Wednesday, August 31, 2011

And thus, Summer is over...

Yesterday was our last "Summer Trio" day. We spent the morning at the science museum in Durham, where I splurged on train tickets and a huge lunch at Elmo's Diner, things I've been thinking of doing all summer. After nap I decided to skip the gym. I really need to go more, but I just couldn't bring myself to drop my children off at that moment. So we went to Chuck-E-Cheese instead :) A quick, simple dinner was followed by a long, deep bubble bath and two happy brothers who went to bed a little late. And with this... our normal summer was over.


This morning I packed Ambrose a lunch, dressed him up nicely, and took my boys to the preschool for A's first full morning. He was soooo, excited, running as fast as he could toward the door with Paxton right beside him. I snapped a quick photo of them outside the room, on some benches. The were both just so happy...

And then I dropped off my "baby" and said good bye, knowing I wouldn't see him again for 4 more hours. And yes, it was both a bit hard for me and yet also such a relief to know that he was in such great hands and that I could focus just on Paxton this morning.


Paxton wanted to see his old class and teacher, so we headed up to say hello.

"Look, mom!" he said excitedly, pointing to the playground. "It's all still there! Just the way it always was!"

He looked for the tricycles and was beaming when he found them in their correct place, waiting for tiny bodies to ride them later on.

He hugged his teacher and said hello to his younger friends, still in preschool.

Then he bragged about how big he is, how he's in Kindergarten, and how he can do so many cool things now.

He wasn't sad to leave them anymore. He truly understood that they were still there when he needed to see them, that they didn't abandon him, that they didn't disappear. Life is continuing and he is not forgotten.

And once he truly understood this... he was ready to move on. With confidence and happiness, his anxiety and sorrow washed away with the reassurance that he is still loved and this world he lives in is truly a stable place.


I took Paxton to Marbles. He and I both messed up a couple of times and started to talk to Ambrose, then laughed at ourselves because of it. We bought tickets for an IMAX show, Born to be Wild 3D, and played for a few minutes before heading over. My goal this morning was to do something with P that we couldn't normally do with Ambrose, and a 3D movie sounded perfect! P wasn't convinced but a quick trip to the concessions stand helped him change his mind :) We both LOVED the movie and I hope to see it again sometime, maybe even soon. HIGHLY recommended, made me tear up and it was just beautiful.

Afterwards we played a bit more at the kid's museum, just like we used to, just the two of us.

And then...

He stepped into this thing, this weird jutting-out-cage thing, and...

We had started going there when P was barely over 2 years old, less than 30 lbs, and only about 32 inches tall. He had looked so short in there, a tiny person in a large space, and that's how I've always thought of him.

Today his head was scraping the top. He's outgrowing this...


We got some lunch at Moe's afterwards. He didn't want a children's meal. He didn't want the drink or cookie that came with it because he "doesn't like sugar anymore" and wants "real food." So he ordered a taco salad, and ate all the salad but left most of the edible bowl. I had a few incredulous people ask me if what they saw was really happening. Yes, yes that's my big boy.


We picked up Ambrose, which seemed easy at first. He didn't run to me but was happy to see me. They commented on how verbal and intelligent he is, and how polite. Obviously I was quite pleased :) Then we left. I picked Ambrose up to put him in the car. It took me five minutes to detach that child from myself! He wasn't upset, not in the least! Just hugging and kissing and cuddling and smiling, going "mommy! Mommy!" I felt bad finally forcing him into the carseat but I gave him a few extra hugs and kisses, and soon we were on our way.


Nap went off without a hitch. My boys were so good, so very good...

When they were asleep I went to check on the chickens. Talk about growing up... there were two eggs in their nesting box!

Then I came inside for a shower. I ran my fingers through my hair and came away with a couple loose strands. Not abnormal in the least, no, except that both of these strands... were white. Totally white. For a minute I thought, "Oh good, I'm losing the white ones!" Then I came to the realization that I probably just have so many white hairs by now on my head that the odds are increasing when it comes to getting two white hairs in one pass. *Sigh*


When the boys were up, and Nik home early, we all got ready and walked to the school. P was nervous but he calmed down when we got there. The principal greeted us warmly, again, and walked P over to the board to find his new teacher. Then he showed us how to get to Mr. C's room. We thanked him and walked down to the room, where we got to know the space and filled out lots of paperwork. As I was filling out a volunteer form (for the second time... silly back button on the side of the mouse!), it struck me that this is real, this is really happening. I have a child in the public school system. Wow....


We went home and I made dinner. Our Produce Box is delivered on Wednesdays so I had some fresh Kale and Butternut Squash to cook up, as well as some Mexican rice with black beans, and a side of fresh cinnamon chip bread. Dinner was a hit :) Afterwards we went outside to eat a watermelon together and watch the silly chickies run around the yard (usually with Ambrose chasing them). On the way down the stairs I tried to hold P's hand.

"You don't need to hold my hand, mom. I'm in Kindergarten now."


Outside we ate and watched and ate and watched. We noticed one of the chickens was missing and found her in the nesting box. Laying an egg. Right before we went inside we checked on her and sure enough there was a fresh little brown egg!


The kids are in bed now. P's probably asleep, and A's close behind. Today was... long. And wonderful. And sad. A day of growth.

A day where my baby started preschool.

A day where my big boy met his teacher and really moved on to that new level emotionally.

A day where our little flock began producing eggs, two months ahead of schedule.

A day where I found more white hairs.

