Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Perfect Halloween

There are a lot of things about Halloween that I'm not so crazy about.  Making it ok to take candy from strangers just this once.  Scary images.  Sugar highs.  Fighting about who got more of which kind of candy.  Carnivals.  Sugar withdrawl.  Whining.   My kids being too old for me to do away with a majority of their candy after they go to bed.  Neighborhood pumpkin smashers.  Not getting enough mini chocolate bars.

But the things I love about this season make up for all of that.  The costumes.  The chance to teach my kids a lesson about manners.  Pumpkins.  Nice scarecrows.  Watching little kids try to walk--or see, in the costumes they have on.  Apple picking.  Corn mazes.  Straw, lots of straw.  Cooler weather.  Watching the kids negotiate candy trades.  Fall colors.  Candy corn.

If  I could plan the perfect Halloween celebration, it would have to be held on a farm.  A farm with pumpkins and straw bales.  And a corn maze--a BIG corn maze.  The kids would all dress up.  Adults, too if they're brave enough.  The costume contest would give prizes to everyone for something.  There would be pumpkin carving and bobbing for apples.  Friendly scarecrows would be scattered about.  The tables would be covered with gingham table cloths and everyone would bring their favorite dish to share.  There would be hay rides and bonfires.  Nary a light up skull, grim reaper or bloodied sword would be seen.  The kids would be free to roam about and play whatever games filled their heads.  And when the night was over, everyone would leave with buckets full of warm memories rather than candy.

Sigh . . .   But since that day is not likely to come anytime soon, we have to content ourselves with only some bits and pieces of the perfect Halloween.


Too Good for Drugs

This week it was red ribbon week at shool where the kids get to have a crazy hair day, a super hero day, a pajama day, etc. and are indoctrinated with all sorts of anti-drug slogans and reasoning.  Not necessarily a bad thing.  The classes all participated in a contest to decorate their doors with an anti-drug theme.  This is what S's class came up with. 

Needless to say this door won first place.  It probably helped that the judging was done the day before Halloween. 

The class also got to put a picture of their face on one of the superheroes on the banner.  S THOUGHT she chose Wonder Woman.  Not a bad choice.  Wonder Woman would never do drugs.  But upon closer inspection of the said banner, we discovered that she actually put her face on Elektra.  Elektra is not such a clear cut choice when it comes to role models.  According to my trusty super hero postage stamps, Elektra is "driven by tragedy & versed in the ancient ways of the ninja.  The femme fatale . . . kills for hire, loves for thrills, and brings destruction to all who are foolish enough to cross her path."  Hmmmm . . . . NOT a very fitting description of S, as anybody who knows her would attest.

Monday, October 26, 2009

What Do You Do All Day?

Whenever someone asks me what I do all day, my response is pretty much the same.  I laugh and shake my head.  That question always triggers two realizations for me.  One is that the person asking the question most likely doesn’t have kids.  The second realization is that I probably couldn’t explain it even if I wanted to.

But I’ll give it a try anyway . . .

My last thought before going to bed last night was that I had to remember to make juice popsicles this morning.  The warm weather has returned for a spell, and I promised the kids they could have one when they came home from school.

Once they were off this morning, I thought about making the popsicles, but had to clean up the kitchen first.  Then I had to take the empty milk containers to the recycling.  On the way there, I saw the pile of laundry and was reminded to throw in a load.  While I was doing that, I noticed a toy lizard in the washing machine.  R often stealthily deposits things in the dirty clothes.  At least today there wasn’t a sippy cup with spoiled milk.  I fished out the poor lizard before he drowned, wondering vaguely if some of his friends were still there in the washer.  But I didn’t dare take the time to look because that would cause me to forget what I had just remembered.  I still had to make the popsicles.

On my way to the kitchen, the telephone rang.  A reminder for Shaggy’s doctor appointment which he hadn’t written on the calendar and had therefore most likely forgotten.  I hung up and wrote it on the calendar.  Then I noticed the various hair accessories and hairbrushes left out by the girls in their rush to get ready for school.  I picked them up and headed to my room to put them away.

By this time each day, I am usually convinced that I’m living in one of those ‘If You Give A Mouse A Cookie’ books.

While in my room, I realized that I hadn’t yet made my bed.  So I did.  I always feel better after I make my bed.  Such a nice, open space  . . .  to pile more stuff on.  And then it occurred to me that I had to send an important email to someone, so I fired up the computer.  That’s usually a fatal mistake.  Somehow this device can suck me into a parallel universe where time actually moves more quickly and when I finally surface again, it’s time to get J from school.  But today, luckily, R was here to rescue me.  She was stinky. Nice definition of “rescue” I know.  While I was changing her, she announced, “Have to go potty, please!”

