Things I love about our new school

I’m going to open this with a very important disclosure: I miss our old school. I miss it terribly. I miss the people I got to know, the PPO, being on the Governing Board, volunteering, a lot of the great kids, and some of the rules. One of the rules I miss is the healthy food guideline. Our old school was pretty strict on insisting on no junk and our current school is much more lenient. In the end it doesn’t matter I suppose because it doesn’t change what I pack for my own kids (sandwiches, cheese, yogurt, vegetables, fruit) but it does mean I sometimes have to listen to complaints about what everyone else brings from home. Meh. If everyone jumps off a bridge, etc etc.

So anyway yes, I miss the school back home quite a lot and I still check in regularly for new pictures and I took a peek to see who had replaced me as PPO secretary and Vice-Chair of the Governing Board. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are some AMAZING things about the new school. For instance:

1. Art taught by a trained art teacher. Instead of just doing some basic artwork with the homeroom teacher, they’re taught by someone who teaches nothing but art, period. At Breanna’s level it’s just stuff in the classroom with her regular teacher because they’re still really young but Hayley has a teacher who graduated with an art degree and not only teaches them new techniques but also teaches art theory and history to them so they understand what and why they’re doing something. I really love that.

2. Music! They have a regular music program as part of their curriculum and each of them gets taught music twice a week. There was no music at the old school and I was always kind of sad about that. It makes me happy to know that they’re learning some age-appropriate music theory and about various instruments.

3. Violin. Seriously. Hayley is taking violin at the school right now. Once a week she goes to violin for one period of her day and every second week she has an extra lunch hour of violin. By the new year, if the kids taking it are still enjoying it they can continue with a bit more practice and will get to start bringing their instruments home to practice. I find this very exciting that something that can cost a fortune to study is being offered for free in the school. Hayley is enjoying it tremendously.

4. Choir. Do you sense a theme? Lots of creativity in this school! Hayley has joined the school choir and practices once a week as part of their music program and today she had her first performance at the school for their in-school Remembrance Day assembly. She told me she did really well and Hayley loves to sing so when she brought the permission slip home I didn’t even hesitate before signing her up. Dressed in black and white for choir:

Hayley dressed for choir in black and white.

5. No homework. No joke! Breanna’s only homework is to read two books with us and keep a reading log. I read with her every morning after breakfast and fill the reading log out and that’s it. That’s something we’d be doing anyway so it’s barely even work. Hayley also has a reading log to hand in once every two weeks and it’s not much work either because Hayley reads a lot all on her own anyway. She’s also had one presentation project to prepare but it didn’t take much time and last year she did presentations once a month on a variety of topics so it wasn’t too tough for her to do.

Other than that, there’s just no homework. No sheets of math to do or verbs to study. They get their work done in class. If they ever goofed off too much and didn’t finish up I think they’d have some extra catch-up to do but that’s it and it hasn’t happened yet. I don’t mind important homework but I hate obligatory busy-work and so I’m loving this school’s approach. It gives kids more time to be, you know, kids.

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Speaking of school, I’d like to take a moment to do the bragging Mom thing. The school had their parent-teacher night on Wednesday and although I couldn’t attend, George went and brought back excellent reports. Breanna’s doing very well, meeting all the expected targets for her grade and age and although she’s a bit shy sometimes she’s adjusted super well.

As for Hayley, she was described as being well above average in her class, very intelligent, and having a lot of talent for different subjects. There was one shock that came out on parent-teacher night about her. A few weeks ago one of her teachers spoke to George about the fact that Hayley is a bit too chatty in class and talks to her friends sometimes instead of paying attention. This isn’t news as this has been something we’ve heard before so we spoke to her about how important it is to really be there and listen and save chatting for outside.

The shock was when the same teacher told George on Wednesday that last week Hayley came up to her – without any prodding or suggestions from us – and said, “Miss, I know that sometimes I talk to much when I should be listening or doing my school work. I just want you to know that I’m going to work on not doing that.”

It blew me away, that was such a grown up thing to do and I had no idea until George told me. I told her I was very proud of her!

So thus far everything is going quite well with both girls in the new school and I’m fully expecting excellent report cards in a couple of weeks.

The very first day

Today was a big day in our household since it was the first day of school. It meant the first day in a new school for Hayley and the first day ever for Breanna.

