Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

I wish I could take credit for carving this pumpkin - but a shout out to my friend Lisa in Minnesota is deserved here. Don't think I've been slacking though, I've been making a cake for Jana and Nikki's wedding tomorrow. I'll be posting a photo of that once the final decorating is done.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Everybody has to do their part

In preparing to sell our home, we had to tidy the place up a bit (read: toss all our crap into a storage unit and ship it away so people were not afraid to enter our abode). We decided the safest way to keep Connor from destroying the things we did leave was to contain him. He happily stepped into this birdhouse we'd been storing in the attic. We considered leaving him there for a few weeks, but didn't want child protective services on our back on top of all the stress of moving and selling our home. We decided instead to put the birds in here while their fabulously large house that Ed built on his 'anthrax vacation' a few years ago went off inside the storage bins.

On a related side note, while the larger birdhouse was outside, a bird actually moved into it, and Connor closed the door on it. He was so proud of the bird he had caught - but he was easily convinced to free it later in the day. I don't think any of us believed him when he said he'd caught a bird, but indeed, he had.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

This saying good-bye is not getting easier

About three years ago, a mom's group formed amongst several women who attending weekly meetings at the Breastfeeding Center of Greater Washington. On face, we had four things in common - the means we were attempting to feed our children, the fact that breastfeeding was far from easy or worry-free, we were all first-time moms, and we lived in the greater DC metro area. At the time, it didn't seem like much to base a friendship on. But luckily, Vickie thought differently. She wasn't the person who started the group, but she was always the person I considered to be the unofficial leader of the group. She was - and is - a font of creativity. She spearheaded the Big Birthday Bash - a now annual event that celebrates both the aging of our children and the aging of our friendship. She allowed Connor to attend a playgroup at her house that had circle time and projects. Projects! She didn't know it at the time, but every circle time experience prior to the one in her living room, Connor completely ignored. But he always sought to impress Vickie. In fact, if Connor could choose his mom, he might very well choose her over me - and that's saying a lot because we have a great relationship!

It seems like only a few weeks ago we bade Teo, a pregnant Vickie, and Benjie adieu as they headed up to Baltimore. It took a lot of work for me to muster up the courage to tell Connor they were leaving, but it was OK because I was able to soothe Connor with the promise that we would visit Baltimore. And Connor loved every visit we made. Teo treated us to the Children's Museum (twice), the Science Center, and his toys (which Connor loves because Teo has GOOD TOYS!). Now, Vickie is no longer pregnant, and come Friday, they will no longer live in Baltimore. Due to another job change, they are moving to New York City. NEW.YORK.CITY. That is far. It's no longer a quick drive up the parkway. It will take actual planning to get there - and I know we won't be there very often.

Connor knows Teo is moving. He knows we aren't going to see him for a long time. He thinks about it too. A few days ago in the car he piped up from the backseat "Why does Teo have to move so much?" and as I choked back my own tears, I explained to him that people often live where their daddies work, and Teo's daddy got a new job. I could tell Connor was trying to figure out how to get his own daddy a new job. And I held back those same tears today when I told Connor we were leaving and he and Teo leaned into each other and gave each other a big hug for the road. A hug not unlike the one Connor gave Teo in the midst of a water feature at a museum that landed them in a big heap on top of each other with a goose-egg on the back of Connor's head - which was only fair since Connor initiated the hug.

It's hard to see Teo leave because in the past few months, he's changed a ton - and I just know he's going to keep changing. Vickie doesn't see it all of the time, but Teo and Connor are so much alike that I always just assumed they'd be the best of friends when they got to the age when the started choosing their own friends. They both line up cars, creating endlessly long trains; they both love bouncing on Vickie's bed; they both can look at the same thing for a considerable length of time and you can see wheels turning as they figure out the mechanics of objects; they both sob as if the world is coming to and end on occasion when they have been jilted by the world; and while Teo is more advanced than Connor in his spelling skills, both have a keen interest in figuring out how combinations of letters fit together to form words; I have seen them both run as if there is nothing in the world to care about except the next step; they were also both absolutely horrible sleepers in the beginning and would both love to nap for four hours every afternoon and stay up until 10:00 at night - to this day - if Vickie and I would let them. And now, they both have little sisters.

I guess I should expect these departures since I choose to live in an area of transients, but it doesn't make them any easier.

Good luck on Friday. May New York treat you well, my dear friends. And heck, maybe Connor and I will just take an adventure on the Chinatown bus some Friday after school and see what it's like to spend a weekend in NYC.