A day where I watched an incredible movie about people caring for young and watching them grow into independence....

Today was wonderful.

What a fitting end to an incredible Summer!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Transition Week

Today: Ambrose's first (half) day of preschool, from 9-10:30. I was there for half an hour.
Tomorrow: The last day of our Summer Trio, just mama and her boys. Oh, sure, we'll have weekends where we'll let Nik sleep in, and holidays, and "sick" days (my boys are rarely sick!) but this is the last official day of summer fun!
Wednesday: Ambrose's first full morning of school, 9am-1pm. Just me and Paxton that morning!
Wednesday afternoon: Kindy open house, find out his teacher and class, meet his classmates.
Thursday: P's first day of Kindergarten, all day.

Next Monday is Labor Day so no school, so we won't be starting our "normal schedule" until Tuesday. Weds I'll have them both in school, which is awesome because I have a dentist appt then and being able to go to the dentist without having my mother or husband meet me there, an listening to the kids play/laugh/scream/bicker in the next room, just sounds dreeeeamy!

If everything is going smoothly in a couple of weeks, and neither boy seems to need any extra attention, I'll probably see if I can help out in P's school's media center maybe every Wednesday morning. I'm such a dork, I've actually been looking forward to doing that since my mom used to help out when I was in middle school!

I'm beyond being sad and to the point of being soooo excited about this year! Paxton cannot wait to return to his school, and we'll be lucky no matter which teacher we get! Ambrose is the same, he loved his class and already learned the names of the classmates he was with today. I'm just so excited for them, and kind of excited to see how this new schedule treats us. P won't be taking a nap most days, A will be on an odd schedule for awhile, and I'll have only one (the one I can't hold full conversations with) 3 mornings a week. Pretty soon the library storytime will start back up, and the community center beside it will be open for "tot time" in the mornings again. The weather is starting to get cooler, gas prices are going down a bit, we have two birthdays coming up, with 3 major holidays coming up around that same time (4 if you count New Year's!). Oh, and our anniversary, which happens to fall on both our 10 year HS reunions 8-O . Not sure what we're doing about that yet....

Okay, so, just need to get through this week... I can't wait to be back in the swing of things! Ah, we're going to have soooo much fun!

Friday, August 26, 2011


Oh, yesterday was exHAUSting!

Okay, so in the morning I packed a lunch as well as $2 to buy lunch, just in case, and we all got ready and walked to school together. P was super psyched and it was actually a very fun walk and talk. We found that they're apparently testing 15 or so kids a day for 5 days, then deciding their classes at the end of that. Paxton was lucky (?) and somehow got to be in the first day, and all 5 teachers were there to spend time with the kids. Some were sad, some were super happy, and some were really quiet and shy. Okay, correction, one was super happy. My kid. Yeah, Paxton followed the TA to the classroom smiling and dancing the whole time.

So we left him there, and it did sting a little but everyone was so welcoming and happy and knowing that there were 5 teachers, 5 TAs, and a couple other adults with a grand total of 16 kids made me feel pretty confident that P would be attended to :)

So we got home and Nik left for work while I headed out to the Dr to drop off A's preschool medical release form. Then home to pick up a bag I left by the door, then out again for a playdate where I stayed a couple hours (and looked at my phone a bunch, just in case the school called me), then home briefly for lunch. I decided I didn't feel like lunch as A and I had eaten so many yummy snacks at the playdate. So I got some gas and had my oil changed for way too much money, but at least Jiffy Lube made my care pretty clean and topped off my AC fluid.

Then I went home, got Ambrose in his stroller, and headed off for the school. I was early and Ambrose was bobbing so I walked a little further to put him to sleep, then walked back to pick P up.

I was half expecting to find him crying or angry or in trouble or, well, something bad.

But there he was, sitting calmly and waiting for me. He did look a little sad until he saw me, but then his face lit up as he cried out, "Mommy!!!"

One of the teachers told me how sweet he was, that he's flirted with her, and that she was trying to "steal" him for her class. As we were walking out another teacher leaned in and told me that they were fighting over him, that they all wanted him in their classes. Turns out my little boy turned up the charm a million fold and was perfectly good all day! I am totally cool with this :) I also much acknowledge that they probably say these things to tons of parents, but even so it felt good!

P was in good spirits, only having one moment of "no, I want to stay at school!" but otherwise he was great on the walk home, though I sweated buckets!

After we got home and cooled off, I took the boys back to the doctor (20 minutes one way) to pick up A's medical form, then came home. I was going to head to the gym for Pilates but I just couldn't motivate myself! Instead I put away dishes and laundry, and made dinner from scratch :)

At 6:30, when the boys were fed and close to conking out, I grabbed my bag of snack foods and took off. It was time for Ambrose's Parent Orientation at his preschool :) It was a fun night, though to say I was a bit tired and spacey by then would be an understatement!!!

I got home around 9 and ended up asleep pretty early, which means before midnight. This morning we all woke around 7am, a good time for the boys. When I went to Paxton's room I discovered a surprise: his overnight diaper was bone dry! I asked him about it and he was just so happy and proud of himself!

I'd been telling him for awhile now that if we could be done with buying his overnight diapers then we'd have extra money for things like ice cream. So of course when I hold up the clean diaper he cried out, "I want an ice cream cone!!! Oh, oh, with ICE CREAM on top of the ice cream cone! I want an ice cream cone WITH ice cream!!!" Haha!

