Friday, December 18, 2009
And down some more.
At some point, I think people started hoping for snow so they wouldn't have to rake the leaves yet again.
But not my boys. There's nothing more fascinating to Aaron than machinery at work, and he quite enjoys it when Daddy is 'lawning' as he has named the act of mowing the lawn.
His fascination with all things mechanical continues to amaze me. He will drop whatever he is doing to run across the house and stare if he hears the blender or mixer start up. He delights in watching the can opener work. A car backing out of a parking spot is almost as good as Thomas the Train on TV.
Nature versus Nurture? Game, set and match to Nature as far as I can see!
and Uncle David!
To blow out the next set of candles we travelled much further than our own living room. At the end of November, my grandma celebrated her 92nd birthday! Don't tell her I posted her age on the internet, or it's curtains for me. She graciously allowed Meredith and Aaron to help blow the candles out.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
We set it up yesterday, let it thaw out, and got the lights on before the kids went to bed. I had been telling Meredith a few days earlier about the thing I loved to do best when I was a kid at Christmastime. After the tree was set up, I loved to lay with my head under the bottom branches, looking up at the lights, wallowing in that delicious scent, and feeling the cool breeze on my face as the tree continued to thaw. She asked if we could do it last night, and it was a thrill to share that pleasure with my own kids.
And yes, Aaron is naked.
We got the decorations on today and that was another trip down memory lane. Memory lane detours to the nut house if you take the wrong turn and have a two year old who insists on using a step stool to reach 'UP HIGH' in the tree....
This afternoon we set out to make gifts for the kids' teachers - the special people at daycare, school, and lessons that make their lives so much richer. We transformed these empty jars:
Not without running out of ingredients part of the way through the task, of course!
After the size-small helpers were fast asleep I finished off the tags and they're ready to go. Sealed to keep salivating mouths from swiping any more M&Ms!
This week is the school Christmas Concert, so we've got another first to look forward to. Hopefully we'll sneak some more moments under the Christmas tree amidst the frenzied pace.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
But sometimes, something happens that just cannot go unnoticed. I have lots of things to catch up on here in chronicling the last month of our lives for our collective memory. Suffice to say that the Sick Day turned into a sick 7 or 8 days, very first report card came home, very first parent-teacher interview was attended, potty training (and emergency pant wearing) began at daycare and everyday life continued in this midst of it all. Lots of details to record as time permits!
But tonight is an ode to the tender heart of my sweet Meredith. She was having trouble settling down to sleep at bedtime. She called me back at one point because she said she had an "emergency" to talk about. This would be my own words coming back to bite me. :) Of late it seems that she is in a stalling pattern at bedtime and will call us several times for tiny little things until after about the 8th or 9th trip into her room I tell her, "Unless it's an emergency, I don't want to hear from you again. Please close your eyes, lay down, and go to sleep."
Tonight's emergency involves her morning bus driver, Veronica. We hear lots about her lunchtime bus driver, Ron, around here because he apparently gives the Kindergarten kids TicTacs on the bus, and one day brought his dog for them to meet.
Rock star status.
Veronica has more than just the Kindergarteners to deal with, as she has a full bus in the morning, so we hear more about how Veronica had to tell the older kids to sit down lots of times that day, or that Veronica really liked a particular dress Meredith was wearing one day. Tonight's news was that Veronica won't be driving this bus anymore, as she's going to drive vans now (a mysterious concept which neither Meredith nor I understand, but to which I nodded solemnly).
Meredith was sobbing with the idea of not seeing Veronica each morning anymore. What made her even sadder was that she hadn't known beforehand so she could have made her a card "to make her feel better".
I'm so very thankful for the compassionnate empathetic heart my firstborn has. It may cause her no end of pain in her life, but it will also bring her the greatest joys of love, and relationship, and kindness. I'm also very thankful that she is still young enough that a good long hug and a promise that together we will find a way to get the card to Veronica was enough to soothe her sadness.
Tonight is a fleeting moment I couldn't stand to forget!
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Poor Aaron has a doozy of a virus/illness/piggy flu and is capital M miserable. He's sicker tonight than I've ever seen him. Yesterday when I picked him up from daycare, he had a massive, no-holds-barred tantrum about getting into the car. Those kind of tantrums mean one of two things around here - sick child or tired child. He had a rough evening and was into bed early in the hopes that the magic of sleep would cure what ailed him.
Sadly, he's sicker than sleep alone can fix. We started and ended the day in the rocking chair.