Elaine (and Connor)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I am so glad we rented the moonbounce

Last year, I promised we would get a moonbounce for Oktoberfest and I am so glad we did! I picked the moonbounce up on Friday, and we had a test run with it Friday evening. Connor and Zoe (with a little bit of Helen) bounced on Saturday morning, and then from 4:00 until after dark Connor and party guests bounced, and finally, on Sunday morning Connor and I had one last bounce before I had to return it. Possibly the best $85 I have ever spent for a party. Brilliantly, Ed had purchased a glow-in-the-dark necklace a few weeks before the party and he dropped it on Connor once it got dark. Connor and Brennan bounced in total darkness, but we could still see Connor from the deck, where we were busy consuming beers. Admittedly, Oktoberfest almost didn't happen this year since we had just decided to renovate our home, and every brain cell we had was devoted to that process. But, the brewmaster kicked it into gear and we sent out a rather last minute invite. Our friends drank a respectable 10 gallons of homebrew and the kids went through nearly as much bubble goo.

As it turns out, this was the last party Grateful Ed's will see. After deciding to renovate, we reopened the search for a home one more time and as luck would have it, we found one. I fell in love with it and Ed decided to buy it for me. The only thing holding up the contract now is selling our current home, which went on the market today. Cross your fingers that someone in the area needs a lovely, light-filled 4BR brick rambler, conveniently located near a metro. That way, I can move into this completely fabulous home before Christmas - that holds the distinction of being the second weirdest house our home inspector has ever been into.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sealing the deal as the favorite granddaughter

By virtue of being the only grandson, Connor has always held the position of favorite grandson. Even when he went through his rather long phase of classifying the world into “mommy” and “not the mommy” - and as you might imagine, he was not excited about members of the second category - he held the distinction of being the only male offspring in his generation, thus retaining the title of favorite. Competition is a bit stiffer for favorite granddaughter.

But, I have to be proud of my little gal for putting her best foot forward – literally – to lock the title up. There I was, taking a nap (yes! a nap! Did I mention how much I love it when my parents visit?) when I heard “Helen – I think those count as your fist steps!” and quick as could be, I bolted out of bed (OK, so I wasn’t actually sleeping at that point, I was just laying in bed loving that not one person was demanding anything of me) and headed for the camcorder. Carefully, I maneuvered my way around so that Helen didn’t catch a glimpse of me (after verifying that indeed, she could take a couple of steps) and recorded the feat. Of course, I still haven’t figured out how to move that video from my camcorder to this medium (damn technology), but perhaps once Vickie settles in with her new babe, she’ll help me out.

My dad surely remembers the hours he spent as he was recovering from brain surgery and babysitting Anna (the first granddaughter) trying to teach her to crawl, only to have her crawl at my home after Ed made it too dangerous to not crawl in our home. You see, Ed had no idea that the enormous boulder that sits atop a baby’s shoulders is very heavy. Anna was in our kitchen and she looked like she could crawl, if only she’d pick her behind up. So Ed provided an assist, only to see her entire body lurch forward as she face-planted into our floor. The next day, there was no more fake crawling for Anna. Nope, she crawled right over to Ed’s CD collection and attempted to wreak havoc on it.

Anyway, Helen is not walking yet, per se, but she is awfully interested in walking, and regularly will take a couple of steps. She’s gone from needing two hands to assist her when walking to only needing to hold on with one. She cruises like nobody’s business and can move her shopping cart and two other walkers pretty much anywhere she needs to go, so long as no backing up is required.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Happy Month 38

Dear Connor,

As you might suspect, you did indeed turn 38 months old this past month. And both your dad and I were completely delighted to be your parents. But not only did your sister take center stage by reaching her one year on earth mark, we decided to buy a new house, and this has consumed enormous amounts of energy - from all of us. Your grandparents, who might have been expecting to just play with you and Helen all week spent about 200 hours each helping us get our house ready to sell. Why, you and Grandpa spent an entire afternoon moving mulch together! Not to mention all the mulch Daddy, you, and Grandpa moved the day before. Thankfully, you had much practice moving mulch because the week before the mulch arrived on our driveway, mulch arrived at your school. At Waldorf schools, it is completetly typical for the children to take part in making their school beautiful and you and the others happily filled wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow full of mulch to distribute on your playground.

The other reason this report is so late is that I stayed home with you and Helen the week preceeding your anniversay, and I do not know how stay-at-home moms find the time to blog. Seriously. I was so tired by the end of the day that I could not even contemplate opening my computer for much more than preparing for a couple of meetings at work that could not be moved to a time when I was actually working.
Most of this month was spent enjoying the fading of summer into Fall. That included visiting "our farm" and picking out a big pumpkin to take home with us. We would've picked some veggies as well, but you were too enamored with a giant wooden truck that sits in the willow forest there. It has a gear you can move and the way you exit it is via a slide. There are also two relatively new playhouses there that are frankly nicer than most single family homes. You played with Helen and every other child that came near them for quite some time. We fed corn to the farm animals, played in the giant corn bin, and conquered a number of giant slides there. It was, as you might guess, exhausting.

