Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Remember that exciting field trip Biscuit went on? Well, his class painted the pumpkins they got from the pumpkin patch. They also painted paper bags pumpkins to hold goodies from their fall festival today.

Biscuit said his pumpkin has a face on one side and a cape on the other side. I don't quite see it, but he does, and I guess that's what counts.

They played games like sack races and ring toss. They had cupcakes, chips and other snacks. They got bags of candy and goodies to bring home in their pumpkin bags. It sounds like he had a good day.

Biscuit wore his costume all day.

"Were you able to handle the bathroom okay?" I asked him.

"Mom!" Biscuit said. "I just asked someone to undo the back of my costume, and then everything was fine." He gets so exasperated with his mother sometimes!

"So you wore your costume the whole time you were at daycare?" I asked him.

"Yes, and I even wore it a naptime," Biscuit said. "And guess what? I didn't need a blanket!"

I was a little mad at the other parents. Biscuit was the only kid in his class who wore his costume. I'm not sure what the deal was, but all the other kids were jealous that Biscuit was wearing his costume, and they didn't get to wear theirs. I hope they all went home and gave their parents lots of grief!

Anyway, I picked up Biscuit and brought him home for a quick dinner. Then we were off for trick-or-treating.

I always take him around our cul-de-sac and to some older neighbors' house across the street. They love seeing him and talk about how he's growing up so fast. We've been really lucky that we still have all the same neighbors we had when we moved into our house 10 years ago. And they're all very nice people.

The neighbors loaded Biscuit up with enough candy that we really didn't even need to go to anymore houses. But one of my friends lives on a longer cul-de-sac. I'm guessing about 10 or 12 houses. We went there two years ago, and it was a nice area. Because it's a dead end street, there are no cars coming in and out. And that was just enough houses to get good candy without being completely worn out. So we met another couple and their little boy over there. The boys got a nice haul, and Jeff and I enjoyed hanging out with the other couple.

Here's Biscuit's haul:

And if you're wondering what we could possibly do with all that candy ... well, we had one idea.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ghost of Halloween past

Here are some pictures of Biscuit's Halloweens past:

2009: My little monkey

2010: The crayon family

2010: Frankenstein in Halloween pajamas

2011: Firefighter Biscuit
2012: Cowboy at the beach

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The wheels on the bus ...

Biscuit has known the song about the wheels on the bus going round and round for a long time now. But today, he experienced that round and round firsthand.

Biscuit went on his first field trip today. The kids in his class went to a pumpkin patch at a church about 3 miles from day care.

Let me have a quick pity party. All day, I felt a little pang in my gut knowing he was having a new, fun experience that I wasn't any part of. I know that's probably selfish on my part, but I've been a part of all the new and fun experiences he's had so far. Now, it's like he has this whole part of his life that doesn't include me. 

It started when we enrolled him in day care. I've read and heard all the arguments and pros and cons for and against kids being put in day care. But for me, I knew that's the way it would be. Being an older mom, I had been working for a long time before I even thought about Biscuit, and I knew when he arrived that I wanted to keep working. I also knew that financially, if we wanted to keep our current lifestyle, I would have to work. I realize how lucky I am to even have a choice, and I haven't regretted my decision. Plus, I think about how Biscuit has grown and learned since he's been in day care, and how much he's enjoyed it, and I know it was the right decision for us.

But every once in a while, for just a minute or two, I wonder what it would be like to be with him more.

And then he sits at the table, and in a voice that's so excited it exaggerates his stutter, he tells me all about how he got to ride a bus today. And they didn't have car seats. They had big-boy seats with big-boy seat belts. And the pumpkin patch was at that church like you're coming home from my old day care.

And there were two old lady stories.

Wait. Old lady stories?

Yes. Two stories about two old ladies. One of them swallowed a bat. And then she swallowed an owl to scare the bat. And then she swallowed a goblin to get the owl. And the other old lady, I don't remember what she did.

