Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fabulous Four

The Great Pumpkin 2009

We drove, it was hot, there were pumpkins, we came home, the end.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Playground Milestone

A week ago as I walked through Nathan's school entry to pick him up at the end of his day, I peered through the windows to the playground hoping to catch a glimpse of my boy before he saw me. I did see him, and he was soaring into the sky with the biggest smile plastered on his face. I don't think anyone else realized they were witnessing a major milestone, but he knew and when he eventually saw me, he knew I knew and I don't know who was more thrilled.

One of the few benefits left of Shaun's and my self employment statuses is that we were all three swinging and pumping together in the bay breeze at 4pm that very afternoon.

Falling Leaves

"Mommy, when are we going to rake a lot of leaves into a pile and then jump in them?"

"When the sun doesn't shine as long and it's colder outside, then leaves stop making chlorophyll, change colors and fall off of trees--except if it is an evergreen, then it stays green and makes chlorophyll all the time."

"Mommy, what means Autumn?"

photo: Tamsen Thanksgiving 2008

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Beauty and the Beast

We spend a fair amount of time at the playgrounds on the bay near our home. I have had two disconcerting experiences there as of late. The first was with a boy much larger than Nathan, but also four and a half years old. This boy, Jack, was accompanied by his grandmother. At first I appreciated the way she hung back a little giving the boy some space to be a kid and do his own thing.

As yet, Nathan is not the most gracious of playmates on the playground. I have confidence he will find his way to a reasonable comfort zone at some point hopefully sooner than later. Jack on the other hand, may never find that reasonable zone. He was intimidating both in size and demeanor and Nathan was not the least bit shy in putting off his rather aggressive advances to play. I believe Nathan's exact response was loud, "No, I don't want to play with him!" followed by running far and fast. Jack was not to be dissuaded by such subtlety, he followed faster and more furiously. This dance continued through several similar exchanges. I was stupidly feeling embarrassed about Nathan's lack of social graces to this child cretin and the feelings of the apathetic old woman that followed twenty paces behind him. Finally, the boys were on either side of me, I was facing Jack, at which time he spat the words at me, "if he's not going to be my friend, I am going to punch him in the face!" Really? Now, I can feel some empathy for this kid, who is clearly having his own trouble on the playground and probably in life and could use some strong guidance, but at the time I wanted to throttle the little bastard.

As I followed Nathan's last departure from him, I was much more clear on two things: One, I need to be more in tune to the difference of social immaturity and the clarity of intuition and sensitivity, and two, how early and deep the tendencies of an a-hole can be set.

The second of the disconcerting experiences at the playground occurred today, Sunday, a big day at the bay. The playgrounds were full, there were birthdays, company parties and church socials all advertised along the way to our usual spot. Nathan noticed several birthday parties going on once we arrived at our destination and first seemed a little perplexed as to why we were not joining in any of the celebrations or partaking of any of the cake all around us. He also put up his best argument yet for ice cream from the strolling ice cream man, but I digress.

One of the birthday parties in the vicinity was clearly a princess party complete with a Disney princess themed jumpy jump, princess balloons and what I thought was even an actual live character dressed as Belle of Beauty and the Beast (yes, I had to look it up, I knew she had a name.) Upon closer observation, it seemed the character was not quite adult sized, though she was about the size of the party goers, who I would place at 8-10 years old--seemed sort of old for a jumpy jump, but what do I know? Anyway, my next assumption was that maybe the birthday girl had dressed up as Belle for the big event...with my next observation, that did not seem likely. Belle was being strung up between two palm trees. I could not believe my eyes as she bobbed and swayed in the breeze against the clumsy manipulations of the male party hosts.

I have nothing but sympathy for my friends with daughters that have to deal with the whole princess/barbie thing--but this was downright disturbing. I tried to avert my eyes, I wanted to be proved wrong, proved unfair, how little faith I had in my fellow mother. Unfortunately, this time, that was not to be the case. As soon as Belle was positioned just so, with just the right amount of tension in her noose, baseball bats were disseminated to the waiting mob and the clobbering of the princess with the porcelain face and the flowing yellow gown commenced.