Even though it was not your birthday, your grandma made you a giant sock monkey that has accompanied you to bed every evening since you opened it. Not only did you enjoy this present, you enjoyed opening almost every other present Helen received. It's not that she couldn't, it's just that she wasn't terribly interested and you were - and enthusiasm goes a long way.

You seem to be taking the transition from our first au pair to our new au pair quite well, and you also seem very excited about the new house. We've been to a lot of open houses in the past year or two together, and moving doesn't seem to phase you at all - especially now that you have cleared up you get to take your toys with you. You are somewhat amazed that we get to take things like beds with us, but even more amazed that the beds (and dogs) that are in our new home do not stay. What can I say, Connor? It's a crazy world.

Perhaps next month the report will be on time. I have, after all, committed to writing


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Happy 1 year, Helen!

Dear Helen,

Last Sunday, you celebrated your first birthday. Aunt Linda, Anna, Emily, Grandma, and Grandpa were all there to see the festive cake eating. Emily still maintains the record of messiest cake eating, and frankly, you didn't give her much of a challenge to that family title.

You spent the month working very hard at doing everything your brother does, which meant you moved as fast and as much as possible. You crawled up stairs as if they were nothing more than flat surfaces; you pulled up on any and every object you could find and then cruised around; and if you could find two fingers to guide you, you used them to walk anywhere those two fingers would lead. For my part, I was delighted to have Anna and Emily step in for this phase of your development.

You continue to retain your sunny disposition - though you also still are having a tough time separating from me these days. That's not too surprising though, given your age and the fact that our au pair for the past nine months is no longer living with us. I'm sure it was shocking when you woke up one day and she wasn't here. After almost two weeks without her, you seem to have adapted pretty well, though who knows how you will greet the news that a new au pair arrives on Friday.

You prefer the real phone to a toy phone, love to go through my wallet, and particularly like it when you see something on the floor - or just within reach on a chair - that seems like you should not have it. Those things are the best things of all and you are remarkably good at quietly seeking them out. If we didn't have your brother around telling us "Helen just...", you might have a little more fun. You enjoy playing "Hungry, Hungry Hippos" with me and Connor and you like to try and put his puzzles together, though don't show that much interest in your own. Connor considers you to be not all that helpful, but you can be quite helpful when it comes to picking the puzzles up because just like your brother at about this age, you love to play "things in things".

You have mostly become resigned to the fact that you should not eat everything, to the point that now when you pick up wood chips or other debris from the ground, you look at it and then hold it up to me to give it to me. Rarely does it hit your mouth, which I am quite happy about.

You say "mama", "dada", "buh buh" (bye bye), and a few other random "words" and whenever a particular song about clapping comes on a CD you have, you clap away. You do not seem to get the difference between the question "how big are you?" and "how old are you?". To both, you almost always respond by putting your hands on your head and smiling a very goofy smile. You did, however, work very diligently when I showed you how to put one finger up at putting two of your three fingers that were up down so that you too, would have only one finger up. I thought this was pretty impressive.

I feel as if a huge milestone has been reached, Helen, and I am grateful to have year one in the rearview mirror and year two staring right at me.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008


A few weeks ago, Ed's dad participated in BikeDC with Ed. It's a ride Ed and I did for a few years, but neither of us has participated since Connor was born. Ed toyed with the idea of having Connor ride on the back of his bike, but in the end, we decided this wasn't a great idea, so I took Connor to the National Book Festival instead. We should've stayed home. I seem to forget every now and then that I do not like to attend crowded places with both of my children. Heck, I do not like to attend crowded places with either of my children - or with Ed, for that matter. By myself? That is OK because I am small and can maneuver through a crowd easily. When Connor and I travel together he has the size edge so it is quite probable that he will end up far away from me, which is rarely a good thing.

Ed's dad flew out of Baltimore on Sunday, which gave us a good excuse to head to the train museum - a museum we've been intending to visit for quite some time. I missed the first part of the visit because I was dropping stuff off at a friend's house, but apparently Connor was so enthralled with the place that Ed and his dad actually lost track of him running through the trains.

It was non-stop excitement, including riding a REAL TRAIN! It's a decommissioned MARC train, but the under 5 crowd doesn't care. Helen seemed to enjoy herself, but Helen enjoys herself almost anywhere that she can either pull-up and walk around, or someone is willing to hold her hands so she can walk around.

We decided not to require Ed's dad to put in any babysitting hours. We're saving that until he's officially retired in January. Helen did her best to make a good impression, despite her very strong negative feelings about people that are not me these days.