And just when I thought I couldn't be any prouder of my little Kindergartener, I find that Ambrose wants a popsicle, so Paxton happily gave up going out for ice cream in order to get a popsicle and share it with Ambrose outside, just to share his joy with his baby brother.


Sometimes that kid blows me away :)

And, oh, hey, there's a hurricane coming.... here's hoping my boys do well during a Target shopping trip. Ditz that I am, I finally realized that we may in fact lose power like we seem to do every time it rains. And we still only have one flashlight and one candle. Sooo, my fun plans for this afternoon is to tackle Tar-jhay with two exuberant small children. Woohoo!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

... I'm not sure I'm ready...

Tomorrow is the day.

Tomorrow... we'll all wake up, early probably and yet buzzing with energy.

I'll put his lunchbox in his backpack, on top of the pencils and crayons.

We'll grab the bag of classroom supplies.

Shoes on, breakfast eaten, baby in stroller, we'll walk together as a family...

It's only 15 minutes to his school.

And I'm not sure if it will feel like forever, or if it will blow right past.

At 8:30am we'll drop him off. Wave bye-bye. Give a kiss and hug and watch him walk away.

And then... it will be five and a half hours before I see my boy again. He'll meet new friends I don't know, have interactions I won't witness, even eat lunch without me.

And you know what?

I'm happy for him.

I'm happy that he's starting what is one of the most wonderful and incredible journeys in life.

I remember going to school, meeting friends, story time, singing, playing, recess, lunch, laughing, jokes, learning, and growing as a group.

And my sweet 'n spunky Paxton... Tomorrow he starts that journey.

Oh, sure, it's only a "testing" day. He won't go to school again for another week, won't even know his class or teacher until next Weds, and our time between that will be spent having fun together. I'm really looking forward to Wednesday morning when it's just the two of us!

And yet... it's the longest he's ever spent in a school setting, and it is sort of setting up not only the year but the next 13-20 YEARS of his life for him.

It's the end of the baby period, the end of innocence.

He's going to come home speaking about things and words he learned from his friends, he's going to get in trouble here and there, he's going to disappoint now and again, and he's going to really grow up.

He's entering, officially, the "school age child" category.

And there's no going back.

You can't return to being a baby or toddler or preschooler.

He'll be a schoolager for a looong time.

And... I'm so proud and happy and excited, but also so sad to see his pre-school age end.


Though, seriously, I bet he won't sleep all night and he'll be a pain in the bum in the morning and when it comes to actual drop off I may just be pretty happy about it at that point.... but for now I'm weepy!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Not so good, right?

So some days I feel like a Model Mom. My children are well dressed and well behaved, I'm patient and articulate, we all have good, clean, Suzy Homemaker fun, and I catch people smiling at us happily as if to say "wow, isn't that family just awesome?" Seriously, it's nice.

Most days we're more down to Earth. My kids might have some stains on their clothes or need a little time out or reminder here and there, there might be some whining involved and I may raise my voice a bit in warning, but generally we have a great time and the public in general does not at all mind our presence and, again, we receive lots of smiles (helloooo conspicuous family!).

Then there are days like today.....

Hmmm, how do I put this....

I don't THINK we were doing anything wrong. I mean, my kids were being wild little boys on the indoor playground at Triangle Town Center, as were another pair of children whose mother I was speaking with. We were all there first and for a long time before anyone else showed up, and not to say we owned the place or anything but really if people did not want their children to play in the same area as a bunch of squealing, running, rolling-down-the-padded-slide-backwards-all-together kids then, well, they may have just wanted to walk on by and come back in a few minutes. We didn't exactly come in and destroy anyone's peace, you knew who the crowd was before you stepped foot in the place, don't act surprised when the four kids who were running around when you got there continue to run around and *gasp* even approach your children and ask if they would like to run around too!

So to make a long story short... we got some nasty looks. Some VERY nasty looks. I might even go so far as to say I was THAT mom today (though there's no actual definition of THAT mom so I'm pretty sure all moms are THAT mom 24/7). Ambrose ran up the slide the "wrong" way. A totally padded slide in at totally padded playground, running towards children who were laughing and playing with him and having a blast. And no one got hurt. And ooooooh, the glaaares!

Paxton, big brother that he is, tried to help a toddler down the slide by putting him on his lap. The mother came and took him off his lap and put him behind telling him he should go down on his own. Again, glares.

Kids ran around and raced and tumbled and knocked into each other and had a blast, not just my kids, but for me and the woman I was talking to... yeah, the looks were coming our way.

And when P was playing with a friend who had been happily playing with him for several minutes and he accidentally fell on her and she started to cry?

OMG, I thought someone was actually going to smack him or me.

The mom pulled her 4 or 5 year old daughter up and marched off with her and a younger sibling. I called P over to talk about it and have him apologize, but the mom left in a hurry. I sat back and caught one other mom (the Queen Glarer if you will) arms crossed, totally smug and assuming look, looking me straight in the eyes (and yet somehow down her nose at the same time...).

Thing is... I truly don't believe my kids were doing anything wrong.

And truth be told I'm a little upset myself. Let's just say we have some history with this playground and I'm little worried there may have been some racial issues at play given the specific scenario...

Anyway... today was a pretty good day in that my kids had fun and I had fun and I met a really nice woman and we got to do everything we'd planned to do (coffee at Caribou, get energy out on the playground, story time at the bookstore, lunch at Moe's, home in time for a good long nap).

