yes. What are my toddler’s needle-sharp elbows? With which he uses to propel himself out of any position?”

“That is correct.”

Let’s try ‘Cold Hard Truth’ for $800.”

Video Daily Double

“That’s today’s Video Daily Double!”

“Here is the answer…”

“What is opening the refrigerator?”

“That is not the question we’re looking for.”

“What is going up and down stairs?”

“No. Anyone else?”

“What is potty-training?”

That is correct!”

“Can I have ‘The Parenthood Bible’ for $200?”

Mommy Jeopardy 12

“What are boogers?”

“No. Those are part of The Curse of Parenthood.”

“Oh. What are stickers?”

“Yes, that is correct.”

“’The Parenthood Bible’ for $400.”

Mommy Jeopardy 13

“What is hiding in the bathroom to eat chocolate right after forcing the children to eat broccoli?”

“Of course. And we’re out of time. That concludes today’s episode of Mommy Jeopardy! Congratulations on your winnings, and may God have mercy on your souls.”

Discovering The Soul of Trains.

Last Sunday was our annual trek out to Calera to visit Thomas the Train. But this year, we managed to get there earlier than usual, and it was much less crowded than it has been in the past. These two factors gave us ample opportunity to explore everything else at the location – something we’d never really done before.

IMG_2921

The destination in question is the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum. I will readily admit that I have a subconscious avoidance-reaction to any location with the word “Museum” in the title. This can be traced back to my childhood where I, a very efficient and quite impatient child, had to wait on my mother, a person with zero concept of the passage of time (literally – it was a big eureka moment for my parent’s marriage when they figured this out) who greatly enjoyed reading every placard, and observing every angle of the most obscure artifact. Combine this with the fact that I was homeschooled and therefore visited all the museums with my mother and…I have an aversion to the word Museum.

(I’m sorry I was such a naggy kid, Mom. I fully appreciate all your efforts now. But I’d rather appreciate them NOT at a museum, if you don’t mind.)

So that also may be why I’ve never explored the location of our Thomas trips before.

But I can now say definitively that, Thomas weekend or not, every little (and big) train lover needs to visit this museum. Admission is free, and they have some fantastic artifacts of train culture gone by, almost all being open to being climbed upon and explored up close.

IMG_2914

(And very few placards to be read.)

IMG_2984

They have rows of old rail cars, engines, and cabooses to check out,

IMG_2955

and train tracks to (safely) play on – because what kid doesn’t want to play on train tracks?

IMG_5491

(Notice Thomas chugging into the station in the top left corner in the above picture. He’s pretty cool, too.)

They have old railway crossing signs that still function, manual track-changing cranks that really do shift the tracks,

IMG_2987

and really, really fantastic trains. It’s basically the best playground ever for the train-obsessed.

IMG_5450

And all those families who want to get their family photos made on train tracks? This would be the place to do it. (I emailed the museum to see if they allow that, but I haven’t gotten an answer yet. I’ll update if I do.)

IMG_2925

Seeing Thomas, of course, was fantastic as well,

IMG_2977

Along with meeting Sir Topham Hatt,

IMG_3037

getting to buy Thomas umbrellas,

IMG_5526

And some Masters-Level golfing.

IMG_2973

As usual, Thomas got a Hero’s welcome from Noah…and Ali. Because you don’t get too old for your first hero.

IMG_2988

And this year our ride took place on the Double Decker train car, which was pretty much thrilling.

IMG_5534

(And it had a nice view.)

IMG_5543

The train cars used for Thomas’ rides belong to the Museum, and so there are other opportunities to ride on them, as well.

IMG_5564
Since Sunday, Noah has asked me daily if we can go back and visit the trains. He knows he only gets to visit Thomas once a year, but now that he’s discovered everything else out there, he’d very much like to take a daily trek to the train yard, peeking into windows and imagining all sorts of adventures.

IMG_3039

And I have to admit…I kinda want to go back, too.IMG_5512

(Especially if I could figure out how to photograph a sunset behind those trains.)

Disclaimer: This post was not sponsored or requested by anyone. I’m just so thrilled that I discovered that I, too, can enjoy museums that I wanted to share it with you. Plus it’s a really fun place to take pictures.

IMG_2926