I wondered, as I steered Nathan from the festivities, how many of them or their younger sisters would be dressing as that same princess in a few weeks, that same princess that got her face smashed in today, also in favor of a little candy.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Nathan's bedtime routine has long since been established, since he was two months old in fact. Pieces of it have changed along the way of course, one being Nathan's desire to take a shower on his own as of late. These showers mostly serve to rinse or cool off; he's not ready to take on shampooing quite yet, but parts of him definitely come out sparkling clean. This child is pretty fastidious without much, if any, prompting from the parental units, at least not this one. Usually less than thirty seconds after he gets into the shower, he is back out again to do his business, flush the toilet, instigating the scalding water which greets him on the other side of the curtain. Being very uncomfortable with unnecessary comings and goings from the slippery tub/shower situation, the boiling water, together with the fact that Nathan informed me that the running water always makes him have to go to the "bafroom"; I divulged a big secret to him, one I was slightly uncomfortable revealing. "Guess what? You are allowed to pee in the shower!" Oh my, you would have thought I had given him the last golden ticket to the chocolate factory!

The mainstays of the routine are the music and the reading. While maybe not entirely practical long term, I wanted him to learn music to be a source of relaxation and comfort. Nathan loves music and those roles for it are but two that fit into his life, and likely would regardless of anything I did or didn't do. The message clearly has been conveyed, because if we are in the car and he asks for a blanket and music--it is a pretty sure sign that he will be snoozing in two minutes or less.

There are evenings, for various reasons, that I look forward to the end of the day. On those days I sometimes limit our reading time to one regular book and one little book--the little books are those delightful board books that you can read in about forty five seconds. Last Wednesday, we chose one such board book. It is one of my all time favorites: Put Me In The Zoo. We settled in and Nathan proceeded to look at the front cover and tell me the the title of the book as he often does. Since he is so interested in words and reading lately, I asked him would he like to read the book to me? Yes, he said he would, and so he did. Yes he did. He was two pages and thirty words in when I interrupted to see if he might like to read the book to Daddy too. Yes, he would, and once Daddy secured a spot on the bed, he proceeded to do just that. Nathan started from the beginning and spoke each word, word for word, as it was written, for almost the entire book.

Shaun is likely as certain that Nathan can read now, as he is that he has a photographic memory (mark his words). How great to be his kid, he believes in them so. I believe in them too, but in this particular case, I know that I have read that story to Nathan for four and a half years. I know he knows the sounds of all of his letters, he recognizes and spells certain words, he is logical, he pays very close attention when he wants to, and I know he is smart. What I don't know, is the mystery of exactly how a child learns to read and when it is so. I suspect there are many paths to that destination, and I am so glad to be along for the ride.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Roller Derby

Another first, well actually second time on skates, first lesson. Good thing he wore two pair of underwear! I was pretty proud of both my guys when I stopped in on the lesson before checking in at the conference I was attending today. Nathan was trying and trying again on those skates that kept wanting to come out from underneath him. He was enthusiastic, adventurous, proud and most importantly, having fun. Shaun is a wonderful father and is typically very careful. He was careful today too, it's just that he moved away and even looked away when he realized Nate was doing better when he wasn't holding onto Daddy. Simple enough, but in practice, it can be a pretty difficult task to let your kid fall on their behind numerous times even when it's for their own benefit. Nice job Daddy-O.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Mommy, are we lost?

There are map people and there are not map people. For most, I suspect maps are a simple necessity to get from point A to point B, but some people get hours of enjoyment poring over them; and some can take but a glance and miraculously find the most obscure destinations, really it's quite magical to the likes of me.

Personally, I am a mapquest girl. I love everything about it, except of course the actual map part. If you're a map person that doesn't make sense. If you are not a map person, you get the genius that is mapquest. If ever I ask a human being for directions, it is a most disappointing exchange for all. Usually I am polite and simply glaze over and wait for it to be over. My father tries to accommodate my directional failings by telling me to go toward or away from the ocean. Seriously. I guess he doesn't understand how that is not one bit helpful, unless, of course, I can see the ocean, in which case, I can actually figure out all the directions if you just give me a minute! I have learned to ask Shaun for directions in such a way to remind him not to give me a slew of choices and that the most creative route is probably not the best one to give the directionally challenged. Thankfully, he is a patient man.

Nathan has been talking about changing rooms for months now, His current room is next to ours and doesn't have a closet to speak of so we agreed to the switch and are making slow progress in that direction. This giant map of the world is the big splurge which I actually quite like since I will never have to navigate highways and byways from it. Nathan can't wait to show it to Grandpa and is looking forward to learning all about the countries and people of the world.

Perhaps he is not quite ready to study the whole wide world just yet, as he has been most fascinated with our own addresses lately. En route to school the other day we were talking about our home address; he knows the street, city, state, and sometimes recalls the continent and planet. On this particular day I reminded him of the continent by singing the song about them he learned in Kindermusik, and then asked what planet we lived on. "I don't remember", he responded. "Do we live on Mars?", I asked. He laughed and said, "No, then we'd all be green!"


photo by Shaun, June 2009