There were a few bright spots, bursts of energy and smiles.
The walk to and from school with Meredith was a nice break from being in the rocking chair, and the kids did manage to play together for about half an hour in their new favourite toy - a cardboard box!
For all the bickering they can do at times, Meredith can be so empathetic towards him. Today she told me her heart felt broken that her brother was so sick, and she imagined mine must be cracked in a lot of places too.
May we be blessed with a quiet home and a night of that magical, restorative sleep tonight.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Happy Halloween! The kids traded roles when we carved pumpkins on Halloween eve. Mr. Two Minute Attention Span sat through the carving of two of the three pumpkins and tried to clean the pumpkins out one seed at time. Meredith was interested in using the serrated pumpkin sharp knife to cut the tops off the pumpkin and refused to get elbow-deep in the pumpkin guts.
She got a lot more interested when it came to hitching her ponies up to Cinderella's carriage and finding a driver who was just the right size. Sadly, I forgot to take any nighttime pictures of the masterpieces!
Aaron's pick was a Thomas pumpkin.
As the sun went down, the costumes came out. Meredith was so excited and it was contagious! As so often happens, Aaron followed her lead and was raring to go. We are so fortunate that she is such an amazing big sister. It's not always rainbows and sunshine, but for the most part the example she sets for him is one of kindness and compassion. Aaron adores her!
The tiger bares her true identity! When I asked her a month or so ago what she wanted to be for Halloween, she asked what the "scariest" thing she could dress up as would be. I told her there's lots of time later in life for scary stuff, and we'd stick with non-scary for now!
When the sun finally disappeared, they were off! Aaron made it to about 10 houses before he was more interested in laying his head on my shoulder than looking in his bag for Smarties. After a pit stop at home to drop him off, Meredith shifted into high gear. She and her friend ran from house to house until they were gasping for breath!
It was a much busier Halloween than we've had in recent years. We saw lots of kids on the street, and ran out of treats at our house after around 100 ghosts and goblins had been by. It may sound strange, but I love the feeling of community that comes with Halloween! We seem to spend so little time in this day and age walking up and down our own street, knocking on the doors of neighbours and saying hello to everyone we meet.
Yet one more experience in life that has taken on a fresh new perspective as seen through the eyes of my kids!
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I feel like I've got about as much brains as our Thanksgiving cookie project. :)
Rest assured though, things are still much the same in our household.
Aaron is usually still naked from the waist down, climbing onto something and wearing his boots in the house. Meredith is still busy with Kindergarten, her activities, and wondering if one of her teeth is going to be loose soon.
The weekend after our anniversary marked another very big first, and the one that consumed my thoughts in my every waking (and should have been sleeping) hour. We headed to Las Vegas with some friends for a long weekend anniversary celebration. Without the kids. I felt like I was planning a military invasion with the list-making and organizing to get ready to go away. We are so blessed to have a network of family and friends whom we could piece together like a patchwork quilt to care for the kids. I obsessed over what meals to leave for them, what needed to be packed in which suitcase, how the hand-off of carseats was going to be made, and other equally riveting details. When I wasn't busy thinking about details, I just worried about how the kids were going to do.
They, of course, did great. Thanks to their own independent, secure personalities and the kindness and care of the angels that took care of them, they flourished! We spoke to them a few times on the phone, and no tears were exchanged, so that was a tremendous success for all of us I think! I'd love to climb inside of their imaginations and see what Las Vegas looks like from their vantage point!
Meredith was told by someone at daycare that Las Vegas is a playground for adults. Imagine what she sees!
Aaron can't possibly understand the concept of it all at the tender age of two, but was unfailingly sweet in asking "You at Las Begas Mommy?" when he talked to me on the phone, and "You all done at Las Begas Mommy?" when I got home.
Dave had to travel on to L.A. from Vegas for work, so I came home to a week alone with the kids. I had missed them so much that it was like a gift to have so much time with them last week. We're all very glad that Daddy got home on the weekend, though. Both Dave and I, independent of one another, thought that Meredith had grown taller and thinner in the past few weeks, and that Aaron's speech was even clearer.
Now we eagerly await the arrival of the newest members of our family, the Sea Monkeys that Dave brought home as a gift for Meredith!
Step one of the twelve step re-blogging program wasn't so hard after all!
