Monthly Archives: October 2009

Halloween 2009.

Happy Halloween from Alberta Einstein:

laurel costume

From the Chocolate Donut:

Ethan costume

And the family as a whole, including Uncle Fester and Mrs. Lovett:

family shot

If that last one isn’t a great Christmas card photo, I don’t know what is.

The kids got more candy this year than ever before. Now we’re home baking pizza for a quick dinner before bed.

It was a good day.

Prelude to Halloween.

I love Halloween. It is one of my favorite holidays of the year, largely because it serves as the kickoff to the big holiday season, but also because it appeals to my ooky-spooky side.

So ‘round here, Halloween is a Very Big Deal.

We’re working up to the big event; I’ve finished the costumes, we’ve watched The Great Pumpkin, Greg has…well, we’ll reveal that when the time comes – suffice it to say even he got caught up in the over-the-top spirit of the household. A hint: it involved a trip to Radio Shack – imagine that.

Last weekend the kids and Greg carved the pumpkins they got a few weeks ago. As much as I love Halloween, I hate carving pumpkins myself, so I leave it to the experts while I handle the documentation. Greg carved Ethan’s, and Laurel carved her own, despite our hesitancy to put sharp tools in her hands.

gutting pumpkins His head's too big!

Now, then. I have to take some time to talk about Laurel’s jack-o’-lantern. We use a pattern book, and she picked her pattern from that book. It wasn’t the easiest, and I was worried that she wouldn’t be happy with the results. I even told her, “Laurel, it’s not easy to carve a pumpkin well enough to make a perfectionist happy. Trust me, I know. So please, PLEASE do not feel like you suck if for some reason you aren’t happy with the results.”

Laurel assured me she’d be fine and positioned herself on the sofa (lovely) to carve her pumpkin. Not only did she carve it as well as any adult, but she customized it to suit her whims. In the photo below, her jack-o’-lantern is on the left; the eyes and mouth were on the pattern, but the hair and scar are her additions.

jack-o-lanterns

Overachiever.

Yesterday, Ethan and I did this:

Overkill

I wanted to stop after about 4 ghosts, but he was having none of it.

Anyway, there you go. We’ll post photos of the costumes on or around The Big Day. Stay tuned!

The Reason Our Son Will Never Have Anything He Says Used Against Him in a Court of Law.

People who know Ethan – who really know him – know one thing for sure: He will not speak to anyone he does not know.

He is a veritable river of questions anytime we’re riding in the car, challenging me to sound happy answering questions through gritted teeth while trying to listen to the radio because it’s JUST ABOUT MY ONLY CONNECTION TO REALITY THESE DAYS. He flatly refuses to give anyone other than his immediate acquaintances the time of day.

This sometimes leads to pretty awkward circumstances. Take this morning, for instance. I wanted to go to the rec center to work out; Ethan loves going to to kids’ club there, where they watch kids while their parents try to kill themselves on the equipment.

The rec center has installed an automatic hand sanitzer dispenser just inside the entrance, accompanied by a note asking all who enter to use the sanitizer upon arriving and leaving in order to waylay the H1N1 virus. Ethan loves everything automatic except toilets, so he eagerly complied. If you had a hidden camera in our household for the past week or so, you would realize what an astonishment his compliance is.

So anyway, all was well, and while I went and punished myself harshly for all the candy corn / peanut mixture I ate last night, Ethan got high on the kids’ club’s abundance of toys with wheels.

On the way out, however, we stopped back by the sanitizer just as one of the rec center employees was coming in. Here is what happened:

Employee, one of those overly-enthusiastic types: “Ohhhhh, helloooo, little boy!!!! Do you want to use the hand sanitizer???”

Ethan: [glare]

Employee: “Come on, I’ll show you!!!” [demonstrating] “Now isn’t that neat???? Now would you like to try???”

Ethan: [GLARE}

Me, apologetically: “He knows how to do it and wants to do it. He just doesn’t want to do it when you’re here. Nothing personal, he just refuses to speak to anyone he doesn’t know.” I wanted to add, “plus, I can see you’re really one of those in-your-face types and I don’t particularly want to engage with you myself, so I’m CERTAIN my son doesn’t want to,” but I figured that wouldn’t be very, um, diplomatic.

