Sunday, October 30, 2011

Autumn, and Updates

I grew up in Wisconsin. I miss it terribly at times, especially this time of year. We lived on a street that was lined with huge oak trees. Leaves were omnipresent and we built massive forts in and with them. Halloween was a huge event for the community, but we very rarely participated in the festivities, unless they were school initiated (side note: I grew up "next door" to Jeffrey Dahmer when he was, well, being Jeffrey Dahmer...).

Pumpkins were ubiquitous. I absolutely adore pumpkins. I love the taste. The smell. The usefulness of them. From jack'o'lanterns to roasted pumpkin seeds to pies and muffins, I adore pumpkins. My mother even made pumpkin pie for my birthday in July a few times. Pumpkins are just a happy squash. Round, orange, with its own handle. A splash of color after the leaves fall and the skies turn grey. Or, at least in Wisconsin they were.

The key to getting a good pumpkin that would last until Thanksgiving was to wait until after the first frost to go pick it. In Wisconsin, that didn't take nearly as long as it does here. After we moved here, I once made the mistake of waiting. The pumpkins all disappear after Halloween. The temperatures are usually too warm to keep them all from rotting. Or, perhaps, the pumpkins grown in this area are the ones turned in to canned pumpkin. I don't know. All I know is that if I don't have my pumpkins by the end of October, I can't find them.

Today is October 30th. We've had unusually crisp weather the past few days. I awoke to find frost coating the yard and porch. We already have our pumpkins for the year, but I am so tempted to go out today, before the remainder all disappear, and purchase more. If nothing else, so I have more seeds to roast, but also to hold true to the traditions I experienced growing up.

But this odd turn in temperatures (we actually had sleet on Friday...) also makes me wonder what we're going to encounter as the seasons progress. Syd's first year, we had massive snowfalls (for this area). 17 inches in one night. I hadn't seen snow like that but once in a decade since I moved from Wisconsin. It brought me home. Last year, we had less snow, but still quite a lot, and just in time for Christmas. I witnessed my first white Christmas in years. Granted, it wasn't fresh white, but it was there. This is the first time in a looooong time I remember having anything frozen before Halloween. Does that portend something similar for this winter?

Regardless of what occurs within the next few months, I am finding myself reminiscent and nostalgic for my childhood. The days we would literally build a labyrinth of tunnels from the front door to the street in 4 feet of snow to make it easier to get the mail. Or the time the kids in the neighborhood all banded together to build the snowman taller than our basketball goal. Or, since tomorrow is Halloween, the flourished taping of the milk carton cap over the door bell to prevent trick-or-treaters from ringing, then getting to choose where the family would go while trolls, witches, vampires, and ghosts wandered the neighborhood. My second broken nose happened on one of those trips. But that's another story...

Before I close, just a reminder that November is NaNoWriMo, and I am attempting, again, to write a novel in one month. I will more than likely not be posting any updates until after Thanksgiving. So, be safe tomorrow, take care of you, have a wonderful day of Thanks, and I'll see you in December.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

It's Baaaaaaaack!

Our ghost is back.

What's that you say? There's no such thing as ghosts?

Pish posh on you. We have one. Or...SOMEthing.

Shall I lay out the proof for you?

1. I splurge on soap. I love Bath and Body's foam soaps. Over the summer, I was in the store and saw a huge sale, so I capitalized on it, since I will use it all. One item I obtained was a Halloween themed bottle that has a trigger button on the bottom. Every time the pump is depressed, a green light flashes and a wicked laugh issues from the bottle. I love it. It makes me smile. Unfortunately, the button is quite sensitive, and when I am playing with Syd, or doing the dishes, the bottle sometimes goes off without anyone touching it. It still makes me smile.

Last weekend, at 2 in the morning, with Syd sound asleep in his crib, hubby snoring softly next to me, and both cats curled up on the bed between us, the bottle went off. And off. And off. So much so that the laugh incorporated itself in to my dreams. When I finally awoke enough to determine what that noise was, it was still going and did not stop until I went in the kitchen and turned the bottle on its side.

Big whoop, you say. There was a big truck outside rumbling along. Or we had another earthquake. Or a pipe burst somewhere in the city. But think about it - it went off long enough to not only get in to my dreams, but to keep going until I woke up and went in to the kitchen. This is no truck rumbling along outside, or 30 second earthquake. It had to be our ghost.