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Friday was a momentous day on a few fronts. For starters, it was the 10th anniversary of our wedding day! 10 years of life for this new family of ours. We had a chance to watch parts of the video of our wedding day later in the weekend after Dave found and hooked up a VCR to watch it on! The audio only worked for a portion of the tape. 10 years ago it was recorded in the best quality available at the time! We saw faces which have changed very little in 10 years, and whom the kids recognized right away. We saw our own faces which have changed quite a bit! We saw the tiny faces of our nieces: 3 year old Amy and newborn Kasha who are now 13 and 10 years old. And perhaps sweetest of all, we saw my dad, my maternal grandmother, and Dave's grandmere full of life and enjoying that special day. It was wonderful to have this living, moving record of those people that our kids will never meet, and to hear them say "There's Grandpa Bill!" when my dad came on the screen for the second and third time.
On another front entirely, we had the first of many picture days at school. This is what Meredith looked like before she left the house:
The jury is still out on how she looked by the time she met the photographer in the school gym. From what Meredith tells me, Madame Katie fixed the clip in her hair before she headed off for her picture, so clearly the worst of the problems were dealt with! Now if we could only figure out why she smiles a Jean Chretien lopsided smile every time she looks at the camera lately....
Last in the series of firsts for Friday was a massive dump of snow! The day we were married it rained a bit, but was a lovely temperature. Every anniversary we've celebrated has been some variation on classic fall weather. Never have we tromped through ankle deep snow on October the 9th! There has been nothing ordinary about the weather for the past year though, and October is no exception. Fortunately, Dave has the hot tub up and running, so Saturday morning he and the kids pretended they were in Banff or Aspen and enjoyed a dip while surrounded by snow!
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Anyhow, I had a call from the daycare this afternoon. It was the room leader for Aaron's room. The last time the daycare called me at work, he had just vomited all over himself, so I wasn't feeling so chipper once she identified herself. Today, however, the conversation started out with "Everything's okay, and you don't need to come and pick him up or anything, but I thought I'd just call and talk to you before you come."
Sinking heart. My child is a notorious biter. As you may have heard me mention before, he's been to the director's office at daycare more than once on account of his incorrigible biting. Mind you, he hasn't bitten lately (why am I even tempting fate by writing that...) but then a couple of weeks ago there was the day where he came out of the bathroom at daycare repeatedly with no pants on. And the day he picked his friend's nose.
But today he was the victim, not the victimizer. Apparently one of his friends pushed him during library time (rowdy book-readers) and he fell, striking his poor little head on the bookshelf. Really hard. So hard that the room leader thought she'd best warn me what it was going to look like before I walked into the room.
It's definitely a nasty goose-egg with a bit of broken skin right at the top of it. And a Scooby Doo bandage on it. After the requisite checking over and kissing, it appeared he was not a) in an altered mental state despite his appearance in the picture below; or b) in iminent danger of melting down, so it was off to the rink for Meredith's first skating lesson of the season. I was hoping the day's second encounter with ice would be under her feet, not applied to a wound on her head!
Yes, she's still growing her bangs out. Yes, tomorrow is picture day at school. Yes, I've already emailed her Kindergarten teacher in my neurotic state to ask if she will PLEASE reposition the clip in Meredith's hair to ensure her school photo doesn't look like this photo. As if she didn't have eleventy hundred other things to do!
Anyhow, the rink was the perfect cure for Aaron's funk because the Zamboni was in full action when we arrived. Being a conoisseur of all things mechanical, he was very pleased with this new discovery!
And Meredith was more solid on her feet than I had dared to hope, after only one session of skating lessons last winter and months and months of time away from it. Which is not to say she didn't spend her fair share of her time examining the ice up close. It was not until about 10 minutes into the 30 minute lesson that I was able to convince Aaron that the Zamboni was not coming back on the ice while "Mer Mer" was skating, and it was not going to run her over. Tender concern.
Aaron spent most of the remainder of the lesson eating raisins out of the back of his dumptruck.
Meredith skated forward, glided a bit, fell a lot and got back up promptly. She and the two other kids played the world's slowest game of freeze tag, which was more entertaining than a slapstick comedy routine. Watching three new skaters try to tag one another, and skate under each other's outstreched arms to un-freeze was good entertainment! They concluded with some kind of beanbag retrieval game and we emerged from the rink with the same ratio of goose-eggs to people we arrived with.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Aaron is cracking us up with his increasing command of the English language, or at least his version of it. We had salmon for dinner the other night, which progressed into a discussion about fish, and of course into a dinner-table singing of the classic "Slippery Fish" song. I'd never heard this song before Meredith started preschool at "Penny School". It quickly became a favourite of hers, and is clearly fast becoming a favourite of Aaron's. For the uninitiated, the song goes:
"Slippery fish, slippery fish, swimming in the water. Slippery fish, slippery fish, gulp, gulp gulp! Oh no, he's been eaten by a......." and then you add in a bigger, and bigger and bigger fish. So the slippery fish gets eaten by a tuna fish (or salmon fish, if you're having dinner at our house), then the tuna fish gets eaten by a great white shark, and the great white shark gets eaten by a humongous whale. Up until now, I thought Aaron's favourite part was the slapping of the hands together like the gaping maw of a sea creature, eating a smaller sea creature. I'd completely forgotten about the bit of potty humour at the end of the song.
