Monday, November 15, 2004

welcome A! Posted by Hello

Sunday, November 14, 2004

A Maple Rain! Posted by Hello

cozy as a bedouin - she likes the sling sarah made... Posted by Hello

2 hours old Posted by Hello

Please join us in welcoming

A Maple Rain! (We pronounce her first name ah-LEER-ah)

She was born Friday, November 12, 2004 at 7:42 a.m.
as the first snow of the year fell outside the window.

She weighs 7 lbs 5 ounces and is about 20.5 inches long.

Now we need to try and adjust to having two children around, and remember how to take care of little babies again...


C thoroughly enjoyed Halloween, thanks in part to the fact that they hyped it up for about 3 weeks at preschool beforehand..

After debuting his flower costume at the Town's party the previous week (see 10/26 entry), his class had a parade and party at school. In addition to C's costume of course, one of the other most original costumes was a boy dressed as an "ice cream man", complete with foam core ice cream truck (had a window, rolled on wheels...). They paraded around the school building along with the three other classes several times, much to the delight of the throngs of parents, grandparents, etc. gathered to watch (i.e. videotape) the event, then brought the fans with them back to the classroom to break the ghost pinata the kids had made. They each had two whacks with a big, decorated stick when their name was drawn (or 8-10 whacks in rapped succession in a couple of cases--the teachers tried to intervene but then thought better of getting in the way of the a 4 year-0ld wielding a big, decorated stick). C was up to bat third, and several of the parents were surprised at the power one little flower could display with his hits. The big kid with the bad rep., Colton (see previous entries) was the one to knock down the pinata/break it open, but the teachers let the other kids pummel it on the ground so everyone had a turn before the loot was divided up (luckily nothing breakable/semi-healthy inside to damage like popcorn or pretzels; just lots of sugar...) C had a great time.

On Halloween afternoon we joined our neighbor friends Richard, Tammy, Tristan, and baby Rowan ("R2T2" we call them) at a friend’s party for a while, then went Trick-or-Treating. C loves Trick-or-Treating (what’s not to love about free candy!), and is more polite than most of his peers, saying "Happy Halloween, Trick or Treat… Thank you" at each house like I taught him. He filled his ghost bag on a stick with candy until it was too heavy to carry any more… When we got home and I was out walking Paco (and C and Sarah were eating dinner) some secret Halloween deliverer dropped off a bag for C with his name on it, a pink flower decoration (must have seen his costume), apple, homemade cookie, candy, sticker decorations on bag… Any information leading to the identification and thanking of this person will be much appreciated!


He said tonight (11/14) that he wants to be a rabbit next Halloween, so maybe the cute/innocent costumes aren’t gone forever yet for him!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

flower child Posted by Hello

long time no blog

OK, so it's been three weeks since my last blog entry, sorry! I'm hoping to stay more current with either shorter entries (more photos and fewer words=good), or else combining sever goings-on into one entry (which is what I've done here).

Flower Child: Here's a photo of C's very cute Halloween costume. He debuted it at the Town's annual Halloween party (hay ride, lots of silly games; he had fun but would have been much more excited if his friend Shannon happened to be there; more on her later).

Regarding his costume, I think it's awesome that he was deciding between being a truck and a flower (field of flowers, actually), and chose the kindler/gentler costume without much coercion from me. It's wonderful that he's made it to age 4.25 with some of the innocence of childhood still intact. Most of his peers will probably be sporting Spiderman costumes or other things less sublime than pink flowers (his neighbor friend Oliver, also 4, is going as The Devil this year I hear; don't think C even knows who/what the devil is). We just hope at his pre-school party on Thursday that no one makes fun of his costume.