And yet I could have done without the smug glares and huffing loudly when near me with a sharp glance my direction and the total and complete *silence* from the other moms who seemingly refused to speak with each other and only whispered to their children (it honestly felt like they were listening to me and my new friend...).

Oh, and that mom who left in a hurry? Yeah, as soon as I walked out she walked right back in. She'd been waiting for us to leave. Another mom I saw in another place and she continued to just staaaare at me with this incredulous look, like "how DARE you live in my world?"


Seriously, I was thiiiiis close to going up to her and saying "honey, if you perceive some sort of threat to your children and your only action is to just stare at it as if you're better than it, then your kids have bigger problems than my boys asking them to play tag."

Friday, August 19, 2011

I am so weird.

Am I a normal mom? I mean, I *think* I'm a normal mom... but I also think I'm sane and rational, and I hear that is up for debate in some circles (*cough cough, husband, cough*).

I mean, there is no very explicit definition of normal, right? Not all moms babywear or rearface or make baby food, not all moms use carseats at all, not all moms live in this country or society. So how can you say a "normal mom" would use a Snuggli or a "normal mom" wouldn't let her kids stay up late on a school night? What about children with medical issues who couldn't possibly use any baby carrier? What about people who live in a place where schooling is unavailable? How could you say a "normal mom" would only feed a certain type of food that might only be available in certain parts of the world? How can we say that "normal" must meet our culture, our beliefs, our values?

No, I think a "normal mom" is simply this: Someone who loves and cares for her children, often in a way befitting of her culture and usually in a way befitting of her child.

Some moms use CIO, some moms co-sleep until they're 7. Some moms send children to preschool as infants, some teach their children basket weaving and working in the fields. Some sing lullabies, some rock them to sleep, some put on sound machines, some have nannies or other caregivers. Some moms are related to their children by blood, and some moms aren't.

And some moms realize when their kid needs a good ole silly laugh. When his face is scrunched up and his arms are crossed and he's refusing to do a simple, easy project. Sometimes a mom realizes that the project isn't all that important, in fact it's quite inconsequential, and that having fun and enjoying your time together is more important.

Even if it garners you some seriously bizarre looks when your child goes around showing off the project and still talks about it to strangers days later...

Monday, August 15, 2011

One more full week...

... of normal life.

This Saturday we have P's new school's open house. We'll walk over as a family and "discover" the school together.

Next Thursday he has his first day of Kindy, a shortened day (8:30-2) where he'll be tested on basic things like colors, reading, parts of a book maybe, etc.

The following Monday we have A's first day of preschool, another shortened day (9-11 I think) where I'll drop P off at my mother's work which is nearby and be with A while he gets his bearings.

Wednesday the 31st is a big day. A will have his first full morning of school, 9-1. We'll also find out which class P will be in and from 4-5:30 we'll get to go see his new Kindy classroom and meet his new teacher.

Thursday the 1st P starts school for real.

And the following Monday we all start up our new schedule: P out of the house from about 7-3 every day, A in preschool 9-1 Monday and Wednesday, and me with some actual freetime on my hands.

Morning story times at the library or bookstore will be just for A for a long time. I'll hardly see P in the afternoons. Dinner and bedtime will be rushed, and nap schedules totally altered.

And we'll survive and adapt and it'll be just fine and all good.

And we really do have a lot of time between now and the week when the new schedule goes into full swing, plenty of days to wander a kid's museum or play in the park or even visit the splashground like I've been planning all summer.

So now... I guess I'll just have to get over my "post-vacation" funk and get on with it, with having fun and just enjoying my sweet little boys as they are right now in the life that we have right now.

Because the next time we get a whole summer off? They'll be six and a half and two and a half and they'll be wild and fun and probably playing with each other even more and enjoying each other even more. But they won't be the same. We won't get this time back.

On that note... I really need to go wake those crazy boys up so mama can make it to her yoga class! I haven't worked out in almost 2 weeks!!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011


When I was a kid, I was in LOVE with Funtown. The Astrosphere! The Sea Dragon! The fried dough!!!!

Last year we didn't go to Funtown, instead picking York's Wild Kingdom so that we could fit both a zoo and amusement park into the same trip. It was... okay. Fun, yeah, but far away from my sister's house and pretty expensive for rides that literally have not changed one bit in 20 years. Seriously, I don't even think they've cleaned the glass in all that time...

So this year it was Funtown. And I have to admit, I was excited. At the same time, though, I was completely prepared to be disappointed. Either the rides would be old and crappy, or they'd be totally replaced and unfamiliar, and the food would probably be overpriced and awful, and the lines would probably be too long, and we just wouldn't enjoy it.

I was wrong.

So, so wrong.

We only had like 5, maybe 5 and a half, hours. And it felt like minutes....

I could go on about the wonderful emotions the rides brought back, how the feeling of riding the Casino again made me feel like a free spirited tween on the beach for some reason, or how the music from the Astrosphere made me want to run and dance and, iunno, just be young and dreaming about all the wild stuff I'd do in the future.

Yeah, it brought me back. It really, REALLY, brought me back. And even better? I got to see my kids enjoying my own childhood memories.

I can vividly recall driving the Antique Cars when I was very little, probably P's age, and to see P ride them over and over again happily... and go through the boat ride, and the log floom, and the tea cups and squeal on the bumper boats... Yeah, totally awesome. I can't remember back to A's age so no idea if he reacted the same as me, but still, it was quite awesome.

So, instead of prattling on, let me make this post all neat and organized:

High points for Paxton: Riding with cousins, listening to all the staff, making friends easily, having a blast.