So Monday night Meredith, Aaron and I are singing slippery fish for Daddy, who has been living under a rock and had never heard the song before. We finished, or so I thought. A moment or two later, Aaron dissolves into laughter. He's cracking himself up. And through his giggles, I hear him saying in a funny bass voice, "Burp. S'cuse me!" Over and over again. We were all laughing watching him laugh. More infectious than the swine flu in a pediatrician's waiting room.
How could I forget that the song ends with a burp from the humongous whale? A whole family sitting together around the table giggling uncontrollably is one of the most pleasant turns in the road I've seen in a long time.
Fast forward to tonight. I took Meredith to her piano lesson, and was helping her buckle her carseat before we headed back home. I guess because I was standing on the road while buckling her, she asked what would happen if I got smucked by a car. As in, what would she do if I was laying helpless on the road.
In all attempts to remain calm, I told her she should push the red button on the On-Star console in our car. Never mind that our On-Star subscription expires this month. Or wait in the car and shout for help and a friendly person would come to help. So then she suggested she could also get out of the car and walk down the sidewalk looking for help. Or go to her piano teacher's house to ask her to help. Or walk home from her piano teacher's to our house and ask Daddy, or the neighbour boy's mom or dad for help. "But would it be dark by the time I walked back Mommy?"
After vowing to watch very carefully for traffic while buckling her up, I thought we'd laid this question to rest. As we pulled into the garage though, she asked "If you got smucked by a car and died to Heaven Mommy, would Daddy get married again?"
Seriously. How does a five-year-old get that?
It was like taking a corner blind. I had no idea which possible answer I could give would be the one that would reassure her enough in the right direction. I swerved towards "Well he might, and he might not sweetie. Sometimes people don't get married again." Apparently this was a wrong turn. Her eyes welled up and she said "But who would be my mommy then?"
And my heart shattered into 89 billion tiny little pieces at the thought of this sweet, precocious, sensitive child in the world without a mommy. Without this mommy.
So I answered the best answer I could think of and prayed for strength. "I'll always be your mommy in your heart, Meredith." A friend gave me this suggestion some months ago when Meredith was asking about death. And then added "But let's do everything we can to be safe to make sure that problem never happens."
And off she went to eat a handful of raspberries and get ready for bed. Hairpin curve, indeed.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
The September routine is beginning to settle in, despite our still wearing shorts and flip flops and pretending it's summer. Tomorrow marks two full weeks of Kindergarten under Meredith's belt. She seems to be enjoying it, and has even taken a substitute teacher in stride on a day that Madame Katie was sick. Around our house, it feels like the song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" should start playing and pink clouds of candy floss emerge from the sky when Madame Katie's name is spoken (or Damn Katie as Aaron calls her....). She truly is goodness and sunshine wrapped up in human form!
It's been so fascinating to hear Meredith talk about her first impressions. After a few days of school, she was expressing to me how much she likes her teacher. I asked what it was about the teacher that she particularly liked. Her answer? "Her face, and her hair." When I asked for more detail, she said, "Well her face is so smiling, and so sweet all the time, and her hair is blonde and shiny." "And even though she's a grown-up, she's a little grown-up." Clearly being short is an asset in the Kindergarten crowd!
The challenging thing about school, for me, is that it's an experience that is only Meredith's. She gets on the school bus and goes there, and gets on the school bus and goes back to the daycare. We have no direct contact with the school in dropping her off or picking her up, which is a whole new experience. More than ever, I'm relying on what she tells me to piece together what her day looks like, and what goes on in the classroom. It has been a bit of a hilarious journey putting it all together through the eyes of a five year old.