And they had lots of pumpkins there. They had big pumpkins and medium-sized pumpkins and small pumpkins all over the place. And he thought they were going to get to pick out their own pumpkins, but those people picked out pumpkins for them. And they put tape on the bottom and wrote their names on them, and they could take them home tonight if they wanted to, but they have to bring them back tomorrow because they're going to paint them.

Whew! It made me tired just hearing about it!

So despite the feelings of guilt or jealousy about Biscuit sharing these experiences firsthand with other people, I really love having that moment when I see the whole thing filtered through his eyes and his words and his personality.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Our book lover

Biscuit has loved books ever since he got here. Of course, that could be because Jeff and I are both word people or because we've been reading to him since he got here.

But right now, it's hard to figure out which books to tackle.

At day care, Biscuit is learning sight words. You know how every few years the way kids are taught things changes? Well, they don't do phonics as much anymore, which is how we learned to read. Now, they start with sight words, which is a list of about 100 words that the kids tackle a few at a time. It seems to me more like a memorization process, but by building a few at at time, Biscuit has had good retention of the words.

This week's words are: am, can, I, the.

To help Biscuit, I wrote them on his chalkboard easel. So he sees the words every time he walks from the kitchen to the living room.

The only problem with this week's words is that Jeff has found a sentence in them. So now, we're all three walking around the house, and in very weird voices, saying, "I am the can."

Have you ever seen actors repeat lines over and over with the stress on different words?

"I AM the can."
"I am THE can."
"I am the CAN."

Yeah, we're silly, silly people. But it makes Biscuit laugh, and it's helping him learn his words.

But back to books.

As far as stories go, Biscuit is enjoying chapter books, especially the Magic Tree House series, in which a young boy and a young girl can time travel in a tree house they found in the woods. They have adventures with knights in Medieval times. They meet up with some pirates who are looking for treasure. They take a journey with some dolphins in the ocean. Just all kinds of fun stories.

But since he's learning words, he also enjoys looking at some of the simpler books he has, trying to find the sight words he's learned to far.

So we're trying to embrace both sides. We read him chapter books and let him show off his new skills with the easy books. Win-win.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Spooky decorations

Biscuit asked if we could put up outside decorations for Halloween this year. And since I love holidays, I said of course we could. I already had a box of Halloween and fall decorations in the attic, so I dug them out.

We have a couple of light-up pumpkins, a couple of scarecrows, a small bale of hay, some light-up skeleton heads, a string of pumpkin lights, a string of ghost lights and some fun blinking lights that look like assorted pairs of eyeballs that we hang in our shrubbery.

We got everything put out and plugged into a timer. Now that it's getting dark earlier, the lights are starting to turn themselves on by the time we get home.

It seems like more and more people are putting up Halloween decorations these days, so on our way home the other evening, we took a cruise around our neighborhood to look for ghosts and goblins.

We came upon our house from the backside of the neighborhood, and I said, "What kind of crazy people would let monsters live in their shrubs?"

"Hmmm," Biscuit said. "I'm not sure. Let's investigate."

I pulled into the driveway, and we got out.

"Mom!" Biscuit said. "WE'RE the crazy people!"

Here are a couple of pictures of our decor, along with a video of the monsters in the shrubs.

These pumpkins are made of
soft foam and are reusable.

The scarecrows are stuck into a
hay bale covered in fall leaves.

Halloween party

Jeff, Biscuit and I went to an annual Halloween party this evening where we hung out with friends, ate lots of yummy food and had an overall good time.

Back in September, I asked Biscuit, "What would you like to be for Halloween?"

And he said, "I guess I'll just be a firefighter."

And I said, "What do you mean you GUESS you'll just be a firefighter."

"What else can I be?" he asked.

"Oh, sweet boy," I said, "you can be anything you want to be."

So I named off all the possible costumes I could think of, and he got really excited to imagine being a superhero. I asked him if he wanted me to make him a costume or if he wanted to buy one.

