Oh, and I'm also running my group. I have a quarterly report to turn in, and a couple of reasonably big software purchases to watch over (thankfully, someone else is actually negotiating the details of those). I'm lucky I have such good employees and contractors- they don't need a lot of "people management." But still, "hectic" is a charitable description of my work days right now.
Meanwhile, at home, Pumpkin started Kindergarten and Petunia's about to turn three.
Mr. Snarky and I have divided up the Petunia birthday party planning tasks, and since we're old pros at this by now, that isn't actually stressing us out too much- it is just adding items to our to do list.
But the Kindergarten honeymoon period ended on Wednesday last week, and Pumpkin apparently spent a good part of that day in tears. I think that it finally sunk in that her teacher really is only going to speak Spanish to her. She cried a bit before bed and in the morning for the rest of the week. She says Kindergarten is harder than she thought it would be, and she misses her friends from day care. I tried various things to cheer her up, with mixed success. The idea that she should wear the Hello Kitty watch my sister brought back from China for her- which I pulled out in desperation when she was crying Thursday morning and saying she didn't want to go to school- was a surprisingly good one. She says it reminds her of all the people who love her, and she wears it every day now. The idea of decorating the breakfast table, which I borrowed from Gretchen Rubin's Happier at Home, amused her and Petunia, but didn't really help. To be fair, the idea in the book is to have special holiday breakfasts on the "minor holidays" like St. Patrick's Day- but I was grasping for ideas, so I ran out at lunch on Thursday and bought a bunch of fall decorations and some stickers at the nearest drug store.
My idea for getting Pumpkin off to school without too many tears this morning was to go out on the weekend and buy some new clothes. We hadn't really done any back to school shopping, and I wondered if having some new clothes would make her excited to go to school. We'd also discovered that her backpack was too small to easily hold the folders that get sent from school, so we bought a new backpack. Pumpkin picked out a Hello Kitty backpack. And a Hello Kitty shirt. And some Hello Kitty shoes. And a Hello Kitty hat. Noticing a theme? But hey- I would have bought every single Hello Kitty item at Target if it would help Pumpkin get through this period at Kindergarten where she doesn't have a lot of friends and can't fully understand her teacher. I think I got off easy. Anyway, it worked. Pumpkin was excited to wear all her new Hello Kitty gear to school, and didn't cry this morning.
Pumpkin and I also had a talk Friday after school, and I asked her what she thought we could do to help her be happier at school. She thought about it, and said she thought we should study Spanish over the weekend, so that she would understand more of what her teacher says. So we did that, too. She pulled out a Spanish workbook my uncle had given her over the summer, and worked on it. I found some better Spanish flashcard apps for my Kindle Fire, which she liked. We watched some Pocoyo in Spanish on my computer. Pumpkin always begs to watch video on my Fire, too, so I searched and found Rock 'N Learn: Spanish, which I find unbelievably cheesy but Pumpkin loves. We listened to my "listen and learn" Spanish CDs whenever we drove anywhere. And, best of all, my parents sent her a Spanish-English Picture Dictionary, which arrived on Saturday. She was thrilled to discover she already knows quite a few of the words, and loves to be quizzed on the words on a page. (There are helpful pronunciation guides for her monoglot quizzmasters.)
Either the cramming helped, or things are just starting to click from the immersion program, because she said tonight that she understood almost everything the teacher said. This is probably an exaggeration, and she said she was still a bit sad at school, but she didn't cry tonight, or at least she didn't cry about school. There were some tears shed when her mean, mean father made her go brush her teeth.