Yes, she actually says please.  I didn’t want to potty train her--she just turned two, after all.  Too young, in my book.  So when she’d announce she had to go, I ignored her, or worse, I’d try to talk her out of it.  Terrible, I know.  So she turned to her older sisters and father for help.  They’re much more accommodating.  When they tried to tell me she was ready to potty train, I ignored THEM.  But when she finally began looking at me with her big blue eyes and saying, “Potty, please!” I gave in.  I couldn’t ignore that.  And as it turns out, she seems to be ready to learn.  Yippee.  I hate potty training.

Once she was cleaned up, we ran to find her little potty.  We located the chamber, but couldn’t find the seat.  We were running from room to room looking for it, all the while I’m looking at her cute, but bare little bum and feeling more and more desperate because I really don’t want to clean up a puddle on the carpet.  We finally found it, assembled it, and R sat down.  I gave a deep sigh of relief and headed off to the kitchen to make juice popsicles.  But three little words, “I did it!” stopped me in my tracks.  So I doubled back, praised her profusely for doing a good job, and cleaned her up . . . again.  She insisted on carrying the chamber to dump it out.  But for some reason, she just had to take it to the farthest bathroom, the one on the other side of the house.  I hovered over her the whole way, still not wanting to clean up a puddle.  Thankfully, she did a fairly good job.

After getting her dressed, she requested a snack so we headed to the kitchen.  And once again I was reminded that I had yet to make the popsicles.  But the phone rang.  After finishing my conversation, I realized that there was no way the Popsicles would be frozen by the time J got home from Kindergarten.  But I made them anyway.  It is better, after all, for a kid to have a slushy popsicle than a mom who didn’t keep her promise.

As we were heading out the door to pick J up from school, I noticed a sippy cup of milk in the bottom of the dirty clothes.  I made a mental note to get it out of there before more clothes get piled on top of it and it’s forgotten for another day.  But I realized that chances are pretty slim that I’ll actually remember.

With only one kid to care for during the course of the entire morning, I don’t have much to show for my time.  But at least I’ll have an answer if anyone asks me what I did all day.  I made popsicles.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pumpkin Follow Up

Today, J brought a page home from school where he had colored some orange pumpkins.  Underneath he had written, "MY PUmPKin IS errNJ."  I really do love the phonics based alphabet system.  It encourages a level of creativity that is sadly lacking in other spelling  programs.

His pumpkin has remained a constant companion, but I'm becoming a little concerned over it's fate.  J asked me if pumpkins die if they get poked too much.  He was holding a pointed stick in very close proximity to his beloved pumpkin. 

Later, he pleadingly asked if we could carve his pumpkin today. 

Later still, he wanted to know if he could throw it off the playhouse porch.  Once halloween was over last year, a certain adult male role model who shall remain nameless, allowed him to toss our leftover pumpkins from Sliver Hut.  An activity most likely inspired by the band, Smashing Pumpkins.

So it seems that this relationship is destined to be very brief with a high probability of violence.  And whenever it ends, it will most certainly be gut-wrenching.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pumpkin Play

Today, I accompanied J and his kindergarten class on a field trip to the pumpkin patch.  Besides some serious hesitation before boarding the bus, a few scary light up skulls, and an encounter with a storyteller witch, it went pretty smoothly.  Most of his anxieties remained in check.

This is probably due in large part to the fact that he's been looking forward to choosing the perfect pumpkin for weeks.  But he's not necessarily looking for a potential jack-o-lantern.  His pumpkins become his best friends--at least for a little while.

He watched the field closely as we rode around it on the hay ride, searching for just the right pumpkin.  Most of them were rejected because they were smashed, or dirty, or scraped, or they had holes in them.

But finally, the moment arrived.  He caught sight of exactly the right one.  Unfortunately, he didn't choose a small pumpkin.  He chose one bigger than my head, or so he said.  His arms must have ached from dragging it all around with him, but he didn't complain, not once throughout the entire day of pumpkin play.

They were inseparable.  His pumpkin sat by him in the car.  It stared at him while he ate his lunch.  It watched over him from the front porch as he played outside.  When it accidentally rolled off the sofa, he insisted on putting an ice pack on it's bump.  I tried convincing him the bump had been there before, but he was more convinced that the ice actually made the bump smaller.  His pumpkin ALMOST got into the bath with him, but that was vetoed at the last minute by a 'mean ol' mom.'
At one point, J was lying on the floor with the pumpkin balanced on his stomach.  And was very excited to report to me that his tummy was stronger than the pumpkin because it made the pumpkin move.  Lovely.  I replied that we should go brush his teeth now so that his teeth could stay strong, too.  He replied that his teeth were already strong, stronger than concrete.  I didn't ask him how he knew that.  I didn't want to know.