IMG_6086

(Hayley’s bag is on the left with a keychain she got at the end of last year from Breakfast Club and Breanna’s is the one with Super Mario on it.)

I was so incredibly happy that I got to come into work an hour (or so) later just so I wouldn’t have to rush off and miss the first day. We got to take them right to the school and go in with them. I think that helped with the nerves a little bit – theirs AND ours!

The kids each picked out their own outfits when we went shopping. Hayley’s choice:

First day!

Breanna’s sparkly choice:

First day!

Outside, ready to go with a combination of excitement and apprehension:

Ready to go

Since each of the kids needed to be in different areas of the building George and I split up; he took Hayley with him and I took Breanna. As a result I don’t have many pictures of Hayley but I think George might have taken a few extras on his phone so I’ll have to get those.

Breanna and I went to the gym with all the younger grades and she looked so small sitting on the floor amid so many other kids. She was very quiet, just looking around and taking it all in. I offered to take her sweater and stick it in her bag since it was quite warm but she knew she had a hook outside her classroom and insisted on wearing it until she could go hang it up in her designated spot.

Little

Once they called her name for her teacher’s class, she got up and filed out of the gym to go to her classroom for the first time. By then Hayley had also gone over to her own classroom so George headed over and got to see Breanna in her class before we left. I helped her find her desk, put her name tag on, and then she went to sit on the floor in front of her teacher.

Nerves

We said goodbye and then left so we could get to work and class could start. I’m very proud that I didn’t bawl. I did tear up but not until I had left. :)

I was actually quite happy to have to go to work since it gave me a distraction. Had I been home (I would have taken the whole day off if I could have) I would have ended up pacing most of the day until school was over.

It was so exciting to come home and hear all about their day. Hayley had been pretty nervous about being the new girl but she wasn’t the only one who was new to the school and all of her stories were positive. Her teachers are very nice and friendly and were eager to help her get settled, and she already had a few names of girls that she had talked to, including one that had asked her to play at recess.

Meanwhile Breanna was just brimming with excitement, telling me about how her teacher had read them three stories, including The Kissing Hand which was apropos since I had kissed their hands before taking them to school. Breanna even brought home her very first piece of school-made artwork based on the story.

First drawing

She also told me all about the toys in the classroom and that she had played with the wooden kitchen, some wooden blocks, and the sand table. She also ate every bit of food that I had sent her, not a surprise to me!

I’m so happy that they both had a good day. I know it will take a little while to really get settled in, but the school has a good vibe for me and I’m pleased with the teachers and the vice-principal that I met so far. We have a curriculum night coming up in a couple of weeks so I’ll get to know more about everything then, but so far so good.

I can’t believe I have two kids in school now!

Busy short week

This is going to be one of those fly-by weeks I think. First of all, Monday went by quickly even though I don’t really know why. I didn’t do anything in particular to move it along. I didn’t even pack anything since I’m running low on boxes. Still, I can’t believe that it’s almost time for bed.

On Tuesday I have a Governing Board meeting and I have no idea how long it will be; we missed our last meeting because it ended up canceled so we may have to catch up on a few extra items. Then I have a PPO meeting on Wednesday which is probably going to be short and sweet. Still, two meetings in a row this month!

As if I won’t spend enough time up at the school with those meetings, I then have Breakfast Club bright (dark) and early on Thursday morning. Whew!

I’m quite happy that at least Hayley’s off for Good Friday and Easter Monday so it’s just a four-day week, a nice four-day weekend, and another four-day week. I like that.

The weekend may be a blur too; on Friday we’re going to visit my parents to hook my dad up with a new-to-him computer since he’s been without a functioning PC for almost a year now. While we’re there I’m going to give him a lesson in how to use gmail, how to find both my blog and my sister’s blog, and remind him of how to use Facebook so he can get back into things online.

Then of course there’s Easter dinner at George’s parents’ house on Sunday and I don’t know if the kids will maybe be over there on Saturday as well, so it seems like it just might be busy busy. We’re picking up some boxes from a friend on the way home from seeing my parents so I’ll be able to get some more packing done at least!