"Can we go to the store and look at them?" Biscuit asked.

It took walking halfway down the costume aisle, and Biscuit's decision was made.

Meanwhile, I hadn't even thought about mine and Jeff's costumes. I did a couple of searches on the Internet, but I didn't see anything that really spoke to me.

So we decided since Biscuit was going as a superhero, Jeff and I could be villains.

Here's who we're supposed to be - Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus aka Doc Ock.

Here's how it turned out. See Biscuit's web-shooting hand positions?

It was a potluck event, and my plan was to make cupcakes. I found these cool little cake decorations that looked like knives. So I wanted to stab one into each cake with a little red gel icing around it. But as much as I hate to admit this, I ran out of time today, and I drove to the grocery store and bought cupcakes. I PAID MONEY FOR CUPCAKES BAKED BY A GROCERY STORE!!!

Anyone who knows me will know this is not normal for me. I called my Mama on the way to the store because I knew she would get a kick out of me telling her.

She answered, and I said, "I have to tell you something, and you can't judge me for it."

"Uh-oh," she said. "What is it?"

"I'm on the way to the grocery store to BUY cupcakes," I said.

"Do whaaaat?" she said, in full Southern drawl. "What have you been doing all day?"

"Finishing YOUR grandson's new room," I said with much attitude.

She laughed and said, "Well, if you see anybody in the store that might know me, just don't tell them that you belong to me."

I called her again on the way back home. "It's done," I said.

She made a clicking noise with her mouth and said, "That's just SHAMEFUL!" and started laughing again.

Here are my store-bought-but-Kim-decorated cupcakes:

Do you hear that "reek, reek, reek, reek" noise from the horror movies?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Behold the before and after


Biscuit's room is almost done. When I asked him what kind of decorations he wanted, he said, "I think I'd like firefighters, cowboys, ninja turtles and superheroes."

No problem!

All the big stuff is done. All that's left is details. And although I've always heard that the devil is in the details, we WILL get this done! (And I say that just as much to hold myself to it as to share the thought).

Anyway, not much to say except that here's what we did:

  1. Cleaned out and rearranged the attic to accommodate a piece of furniture that we were moving out of Biscuit's new room.
  2. Moved out the old furniture, including a cedar chest (the piece for the attic) and an entertainment center.
  3. Cleaned the daylights out of the whole room, including window sills and baseboards and dusting the walls with a swiffer mop.
  4. Painted the walls.
  5. Painted the dresser and bought and installed new knobs.
  6. Installed new switch and plug-in plates.
  7. Tracked down, bought and hung posters of the boy's favorite things (I figured posters would be an easy thing to swap out as Biscuit's tastes and interests change.).
  8. Assembled a set of shelves with cubby holes.
  9. Hung a picture taken by one of the photographers at the paper (Soon, there will be a small shelf under the photo that will hold a firetruck.).
  10. Moved everything from Biscuit's old room to his new room, including sorting through all his clothes and deciding what goes where, since his new dresser is horizontal, and old dresser was vertical.
  11. Created a pretty hefty haul for the donation store.
Projects still in the works:
  1. Swapping out of the closets. (My wedding dress, some of mine and Jeff's out-of-season clothes and other items are in the closets - count 'em, TWO - in Biscuit's new room.
  2. Painting the nightstand (It does need one more coat, so you won't see it in the pictures below. And it will have a new drawer pull.).
  3. Printing pictures of family to put in frames.
  4. Waiting for a cowboy print and a U.S. map to arrive in the mail. (When Biscuit saw his mostly completed room, he said, "Mom, this is really cool. Now all we need is the cowboy poster." And crazy me thought I was almost done!)
  5. Getting rid of the entertainment center (It's a nice solid wood piece that I bought unfinished. But it's made for old-style square TVs. One of my friends thinks she might be able to turn it into a bookcase, though.)
  6. And the most dreaded of all, finding new homes for all the stuff we cleared out of the room to get it ready for Biscuit.

