Friday, August 21, 2009

School Boom

Does anyone else appreciate Waiting for Guffman references, or is the post title purely for my and Greg's benefit?

Sidamo started preschool two weeks ago, and this picture pretty much sums up his feelings about it.

As some of you may remember, we had Sidamo in preschool last year and pulled him out after realizing it was a really bad situation. Since then, he's been at home and we've gone through four (yes, you read that right) different nannies. So I'm just about as thrilled as he is that we've found a positive, consistent environment for him.

His new school is at a children's rehabilitation facility that began as an orphanage about 125 years ago. It is run by nuns, which I love, even as an atheist. His preschool is secular, but as a recovering Catholic who attended a Catholic university, I feel a real sense of comfort and familiarity when Sister Roberta welcomes us every morning.

I also love the tremendous diversity at the school—not only racial diversity, though there's plenty of that—but I also appreciate that Sidamo will be exposed to children with emotional and psychological differences. It'll be interesting to see if early integration of this sort will help him and his peers grow up with less perceived stigma about emotional and mental illness. Or if they'll even notice.

While Sidamo is at school, Nora and I have been spending lots of Q.T. together. I'm in a bit of a career transition at the moment, and I have a short window of free time in which to enjoy my little girl. It's so fascinating to see her on her own and discover her little quirks and interests apart from her big brother.

Her favorite part of the day, though, is when I say, "Should we go find your big brother?" Her face lights up, and she nods furiously. When we walk into school, she's all giggles and delight, and Sidamo is filled with joy when he sees us coming. It's kind of adorable. Also fascinating is getting the school report from Sidamo. I'm so used to being around him all day, even when a nanny is here, so to have this time of separation and distinct experiences has created a completely new way for us to relate to each other. I ask him about his day, and I hear things that actually surprise me (including one mean kid story—I don't know if I'm ready for those).

Each day that he goes, he's excited, happy, and ready for new stories, experiences, and adventures. And I'm excited to hear all about them.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Berry picking

Nora's playgroup decided to meet at a local berry farm this morning, so we thought we'd join. But, as is our style, we showed up about an hour and a half late and missed the group. So we picked alone. It was great, for the first 30 minutes or so. Nora couldn't have been happier when she realized that she was literally surrounded by her favorite food, and that it was hers for the picking.

She ate every berry within her reach, regardless of color or condition. As you can see from the photos, her condition degenerated as time went on—her cute little outfit was soon dripping with berry stains, covered in dirt and debris, and, somehow, missing a button. This girl is serious about her berries.

At one point, a woman with two children called across a few rows to me, "Excuse me, but she's eating the STEMS! She's putting STEMS in her mouth!" Like that was noteworthy. Oh woman, I'm sure I pulled more garbage out of my kid's mouth by noon than yours will consume in her entire life, and somehow neither of us is any worse for the wear.

After the 2-hour picking session (which got positively miserable once the berries' luster wore off), we emerged with three quarts of strawberries and a new appreciation for the people who pick our fruit. Our friend Katie and her six (count 'em) kids live in the neighborhood, so we headed over there and spent the rest of the day turning our berries, and a bunch that Katie supplied, into jam, which we then canned.

Lots of fun, but canning really is just as much work as everyone says it is. I'm also not sure the jam turned into actual jam, so we might just have some jars of sweet strawberry liquid to show for our 10 hours of toil, but still. It was a fun way to spend one of our last summer days.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

If Heather and Jayme can do it …

… then hell, so can I.

Hello, my name is Deirdre, and I'm a bad blogger.

If you care to hear them, I have excuses aplenty for my absence, but something tells me you'd rather just hear the fun stuff about what we've been up to lately. Here goes my first installment: The kids' first trip to an amusement park.

Just five blocks from our house is an impossibly old and dilapidated amusement park that is just dying to have a novel written about it. Entry is $2.50, and approximately zero percent of that goes to upkeep. When you ride the 74-year-old roller coaster, you're vividly, violently reminded of the difference between the thrill of perceived danger (the kind you get on those multimillion-dollar, safety engineer–vetted Six Flags coasters) and the terror of actual danger (like you get when you see workers picking up pieces of cracked white lumber beneath the coaster you're on, and tossing them back over the fence, presumably so they can be staple-gunned back on later that afternoon).

Still, they have a fantastic kiddie ride section (and did I mention that $2.50 gets you in? And that I'm cheap?), so Greg and I took the kids over there a couple weeks ago on a rainy Saturday afternoon for an experiment in adventure. Sidamo usually isn't the most adventurous of kids, so we weren't sure how it would go. Turns out we needn't have worried—he was in heaven. He went on every single ride, including the kiddie roller coaster (a slightly less harrowing version of the crumbling lumber ride), and begged for more. Something tells me we're going to need to start saving our quarters for repeat trips. And once Nora is old enough to join in the fun? Well, I guess we'll have to make those fifty-cent pieces.

And now, just to show you how committed I am to my blogging rebirth, here it is again, video-montage style.