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The good thing about getting my dad back online is that he and my mom will be able to go “ooh” and “ahh” over their newest granddaughter. My sister had her baby on April 9th and you can go read her birth story and see how beautiful my niece Claire is. I can’t wait to get out there and hold her for the first time! I wish I could see her in person now but she’ll only be about three months when I get there. That’s one of my favorite baby ages, really. At three months they’re still non-mobile so you can put them down in the middle of your living room floor, go get a drink of water, come back, and they’re still exactly where you left them. Meanwhile, they also becoming more and more interactive with the laughing and seeking out your face and it just a wonderful age. Auntie Sherry might need an intervention to put her down!

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On that note I should probably think about getting myself to bed since it’s almost 11 and I’m pretty tired.

End of year, beginning of summer

This week Hayley only had three days of school but they were pretty action-packed. In fact, the past week was pretty busy. We spent our Saturday swimming (well, okay, all the kids swam, I just hung out on my friends’ deck and hopped in the hot tub at their neighbor’s house) and then enjoyed dinner and an evening full of laughter among adults while the kids played downstairs.

Wee!

On Sunday there was a slight flurry of activity in the kitchen as the kids prepared breakfast in bed for George for father’s day; Hayley scrambled the eggs, Breanna made and (peanut)buttered the toast, and I handled the coffee. That was followed by visiting my dad and then having Chinese food over at George’s parents’ house for supper.

Father's Day breakfast

Father's Day breakfast

On Monday I was up bright and early because the school was having their annual Play Day. The kids were outside all day other than snack time and lunch time. The PPO rented bouncies (I was in charge of that and the two I chose were so much fun!), a dunk tank (a lot of grade six kids had a blast volunteering to be dunked), and a DJ for the gym. There was also a watermelon and freezies station, face painting, soccer, tug of war, hurdles, and other fun activities.

I was stationed at the face painting table and it ended up being perfect because due to the makeup we had to be in the shade to keep it from melting so I didn’t get overheated by the bright sun. At lunch we served hot dogs and that was a big hit.

Space Assault

Jurassic Survivor

I channeled my inner child by playing on the bouncies whenever the kids went inside. I can not lie, they were ridiculously awesome and I had fun.

Tuesday found me putting on (gasp!) a little black dress and heading out with some of the ladies from the PPO for dinner at a great restaurant for some end-of-year relaxation. The food was delicious (lobster tacos and homemade chips & sesame sticks with guacamole and hummus for appetizers, a glass of Pinot Noir, and I ordered salmon roasted in Pinot Noir and sea salt for my main meal, yummy), the atmosphere was very nice, and the company was outstanding. I’ll miss them over the summer and will especially miss the two who will not be returning next year since their kids are off to high school. Sniff.

Snackage

Dinner

Damn, we’re a bunch of good looking women. We were joined by the owner and of course I offered up my food-snapping photo services if he needs any, ahem. I’ll work for reasonable rates and more salmon.

PPO ladies

Finally, Wednesday rolled around and lo and behold it was the last day of school. The last day is always emotional. The bus drivers honk as they leave, the kids wave out the windows, and the teachers all line up on the sidewalk to wave them off. Last year was a tear-fest because our principal was leaving, and this year wasn’t much better because Hayley’s math teacher was retiring. I took a photo of her with Hayley and I warned her that if she cried I’d cry; she dabbed her eyes and informed me she’d been crying for at least half an hour so I was out of luck. I’ll miss her, because she was a tough teacher but she was a great match for Hayley last year for homeroom (she was a big help in the adjustment from Kindergarten to grade one) and Hayley learned a lot about math from her this year.

Alas, my photos are all still on my camera right now.

Hayley’s report card was very good and most of her marks went up from last term, so that’s great. Her teachers had wonderful remarks for each subject and I was especially pleased to see her French grades since Hayley was so worried about it at the beginning of the year.

I can’t believe that in a couple of months she’ll be getting ready for her first day of grade THREE. In the meantime though, there is sun and fun to enjoy over the summer and I’m very happy to get a break from 6:30 wake-ups (and 5:30 wake-ups on breakfast club days). Summer is a good thing!

Whew. There you go, we’re all caught up now! What have YOU been up to?

Time for tea

This time last week I was looking forward to the afternoon. Every year the school invites parents who have volunteered in some way to come up for a special volunteer assembly and tea. I’ve written about it before, but basically they send home invitations to all the volunteers and then we show up about 45 minutes before dismissal. The kids all come into the gym for an assembly to thank us for what we’ve done.

