Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy Halloween!

"In chess one cannot control everything. 
Sometimes a game takes an unexpected turn, 
in which beauty begins to emerge." 
Vladimir Kramnik

Today has been a lesson in unexpectedness. 

Its Saturday and while the kids and hubby nap, I'm enjoying some quiet time in my cozy jammies since we have a full-on snow storm happening in our town. 
(The kids eagerly watched the snow fall just before their nap.)
Earlier today we had a birthday party that I rushed us out the door for only to find out after our arrival that the party was next weekend. Hunter had talked about the party all morning and it was heartbreaking to try and explain to his two year old little mind that Mommies mess up and I had made a mistake so there would be no birthday after all. 

A few hours later we had a sitter planned so Dave and I could do an afternoon date which we were long overdue for. After letting us know that she would be about fifteen minutes late, she finally called to let us know that she wouldn't be able to make it after all due to the weather and driving conditions. Yet, another disappointing wrench in the plans. 

Although the snow storm was unexpected this early in the season, it does give me the warm fuzzies inside thinking about the upcoming holidays. 

I heart the holidays--birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day and Christmas---especially Christmas. As someone I admire likes to say, "the holidays are when I let my freak flag fly". And fly high it does. 

Here are some ways our household has prepared for a ghoulish gander of a Halloween:

1) Boasting our new holiday T's from P-Pa and Kiki.
(Hunter always has his must-haves in tow: puppy, giraffe and his "pica".)
 2) Turning one month older. I can't believe my baby girl is 18 months old! 
 (She has acquired a true love for jewelry--especially Mommy's.)
 3) Pumpkin hunting.
 (Sissy believed her dream had come true: being surrounded by nothing but balls.
She was determined to play with this big orange one.)
 (See her expression and how hard she is working to pull that ball off the table?)

 (When she finally got it down she then kept trying to pick it up.)
 4) Using our cool new pumpkin cookie cutters from Grammy to make pumpkin and cream cheese sandwiches for school.
5) Letting passersby know just how much we love Halloween with a fancy wreath, lots of pumpkins and bright orange and purple lights that shine brightly at night. 
6) Going to our first Halloween party of the season. 
 (Some of us decided that dressing up wasn't for us after all.)
 (Others of us relished in it.)

 (Although her shoes were at least three sizes too big she insisted on wearing them.
She had to pick up her knees with every step to carry the extra weight of the big shoes.)
 (The fact that her glasses kept falling off but she was determined to keep them on 
gave me the giggles.)
 (We discovered an unexpected spider web right by our front door that kept us quietly 
entertained for a long time.)

Whether snow storms, last minute decisions on costumes, or plans that go array; life is full of unexpected-isms. Some are harder to swallow than others but, in the end, my gut tells me that after time has passed, the -isms are forgotten and the events stick as those wonderful unexpected memories in life that bring a smile to our face. 

Here's to hoping your Halloween is full of happy-unexpected-isms!
(Sissy in her Elvis hat that she now wears non-stop. Thank you BaBa and Pop Pop!)

"Life is a stream of unexpected events , because the unexpected happens when you don't have the time or place to expect things the way you want the unexpected to be expected , and the expected stays unexpected till it happens as you expected." - Unknown

First Day of School

(Note: Regretfully, I am very late in publishing this post from 9/2. I am so glad that I wrote it on that very day or else I would have forgotten some of the precious details....)

It was with mixed emotions that I took the kids for their first day of school. It was really more of an orientation and an abbreviated version of what the overall day would be.

I dressed them in their special outfits, packed a backpack of essentials and had my incredible sitter in tow so I would be able to spend time alone with each of them in their new classrooms.

 (Someone was very eager.)
 (That breezeway is screaming, "somebody clean me up!" but, with two toddlers in tow, 
it ain't happenin' anytime soon.)

We arrived at Emerson's class first. We are fortunate to have Hunter's teachers from last year who he still talks about on almost a daily basis.

Sissy clung to me and hid her face from them when we first arrived. I tried to get her to sit at the tiny table but she would not have it, clawing for me and crying.