Low points for Paxton: None that I recall. Seriously, this place was sheer Heaven for him.

High points for Nik: Rides, tilt-a-whirl, seeing old friends, spending time with both kids, being right about something for once (*grumble grumble*).

Low points for Nik: He may have been right about something for once, but that doesn't keep me from handing him a stinky baby and saying "oh Daddy, looks like it's time for a change!" and running off. Haha, revenge! (because I can never be wrong!) Also he didn't realize we were already off a ride and sat around at one point, missing his last chance to ride the Astrosphere before they closed. Next year honey!

High points for me: Seeing friends, being with family, ASTROSPHERE!!!, reliving childhood, watching kids actually live their childhood, just having a really fun day with many people whom I really love.

Low points for me: Being wrong about something for once (seriously, it was just a stupid debate about what would be in my "veggie sandwich" and I was more pessimistic than necessary), feeling pulled in a few different directions, not enough time!, big sister wouldn't let me go back every day and just pitch a tent and live there (*grumble grumble*), and I'm sure there's something else and maybe I'll whine about it later. Oh, and I forgot to get fried dough and had to settle for cold churros.


He gets a whole section. This? Was a totally new experience for him. Last year when we went to York he was 10 months old and couldn't experience it really, just sort of sat there in an Ergo either sleeping or looking grumpy. This year he was running around everywhere.

He really enjoyed the people, loved holding his cousins hands and screaming "run!" and running headfirst while dragging them along. He really knows how to wrap people around his little finger! My little stinker :)

The rides kind of blew his mind. My sister and I took him to a boat ride, just a small kiddie thing where the boats go around in a circle and you can ring the bell or play with the steering wheel that doesn't do anything. Ambrose was intrigued and walked over happily to investigate, pointing and saying "boat!" The guy in charge came over and asked if he wanted to ride and took his little hand, walking him over to a boat. Ambrose picked out his boat and sat down happily. My baby likes to sit in odd spots.

Then the ride started.

See that death grip on the boat?

Yeah, you can't really tell from a picture, but the kid was practically catatonic. His head wasn't moving. His eyes moved to me every now and then and then they'd just phase out in front of him, half bugged out, in shock.

I'm bad. I laughed. Then I took him off when the ride was done and cuddled him.

Next was the kiddie section, with a carousel. He just wanted to sit on the bench with me, which seemed a little silly since there was no one on the ride (and almost no one at the park!) and it was just going around for two people sitting on an immobile bench. But I've learned from my children that sometimes you need to be a bit wasteful in order to adjust to something new and truly enjoy it later on.

So we went around on the bench while he took it all in. Then we moved on to the helicopters, a ride nearby. You sit in the little helicopter and there's a bar you can pull that lets you go up about 5 feet in the air. Ambrose was scared at first, very scared, but my brave boy wanted to figure this place out. I mean, what was the POINT of all this? Why had we brought him here? How did any of these odd sights and sounds make sense? And why were we all so excited about it? What the heck was going on???

We boarded the little ride after he picked his helicopter and we got situated, again being the only ones on the ride. I was cuddling in as the ride started, just marveling at my sweet little boy. I placed my hand on his side to keep him steady and give him comfort. Without even looking, his little fat hand came to the back of my big hand and pushed it on to his stomach. He squished my hand into his stomach for a second before lowering it back to his lap, as if to say "I am wary but I know I will be safe if you just hold me tightly." He continued to scan the ride and take it all in, trying to process it all, while I just stared at my marvelous little boy. Ah, how I love him!

Soon he figured out how to make the ride go up and while he was still pretty wary about it for awhile, he made it stay in the air most of the time, only letting it go down briefly so that he could experience it going back up. "Back up," he'd say. Or "up high." Not excited, just calm and calculating. My aware little boy needs to figure out his environment before he can really sit back and enjoy.

He rode that thing like 8 times. He was a master of it by the end. And, oh, he enjoyed it!

Also, he got one ride on the Antique Cars.

There was no "figuring it out" time. I think it blew his mind into little bits of sheer joy. I had to pull him off that ride. He was stiff as a board, shrieking like a siren, and pounding me with fists. "Again, again!" The park was closing, they were locking up the rides, but dang I was almost tempted to give in (some how!).

As for the carousel, we did a few more rides. After our initial bench ride, we tried a ride with him on the horse and me beside him. He was upset but put up with it, half sitting on me as it went around. The next ride he was straight on the horse with me there. Our final ride of the night?

He loved having mommy beside him, also on a horse. We were having a "race" he told me. All in all it was an excellent afternoon/night.

Paxton and I have spoken about a dozen times about the rides and what we'll do next year and what was our favorite and can't we just go back? (I'd so love to!) We're pretty much counting the days :)

And Ambrose?

Ambrose loved the rides by the end. He loved the food and the lights and the sights and the sounds and the whole shebang.

But his favorite part?

He has asked me where D and B are a few times now and claps at their names. Yeah, the boy loves his family, and they love him.

We really have to do this more than once a year!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Good to be home!

But also good to be gone!

We just got back from Maine, where we spent 6 days with family and friends either lazing around or going out and spending too much money to do really fun stuff. Like Funtown! And Jokers! And Crescent Beach! And... um, other stuff!

So, before I forget our fun vacay, let me go ahead and bullet point it all....