2. Steve has been missing a watch for almost a year. It is one of his favorites, and he made the mistake of letting Syd play with it. We've conducted whole-house searches for this watch several times, looking in crooks and crannies, and places where little fingers can reach but ours can't. We've gotten down on Syd's level, pulled the sofa-bed out of the couch, turned everything upside down to find this. It was gone. I told him we'd find it (along with one of his wedding bands - yes, we have several - I married a man who wears more jewelry than me) when we finally pack up and move out, 30 years down the road.

We went, as a family, to the conference I had to attend this summer. That means that we used nearly every piece of luggage we own - one for us, one for Syd's clothes and diapers, one for toys, etc. We store the luggage in "Daddy's room" in the basement. When we put the luggage away, it all fits, one inside the next, like nesting dolls. Steve went downstairs last night to check on a virus-scan on the computer and saw that the suitcases were disturbed. He pulled them out to fix them, thinking the cats were playing too hard, and saw it was unzipped. Inside, laying as prettily as can be, was his watch and a tube of lotion that is kept under our bathroom sink with baby-proofing on the cabinet doors.

It has been only 3 months since we used the luggage.

Now, it is possible, though unlikely, that the cats disturbed the luggage enough to force them to fall. It is HIGHLY unlikely that they unzipped the luggage; and it cannot be possible at all for them to have found the watch, unzipped the luggage, and put the watch inside. And how did they get to the baby-proofed lotion in the bathroom?

We have a friendly ghost, or spirit, or imp, or elf, or something. But we have something. And it's full of tricks, which we find rather incredulous at times, but nonetheless, quite entertaining!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Music Class Shenanigans

My little Snickerdoodle is in a mood today. It's not a bad mood; it's an odd mood. He was more awake at the beginning of music class today than he has been since we started going. He was jumping, singing, playing with the toys. Then, he decided he wanted to just lay down on the floor and force everyone to dance around him. Then, he decided to act out.

Enter: the pumpkin bells. It is Autumn; the instructor, Ms. Smith, brought out bells shaped like jack 'o lanterns. They look like balls, so Syd started throwing them. All the other kids decided to imitate my little leader. It is a fun age, but a dangerous age, to play with metal 'balls.'

Oh, and there was the map we just had to see if we could rip off the wall.

And the lovely stage behind which Gigi hides to knock down.

And the little 14 month old boy who we had to shove out of the way to get to Gigi.

And my little munchkin kept going.

And going.

And going.

Steve looked at me in questioning amazement. I said, "He's two."

Yes, I monitored his behavior and tried to calm him down and scolded him when he ran over the little girl, literally. But I can't help but think that Grandpa Bill would be laughing his tookus off watching Syd. And would be extremely proud if we were the first to get kicked out.

Dad, if you're looking down on us, quit egging him on! I love his passion, but it's rather hard to contain at times and I'd rather not make more of a scene than is absolutely necessary!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

11:53 pm

And you're already in bed. I hate to think I may waken you when I crawl in beside you. And I promise not to press my feet that have grown cold against the rail of the chair against you just to warm them up.

I am miserable that our anniversary falls on the last day of the quarter. And I am swamped, drowning under a mountain of paperwork that grows exponentially by the day and it doesn't seem to matter what effort I put in to organizing or catching up. I am trying to determine a way to make tomorrow special even though we won't be able to celebrate it until at least this weekend - what with your softball playoffs and my grading. And life.

I love you, Steve. I can't imagine my world without you. Happy 10th, Sparky. Sleep fast and sleep well, and I'll be in there soon, I hope.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


I love my job.

No, really - I enjoy the nerdiness, or geekdom, or dorkhood, or whatever term you want to apply to my community of educators. And that's what we are - a community, a congregation of those interested in the minute placement of a comma and the depth attributed to a blue scarf in a piece of writing.

I attended the VATE Conference this weekend, and though I knew only the other person from my school, and was previously acquainted with the VATE president, I felt...home. It was refreshing to see this group of people congregate for the same reasons I went - love of the subject and love of my students, and a passion to serve both well, and an absolute acceptance of myself and my opinions on the subjects. The sessions I attended were chosen for specific reasons, and though I did not feel every single session was what I was expecting nor for which I had hoped, they were all beneficial in some way, and I could take something back to any grade I teach currently or in the future.

The weekend was topped by viewing a production of Henry V, a play I had never seen nor read before, but with my own base knowledge of Shakespeare, and my peers circling me in the theater, or should I say theatre, I was able to follow and enjoyed myself tremendously.

