Saturday, February 18

zuzu, the ladies man

so last weekend when we were up at my parents, we went to a basketball game at JBU. we've taken the kids to a few others, and matthias was generally interested in the game in the past. not this time. he was most interested in running around, throwing himself on the ground when we told him not to run around, eating pizza, watching the "real golden eagle", and the halftime show.

for halftime, they had a gymnastic group perform. the girls had these cute little sparkly red uniforms and did tricks. matthias was mesmerized. he sat on jason's lap, completely still, the entire time. mesmerized.

fast forward to today. we were driving to kroger and passed a basketball court with some kids playing. matthias informed me, emphatically from the backseat, "i HATE basketball". (which sounded more like "i  HAY baffeball"). i said, "what?". he repeated, "i HATE basketball!". i said, "why?". and he responded, "i HATE basketball. i just want to watch the girls. at the JBU. i like the girls".

and he's only two. lord, help us. 

Friday, February 17

because some pictures just need to be shared

a little update from the camera roll on my phone. (you know, since taking more pictures of the kids is the reason i NEEDED and iphone).

they are always so proud of their slippers. 

big girl booster seat!

and a big boy car seat!

his first picture - it's a ball. which, amazingly, is what it actually looks like.

breakfast snuggles with daddy

why yes, i do think she'll be a fashion designer one day...don't you?


headbands are awesome. fact.


guess who won this fight?

eating happily - no whining!


yay for bubble baths!

Tuesday, February 14

weekend review part 2: valentine's day/jason's birthday

so, as i said yesterday, we left siloam after sunday school because we had plans for sunday night. a few months ago, jason noticed that martin sexton, who is pretty much his favorite musician ever, was coming to little rock. conveniently, the concert was a week before his birthday and a few days before valentine's day, so it worked out that the date night was our valentine's day night out and the tickets were his birthday present.

we dropped the kids off with jason's mom around 6 and went out to dinner. our first plan was to make dinner at home, but we were running short on time, so we ended up going to the house, which was delicious. and i'm glad we went out. we don't go on many dates anymore. if we do things without the kids, it's usually with friends. which is fun, but different than an actual date. we have some nights at home together, but by the time the kids go to bed, dishes are done, etc etc, it's late, we're tired, and usually just end up watching a tv show and going to bed. lame. so, getting dressed up, going out, spending time with no kids, no time constraints - it was a breath of fresh air.

after dinner, we picked up our friends, shannon and steven, and headed downtown. we had bought tickets online to make sure we would get them - well, not a problem. it was a really small crowd, but that was great from our perspective. we sat front and center and it was a wonderful atmosphere. most of the other people were there also for the music - not just a random show.

yay for date nights! 
the show was amazing. chris trapper opened, who we had never heard. he was really good. funny, good singer, good performer, good songs.

and then came martin. ya'll, if you have not ever heard of him, listen to his music. right now. do it. he is amazing. his voice is incredible. so much variety, so much heart and soul, so unique. we've seen him live three times now, and he blows me away each time. he never sings a song the same way twice. we were literally five feet away from him. "great" does not even begin to describe it.

he makes a lot of awesome faces
jason, stephen, and shannon enjoying the show

chris trapper joined him on one song - they made a pretty good duo

monday morning, we got to sleep in since the kids were gone, which was another breath of fresh air. if that had been the end of the weekend, it would have been wonderful - but we got an added bonus of a snow day! (well, for me. jason still had to work, but he closed, so we had the morning at home).

such a fun weekend. rest, family, date night, friends, food, music, sleep - pretty much everything i could have asked for. 

Monday, February 13

weekend review part 1: oscar's 60th birthday

you know those weekends that are just great? the kind where you get to do fun stuff and be with people that you love and actually feel relaxed at the end? this was one of those weekends. i think it was one of the best weekends we've had in a long time.

part one revolved around my dad's 60th birthday. we went up to siloam on friday night and spend the day saturday celebrating my dad. it was pretty relaxed and low key, which was great. my brother and sister-in-law, nate and kristin, came down from kansas and it was great to see them. rachel was there a well. hiba and matthias loved all the attention and getting to see aunts and uncles.

we read lots of books....

made birthday soup....

carrots and potatoes, peas and tomatoes. 

...dug for treasures in a bowl of rice...

oooo, a dinosaur! 

...played dress-up...

i'm thinking a career in fashion design may be in her future....

...and of course, had a birthday party. 

birthday card from matthias to oscar

birthday card from hiba

math clock from rachel - set to siloam springs time

scrapbook of pictures and memories from the piston kids

we also got to go to a basketball game at "the JVU" (as matthias calls it). i'm not sure what the highlight was - seeing "the real golden eagle" or the unlimited supply of pizza and chips in the hospitality room. either way, it was definitely a good time. 

we stayed for sunday school on sunday morning, so hiba and matthias could go to ms. barb and mr. jim's class. i love that they go to that class and there are pictures of rachel as a 2 and 3 year old on the wall. 

after sunday school, we headed back down to little rock, because we had big plans for the evening. but that'll be part 2. 

i'm so thankful for my dad and what a great example he is to me. it was fun to celebrate him this weekend and i'm glad that i've finally grown up and and can see now what a blessing it is to have a great dad like him.