Friday: Nik took off work, P went to Summer Camp, Nik took A to the kid's museum while I packed, then we all headed to the airport that night. Plane left at 8:16pm from Raleigh to Dulles, got a coffee at Dunkin Donuts, another planeride from 10:30 to midnight. Both kids traveled well. Ambrose fell asleep at 12:30 at the baggage claim in Portland, P conked out an hour later once we were at my sister's house.

Saturday: Kids up at 6am. OMG. I complained a bit but since my sister, a nurse, was just getting in at 8am and wasn't getting a chance to sleep.... um, yeah, that shut me up right quick! We met my newest nephew, S, 7 months and said hey to my BIL and older nephew. Took my niece and our boys to Portland's kids museum and played there, got lunch, went home. Kids got some rest and then we just hung around that caught up while P and B played video games.

Sunday: Went to a bounce house, Amato's for lunch, home for a rest, then Drive in that night. It was a double feature, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Captain America. I saw about half of both movies since there was a lot of chasing A and buying ice cream and realizing the Chinese place messed up our order and eating a jumbo popcorn for dinner. Oh, and yeah, I did take my 1.5 and 5.5 year olds to see violent movies late at night. And they had a blast. As did we. Now I'll be searching for drive ins. (I should note that A finally fell asleep around 11 and P around 1:30.

Monday: Slept in a bit I think, 7am maybe? Decided to hit my two childhood nostalgia places this day. Went to Smiling Hill Farm in the morning to stare at animals in dirty cages that hissed at us (the animals, not the cages silly!). Got lunch there from the pissiest person ever and had great ice cream and local soda. Then on to FunTown, which was AAAWWWESSSOOOOMEEE!!! beyond all reason and I was totally tempted to just go back the next day until my sister, being older and wiser and knowing how ridiculous I am, pointed out that it's always nice to leave wanting more instead of being there all day and getting miserable and sick of it. I agreed. I also promised P we're going back next year. Seriously, I will fly up there just for that... and family of course!

Tuesday: Beach day! Also, melt down day! P hasn't had melt down that bad in a loooong time! Exhaustion and emotional stuff caught up to him and he was just gone. It was pretty bad. But we were able to wrangle him to get to the beach and he was happy. On the way there in the car Ambrose fell asleep and a totally exhausted P saw him and cried out "Ambrose took my naaaap!" I kind of chuckled and handed him A's baby blanket and said "well, why don't you cuddle up under this and see if there's any nap left in it?" He couldn't find any, poor thing, and mumbled about how Ambrose had taken all of the nap out of the whole world just for himself. We had fun at the beach, not much swimming but lots of splashing and playing and once the snacks were out P and A refused to budge until the bags were empty. A can be a picky eater sometimes, but on other occasions he's like P: He'll stuff himself silly and still ask for more. We headed off to Macaroni Grill after that, then went home and swam and showered. P had another meltdown so Nik cuddled him to sleep at 6:30pm. A went down an hour later and Nik and I had a great evening with the BIL and my older nephew and niece playing Apples to Apples, both kids and adult editions.

Wednesday: Kids woke up around 6:30 and P was in a MUCH better mood. We had met some old friends, travel companions from our Ethiopian pick up trip, at FunTown just by chance and we decided to head out there on this day since my sister was working both an 11-7am shift and a 3-12 shift (and she has a little baby, AND two other kids, AND pets, AND houseguests, OMG!). We took my niece again since my older nephew said he needed a break from his sister :) Also the family has an almost 9 year old. We went to a mall and to a Joker's in the mall, which is like a Chuck E Cheese only more expensive and with more rides and a bigger jungle gym. P and B had fun there and A had fun just running around after a 3 hour nap in the car/stroller/arms. We headed over to the O family's house and got to spend the afternoon with them. Paxton played with their two sons, both from Ethiopia, and B ran off with their daughter and her friend making lots of loud girly squeals. A hung around us for a long time at first being shy and then just enjoying being the center of attention. P had another brief meltdown and I went and did some pretty drastic "counseling," basically telling him "I think that seeing this family again and seeing their son again reminds you of the orphanage and of that scary time when we came and took you home and how scared and angry you were." P told me he was trying to think if I was right or not but his head just hurt and he couldn't even think. I hugged him tightly and told him that it was okay to feel this way but he couldn't hide or growl or make angry faces, though he could always come and talk to me about it or we could sit together and cuddle. That calmed him down and he went to have a really fun time. We went to dinner later at a Margaritas in Auburn and I'm pretty sure everyone there hated us! Three squealing preteen girls, 4 little boys including a toddler who was running all over the place, grabbing balloons and having them fly off, laughing and being loud, the kids stuffing their pockets with afterdinner mints, etc. But our waitress was actually extremely upbeat even if we got a lot of dirty looks from the other patrons (should I mention how white this town is?). We left for home after that and had another night where the kids went to bed at a good time and where N and I stayed up and played Apples to Apples with family.

Thursday: Last day :-( We decided to just go play at the mall, keep it low key. I packed, said good bye to the dogs and to BIL, and headed out with my family. I almost lost it when we drove away from the house... We had fun at the mall, but I was certainly a mix of emotions. Nik told me he wasn't really sad, just having fun on vacation, knowing we'd be back again sometime to do it all again. A didn't care. P was a little grumpy. And I was somewhere between manic and weepy. We spent too much money trying to fit a bunch in and it was over too quickly. I took a ton of pictures of the good bye hugs with the kids. I feel bad that P and A can't live closer to their beloved older cousins or the new baby. They left and we spent some time at their Chuck E Cheese, just chilling. Then we went to the airport, ate, and left. Kids conked out on the plane this time (P on the first flight, A on the second having made a "friend" out of a nice businessman on the first flight). Got home a little after 1am.

