Thursday, September 27, 2012

RIP Reddie the Fish

Liam's little beta fish Red, "Reddie for short, Mommy" died yesterday.   We made the unfortunate discovery, unfortunately, very near bedtime, resulting in a rather late evening.

Once we were sure (by shaking the tank) that Reddie was gone we brought his tank into the kitchen and made him a burial box out of a cardboard berry pint.  We put Reddie's body in the bottom with some of his rocks, and then a layer of cotton, and then his fish tank plants.  Another layer of cotton.  Liam chose a spot in the yard next to some Japanese anemones and we dug Reddie a small grave.

Liam and I held hands and we said a few words about Reddie.  Then we covered the box and that was it.  Liam sobbed and sobbed, but seems to be recovering.   Reddie was, of course, Liam's "replacement pet" recommended by the counselor when we had to re-home Mollie the dog.  I guess nothing stays.  This transition seems to be made easier by the fact that sudden fish death is a pretty common occurrence among the 4, 5, and 6 year old set.  Liam described to me two other children at his tiny school who have had fish die on them, plus the neighbor-girl, who was just here the other day looking at Reddie and explaining how her beta fish had died.

Still, it was sad.  He wanted to color a picture of Reddie in his tank "So we can remember him always, Mommy" and so I drew the outlines and he colored, and we taped it up near where Reddie and his tank used to be.  And today after school he painted some flat rocks to mark Reddie's little grave.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A few things I want to remember

Our kitchen windowsill.  From left to right: jar of sea glass; plastic platypus the vegan brought Liam from a garage sale; tomatoes; star mirror which lives there to boost something based on feng shui principles, but I can't remember what; parsley waiting to be eaten; Liam's back up plastic fish; playmobil milk cow set milk hauler; water for Liam's primary fish (a beta fish), it needs treated room temperature water; a rock; beta fish water treatment. 

For some reason I've just been too tired of thinking at the end of the day to get things together in this space.  But there have been a few things lately I really want to remember.

First, Liam has had no crying at school drop off, at all.  He was nervous before the first day but we talked it through and he has been fine ever since.  Better than fine, during the first week he asked if he could go to school 5 days instead of 4, because he didn't want to miss Fridays.  So, he's a 5-day a week kid now.  (Half days, but still!) 

Second, the babysitter is now able to pick Liam up at school when needed.   She has the extra booster seat, and he just gets in her car and they drive the 6 blocks home and here they are.  Liam is totally fine with it.  (This is despite the fact that as late as August he was swearing and crying that he would never, ever get in her car.)

These two things are in such contrast to last year, when he cried every day at drop off for the first month and at least once a week for pretty much the entire year, that I still sometimes can't believe it is my life. 

Liam has had play dates after school at least one day each week.  These are so far mostly initiated and organized by him.  It is great. 

And, finally, today one of the neighbor girls stopped by after dinner to say thank you for the leftover birthday cake we sent their way last week, and she and Liam got to talking about legos, and she said, well, I have a bunch of legos I never play with want to come see them?  And Liam said "Yes! Right now please!"  So he came and found me and said "Mommy, can I go over to (neighbor girl's) house with (neighbor girl) to see the legos?"  And I said, "Sure."  And then, "(Neighbor girl) please hold his hand when you cross the street; Liam, you have to cross only with (neighbor girl)."  And then I went out on the porch and waived to her father across the street and watched them cross.  And off he went, happy as could be, without a backwards look. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fall birthday #1

We are hurtling towards the fall birthdays around here.  All four grandparents have birthdays within the next six weeks, about.  Starting with GG, celebrated today. 

We had a rainbow birthday (Liam's suggestion) and I wish I had thought to take some pictures because I think it looked nice.  We had pretty much the entire rainbow represented on the table with green bean and fig salad, nectarine salad (scroll down for the salad), tomatoes salad, purple potatoes, corn and zucchini succotash, and steaks.   My mother made fully half the food, which is a big help, of course.

The birthday cake was homemade rainbow chip, and I think I liked it best of anyone.  I loved making this cake; I love making almost any birthday cake, but this one really said birthday to me.  The frosting is over the top sweet, but the cake has a great texture and flavor.  From here, again. Plus, when the play date activity is making rainbow chips from melted white chocolate and food coloring you get a lot of fun mom points, which is good.   As soon as everyone left we took half the leftover cake to the neighbors.

Liam is all about choosing what he wants to give for birthdays and he had a very specific idea for GG.  Last year he gave her a small wood cat which sits on top of a picture frame in her kitchen.  This year he wanted to give a little bird for the cat to look at. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

65 pounds of tomatoes

They are out of the boxes and into the jars and I am too tired to take any pictures of them, trust me.  This is the most tomatoes I've put by in at least 10 years.  And the skins and juice and random bits are in the crock pot cooking down to become. . .wait for it. . .ketchup.  Liam has zero interest in tomatoes or tomato sauce, but he is crazy about the idea of making our own ketchup.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Faces of the 5-year old

When we were in Washington DC a few weeks ago, I caught three of Liam's most common faces when he was looking at the moon rock at the air and space museum . In order I call them: (1) the tough yelling face, I think he was saying "moon rock!" in this one; (2) the sweet petting face, he also uses this one when he wants me to think he's being nice to the cat; and (3) the "Oh dear, what did she just say?" face.  Missing is the one where he is sticking out his tongue and making a rude noise.  Also missing, stubborn face, sleepy face, and silly face.  So far five is a very expressive age.

