Monday, November 3, 2014

A Diamond Sword and Torchlights

A week ago I started texting my new neighbors to find out how things work in our neighborhood.  Our old neighborhood was mostly flat terrain with homes spread wide apart on large lots, and many of the families loaded their kids into minivans or SUVs and chauffeured their children from house to house while our family walked the streets (mostly alone) with a wagon, experiencing just enough of the spooky dark and the chill in the air to make me feel like we were doing Halloween the way it was supposed to be done.  We would head out just as the designated hours started and watch for porch lights and hit almost every house.  But after searching the local papers and coming up empty handed on any sort of designated trick-or-treat hours for our new neighborhood, I checked with the neighbors and decided we didn't need to go anywhere else, there would be plenty of candy and Halloween spook within walking distance of our house.
In the car on the way home from the Y Sam was dressed in his skeleton from last year, and he talked about wanting to wear it under his Minecraft costume when we got home.  Eva whined that she wanted HER costume and when did she get to put on her costume I want to have my costume it's not fair that Sammy has his costume and where is mine.  I reminded them both that we were going to have dinner first, that trick-or-treating didn't generally start until dark. 
"That's forever," Sammy said and Eva immediately repeated. 
I told them it was only an hour.  Six o'clock.  We would go out at 6.  "That's forever," they both whined again.
They inhaled their midtown broasted chicken and pineapple and raspberries, asking with every bite if they could have some of the candy they'd brought home from school and whether or not it was six o'clock yet.
We bundled up in warm clothes with costumes layered over the top, and I threw a medium-sized tantrum over the fact that I bought Sam 4 pairs (4 pairs!) of black fleece gloves this fall so it wouldn't matter if he lost one here or there and here it was only October 31st and we could only locate one glove.  One glove.  Not even a full pair.
We stumbled out on to the back porch where Sam complained that he couldn't see because his cardboard enderman head kept falling forward and he couldn't carry his skeleton trick-or-treat candy bag because it was too heavy and he needed both hands for other things like his enderman head and his Minecraft diamond sword.  And Eva stopped in her tracks and crossed her arms across her chest and pouted because her witch's hat would not stop blowing off in the wind.  And I put away my gloves and my camera and started carrying everything except the kids themselves and we made our away down the yard and over the creek and up the cul-de-sac.  They argued over who got to ring doorbells and whether or not to go to the house with the scary dog and whether they were called "torch lights" or "porch lights."  And Eva refused to say trick or treat or thank you and sam mostly worried about where were all his friends from the neighborhood.  But in between all the parental challenge moments, we had the delight of being greeted by witches and skeleton pirates, the pure joy of running through bright yellow crunching leaves, and the laughter of children enjoying another spooky chilly Halloween night with their Mom, who by the way, wore a costume herself this year.
My own little Minecraft Enderman
 Eva's little witch tutu costume was cuter before she insisted that she wear one of Mommy's black jackets because her big brother was wearing one and it was only fair that she be allowed to also.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

That Time of Year

It's a pretty brave coaching staff that agrees to bring a bunch of six-and-seven-year-olds to a soccer jamboree just a week in to the fall soccer season, but with perfect, cool, sunny weather and a bunch of boys who had worked hard during their two practices during the week, their first tournament was successful and fun. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

New Year New School

During the pseudo first day of school, the parents tag along and the kids meet their teachers and find their desks and get their school pictures taken.  It's mostly for the parents to check in and complete any last minute paperwork and understand the best ways to communicate with the teachers.  Sam and I found our way to room 203 and Sarah Fellman greeted us with a big smile and a packet of paperwork.  We checked out the new room and found his desk and waited for her quick overview presentation.  She talked about site words and sounding out letters while Sam sat next to me reading the forms and showing me which ones needed my signature.  After the teacher presentation we had a quick chat about my concern that he's already reading above grade level and I don't want him to get lost in the shuffle, and Sam's teacher reassured me that after their reading assessments in a few weeks the children would be placed in appropriate reading groups.  The rest of the orientation day was about finding the lunch room and standing in line for school pictures and checking out the status of the big fish aquarium that Sam remembered from when we visited in the spring.
On Sam's real first day, we took pictures out front before being greeted by the principal and walking inside and climbing the east stairs to Mrs. Fellman's room.  Most kids were out on the playground, but we took a few pictures and put his stuff in his locker and I gave him a kiss goodbye before turning to walk down the stairs and out to the car.  As I pulled up to the 4-way stop at 5th and Hilbert my eyes teared up just a little and my chest tightened.  How is it possible that my little baby is going off to a new school with all new people that I don't know all by himself every day?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Let's Dance

A morning with Elmo and Bert and Ernie followed by one of our family's favorite TT meals.  Thank you so much, TT!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Let's Goooooooo!