And just like I started this out... I'm so, so happy to be home! But at the same time, I miss my family so much :( I think we're going to have to find a way to do this more than once a year, if only to keep the cousins growing up "together".

Okay, time to be done with computer time and get back to real life. There's laundry to put away and still more to do to "set up" our house again. Shopping is done, chickens are out and happy and will return to a clean coop with fresh food and water, dinner planned and ready to go when I start cooking in an hour, carseats are all situated in the right cars, etc. But the lawn needs mowing and the kids need a good long soak and even with a nice long nap they may still need a bit of an earlier bedtime just to catch up so we're not off all weekend. And I think I just need to get my mind back to North Carolina after a week of "going home" to Maine. Gotta get all this fresh air and cool weather out of my system I guess :-)

Until next year...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Summer's End...

So it's August now. It... came faster than I thought it would. Last year I was just hoping to survive until August. Two small children, one hot summer... yeah, I was eyeballing the start date for preschool pretty heavily. And you know what? Last summer actually ended up being wonderful. Idyllic. Fantastic.

So this summer we said "screw summer long summer camp, and forget about swim lessons. Let's take it day by day and have fun! I want this whole summer to be a vacation!"

And you know what?

It has been.

It really has.

We've spent whole days at Science museums, hours just bouncing a ball at the park, we've had impromptu ice cream and french fry lunches, and the juice boxes (and mochas!) have flowed freely. Sometimes TV time goes a bit longer than it's supposed to, sometimes dinner is an hour late, sometimes we keep the kids up past our bedtime, and sometimes we go to a really fun place just to play in one area and we don't regret it in the least.

This week P is in summer camp, just for a week. It's throwing me off a bit, having only one child, but it's been good. He's spending a week at his old preschool, capping off his preschool years if you will, and he's doing it with four of his old classmates. He's painting, snacking, reading, and splashing in a pool making a grand old mess. The kid is soaking wet and has an ear to ear grin plastered to his face every day. He's having a blast, as is his younger brother who's loving the one on one attention he gets, and then loving the brotherly affection he gets later on as they make up for their time away.

But we can't do our "whatever" thing this week. There's no "hey, let's go out of town for the day" last minute decisions. There's no lunch out or morning playdates. It's scheduled again.

Next week we'll be in Maine which is AWESOME and I'm so happy I can hardly contain myself, but again, we'll have to be a bit more scheduled (and Funtown is on the schedule, woooooo, Astrodoooooome!!!!).

And then we're back.

And we have a week and a half...

A week... and a half...

Eight more play days. Eight more days of visiting a farm half an hour away just to sit in their corn room. Eight more days of hanging out at the mall, eating snack food and rolling down the slides backwards. Eight more days of lunches at home, of books at naptime, of brothers giggling in bed together, hiding under the covers while playing some unnamed game.

School starts on a Thursday.

And there will be no naps, and no lunches at home. N will be walking P to school. If they leave early, and A sleeps late, I may not actually see P at all until I pick him up in the afternoon. If I continue my schedule at the gym, and I plan to, then P will be dropped off most afternoons for an hour there.

Our days will be scheduled. Our evenings rushed for dinner then an early bedtime. There will be conversations in the car, homework, meetings...

And sure there will still be fun and crazy times. There will be weekends and vacations, plenty of them, and it will probably be such a fun and happy and wild ride that before I know it we'll be back to summer again, back to wild and free vacation land.

But for right now... I see Summer's End nearing.

And already I miss it.

Already I grieve a bit that this fun, fun time will be over soon.

P will probably do just fine in school. He's so social, so smart, so kind. He'll make friends quickly I'm sure, and there's a distinct possibility that my little charmer could end up a teacher's pet. And he'll most likely love it. I can envision him leaving the house each morning with his daddy, excited for the day. I can already hear our future conversations about his time at recess and his favorite stories from class. He goes on about his friends at preschool and at the gym, people he's grown close to, places he loves to be, and this school.... he'll be there 6 years of his life, more than he's lived already.

I'm excited for the start of it. But I'm sad about the end of summer. I'm sad about losing what we have now. And, really... I'm going to miss him.

I'm going to miss his serious tone of voice as we hold the most ridiculous conversations. I'm going to miss hearing the laughter of my two boys all day. I'm going to miss their every day/all day dynamic. I'm going to miss seeing his face light up as I put down a special lunch in front of him. I'm going to miss reading him a story before nap. I'm even going to miss butting heads and sending him to his room.

I'm going to miss him.

My sweet, kind, witty, silly boy who laughs so hard his whole body shakes....


And seriously, what am I supposed to do with this toddler when his brother isn't here to amuse him???? Eep!

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Healing Child

Years ago there was a big controversy over this family having a baby in order to use her cord blood to save her older brother. I heard a lot about how she was "used," how it was unethical, how she was somehow less than human (or at least being treated as such). The family went to news outlets to assure the hysteric masses that they did truly desire a second child and had been putting it off due to their son's illness, and that they were extremely delighted that they were able to not only finally have their second child but also save their son's life.

It was an odd controversy to me. I mean, the family wanted a second child anyway, they absolutely loved their daughter, and their story, to me, is nothing short of miraculous.

I didn't know then that I would be in a similar situation years later.

Oh, no, neither of my children has a horrible illness (that I know of, fingers crossed!), and I certainly could not provide any cord blood to either of them.