Pre-school Update: So I've been the "parent helper" twice in the last couple of weeks (getting our responsibility to do this every 5 weeks fulfilled for a while). Great to be there to see what goes on. Much to our relief there are a couple of boys who are much more of a handful than he is, so his occasional passive aggressive behaviors, etc. aren't considered too bad. He was actually pretty good about letting me be there and still doing his own things most of the time; he didn't even stop me from playing with other children! (a new thing for him to be sure). Now as long as he can be near Shannon he seems very happy. She's a girl whom he's developed a severe crush on as far as we can tell; and one guess as to how this happened is that they both like to take their time with eating snack, and were the last two to finish in the first days of school this year. She seems friendly and reasonably nicely to him so far, but doesn't return his very strong feelings; he obsesses over her and wants to be her shadow. Once Sarah and Shelley peeked in on him through the two-way mirror, only to find him staring off into space, lost and direction-less until Shannon came back from the bathroom with a group of other students. After greeting her he seemed to be OK with going back to his puzzle, confident and secure in the knowledge that she was in the room. We think its great that he has found someone he likes a lot at school, and is actually psyched to go each day so he can get to see her, (he wants to see her outside of school too, but so far we've only set up a play date once; don't want to completely scare her or her parents away from him...), but we want him to branch out and have more than one friend, and obsess less. We've successfully encouraged him to at least think about one or two other kids off and on in a friendly way.

The snacks are still usually bad (sugary and/or artificial). We didn't use to consider pretzels the healthiest snack in the world, but at this point, they are about the best we can hope for. Even the Goldfish crackers are sometimes the new multi-colored ones. Here's an excerpt from the label: "...Blue 2, Red 40, Spices, Red 3…” (*fphwwww!* glad it has those “spices” in there…)
Last week someone actually brought a fudge brownie bite thing baked inside an ice cream cone with ice cream toppings—I kid you not. And it wasn’t even their kid’s birthday, which is supposed to be the exception to the “healthy” rule. We’ve made blueberry muffins sweetened with fruit juice, and soft pretzels so far. At least the pretzels were a hit with some of the kids, including (luckily), Shannon. She ate two.

Baby update: We still anxiously await the arrival of baby Maple (her middle name; first name yet to be determined). Sarah looks about as pregnant as one can get.

Time for bed,

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Apples and orange balloon animals

We've been enjoying traditional Fall activities the last few days. On Thursday I took the morning off to accompany C's pre-school class to the local Pick Your Own apple farm--Indian Ladders--also complete with petting zoo animals and other amenities. About half the parents went along, so it was a good chance to interact with the other parents and get to see his classmates too (well, you know C, so a chance to say "hi" while being pulled far, far away from others anway...). When we first got there and were waiting for the rest of the minivans to arrive (there are probably two or three other households out of the couple hundred that have regular cars like us), a couple of the kids were playing a very tame game of chase/tag (or "grab" in C's case)--though I'm very pleased he was partaking. I started running around with them in the field by the orchard and got several kids really running for 1 or 2 minutes. It was gleeful until his teacher put the k-bosh on the game (very important instructions for apple picking of course). Since his class doesn't get outside much at all and never gets to run, it was fun to be subvert the plan very briefly and let them be kids.

C and I had our own 1/2 bushel to pick of Empire Apples; a lot of the kids helped pick the communal bag full (they're going to make apple sauce next week). He enjoyed picking them with me, especially getting boosted up for the higher ones. Our next D.A. and his children, his son is in C's class, were picking nearby so we got to chat a little in between his cell phone calls. Then we saw the animals and fed them (the kids really enjoyed the turkeys best of all--quite vocal group), and after getting the goat-lick wiped off lots of little hands we had their daily snack. Deluxe that day: crackers, pretzels and "cider donuts"--an Indian Ladders Farm tradition I understand, and cider to drink (also red fruit punch stuff I managed to keep away from C).

