Friday, October 30, 2009

Let's Not Get Too Crazy

When we enrolled Benjamin in a traditional elementary school, I definitely had a few concerns. Would the school be too rigid? Would young Benjamin have any fun there?

Well, the school's approach to Halloween has confirmed a few of my doubts.

While not allowed to go to school in their costumes, the children were allowed to wear orange and black today. The guidelines emphasized that the children were not permitted to wear jeans, and added that if students did not have anything orange and/or black, they were to come to school in their regular uniforms.

I thought this was a bit odd. For example, what kinds of non-jean pants come in orange or black? I concluded that the children would have to wear either black or orange dress pants or cords. Since Ben doesn't own any of these, I thought I'd send him to school in his blue uniform pants and one of his orange T-shirts.

When I suggested this to Ben, he had a troubled look. He said he wouldn't be able to wear any of his orange T-shirts because they all had other colors on them, too.


Then I thought, maybe his orange vest? The only other colors on it were white and navy, which the kids wear anyway as part of their uniforms, and he usually wears a sweater vest to school. Surely this couldn't be too crazy for even a traditional school.


Benjamin was sure that this wouldn't do. He explained that they could only wear something that was plain orange or plain black.

We didn't have a chance to go to the mall to look for something plain black or orange, and I couldn't find anything suitable while doing our regular shopping . . . so I asked Benjamin what he wanted to wear to school. He said, "I want to wear my uniform."

What has this school done to my Benjamin?


I was tempted to just send him to school in his pirate costume to see what would happen, but in the end he just wore some orange and blue socks--socks are not covered in the dress code (as far as I know).


I wondered what the other kids would be wearing when we got to school, but sure enough, most of them were wearing their uniforms. A few had on black dress pants with plain orange T-shirts. One little boy went so far as to sport an orange polo shirt with his black dress pants, and another was wearing an orange turban with a black jacket and orange pants.

As we drove past the fine arts elementary school on our way home I saw a little Darth Vadar chasing a bride, three princesses swinging from the monkey bars, and several jungle animals playing out on the field.

I wondered if we'd chosen the right school.

I guess it's a good thing Halloween only comes once a year.


Later in the day. . . .

I have to add that things turned out a little better than I'd thought. When I picked Benjamin up from school I learned that they'd played Halloween games in the gym all afternoon (Pumpkin Olympics), their teacher gave them Halloween goodie bags, and I noticed some of the older kids coming out were wearing T-shirts with designs on them! I guess Ben got to have some fun after all :)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Benjamin Had a Halloween Party . . .

As most of you know, Benjamin loves Halloween more than any other time of year. He loves the candy, the costumes, and all the spooky stuff. This year Ben asked if he could have a Halloween party--just with Grandma and Grandpa and a few local cousins. And before I could say NO (we have a newborn baby, after all), Daddy (who also loves Halloween) said YES.

So we planned, decorated, shopped, and prepared--all in 10-minute segments while Alaina slept . . . until yesterday when I had to do all the rest of the preparations at a frantic pace while Alaina screamed in her bouncy seat, bassinet, snuggly, car seat, etc.


By the time the party was to begin, the house still hadn't been cleaned, the kids had all been neglected, and I was pretty frazzled.

Luckily Mom and Dad came a little early, and Mom held Alaina and got her to sleep.


When Ben's cousins arrived, he taught them how to play a game called "Pumpkin Patch," which he was very proud to have learned at kindergarten. Then we played "Pass the Rat," which Rebecca won, and had some snacks.


We finished off by doing some Halloween crafts (a few of us, anyway) and eating ghost-topped mud pie (this is becoming a Halloween tradition at our house!).


And by midnight I had it all washed, vacuumed, and tidied up (actually it was only 10:30, but I thought midnight sounded more Halloweenish!).

When I asked Ben what his favorite thing about the party was, he said, "It was when we got to drink POP!" (Poor little deprived guy!)

My favorite part was that Alaina was so tired from the festivities that she slept an almost 9-hour stretch in her crib during the night!

And now there's just one more week until the big day. . . .

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Insights into The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe


Last night I was downstairs, nursing Alaina, listening to Jason going back and forth between Benjamin and Janae upstairs--while they giggled, cried, and just generally refused to go to sleep. I wanted to help, but there was not much I could do while pinned to the rocking chair.

The thought crossed my mind: "I have so many children I don't know what to do."

This, of course, got me thinking about the old woman who lived in a shoe, and I started to wonder how many children she actually had.


I decided it might have been only three, despite what the illustrations in children's nursery rhyme books portray.

And by "old woman" we could certainly be talking about someone in her late 30s.


I still haven't figured out the shoe part, though (small townhouse could fit but it seems like a bit of a loose connection . . .).