The pumpkin sat quietly next to us as we read bedtime stories and then snuggled down for the night right next to his bed.  I'm hoping this new pumpkin friend can survive all of J's affection.  At least until we can carve it next week . . . IF he lets us carve this little orange friend.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Rainy Day

We had the first rain storm of the season the other day.  Loved it.  Here's J & R looking at worms.

R explores the front yard.
J being chivalrous.

Nice umbrella for J.  Complete with bright pink, rainbows and care bears.  But that story is for a different post.

Flatbread pizzas in Sliver Hut (our backyard playhouse) while the rain was pelting down.  J didn't like the way the trees looked in the dark with their branches blowing in the wild wind.  R didn't like the loud sound of the rain on the tarp roof.  S didn't like the fact that her pizza wasn't quite crispy enough.  K didn't like how crowded the playhouse was.  But other than that,  it was a fun little adventure.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mama, Do You Love Me?

Bedtime ritual for J usually consists of a countdown of his remaining minutes of play, jammies, teeth and stories.  Last night I also tacked on a few extra minutes of cuddling before ordering him into bed.

Amidst his demands of “Tighter! Tighter!”  I was telling him how much I loved him.

“But what if I threw a shoe at you?”  I would be upset with you, but I’d still love you.

“What if I threw fifty hundred shoes at you?”  Then I would be very mad, and I’d be buried in shoes, but I’d still love you.

“What if I ate up all the food in the world and there was none left for you?”  Then I’d be hungry, but I’d still love you.

“There has to be something that would make you stop!”  Nope.  I will always love you no matter what.

After a few moments of concentrated thought, “What if I ate your whole box of chocolates?”  Well, I’d be sad, you’d be sick, but I would still love you.

Interesting that eating all my chocolates is the very worst thing he could think of doing.

I better keep a close eye on my chocolates . . .

The Extra Mile

On my way to J’s school, there’s a tree whose branches hang down low over the sidewalk.  I always have to duck, while pushing R in the stroller, to make it past the tree.

The other day, a man was standing in his driveway, resting after trimming his bushes.  We said hi.  This is the full extent of our relationship.  I know nothing about him other than where he lives.

On my way home from school, the man was still standing there and watched me as I walked freely under the tree.  It took me a few moments to realize that I no longer needed to duck under the branches.  He had trimmed the tree.

How very nice of him.  There were no demands, no complaints, no home association rules.  Just a man willing to show kindness to a total stranger.

It wasn’t until a few days later that I noticed the rest of the story.  The tree wasn’t on his property.  It belongs to his neighbor.  Hmmmm . . . neighborly kindess . . . going the extra mile . . . I guess it just depends on who you ask.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Shrewd Politics

K is now in her second term as an elected official at her school.  Last year,  she decided to run for Rally Commissioner.  That’s the kid that gets to help plan the school rally’s.  It was also the most popular office.  She ran against 6 other kids.  And lost.

But later in the year, the girl who was elected as Treasurer failed to come to any student council meetings.  So they asked K if she would fill in.  She happily agreed.  The job combined two things she enjoys--math & money.

This year, she decided to skip Rally Commissioner and go straight for Treasurer.  She won the election.  It probably helped that she was an incumbent running without any opposition.  That’s some seriously shrewd politics,  I’d say.


Our dog has a new playmate.  We decided to foster through the local shepherd rescue group.

Mixi is a sweet dog with a sad story.  She was found in the backyard of an abandoned home.  She was malnourished,  dehydrated and a mess of tangled fur and nerves.  The tangled fur was fairly easy to sort out,  but she’ll probably be a bit jumpy for the rest of her life.  She must have been badly treated.  She's startled by any loud or unexpected sound,  seems very nervous about seeking affection,  and is thoroughly scared of doors and tools like shovels and brooms.  She probably wouldn’t have even been taken in by the rescue group if she hadn’t tested so well with kids.

When we first brought her home,  she stayed hidden in the bushes,  refusing to come out even if no one was around.  After a while,  she warmed up a bit,  and ventured out.  Now she seems to enjoy playing with our dog and follows him everywhere like, well, a puppy dog.  She’s much less trouble than he is.  She never steals food from the counter,  never jumps on our bed at 6 am,  never goes crazy when she sees a cat.  And she never climbs in our lap when she wants to go for a walk at night.  Who wouldn’t want a dog like that?  But I have caught her a few times trying to sneak off with a sock.  But then,  we have so many of those lying around the house,  she'd be doing me a favor by making them disappear.

Our hope is that once these photos hit the rescue society’s web page,  some kind person will find her face irresistible and want to offer her a permanent home.  And though she may never be a people dog per se, she can at least go to her new home with more confidence in people after having stayed with us for a while.