Then today we got to walk to a "Fall Harvest Festival" at our local Four Corners business district. There was all the traditional fall activities like a hay ride, pumpkin decorating and balloon animals (well some of them were orange). He liked these things, and while we couldn't convince him to get his face painted yet (never have been able to), he did go in the "action bounce" inflated bounce area and stayed in the whole 2 minutes or whatever. He stayed right by the net windows watching us, but we were proud of him for braving the bounce experience this time.

There were also $1 pizza slices and free cookies--our personal favorite, and other fun activities. Later we went home for a while so Sarah could rest and we could eat some more lunch, then C and I walked to Town Hall for a Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace sponsored event on the peak oil issue and renewable energy alternatives. He helped me set up chairs beforehand, and then he got to talk to Sunny the alternative energy robot! (I'm too tired to explain right now...)

We stayed for the first 40 min. of the (quite boring for him) slideshow. He took lots of upclose photos of the chocolate bars they had there for some reason, and other photos throughout the day. I'll post a couple soon.

On the walk home I asked him what the most fun thing was today and he said the rides on the chair dolleys while we were setting them up, but he also admitted that the reason was because that was the most recent fun thing; I know he enjoyed several of the more typical activities for children earlier in the day.

Enjoy the seasonal activites,

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

feet to yourself

Since C will not voluntarily tell us anything about his life, we insist that he tell us his favorite and least favorite things that happen in preschool each day. His favorite thing (other than snack) is almost invariably "drawing pollution pictures," which he does during free-play time in the morning in order to avoid playing with other children. (He generally refuses to color the photocopied pictures of apples or leaf-rakers the teacher sets out, and either flips them over or integrates his motorcycles into the existing picture, but we think that's a good thing.)

Once, his least favorite thing was not having time to finish snack (which we've observed) so we talked to the teacher and now send him in with Tupperware to carry extra snack home. He's never actually done this, and we're unclear as to whether that's because he's been finishing his snack on time or if his teacher is discouraging it, but we haven't heard any more complaints so we're letting it go.

Yesterday, his least favorite thing was when "somebody kicked me, and I kicked him back." He didn't know who, or why it happened, or any useful details like that; and later the story changed to C kicking first (which honestly, unfortunately, struck us as a more likely scenario). I asked the assistant teacher about it when I dropped him off today, and she said C kicked Colton during circle time, the teacher told him to keep his feet to himself, and that was pretty much it. (Whether Colton got any kicks in wasn't said.)

She also said that C had been doing pretty well and told her a lot about pollution, and only occasionally would run over and use his scissors to cut other kids' papers. I think, "oh dear," but then realize- it's not my problem! I don't have to be there! They're handling it! Obviously if it became a big problem we'd have to intervene, but no one even mentioned it to us until I asked, so apparently it's not a real issue yet. Ah, the freedom of hiring someone else to protect other kids from C....


Friday, September 24, 2004

rainbow yogurt

yesterday C finished his first week of preschool! We're very proud of him--he did much better than anyone who knows him thought possible. And while he still might prefer a teeth cleaning to going to preschool, he does fine without us there. We just walk him over in the morning, and back at noon (and occasionally peek in the window during, but not usually).

It's a little strange not knowing much of what he's up to, though the class is so regimented that we at least know the categories he's involved with: freeplay (so far he's only done arts/crafts; we hope he eventually strays from the safety of a seat at the table to the unknown realms of playing with toys or perhaps even, others), clean-up, circle time, bathroom break, snakc time, songs and fingerplays, story time, project time (more craft projects, this time everyone does the same thing), group games/outdoor play (we'll see if they actually take them outside, can't get much better weather for it than this week, but they haven't yet to our knowledge...), prepare for dismissal.