Monday, October 19, 2009

Looking for Tights (Apparently in All the Wrong Places)

Over the past couple of months I've been to every store in at least a 30-mile radius that sells children's clothing and accessories--from Walmart to our local mall, from malls in nearby cities to specialty children's boutiques--in search of one item: tights. All of these stores, of course, carry tights, but not one of them sells tights small enough for a newborn baby girl.

My other children were both born in the spring, when the weather was getting warmer and the need for tights was very small (especially in Ben's case). I was a little frustrated trying to find something to cover Janae's tiny legs, but I abandoned my quest as the summer months arrived.

Alaina could get away with bare legs during her first couple of weeks.


However, when I tried taking her out without tights a few weeks ago, I had to endure the disapproving looks (and--in some cases--even comments) of others, especially some of the older, grandmotherly types (not either of her actual grandmothers, of course) who always think babies are underdressed, being held the wrong way, or otherwise improperly parented.

So even though I'm not sleeping at night, I have piles of clutter all over the house to organize and put away, my toddler needs to be re-potty trained, and my son hates shopping, I am on an endless search for small tights.

Sometimes I call ahead to a store, asking if they sell newborn tights. I am always told that yes, they do carry such an item . . . and then when I arrive I see that the tights are almost long enough to fit Janae (or, in some cases, Ben).

Sometimes I buy them anyway (sleep deprivation does interesting things to a person's judgement), spending anywhere from $1.50 to $17.00 on a single pair. Other times I simply carry on to the next destination.

I have to say, though, that Alaina is aquiring quite a collection that should get her through the later months of winter (wishful thinking, I know--they'll probably not fit her until the middle of July!).


I did find a multi-colored polka dot pair that fit pretty well, but there are limits to what one can wear with polka dots, even at 6 weeks of age. I've already had her wear them with plaid, which I know is pushing it.


Anyway, I'm sure Alaina and I will get through it okay . . . I just wonder--where do all the other moms find them??

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Look What We Found in the Pumpkin Patch!

Another Thanksgiving, another trip to the pumpkin patch. But we found some pretty nice ones this year:

A little boy pumpkin,


a little girl pumpkin,


and a baby pumpkin :)


I finally have a picture of me with all three kids, too--I look a bit tired, though, don't I?


We hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Traded in for a More Galmorous Mom

Before and after Ben’s kindergarten class we wait outside the door with all the other moms and younger siblings. We usually try to get there early so we can get a good parking spot, so this means we are often waiting outside for quite a while . . . and we get to know the other families a bit.

One of the moms (who is very young looking and quite pretty) is always dressed up, wearing lots of jewelry, make-up, hair accessories, etc. (unlike the rest of us who are wearing jeans or sweats with ponytails and baseball caps).

Today I was talking to her about Janae’s fall yesterday (see "An Owie to Be Proud Of," posted below). Janae, who was wearing one of her princess dresses on top of her clothes today, kept walking over to this mom and looking up at her dangling teal and gold earrings.

The mom bent down to tell Janae how cute she was, and then Janae leaned close to her and said, “I like your earrings.” The mom, of course, thought this was adorable and started telling me that she cuts hair at a salon, and that is why she is always so dressed up (it was kind of nice to know she had a legitimate excuse).

Janae then looked at the woman’s tights and said, “I have tights, too.” Clearly they had a strong connection.


Anyway, after this conversation, Janae went and stood beside the other mom, looking up at her adoringly every few minutes. The mom smiled and said, “I think she likes me!” My thoughts were a little more along the lines of “I think she wants to trade moms!”


Obviously Janae was drawn in by this mom’s youth, beauty and glamour—she doesn’t yet appreciate the value of more lasting mom traits (like having a master’s degree in English, etc.).


I’m just worried that her influence might have already affected Alaina, who is already showing more than a slight interest in all things glamour . . . beginning with princesses.


It looks like I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me.

An Owie to Be Proud Of


Janae is always very proud of any "owies" she incurs. If she gets a bump or a bruise, she insists on calling Daddy (and sometimes Grandma, too) to tell all about it. She still talks about the time she fell down at Othello tunnels (in May) and reenacts her fall down the rocky hill at Cascade Falls (at the beginning of July). She loves to show off her scrapes and scabs or to ask me again to tell her the name of the park where I was stung by a bee in the summer.

Well, yesterday Janae really got a good one.

She was running on the grassy hill outside Benjamin’s kindergarten class when she tripped and fell into the cement stairs. There was lots of blood, lots of screaming . . . I actually passed Alaina off to a mom I hadn’t even spoken to before so I could take my little missy into the school and get her cleaned up.


I was worried about how Janae would react when she saw her swollen lip in the mirror (with all the princess talk and obsession with pretty things) . . . she didn't even look like herself anymore.


But I should have known. She was fascinated with her new owie, and, of course, very proud of it.