Here are some before and after photos, as well as some details shots. The lighting in the room doesn't make for great photos, but you can get the idea.

The nightstand (which is painted the same red
as the dresser) will be where that TV table is.
The room has one big, long closet with two sets of doors.
When we did a walk-through before we bought the house, I
opened the left doors, Jeff opened the right doors, and he walked
through his side to my side and scared me half to death.
Biscuit seemed to like having
his table in front of the window.
The dresser doesn't look very long from
this angle, but it's actually 48 inches wide.

Pinto and Puppy seem to be adapting well to the move.
When I first found this piece of furniture, I thought about getting the
bigger version that is five cubbyholes high and five cubbyholes wide.
But the more I looked at it, the more overwhelming its size was. I
think the four-by-four is just big enough. I'm sure the contents
will get rearranged and swapped around, but there it is for now.

I wasn't sure if Biscuit's name train was too baby-fied or
not, but I figured I'd put it in and wait to see if he said
anything. He hasn't mentioned it yet, so for now, it stays.
This photo was taken by one of our photographers at the paper. It's
not staged. It's a photo that ran in the paper. I did some editing for
some of the photographer's work, and he wanted to do something for
me in return. I told him no, but he brought in this print for Biscuit. How
could I say no? Plus, we work with some of the best photojournalists in
the country, so I was really pleased to have this photo in Biscuit's room.
These are some of the Little Golden Books from
Jeff's childhood. Biscuit has enjoyed reading them.
The boot is a heavy piece of pottery that I painted. I figured it would fit
the cowboy part of the theme. And since Biscuit loves musical
instruments, I added in some flutes and whistles and things I had.
And speaking of musical instruments, that is a den-den daiko,
or a Japanese pellet drum. You hold the handle between your
hands and roll it back and forth. The little balls on the strings strike
the drum head and make a fun percussion sound. The shells are
ones we've picked up on trips to the beach with Biscuit.
Some things I did for my own amusement ... like putting
a pan flute on the same shelf as a Peter Pan book.
Here are the requested superheroes.

I thought these porcelain knobs were just too cute to pass up. They had three
of them, and that's how many small drawers are on the top of Biscuit's dresser.

Biscuit has all his necessities on the makeshift 
nightstand - a lamp, tissues, a coaster for his water and
a flashlight (which we 
found under his pillow this
morning, after his first night in his new bedroom).

I don't know those people in the small picture frames on the dresser.
Pretty soon, though, there will be faces of people Biscuit knows and loves.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Making progress

I have so much to write about and no time to write it. I have little notepads lying around my house with reminders of things to share. Hopefully, I'll get to everything eventually!

Jeff and I took this week off work. Our original plan was to take a trip to the beach. We love to go there in October, and with Biscuit starting school next year, this would have been the last October beach trip for, oh, about 13 years! 

But we've done so much traveling this year. And we've spent so much money (new roof, remodeled bathroom, new tires for my car, several trips, plus all the regular stuff), we just decided we'd stay home.

Once we made that decision, we started thinking about all the things we could get done. Our list kept growing and growing and growing. But finally, I told Jeff, "Listen, we need to pick one big project and get it done. Period. If we try to accomplish too much, we'll get overwhelmed and not get anything finished."

Jeff is not a good multi-tasker. He does one thing at a time, and he does it very well. Then he moves on to the next thing. Knowing this about him, I knew that we needed to focus on one thing.

We decided to tackle Biscuit's big-boy room.

When Jeff and I bought our house in 2003, we didn't plan to have kids. We weren't anti-kids, we just hadn't really planned on that as a part of our life together.

Then my brother and his wife had kids. It's all their fault! The more time I spent with them, the more I thought, "Hey, having a child might be fun."

And three years of fertility treatments later, we got Biscuit.