The one category we always hear about is snack time. Despite the teacher's admonitions before school began that the parents should provide "healthy" snacks (one parent helps in the classroom each day; they bring the snack for the class), this week's menu seems to have been on a downward slide, like the daily crosswords in some newspapers. Monday was crackers and real cheese, tuesday was pretzels and processed cheese food to dip (in one of those little plastic snack pack portable thingies), wednesday was "rainbow yogurt" (which we're dying to find out what it really was)m,the way C describes it they had many colors of yogurt (like black and white for example) in individual containers and they combined them for each kid to make a rainbow (but also claimed that while the black kind was blackberry, that the white yogurt tasted like what he was looking at when he made this story up--a washcloth, pink was pink-ballon flavored, etc. We told him we would stick with the blackberry), so who knows what it really was--but we're guessing it wasn't all natural; thursday was a birthday for one of the kids, so cupcakes ("they didn't taste like anything," but for some reason he ate them anyway and seemed to like them--but they did have chocolate frosting so maybe that's why).

Next week we might set up a video camera on a tri-pod outside the mirror/window :)

miss talented

we haven't turned the tv on for many months, but fate would have it that when I did decide to see how the rest of the world spends their evenings the other night, we were treated to none other than the Miss America pagent. We haven't watched this event in several years, but to me, it appeared as if they're making a big effort to try and change the image of the contest, having added the new "miss america quiz" category, and elevating the talent competition to the very end--deciding the winner.

speaking of talent, it's interesting that every single contestant (at least those highlighted from the preliminaries, and those competing in the final group) chose either singing (or lip sync., as the case may be), dancing, or in one case, playing the piano. do all the personal consultants recommend these talents to their aspiring americas? has research proven that nine out of the last ten women to wear the crown came from somewhere way off broadway?

not that we didn't thoroughly enjoy all the jazz dance and operetta, but Sarah and I decided it would be even more interesting and entertaining to the viewing audience if some of next year's contestants discovered their hidden talents elsewhere.

wouldn't it be great to see miss Alaska in an evening gown carving an ice sculpture with a chain saw? Or I bet miss PA could roll up her chiffon sleeves and demonstrate some skilled drywall repair (hard to resist flinging a little mud at her fellow contestants though probably, or perhaps the audience). Some other talents we'd like to see: stunt driving (the Shriners could lend one of their suped-up go carts, and instruction from their parade experience--perfect for the tight confines of the stage); cake decorating; juggling torches; goat milking; feng shui consultation (she'd probably just shake her head and walk away feeling exasperated--where to begin with a scene like that?), teeth cleaning (we figure some of them are probably dental hygenists in real life--besides, their competetors would probably fight over the chance for a little tooth whitening mid-way through the competition); double dutch jump roping, child care (send twenty toddlers out on stage and see if she can get them all to listen attentively); and for the most cerebral, puns.

We welcome your comments and contributions to what we hope will be the new standard list of talents that everybody's choosing from next year...

Saturday, September 18, 2004

two Cadao stories

Here are two stories C told yesterday morning and Sarah typed. He told a longer and better one before this, about a variety of different animals that had a race at a playground and then played on the playground equipment. But when we decided to record some for the blog he seemed to be more self conscious. We plan to tape record some in the future...


Once there was a work machine that it was a bulldozer and it pushed lots and lots of dirt, and there was an excavator also, and all the machines didn’t have people in them, and the excavator was very big just like the big dump truck so it could reach the top of the dump truck, the back I mean, to put the dirt in, and there was also a house they live in was very very big, and (um I’m thinking) and there was also the…

and they had lots and lots of books at home, and so they just put one book per machine, and those were all the machines also, and also all the machines were solar powered, and the bulldozer was pushing rock and dirt, mixed together and a small rock and a big rock. the end.


once there was pirates that had a very big ship. and so it was 3-masted pirate ship and it had 400 billion sails, and since it had 400 billion sails it was so heavy it needed one more than 400 billion sails, and 405 more spare sails that were on the ship so the deck was very big, almost as big as a train even

and so once there was a big aquarium and the big aquarium held lots and lots of fish it held a billion in each one, and so since it held so much fish it needed to be almost as big as 2 pirate ships, and it was as big as 2 pirate ships, even 3 and 100 even, and so it was so big it needed a motor too, it moved around, and it was so heavy it needed a motor so it had a little outboard motor, and it needed 300 of them, actually a zillion.