About two minutes later, as I was talking to one of the teachers, Sissy slid down off my lap and walked over to the sink. She climbed atop the step stool and proceeded to try and wash her hands again like we had done when we first arrived. After that, it was all down hill because she melded beautifully, playing with the kitchen, dolls and other objects that are seemingly toys but really objects for learning about life and the world around us.
She was smitten when one of the teachers began talking on the play phone and announced it was Daddy.
 (I caught her face right when she heard the word "Daddy". She lit up like a light beam.)
Following in the footsteps of her brother, she is a compassionate human being. She kissed the baby dolls and hugged them tightly.
When it was time to go outside the teacher gently tried to pry the stroller from Emerson but my girl showed her strong-willed, independent side so the teacher let Emerson take the stroller with her since she knew it was important to her.
(We sang, "hold that, hold that rope, hold that, hold that, hold that rope, we're going to our playground" which I have continued to sing in my head for 12 hours now.)

Sissy was not shy on the playground and held her own very well. She did not want to leave when we had to go meet up with Kathleen to make the switch with Big Brother but calmed when she saw there was a preschool playground she could explore.
When I took Hunter to his new class he clung to the door jam as if a hurricane was about to sweep through. After some gentle cohersion, I was able to get him to walk into the class. He was very quiet but when I showed him the colored pencils and paper, he perked up and began working hard on writing multiple letter A's.
Hunter loved all of the various activities that the classroom offered. So much so that he kept leaving trails of items behind him because he would stumble upon something else new and exciting.

I loved the way the teachers would creatively teach him about cleaning up but in a way that a two year old finds exciting. One teacher even showed him how she cleans up by putting the shapes on her head and letting them slide off into the box. (That made me want to do it!)
At the snack table, Hunter found some tiny color-matching plastic bears that he thought would be interesting to put in his cup of water. One of the teachers noted how the bears were floating and suggested he try to see how many bears he could fit in one cup. (Ah, this is the class for him.) He proceeded to pack it full which, in turn, made all of the water flow up and out of the cup which frustrated him. He then threw a bear across the room which silenced most of the attendees and I got a few of those mom stares. You know, the ones that say, "I can't believe your kid just did that! What are you going to do now?"
I chose to remain calm and acted as if this was an every day affair. I also wanted to differ to the teachers to see how they would handle it as I knew I would be in for a learning experience.

One excitedly piped up, "Wow Hunter! I see that when you threw that bear it went allllllll the way over here! Why don't you come over here to see how far it went and pick it up?" He unfortunately decided to throw all the rest of his 64 bears across the room sending plastic red, yellow, green, and blue teddies every where. I pulled him close and disciplined him in a whisper as not to embarrass him but to let him know that what he did was not OK. (Hence the reason this post has very few pictures of him in the classroom. I was distracted.)

The teachers once again handled it beautifully which told me that they had dealt with this type of behavior many, many times before and Hunter was going to be OK.

I know in my gut that he was frustrated because he lost all of his water by putting the bears into the cup. His 2 year old little mind just doesn't have the words to express his emotions so he acts out by throwing. Yes, the people pleasing side of me worries about the looks, comments and unsolicited advice I get sometimes but, the intuitive intellectual side of me knows. I know that I've done countless hours of reading and have a college diploma for early childhood education to show for it--I don't know that those other moms have.

Hunter is a bright, smart little boy with a deep desire to learn and an eagerness for education that exceeds most of the other kids around him. Although he challenges me on a daily basis, I love him to the core of my heart.

A few hours later, the minor mishaps were forgotten and we took the kids to our favorite local frozen yogurt spot to celebrate.
You know the ones....where the price is based on the weight of your yogurt and toppings. We are infrequent customers here because it breaks our wallet every time.
 (This bad boy was over $10!)
 (Which is why Daddy pumps the kids' bellies full of the "free taste tests.")
 (That means more for the big people.)
Yep, we have a lot to celebrate. We have the smartest, cutest kids around and I don't care how boastful it sounds. I know its true.
 It's going to be a beautiful year!