This year some of the older kids had prepared short speeches, which was cute, and then one of the classes sand a song for us. After that the principal called out for each volunteer to come up and receive a certificate and a gift, which was a school pen and a pretty notebook. She had asked all the kids to hold off on their applause until everyone had come up and we’d all get a big round of cheering at the end. Still, kids are kids and they get excited easily so some people still got some clapping, including me. I was a little surprised that there was such a loud cheer for me; I must do a good job of hiding that I’m not a morning person when I volunteer for Breakfast Club, or maybe I was just that good at face painting back at Winter Carnival.

After the assembly Hayley scooted off to daycare which is a special treat for her since she doesn’t normally get to go. However, any kids with a parent at the volunteer tea gets to go to daycare that day and she loves it so much that I usually have to practically drag her out when it’s time to go home.

Tea time

Meanwhile I got to enjoy some nice tea in beautiful china tea cups and stuff my face with delicious treats like sandwiches, mini quiche, and lots of baked goodies. I had a cup of a really amazing honey-ginger herbal tea and it was so tasty that I want to get some for myself.

I don’t volunteer at the school for any kind of reward but it really is nice to be recognized. In the past I’ve only ever volunteered to help out on field trips but this year I’ve done a lot more around the school. I joined the Governing Board and the PPO, went to the Terry Fox run (though that’s not really volunteering, but the kids enjoy it), took the grade one and two kids to see an environmental play, served pizza on pizza day once, helped with fundraisers, joined the Breakfast Club by volunteering two mornings per week, helped out at Carnival, helped with Movie Night, and will be taking part in the annual Play Day the last week of school. A lot of it required me to step out of my comfort zone and I’m so glad I did because I really enjoyed the hell out of this school year. I love knowing so many of the teachers and other parents as well as the kids, and I love that they know who I am too.

I can’t believe school finishes in just eight more days (not counting weekends and a ped day), on June 23rd. The year really flew by and while I’ll be glad for a two month (and change) break from early mornings, monthly meetings, and other obligations, I’m also looking forward to what next year will bring!

The incredible sleepless night AND de-lurking day!

First things first. Today is January 14th, 2010 and apparently it’s also International De-lurking Day. What does that mean for you? Well, it’s not mandatory. After all it’s not like I can come over and force you to participate. However, it would be fun if you’d take part because it’s really easy – all you have to do is leave a comment. I’ll take comments even from those of you who do so regularly but I’d especially love to hear from people who (yep, lurk) read but don’t usually say anything.

Are you shy? Or not sure what to say? Here are some ideas: Tell me what your favorite TV show is. What’s the best book you read last year? What movie did you rent that you wish you had seen on the big screen instead? Share a link to your favorite blogger. Tell me what you had for breakfast or what you’re making for supper. Make me laugh with a bad joke. Whatever! Or just say “hi, I read but I’m too shy to comment on a regular basis!” Just let me know you’re there because that’s the purpose of the day. And remember:

delurk2_1

And we don’t want THAT.

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Did you ever have one of those days where you woke up, dragged yourself out of bed, got yourself ready to leave… and then you woke up and realized it was just a dream and you still had to get up and do it all for real? Because that SUCKS.

I sort of did something similar all night long. I guess I’m still worried about sleeping in on the days that I volunteer for Breakfast Club and it’s taking a toll on my ability to sleep. I desperately want to avoid ever showing up really late because I hit snooze on my alarm clock or turn it off altogether.

Because of this, I woke up repeatedly last night. My night table is higher than the bed so I can’t see my alarm clock unless I prop myself up on my elbow. The thing is, it’s so dark out when I wake up on volunteer mornings that it may as well be the middle of the night. I wake up at 5:45 and the sun doesn’t really make much of an appearance until about 7 am. For instance, this is what it looks like outside at 6:15 am lately:

8/365 Good... morning?

Doesn’t that just make you want to WAKE RIGHT UP? Anyway.

All night I woke up thinking that my alarm had gone off and that I had to hurry up and get up before I dozed back off again, because on those mornings I don’t have the luxury of hitting the snooze button. Each time I woke up I groaned, propped myself up, and saw that I still had hours to go before I had to get up. I did this at 12:45, 1:30, 2:00, 2:30, 2:45, on and on. I think the last time I did it was a little past 4:30 and then I finally went back to sleep properly until my alarm went off for real. It SUCKED.