Employee, ignoring me, determined to prove me wrong: “But you want to do it, don’t you??? Come on, you can do it. You’re a BIG BOY!!!”

Me, a little more insistent: “He knows how, but he won’t with you here.”

Ethan: [GLARE GLARE GLARE!!!!] [frustrated growl] [GLARE!]

Finally she gave up. As she left, I rolled my eyes and, as Ethan bounced up to the dispenser and used it, fought the urge to holler after her, “See? Toldja so!”

So see, Ethan will never speak to the cops if (when?) he gets arrested. He is intimately familiar with the right to remain silent. His glares probably won’t win him any sympathy with the fuzz, though. And considering he also hates for anyone he doesn’t know very well to touch him, he’ll probably get a beatdown for resisting arrest, but that’s a whole ‘nother story….

How I Made My Little Boy Cry – Again.

So you’ll remember this post.

Well, guess what other song brings about that reaction?

“You Are My Sunshine.”

Why?

Because of the “please don’t take my sunshine away” line.

Good grief, I can’t sing anything anymore without sending Ethan into hysterics. Except the Days of the Week song. He likes that one, so it can’t be my voice!

Right?

Beautiful Sunday!

If you live anywhere near here (or are visiting), you know that we’ve been cheated out of our usual gorgeous October. We’ve been treated to chill weather and rain most of the month.

But not yesterday.

Yesterday was cold in the morning but it was – get this – SUNNY, and it warmed quickly. We took full advantage of the weather and headed out to the World Bird Sanctuary for its open house, then followed that up with a drive through Lone Elk park.

Why’d we do this? Well, see, the letter of the week was ‘b’ and b is for bird.

The World Bird Sanctuary open house is a favorite of mine. Laurel loves it too, even though they have a volunteer policy that doesn’t allow her to volunteer until she’s 12. Despite me telling her I’d try to see if they’d make an exception, pretty-please-with-sugar-on-top, she asked another worker for a second opinion when he asked if there were any questions in the raptor hospital.

Sigh.

Anyway, we saw eagles and hawks and owls – all of which I love. We saw a banding demonstration where volunteers trapped birds in a net, then placed bands around their legs.

Ethan was so bad during all of this. If it had just been me, he’d have been fine, but of course with Greg along he couldn’t behave.

He couldn’t resist the flight show, however. He enjoyed watching the birds in flight, and oohed and aahed over the gigantic albino python. Then came the best part.

The Raven.

The trainers at WBS have trained a raven to take donations from your hand and tuck them into the donation box. It is the most awesome thing ever, and the kids and I took turns feeding that raven.

Afterward, we took a drive through Lone Elk Park because it was so damned beautiful outside. We are not quite at peak color, I don’t think, but we’re mighty close. We saw bison and elk, both of which we saw in abundance over the summer, but bison starts with b, so there you go.

Halfway through Lone Elk, Ethan was all, “I HAVE TO GO POTTY REALLY BAD RIGHT NOW SEE HOW MY FEET ARE DANCING?” so that was fun.

In photos:

Ethan as the dodo bird Playing with bird wings

Owl in flight Raven taking donations

Raven taking one from Ethan My turn

Almost peak color at Lone Elk Park We've already seen lots of these this summer, but bison starts with b Lotsa elk, and check out the rack on that middle one

An Update on the Preschool Situation.

So we’ve pulled Ethan out of preschool and brought him back home. We felt it would be better for me to teach him because we are confident he will move further and faster than he would in a preschool setting. After subjecting him to testing last week, we are even more convinced that this is true. It would be unfair to ask his preschool to try to accommodate his needs when there are 15 other children in the classroom – though god knows his teacher tried. It’s looking as though he might be much like his sister.

I’ve been astonished at how much he’s learned in one week. He’s just about to count to 100 on his own, he’s figured out how to sound out words (but isn’t quite there yet), and he’s soon to be raising butterflies and ants.

But most importantly, he’s happy.

He’s really, really happy. We haven’t had the tantrums we had when he was in preschool.

And I’m having fun.

Pumpkin Day.

Today we made our annual trek to Stuckmeyer’s Farm. It’s not much of a trek – only 2 miles (if that) but that just means the excitement doesn’t have time to wane on the trip.