Thursday, February 2

mom of the year

so yesterday, as i was writing a blog post, the kiddos were playing outside. it was past matthias' nap time, but it was such a nice day that i figured he could stay up as long as he wanted. he came in once and told me he was done, so i gave him the choice between napping and going back outside - he chose going back outside.

fast forward a few moments. i hear him crying - well, more like whining - and i ignore him. i figured he would come inside if he wanted to. but he kept whining, saying he needed my help. and, like any wonderful mom, i continued to ignore him. i mean, the last time he wanted my help it was stacking bricks. i figured he and hiba could work that out on their own.

finally, hiba came in and told me that matthias needed my help.

me: what? why? tell him to come inside.
hiba: well, he is stuck in the basement.
me: what?
hiba: he's stuck in the basement. come unlock it.

and what she meant in fact was that matthias was locked in the shed. (some friends came over the other day and were calling it a basement).

he crawled in through this.

and then couldn't get out.

he was less than thrilled about getting his picture taken
not only did i ignore him while he needed my help, but i tried to get him to pose for a picture. ha. go me. mom of the year.

Wednesday, February 1


i registered hiba for pre-k today.

i cannot believe that she is old enough to be going to school. (well, in a couple months.) i know that it is so cliche, but really - where has the time gone?

we still haven't completely decided if we are going to send her, but the registration is this week and to get a spot, we figured we'd go ahead and sign her up to keep our options open. one of the positive things about the little rock school district (and there aren't all that many of those) is that the pre-k programs are free and really good. the one we want to send her to is close to our house, the whole school is only pre-k, and we have several friends who have sent their kids there and have had very positive experiences.

but, as good as it is, we still aren't decided on what is the best. i've been having these theoretical conversations with friends, jason, parents, since hiba was born. where will she go to school? the answer was always that it depends on where we live, how long we plan on being there, what the schools are like, yadda yadda yadda. well, now that time is here. and even though she is registered for next year, i really have no idea what our decision is.

we have basically ruled out private schools. lots of different reasons, some that we we feel strongly about, some that we don't, but even if we wanted it to be an option it is expensive. and i don't want to pay that much money for elementary school.

so that leaves home school and public school. home school, for me right now, is a pretty definite no. i don't know that i can be hiba's teacher. we just kind of clash. i think we will have a much better relationship in the long run if i don't try. there are lots of great home school groups and options in the little rock area that would make it easier, but really i just don't want to. i'm not a "teacher" kind of mom. we don't do crafts. we don't do any sort of lesson time now. we barely make it to story hour at the library on a regular basis. and i know that with some support, that could change, but it just doesn't interest me.

but the problem is that we live in little rock. and the truth is that the schools just aren't great here. that may be an understatement. there are good schools. there are good teachers. there are good administrations. but there are also a lot of problems. our neighborhood elementary school is not my first choice. it is one of the worst performing schools in the state. like bottom ten. i know people who have their kids there or who have sent their kids there, but what i hear is pretty much the same story - the kids are nice, the teachers are good, but the parents are so uninvolved that the kids are so far behind that it leave the teachers no choice but to teach what is necessary. it doesn't matter how good of a teacher you are - if you have a class full of kindergartners who don't know what sounds letters make, you have to teach that first no matter what the curriculum says. and it doesn't matter how involved i am in that school - if other parents aren't, it is not going to make a huge difference.

now, that's not to say that all the parents there are uninvolved. but that is what seems to be true about the majority. and we knew that would be an issue when we chose to live where we do. we knew school would be a hard decision. i just didn't know it would sneak up on us so soon.

but here we are. next year is full of good options. if she gets into the school we want her to go to, great. we will strongly consider sending her. and if we don't like it - either the school or the idea of school - we can pull her out, no harm done, we'll start over in kindergarten. if she doesn't get in there, she can stay home another year and i'm not really worried about that affecting her academic career.

but, one short year away is the year of decisions. public or home? magnet school or neighborhood school? what about charter schools? which magnet school? what is plan b if she doesn't get into one? home school group or on our own? un-schooling? do i try to go back to work so jason can home school the kids? do i suck it up and home school them for a few years and hope we move?

and the choice isn't just about education. because honestly, we can supplement at home what she doesn't learn in school. i am not worried about one or two years in an under-performing school ruining her chances of getting into college. because, for us, the choice is much bigger than that. it's about being where we live. it's about social justice. it's about making a positive change in the community that we have chosen to surround ourselves with. it's about having our kids be around people who are different than them and in a place that is representative of where we really live. and it is a balancing act between ideals and reality, principles and necessity, great plans and the realistic needs of your kids.

so that's where my thoughts are today. and probably will be for the next year. any thoughts? advice? people who have sent their kids to little rock schools - what did you think? parents who have sent their kids through less-than-stellar districts?

because we only have a year to decide. and apparently that is not really that long.