One of the main topics of conversation is around discipline and expectations for behaviour in the classroom. Through a combination of carefully asked questions, attentive listening to her comments about the day and consultation with a fortune teller, I think I've got a grasp on the system that the teacher is using in the room. It seems that each child's name is on a clothespin, and kept somewhere on a board in the room. Various infractions in classroom behaviour result in your clothespin moving to the numbers 1, 2 or 3. Apparently one generally moves through the numbers sequentially, but some infractions are 'automatic threes' as Meredith relayed to me with eyes wide! When I asked her what an example of an 'automatic three' would be she said "Like running away from Madame Katie in the playground and going through the gate. You could get hit by a car you know, and Madame Katie wouldn't want that!"
Those children who pass their morning without receiving a 1, 2 or 3 get a reward before leaving Kindergarten. Meredith has brought home a sticker, a temporary tattoo and one day received a green gummy bear. She got the gummy bear just before lunch, I'd imagine, when she got on the bus to head back to daycare and saved it through lunch and the whole afternoon to bring it home to show me before she ate it.
At first I had an uneasy gut reaction to the 'reward' part of this system. Until the day of the green gummy bear. This tiny reward meant so much to Meredith that she brought it home to share the experience with me. That day I realized this teacher is one smart cookie. She has a short window of opportunity at the outset of this school year to get the kids to understand and internalize what acceptable classroom behaviour looks like. And she's doing it in a way that's certainly working for my little scholar. Meredith has made it through the first two weeks with only a 1. Her infraction? Using her outside voice in the classroom.
The last two weeks have also seen the resumption of swimming lessons for the kids, and Meredith's first piano lesson. Before we blink our eyes it will be October! One good thing about the upcoming cooler weather will be the chance for Meredith to wear her new favourite pants. We're so lucky to have a treasure trove of hand-me-downs from her cousins for her to choose from. Many of the pants though looked a little like this:
So I finally tried my hand at applique, after looking at these pants in the mending pile for the past several months. They were a hit! I love that my kids are still too young to turn up their noses at something handmade, and in fact think it's even better that way.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
The venue had many of the usual sights:
* Chairs with little numbers on them to find your seat. I was told to sit in number 1 and Aaron was told to sit in number 2, even though it was apparently "a very bad number 2 but I'll practice more in Kindergarten."
* Snacks for the performance. Aaron had his 3 Smarties done before the performance started, and spent the rest of the show drooling bright colours.
* A refreshing drink. I was warned to check mine before consuming it because "I filled the glass too full so I drank a bit out of one side but I can't remember which side, so just test it with your lips before you drink."
And in a delightful twist on the usual prize-taped-under-only-one-seat, we were both awarded with a balloon under the seat for coming to the show.
Dress was casual. Or naked with a bib.
The pianist wore a daring ensemble of nudity and her favourite blanket.
The performance was outstanding. We heard "Into the Cave" and "Three Little Kittens", both of which she just learned this morning and has already committed to memory.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Then it was off to daycare to drop off Aaron and take part in the main event - lining up for the bus! It was drizzling when we first arrived, and poured rain shortly thereafter, but nothing could dampen her enthusiasm!
The bus beat me to the school, and the kids were already sitting in a tidy little group in the gymnasium with their teacher by the time I arrived to peek. Class by class these groups of elementary school children followed their teachers from the gym to their classrooms. It was a sea of sweet smiling faces, happy nervous energy, and wide-eyed amazement. If you could bottle the energy that was swirling through those hallways today, you would have found the fountain of youth!
Tonight she's tired, but successful. And Monday we get to do it all over again!
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Brand new school backpack? Check.
Two Ziploc bags, box of tissues and a cheque for 30 bucks? Check.
No, seriously. This was Meredith's school supplies list.
One five-year old so ready for Kindergarten she can already taste it?? Check, check!
Friday, August 28, 2009
I took these pictures a few weeks ago now, watching him try to get himself into his pyjamas.
Insert tiny two year old voice here: "Where's Aaron's toes?"
His trusty companion, blue puppy is standing by, ready to assist. Puppy often has to help ME get Aaron dressed, when he's refusing Mommy's help but is willing to have puppy help, so I guess Aaron figured he'd keep him close at hand for assistance.
"There's Aaron's toes!"
Trust me, it is a laborious process for a two year old to get both feet completely through the cuffs of their pyjamas. I think I might have dozed off between this picture and the next.
If you think the toes are hard, try pulling your pants up over your bum! Even puppy was no help with this step.
Halfway there! How hard can the shirt really be?
Progressing well, we've found the head hole.
But wait! Don't get too cocky! Why are the arms going up through the neck hole?