Again we were reminded of the differences in our kids. Ethan picked the first pumpkin he saw and we encouraged him to look around some more; Laurel would still be out there trying to find The Perfect Pumpkin if we hadn’t set a time limit for her.

On the other hand, it DID take Ethan some time to pick out the wagon we used for pulling the pumpkins back in. So maybe they’re not all that different; maybe it’s just a matter of priorities.

Here they are, in photographs:

Picking out a wagon Heading to the patch

Ethan's Pumpkin Laurel's Pumpkin

How I Made My Little Boy Cry.

I love you Ethan,
Oh yes, I do!
I love you Ethan,
and I’ll be true!
When you’re not with me
I’m blue!
Oh Ethan, I love you!

That’s the song that made my little boy cry all the way home. We were in the car when I sang that to him. When I glanced back at him in the mirror, he had tears in his eyes.

“Ethan, what’s wrong?” I asked.

“Mommy, what is that part about me not being with you?”

“Well, that’s just how the song goes. You know, like if you go with Daddy to do something and you’re not with me. Did that make you sad?”

“Yes!” he plaintively cried. “It makes me have tears in mine eyes!”

Then he started sobbing that sob that mothers recognize as the broken-hearted sob. That sound breaks a mother’s heart, too.

I won’t be singing that song for a long, long time.

Decisions.

‘We’re at a loss.’

Those four words, uttered this week at a conference, started a chain of events that has yet to be complete. Those words were spoken by an administrator at Ethan’s preschool.

Anyone who follows this blog knows that Ethan is a rambunctious, mischievous kid. He’s bright, and he’s very, very energetic.

He’s also a little impulsive.

And that impulsivity has been his downfall.

He isn’t hitting other kids – they seek him out to play with him and even yell, ‘Ethan!’ when he enters the room, as if he were Norm from Cheers.

He isn’t destroying property.

What he has done is given up his nap when nobody else in his room has. Sometimes he’s disruptive during nap, because he has 2 hours to entertain himself. His teacher has been wonderful, trying everything in the world to occupy his mind enough to get him through 2 hours of very little activity, but he’s not having it.

And this week after refusing to go back into the school after recess, he ran from his teachers on the playground. He ran to his classroom and caught up with the other kids, but we were called to pick him up because it’s a safety issue.

He’s also had his fair share of ‘write-ups’ in the past 4 weeks.

The next day we had a conference. That first sentence up there was the first sentence out of the administrator’s mouth.

After discussing it for some time, we determined that we would pull Ethan out and I would give him what he needs at home (we’ll get to that later). But this his teacher, who is really very attached to Ethan, was tearing up. And then I cried too, and then everything went to shit and we decided to let Ethan stay and just pay week-to-week for awhile to see how things go.

And then yesterday? Two write-ups in ONE DAY. The first time he and a friend hid in a make-believe house on the playground because they didn’t want to stop playing when it was time to go in. The second time he was running around at naptime to all the kids’ cots, yelling, ‘FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!’ They had just had a fire drill, and he wanted to continue the fun. He said his classmates were laughing, and he likes to make them laugh so he kept doing it even after the teacher told him to stop. I guess this escalated and he ended up climbing on furniture.

On the way home last night, I asked Ethan (for the millionth time, it seemed) why he was making those wrong choices – why he was continuing bad behavior even after his teachers told him to stop. His response?

‘Can you help me, Mom? I just don’t know why.’

With that, my heart broke for him.

Greg and I are fully convinced that for whatever reason, he’s not getting what he needs at the preschool. He craves a variety of experiences and apparently is operating at a 6-year-old level on some things. I can see why he would be frustrated in a room with 3-year-olds. He’s honestly a good friend, and a loving kid – he’s just a little rambunctious because maybe he hasn’t matured beyond that impulsivity. He responds to me, he behaves for me, so I don’t know.

By the way, our response to that administrator was something like, ‘If you, with your education, experience, and training, are at a loss, then we don’t know why you are consulting us. We certainly don’t know how to help you.’

His teacher is a wonderful, wonderful woman.

But I just don’t know if we can do this anymore. I don’t know that I can continue to dread picking him up, knowing I’ll probably see another write-up in his folder.

I just don’t know.