As a result I pretty much faked being awake as I helped prepare the breakfast (cutting plums and oranges while half-asleep is quite the feat, as is toasting English muffins when you’re trying not to burn yourself) and served food to all the kids. When I got home the coffee didn’t seem to help much since I dozed off on the floor while playing Littlest Pet Shop with Breanna. I startled awake to her saying, “Terrence! Terrence! Mommy, you’re supposed to make Terrence the Turtle talk to my dog!”

Whoops.

I’m volunteering again tomorrow so I’m hoping for a better sleep. Last week I slept much better the second night because I was so exhausted. I think I might set the alarm on my iPod as a back up so that my brain will feel like it can shut up and let me sleep properly tonight.

Now to get my work finished up so I don’t have to stay up late finishing it when I should be sleeping later!

Portrait of a Friday

This morning my alarm went off at 5:40 am and I dragged myself out of bed a few minutes later. I had only gone to bed at 11 pm but I fell asleep within five minutes and slept all night so I felt more or less okay as I got up, dressed, and forced bits of plastic lenses into my eyes. Hayley got up at 6, I took the dog down to pee, and then Hayley and I were off to breakfast club.

It was my first time volunteering for the breakfast club and let me just say right now that although I am not – and likely never will be – a morning person, it felt so good to be there. I loved setting it all up, serving breakfast to the kids, and getting it all cleaned up. Although my own kid goes just because she likes to (and would get a good, healthy breakfast even if the club didn’t exist) there are some kids who really truly need something like this, a government program that provides them with food so that they can go about their day.

All my life I wanted to do something to help people and I never did. I wanted to go to third world countries to build schools and hand out food with the Red Cross or the UNHCR or UNICEF and instead I followed a path that took me away from all of that. More than once I’ve wondered what it would be like to make a difference like that. It’s not a third world country, but knowing that I was helping the quiet kids who don’t get breakfast at home for whatever reason made me feel like I finally stepped up and did what I’ve always wanted to do.

I hate to sound like I’m preaching but honestly, if you have the time and opportunity to volunteer somewhere, I seriously urge you to try it.

(After breakfast club I attended the holiday concert, helped one of the teacher’s aides (a woman that I adore), handed out pizza at lunch since it was pizza day, and delivered bread from our PPO bread drive. I arrived at the school at 6:30 am and left at 2:30. I am exhausted and am unwinding with a glass of Fuzion Alta red wine (delicious and smooth), a bag of chips, and some Criminal Minds re-runs on A&E. Beyond cleaning and purging pre-Christmas explosion around the apartment my main weekend plans involve a bit of sleeping in. Happy Friday!)

I should go to bed now and sleep all through Thursday

After attending tonight’s PPO meeting I realized that Friday is going to be one busy day. I think I’m doing my first stint at Breakfast Club and if that’s the case I need to be there by 6:30 am. Also known as StillDark O’Clock.

After that, I’ll be sticking around to see the school’s holiday concert which should be cute and fun. Then I’ll have about an hour to kill but I’ll just stick around with the other PPO folks who will likely be there, and that’s nice because I’ve been enjoying getting to know them better. After that hour I’ll be in the cafeteria handing out pizza for lunch since it’s also Pizza Day (they do it once a month).

And THEN I’ll be sticking around for the rest of the afternoon because it’s also the day that the bread is delivered for the bread drive that we organized. I figured I’ll stay and help hand that out, as well as the prizes to the five kids who sold the most bread to raise funds for the school.

After that, I think I’ll get to come home since it’s the end of the day. And that’s when I will face plant on the bed and pass out.

It sounds crazy, I know. And seriously, I was at the school all morning on Friday, all morning on Monday, and all morning on Tuesday. Then I was back there tonight for the meeting (but made it home in time for “Criminal Minds”, yay!), and will be there all day on Friday. I know it’s a lot.

But the thing is, I’m really enjoying it. I love being so involved in the school now, especially after putting it off for two years because of my own issues. I love getting to know some of the kids, and not just the ones in my own kid’s class. And I really have been having fun getting to know some of the other moms. They’re all really nice and do so much to make the school a nice place for the kids and I’m glad to be a part of it this year.