As a side note, I can only say that I feel both pity and joy for those in attendance who were not from the conference - they had to put up with us, and when we congregate, I find we can be rather boisterous. But at the same time, they received a treat that many wouldn't if and when they attended a Shakespearean play - based on the audiences' reactions (mine own, included, when I was caught off guard by a sudden drum roll, and caused my entire row to practically curl in fetal positions laughing so hard), those who weren't teachers, or schooled in Shakespeare, received insight as to what was meant to be humorous, somber, etc. Basically, those not from our community were able to see two shows at the same time.

And the actors - wow - they did a fantastic job with the play! But I can also imagine that for them, performing in front of a room of teachers must be very satisfying.

All in all, I had a rewarding experience at this year's conference, and I regret that I've had too many plates spinning in the past to attend previous conferences. I've come away with an appreciation for Shakespeare's historical plays, with knowledge regarding the direction our SoLs are taking, and numerous other ideas for lessons and units within my classroom, and I've learned that my community is so much larger than I could possibly conceive, with nerdiness welcomed by all.

Monday, October 10, 2011


There are a number of little aphorisms, proverbs, and sayings in general that poignantly inspire us all to better our characters. In the right setting, any saying could have a significant impact on our outlook on life and cause us to either pause in introspection, or merely plunge on with the intent of being a better person and hoping we inspire others to do the same.

It is one thing to hear these and be inspired. It is another to witness them in action.

Stoicism: Merriam-Webster online defines stoicism as "indifference to pleasure or pain; Impassiveness."

My nearly 25 month old son had to get shots today. It was his 2 year well-baby check-up. Yes, he's still "petite," as the doctor so nicely put it at the last visit. He's tiny. But he is one small package of stoic strength.

He regarded the nurses and doctors (and her student-doctor, too) with explicit suspicion, but was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. After they left, he figured he was out of danger and opened up a bit more, until the nurse came back in, carrying the tell-tale tray of doom.

We laid him down, and I held his hands back while he tried to see what she was doing. She stuck him, and he didn't utter a sound. I thought he was still merely watching her when she finally finished and put band-aids on his needle sites. But I looked down to pick him up so we could dress him and his face was screwed up in pain. He still didn't utter a peep.

He reached for me, gave me a hug, and reached for Daddy, all the while staring at the nurse's back as she left the room. He wanted his yi-yi (silkie) and to have Daddy hold him, and that's all we heard. By the time we left the room, he had the same impassive look on his face as when we entered.

Stoicism. I only wish I could stand as such an example for others like my son did for me.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

How Quickly Time Passes

I realized I never posted any pictures from Syd's second birthday party. And nearly a month has gone by - just goes to show how hectic things have been. But, I've got updated photos now and I know you'll forgive me for my latent posting. Regardless, he's so darn cute, so I should be forgiven, right??

Syd checks out a card featuring Mickey Mouse's theme song. I have to confess - we watch more PBS than Disney, so he's not as familiar with this particular ditty.

For his second birthday, we had gluten-free carrot cupcakes with homemade whipped cream and "decorate your own" sprinkles and candies. He managed to blow his own candle out (thanks to all that practice with dandelions in the yard!) and devoured his cupcake, asking for "mo-lah!!"

A year has gone by since Sydney was first really introduced to pumpkins. Yes, he was pictured snoozing in one when he was just a month old,

October 2009

but last year, he got to walk around the orchard, feel them, compare sizes to them, trip over them, etc.

October 2010

This year, he got the full experience, and he loved it. Watching the natural progression of his age and size really brings home the fact that he's such a little boy, now, though he has his baby moments, still.

October 2011

Although we bit the dust a few times, literally (added a nice piquant flavor to baby acetaminophen, since we're teething canines hard...), we made an afternoon of it, and turned it in to a play date at the same time.

Syd loved the cow train, asking for more of this until we had our 'sleepy break down.'

He really enjoyed the bouncy pillow, too, but had enough after falling one too many times.

What's nice about this outing is that, even though I work hard to maintain a balance between family and work, the balance really gets thrown off at times, and this weekend helped restore what should be. The weather was gorgeous, Syd was in a good mood, the company was very nice, and hubby and I treated ourselves to lattes before hand. And it felt like the balance was truly corrected. It helps, too, that Syd took a 3 hour nap when we got home.

Thank goodness for mid 70s afternoons with crystalline, cerulean blue skies and acres of pumpkins, the perfect squash. I love pumpkins, but at the risk of waxing philosophical over a vegetable, I shall end this now. The only thing that tops today is adding playing in the leaves, which haven't fallen yet. But we may take another trip in a couple of weeks...