Friday, September 17, 2004

stamp or sticker

C and I went for a long walk today in the pouring rain--to the bank and then the library. He has had all this pent up energy lately and needed more exercise than a 6 week old puppy (literally runs circles around the living room). He and I play chase at top speed in the house almost daily, and he usually walks at least 2 miles total on Paco walks, but still, the energy is amazing (wish he could lend Sarah some!).

Before arriving at the bank we were discussing how if he got Jeff as a teller, he could count on a red "protest" rubber stamp on his hand. Jeff is a nice older guy who is the town's Santa at Christmas time, when C was going through the getting his hand stamped at every business phase--library [due date], post office ["first class"!]--he recognized C's spirit of dissent early on...

But if we got Alicia as a teller, he'd most likely get his pick of a sticker (unlikely to have pollution machine stickers to choose from, but at least it's a sticker). Alicia is a younger woman, possibly Jeff's daughter, who fills in as Santa's helper (they give out candy canes, and they don't even have any Evergreen Bank logo on them or anything :) There are other tellers, but these are the regulars..

Sure enough, those were the choices, and we ended up in the sticker window (though Jeff went out of his way to say hi to us even though he was with other customers). She cut the sticker out with the backing still on so he could use it later--his preference. We'll have to remember it's in his rain jacket "velcro pocket."

At the library we ran into a woman who had helped organized the Sept. 11 forum the library hosted (the Bill of Rights was read, followed by a discussion/meeting with our local state senator, a history/poly sci. prof and the public). She thanked C and I for our attendance (albiet short--there was a lot of work to do for democracy that day), and I thanked her for the forum, a wonderful idea in my opinion. The library has been excellent regarding protecting civil liberties (they don't keep any records after books and materials are returned, so no sneek/peek available--sorry to the men in black).

We didn't have to look hard for puddles on the way home.

I like small towns...

Thursday, September 16, 2004

fire chief C with his new fire helmet and hose pack from uncle Matt and Aunt Candice Posted by Hello

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

new blog and new preschool

Hi everyone, I've just created this blog to keep family and friends informed about what the Rains are up to (since I've been so bad at calling/emailing/writing lately).

Today was C's first day of preschool! We had taken him to meet his teacher a few days earlier, he'd seen the classroom a few times before too so he'd be familiar with the toys and layout, but today was the first test. It was an orientation day, (so ran 9:20 - 10:50 instead of until 11:50 like on a regular day). Sarah and I walked him over, and I stayed with him in the classroom most of the time, going out for a few minutes at a time here and there to give him a chance to ease into being there without any parents. The assistant teacher paid special attention to him, especially during those periods, which helped. When I wasn't in the classroom, I watched through the 2-way mirror to see how he was doing. He was fine as long as there was something involving (like when the teacher read a story for example), and knowing that I'd "be back soon."

At one point while I was in the hall they lined the kids up and took them down the hall to the bathroom as a group to wash hands and such. I had been gone several minutes before they left, and they were down the hall for 10 min. or more. When the group came back he had obviously been crying at least briefly. Otherwise he seemed to do reasonably well, but that was with me in the room where he could see me the majority of the time.

The real test will come Monday, his next day of school (and first full day). We don't plan to stay at all on Mon. He'll be going Mon, Tue, Thurs for now, and still going to Sarah's mom (aka Nana)'s house on Wed. for the time being. The class is also held Wed.'s though, so we're going to try and switch Nana's day to Fridays and see how he does with that, but only if he gets through the first couple of weeks OK.

I think he's somewhat relieved that the first day is over, and maybe the axiety and anticipation of the unknown was worse than the actual event. But I wish the schedule wasn't such that he has to wait almost a week until he has school again, may lose any ground we gained today...

all for now,