He is doing so well at school this week.  We've had virtually no crying at drop off time and today he told me that he might like to go to school on Fridays too.  So proud of his effort on this!

Monday, September 10, 2012

First day

Putting on shoes before the first day of school.  Liam started at his new school today.  His past school, which we loved to distraction, has closed.  The teachers were ready to move on and do something else.  His new school is also a home-based, Waldorf-inspired, preschool / kindergarten; about six blocks from the house and less than a mile from his past school.  I dropped him off this morning and then had to hurry east of the mountains for a work thing.  Will's mother picked him up and reported that he:
  • Held not one but TWO baby chickens  (he told me: Mommy! They say "peep, peep, peep, peep.")
  • Drew a picture of a rainbow in a blue sky AND got to bring it home (at last year's school all the art stayed at school until parent conferences), the rainbow is beautiful
  • Did part of a puzzle
  • Played a game but he can't remember what it was called
  • Watched a puppet show about a buzzing bee -- this year's teacher does lots of puppet shows and felts her own puppets; so fun
When I picked him up after dinner (East of the mountains is somewhat far from here, it was a long day.) he told me that he had eaten black beans and rice for lunch -- his favorite lunch.  There are four other kids from his old school who moved on to this school, including the two children with whom he was the closest last year.  So, we lucked out there and I am very, very grateful to have found him this wonderful place and to have so many factors that eased the transition.

Still, he was very anxious about starting school, and scared, and has been saying that he won't go and can't do it and similar for at least two weeks now.  I deflect these fears as best I can by inviting him to remember other things he was concerned about but that went just fine; by explaining that EVERYONE is a little nervous and excited before the first day of school, even the teachers, it is normal; and, when all else fails by saying that one of the jobs of the mommy is to know for sure when the child is ready for something even if the child doesn't know it yet. 

He wouldn't hold still for an outside picture but he would jump.  A note: he is growing his hair on purpose; he wants a ponytail.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Windsor, Ontario

Traveling for work this week.  So far Windsor looks like the inside of every crummy hotel I have ever stayed in.  See, e.g., this post.  Outside, I crossed a 4-lane road populated almost entirely by semi-tractors to pick up the copies for the meeting this morning.  (I volunteered for this duty; at least it was a walk.) 

If you were talking with me on skype this afternoon -- before the hotel internet started blinking in and out -- this is what you saw.  Minus the phone of course; and occasionally minus the smile.

Back this weekend; more then.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Where we were and home again

We are home from ten-ish days visiting Auntie Chris in Washington DC.  By far Liam's longest plane trip ever and he did great.  Also great with the time change going west to east and here's hoping that the east to west version will sort itself out too. 

This was mostly a trip to visit family. Auntie Chris, of course; but Will's sister and her family also live in the area, so we were able to (how wonderful) spend two lovely afternoons at the pool with them.

Aside from all that, there is a lot to do in the DC area and we tried to fit at least some of it into this trip. A few highlights.

Baltimore Aquarium, where Liam saw dolphins for the first time.  Note, they don't do a dolphin "show" any more at the aquarium; instead they let people view a "training session," one every hour.  Thank God in the training session we were able to view they were working on standard captive dolphin moves like jump in the air and spin around.  Hate to be at the training session where they are working on things like pull over to the side of the pool and show us your flipper so we can do a blood test or whatever.

Air and space, both flavors.  At air and space at Dullas airport Liam saw an actual space shuttle (In person it is somehow both bigger and smaller than I expected it to be.) and about a million aircraft and all manner of aircraft engines. It is a very huge, very air conditioned space and was not very crowded when we were there on a Friday afternoon which made everyone feel a little relaxed about letting Liam run up and down the long ramps.  Lots of exercise on the first full day in town = good for staving off jet lag.  At air and space on the mall Liam saw the actual Wright brother's plane and touched the moon rock.  Also saw a movie in the planetarium about which the docent assured me "It is perfect for a 5 year old -- it gives a real sense of wonder about space." and about which Liam said, 5 minutes in when the first star blew up, "Mommy!  I am not ready for this movie. This is the scariest movie I have ever seen and you should not have taken me here."  Great.

National zoo, of course, which we got to early.  The grounds open at 6AM and the animals start to be outside in their enclosures by 8 or earlier; we got there at 9ish and it was cool and perfect.  Otters, lions, orangutangs, and fishing cats were particularly active.  The otters were amazing and numerous, running and swimming all around and going down their water slide. We did not see the baby cheetahs, but we did see the panda, so all good.  Liam climbed on every animal statue in the zoo, which must be what they're there for.

Butterfly room at the natural history museum, where to my dismay butterflies landed on me and on Auntie Chris, but not on Liam.  Damn butterflies.  He was pretty disappointed but recovered with ice cream.

It was great fun, and we are so glad to be back.  The air at our house even on days that pass for hot here is salty and cooled by the sea.  As much as I loved, and often still miss, living in DC whenever I get here I know I'm home.