We decided to use the smallest bedroom for the nursery. We figured it would be a cozy space. It was already painted a nice green color that could be gender-neutral (even though I was convinced we were having a boy from about two weeks after I found out I was pregnant).

It's been a nice room for Biscuit. He went from his crib to his toddler bed in that room, and he's had many nice naps and good nights of sleep in there. But I had planned all along that at some point, he would move to the bigger room down the hall.

The stairs go up into a loft area that Jeff commandeered as his movie room. Biscuit's current room is off that loft area. On the opposite side of the loft area, there's a hallway that has a bathroom, the attic access door and the guest bedroom. That's the room that Biscuit will be moving in to. The room is about twice the size of his current room. It has two big closets. And it's closer to the bathroom.

We asked Biscuit about moving in there, and he said it would be fine with him. So that's what Jeff and I have spent our week doing -- decorating Biscuit's big-boy room.

Of course I'll post pictures as soon as we're done, but when Biscuit walked in this evening and saw our progress, he said, "Mom, can I sleep in here tonight?"

I was shocked. I figured there might be some drama about moving to a different bed in a different room. But he seemed really excited about it.

Even though we're not done with the room, we made sure that all his creature comforts were there -- a table by the bed with his lamp, tissues, a coaster for his water and his books. Oh, and of course, Puppy!

He crawled up in that bed like it was any other night, and he's up there right now, just snoozing away. I don't think I've mentioned that the bed is a queen size. That little boy looks lost in it. When I tucked him in, I took two bed pillows, turned them vertically and made a nest for him in the middle.

Here's Biscuit in his big-boy bed. This picture makes me sad and happy, all at the same time. Sad because he's growing up so fast, and happy because he's so adventurous that instead of Jeff and me trying to help him adjust to his new room, he made the first move.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Entertaining Grandmama and Papa

Grandmama and Papa came for a visit, and we were busy, busy, busy.

Mama had back surgery in June for spinal stenosis, and she's finally starting to get some of her energy back. She and I were able to do some shopping. That's something we haven't been able to do for a long time.

We also took a fun pontoon boat ride at a local park. It was supposed to be a fall leaf tour, but we're a couple of weeks behind normal for the leaves changing colors. The boat ride was fun anyway. A nature preserve director led the tour and told us a lot about the lake, the animals that live near there and lots of other nature-related facts.

More about our visit with Grandmama and Papa later, but for now, here are some pictures of our boat ride.

Biscuit got to play on the playground
while we waited for time for our boat ride.

On the boat and ready to go.

Biscuit didn't seem to excited at first, but he
enjoyed the trip after we got underway.

I thought the 5 p.m. tour would be good because
the sun would cast nice light on the trees and
water. Turns out, the sun just tried to blind us!

I thought this spiderweb was really pretty, then I thought about how the web
was directly in front of me, and I couldn't see a spider in the web, which of
course meant that he could've blown back on me as the boat started
out onto the lake! I never saw him, but I looked around a good bit.

We saw several blue herons on the shore. I didn't have my long camera
 lens, so I couldn't zoom in very far. These birds can stand about 4 feet tall.

The sun was so bright, Grandmama loaned her sunglasses
to Biscuit. Can you see my reflection in the lenses?

That shrubby-looking tree is a black willow tree. The bark of the
tree contains salicylic acid, a chemical compound similar to aspirin.
Indians used it to ease headaches and toothaches.

See that rock wall? That's the foundation of a grist mill that was built in
the mid-1700s. The area around the lake would've been mostly
agricultural at the time. The grist mill would've been the beginning of
commerce for the area. Grist mills lead to textiles manufacturing.
That leads to industrial work and that leads to banking. 
Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not a fan of water.
I'm generally okay on pontoon boats because I've never
heard of one sinking (and if you have, don't tell me about it!).
But toward the end of our tour, we took on a little bit of water.
Good thing I had that stockpile of life jackets in front of me!