However, I can guarantee I will have one HELL of a good sleep on Friday night.

Is it only Tuesday? Really??

Today I thought it was Thursday. Considering it’s only Tuesday, that’s pretty bad. Being off by one day is annoying enough, being off by two sucks. On the other hand I still have Christmas shopping to do so it’s good to keep from rushing forward too much, right?

(Christmas shopping. Ugh. The easiest way to suck out all my holiday cheer and joy is to set me loose in a store with other Christmas shoppers. One year everyone’s getting gift cards and hand-drawn cards, I swear.)

I was up at the school bright and early to help out with the used toy sale. I brought Breanna in with me and I was worried that she might get bored or have some sort of meltdown and I’d have to leave early. She ended up being perfectly behaved and had so much fun that she didn’t want to leave at lunch time.

While I was there I bought her a huge (HUGE) tub of MegaBloks because she loves those, and I also got her a book of Princess paper dolls and a Caillou storytelling game. She was really happy to bring them home, and with the 50 cents I had leftover she picked out a little bus and a Sleeping Beauty figurine (no surprise there, it’s her favorite Disney princess).

Hayely was ecstatic to see me (and my money) when she came in for her classroom’s turn to browse around. She scored big and with only five bucks she bought a little Barbie house, a Barbie horse, a stuffed turtle, a rubber frog (no, I have no idea), a necklace that glows, and a hair tie that looks like a poodle. Lucky girl!

It was so busy and so much fun to help kids find toys they’d like that the time flew by and I couldn’t believe it when the bell rang for lunch. I thought I was only halfway through my shift. It was a pretty good way to spend the morning.

Meanwhile Breanna drew a ton of pictures, played with some of the toys (then put them back on the tables), talked to the other kids, and felt like a big girl having her snack at recess. She would have stayed the whole day but she was more tired than she realized.

Somehow I managed to eat some lunch, do all my work, make supper, and then get the kids out for a 45-minute walk around the neighborhood to look at all the Christmas lights.

Breanna fell asleep like she was knocked unconscious when I put her to bed. Hayley is still up because that’s just the way she is, but at least she’s reading quietly in bed.

As for me, I’m having my tea an hour early so I can go to bed and pass out too.

One tired Friday

Have you ever just instantly felt completely exhausted? It’s not quite like the hit-by-a-truck sensation of the flu. The abrupt tired feeling I had was more like that sudden shift between enjoying a drink and realizing you shouldn’t have had that last one. I was fine today, albeit a bit tired, and then all of a sudden it was all I could do to move.

It’s probably related to the fact that I got up and went into the school for 7:30 this morning to have a meeting with the regional coordinator for the Breakfast Club. Although the club was finally able to start up they still sort of need more volunteers and I’m happy to help out once a week. I met with her and will probably get started next week, otherwise it will be the first week after Christmas break.

After that wrapped up I went upstairs and helped three other moms on the PPO because it was the day for counting up the money for the once-a-month pizza day. They were also counting up the money for the recent bread drive that they did (I can’t wait to get ours, the bread was so good last year). When two of the moms left, I went with the other one to the storage room to pick out some prizes to give to the top fundraisers, it will be fun to hand those out to the kids.

I didn’t get home until lunch time and FINALLY got a cup of coffee which was much-needed judging by the pounding in my head – ah, caffeine withdrawal, you are a massive bitch.

I got a few things for work done and then crazily took the kids out to play in the snow after Hayley got home. It was insane because although the base temperature was perfect, there was so much wind that it felt much colder, plus snow kept blowing in our faces. All we could handle was about 30 minutes.

I managed to go right back out with the dog and as soon as I could we came back in. Somehow I got the kitchen cleaned up and made supper, then cleaned up again since George’s sister and dad were coming over to visit.

By that point I was Done with a capital D. DONE. I went into the girls’ room to get Breanna’s pajamas and I ended up sitting on Hayley’s bed for a few minutes just because I couldn’t get back up. Had I gone to bed right then I would have slept like the dead.

Of course I didn’t and then caught a second wind so George and I watched two re-runs of Criminal Minds, but I can feel the sleepiness setting in slowly. I think I’d better get to bed before I experience a third wind. Bed sounds like a better idea.