What I'm talking about is how A really helped to heal P.

Way back when, in our life before Ambrose (which I can hardly remember), P was very hurt. Very, very hurt. He was hurting for his first family and couldn't find the words to talk about it. He was hurting for his lost memories, and for the painful memories he did keep. He was hurting for all the changes, all the shifts, the loss of innocence, a child made to process adult emotions again and again at an age when his biggest concern should have been a dropped lollipop or a balloon floating away.

We wanted a second child, so badly, and yet on some level we were so worried. What if a second child made life that much harder? We were already giving our all to P, what if less attention hurt him irreparably? What if jealousy completely overtook him?

And yet, in my heart, I knew it would help. I knew it would be a blessing. I knew that as a single child P was lonely, scared, isolated. He needed a sibling, a co-conspirator. He needed someone who looked like him. He needed someone to dote on, someone to care for, someone to love. He needed someone to slap him back, to steal his cookie, to laugh and dance and look at books with. He needed a brother.

And it was perfect, wasn't it? We wanted more children, and we were betting and Ambrose would help.

And, oh, did he ever!

Oh, sure, those first few months were hard. P absolutely LOVED A, he would feed him and give him toys and hold his hand in the car and sing him songs and tell him stories. But he was waking up super early (think, up for the day by 4am daily) and he was very, very mad at me.

But as time has gone on, things have gotten better, easier, happier.

P's hard, rigid, tough exterior melted away. The surly mini-adolescent de-aged back to a preschooler, aided by the daily reminder of how to be a child. Sure, preschool helped here, but he was also able to see a baby growing daily, see him every morning and every afternoon and every night and all day on the weekends and holidays.

In a sense, as A has grown from a newborn to a toddler, P has grown with him. He is so incredibly verbal now, something he's struggled to become given that he just has so much swimming around in his head that he needs to talk about. We know, from our conversations, that being there for A's first couple years helped him to, in a sense, re-live his own first couple of years.

The rough infancy, the separation, the fear... and with it, the physical milestones, and the knowledge that he was once this size, that he once did this, that he was once so tiny and helpless, that he'd been loved and cared for. As I would nurse A I would tell P how he had been nursed by his Amaye. We would talk of his sorrow that she isn't here anymore, and of his pain over how I didn't nurse him, how I regret it, and how we need to process this, grieve this, and move on.

When A became mobile, a whole new world opened for P. Maybe it's because he turned 5 around that time and mentally he was in a different place anyway, but man the difference was stunning! He truly reveled in everything A learned to do, and suddenly started to ask about his own milestones as well. Instead of me bringing up his past whenever I saw him getting moody, he'll actually come to me and openly ask about his infancy, his life in Ethiopia as well as his life here.

I look back at where P was before Ambrose. I think of all the anger, all the sorrow, all the fear. And yet, he's been processing, learning, accepting. For almost two years now he's been helping Ambrose grow. He's been loving him, picking him up when he falls, reading him books, playing games, sharing his food, and even physically getting between me and A when I go to discipline him (you know, with my nasty time outs or wagging finger, I'm sooo mean!).

Beyond watching Ambrose grow, he's also watched Ambrose bond. He studied the baby's soft gaze as he looked into my eyes while we nursed, and suddenly P stopped giving us a sullen, pleading look whenever we locked eyes. It was replaced with a loving gaze. He watched how physically affectionate we were, and didn't hesitate to ask for the same thing from us. I would rock the baby then rock my big boy, hand them drinks at the same time, pop food into both their mouths, and cuddle them close and rub their backs.

P has seen how calm A is with being dropped off. He's seen his interaction with extended family and friends. He's seen how A responds to the world, how little fear he has so long as mommy and daddy are with him. And P learned from him. His heart calmed. His fear dissipated. His trust increased. No longer were we so hard to figure out, and no longer was the parent-child relationship so complicated. Ambrose taught him how it was done. He taught a child with anxious attachment exactly how to attach, how to relate, how to trust, how to love.

And P soaked it up.

Where are we now?

In a sense, it almost feels like we're done this journey. P was an estimated 24 months at homecoming, and A is now 22 months and bigger/more advanced than P was then. We're up to "oh, that used to be your shirt!" and "oh, you used to do that too!" and "you LOVED that toy when you were his age!" And the utter joy you can see in P's face blows me away. Suddenly, he has HISTORY, documented in photos and videos and countless stories. He has memories. And he is watching his own childhood play out in front of him, not the sad parts, but he happy parts. In a way, we're all reliving it. He was so upset as a toddler, so scared and hurt, but A isn't. A is just happy and bubbly and so, so uncomplicated. And it simplifies us all, heals us all.

P talks a lot now. He talks about his first family, his childhood. He talks about the unfairness in his life. Whenever and wherever he wants, because that's how we roll. And yet it's not so complicated anymore, not so raw. It sucks, it really, really sucks, and there are going to be times when it hurts to bad he'll feel like he can hardly breath. But that's not a daily truth for him anymore.

Ambrose is attached, fully and firmly. He doesn't have to worry about us abandoning him. He doesn't have to worry about where his next meal is coming from. He doesn't have to worry about losing his home or favorite foods. He just has to worry about having fun, and he does a great job at that!

Through his own innocence, his own peaceful heart, he really has mended our family.

Our second child, so wanted and desired and hoped for.... And our first child, who needed him so badly, who protects and cares for even as he is emotionally cared for....

We love them. So much.

We are so lucky.