She woke up an hour early and headed immediately for the laundry room to find her purple polka dot dress and her pink flower pants "because that's special, right, Mama?"  She said she didn't want to eat anything.  "I just want to go.  Let's goooooo!"  When I told her that Sammy was still sleeping and we had to wait for him to get up and get ready she ran in and grabbed his feet.  "Sammy wake up!  You need to get up.  NOW!"
To kill time I tried to take a few pictures in front of the house but she threw her backpack at me and made crabby faces and repeated how she just wanted to goooooooooooo!  45 minutes before we needed to leave the house.
After just a little drama with Sam and his pants that have a button that he insists is simply too big for the size of the slot that it's supposed to fit in to, Eva ate half a banana and a homemade blueberry smoothie without spilling a single drop on her polka dot dress, and we climbed into the Mazda and raced to school just in time.  Before we'd even reached the parking lot Eva spied Stella's car and she wanted me to park by her friend, but Stella and her daddy didn't look ready to part, so we took a few pictures in front of the school and walked around the side entrance to find our way to Mrs. Norton's classroom.  I could hardly keep up with Eva as she bee-lined through the crowd of preschoolers and parents, and even the arrival of Stella couldn't slow Eva down.  Only when she discovered the classroom door closed did she pause and stand by me, chewing on her tongue and shuffling nervously against the wall. 
The classroom door opened and she shot in between all the parents and it took a while for Sam and I to finally reach her long enough to give her a kiss and a hug and say I love you.  And off she went to play with princesses and zoo animals and magnetic dress up dolls in wooden boxes.
My baby.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Meadows, Mushrooms and Moss

I was a quarter of the way to La Crosse when I realized that I was supposed to turn on Homer Road and head back in to the woods along East Burns Valley Road.  So I whipped the car around and exceeded the speed limit and ran a couple of traffic lights later than I should have during the yellow, but I wasn't the only car pulling in late to Family Night.  I pulled through the gate and backed in on the grassy slope that was probably not legal parking area and walked into what appeared to be an empty Camp Wenonah.  I headed in the direction of the barn tucked in to the damp valley and complained under my breath that there was nobody there to greet and direct parents.  And when I came around the corner and found all the other parents sitting with their children on wooden bleachers watching a skit taking place between me and them, I ducked out of sight and waited for the applause before scurrying across the bridge and sitting next to Sam.  His face lit up and he put his hand on my leg and leaned in to me.

After each of the age groups did a quick song and then a quick skit (Sam's group did a joke about an invisible bench that he had shown me earlier in the week), we were set free to explore the camp with our children.  Everyone else headed to the high ropes course, but Sam and I took a sharp right and headed deep in to the woods so he could should me the teepees and animal houses.  Yellow wildflowers and moss grew along the trail, and the fiddleheads were mostly open and shimmering in the low sun filtering through the trees.

Sam showed me tree houses and mushrooms and flowers and moss, each time telling me a little story or fact about that particular piece of wilderness.  On the way back down I asked him what he wanted to do next and he told me about a hike up to the bluffs where you could see way down.  I said I wasn't sure we had time, but we could maybe hike part of it.  Back in the center of camp the other families played some ball game in a court and started building a fire and watched children on the ropes course, and Sam and I began a steep ascent behind the firepit.
The trail was steep and moss-covered and as I climbed I wondered if it was a good idea to push those muscles 12 hours before I'd be running a steep hill for Ragnar, but the smell was intoxicating and Sammy said "Mom, I love this!" and I knew there was nothing I'd rather be doing.  Sam pointed out buckets mounted on trees that they tossed balls at during their long hikes, and he made sure I noticed the steep terrain and the way the water had washed away sections of the valley.  He showed me more mushrooms and big leaves and rocks that sparkled like diamonds.  And when we heard noises in the woods Sam stood a little closer and asked me what that sound was.  But we kept climbing and climbing and climbing.  And as we got closer to the top and the sunlight lit up the trail ahead of us, Sam ran ahead.  "There it is.  There it is."  He knew just where the trail split and he told me what was in each direction and we decided to stay left and visit the meadow at the top.
"I love trails, Mom," he told me.  "We need to spend more time on trails."

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


It was late in the day and we were all tired but wanting to be outside, so I made a pictorial check list and sent the kids outside with their papers and their markers and their curiosity, and we discovered all kinds of fun things in our yard.  Sam enjoyed it so much that after they completed their second hunt he came inside and made a scavenger list for Mommy to find.