Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wayne, Maine

The little town of Wayne quickly jumped to the top of our 'favorite places in Maine' list this past month. (By the way, don't you think the name 'Wayne, Maine' has a nice little ring to it? Every time I say it, I'm reminded of a line from a song in "My Fair Lady" - "The rain in Spain falls mainly on the pla-ain"......but I digress.)

Our dear friend Bea, at the invitation of her very kind friends the O'Malleys, invited us to spend the week at the O'Malley family camp on Lake Androscoggin. It sounded fun, but we had no idea just how MUCH fun it would be! Beyond it being the first (and much-needed) break since before our big move, and an incredibly beautiful setting, what made the trip most rewarding were the beautiful people we were fortunate to spend time with. Though we were strangers, the O'Malleys and their family welcomed us AND our children(!) with warm hospitality and open arms. They were amazingly patient and attentive with our children, incredibly kind, wondeful chefs (Turkish food! Yum!) and we enjoyed great conversation and company with them! It felt like a little bit of home! Add that to the awe-inspiring view of the lake, the quiet, peaceful serenity of the setting, the opportunity to swim/boat/play in the sand/read/relax/etc all day, and the extra warm weather (allowing us to enjoy the water!), and it was a week of heaven for our family. Pure bliss.

Our children took to the water almost immediately. Wiggles loved the water but was mostly content to simply sit on the sand with her bucket and shovel. Grins entered slowly, with a bit of trepidation at the beginning, but towards the end of our visit was even jumping off the dock on his own! (Wearing a life jacket, of course. As a side note, just so I can remind him someday, I LOVE that he has no qualms about wearing the pink, flowery life jacket. I hope he will always choose what he likes without feeding into silly societal mores.) Angel was a 'water baby' from day 1, but surprised us all with her stamina! She swam across the lake to 'Seagull Island', a little collection of rocks on the other side of the lake (with the help of a life jacket, but still, a LONG way!) And, on the final day of our stay, after we had ventured into town for an ice cream cone and visit to the library, she and the Mr. even swam the entire distance back to camp from town, which equated to quite a distance! Seeing their rapid progress and their intense love for the water made me long to just abandon all reason and move there forever. Or at least, instilled within me a dream of someday living on a lake. It was that great.

The Mr. and I had just as much fun as the children. One day, after several hours of swimming, Angel and the Mr. were floating lazily around in the water when he commented to me, "I feel like I should be doing something. It feels wrong to be this unproductive." to which I replied, "Your children are actually spending time with you - AWAKE - a rare treat for us! This relationship-building, memory making time is entirely productive!" And we proceeded to enjoy it as such without the least bit of guilt. Mostly. :)

It was the picture perfect vacation, except of course for the minor fatality we experienced: our camera. (In my ultra-relaxed state I failed to remember the camera in my pocket before diving into the lake...and the camera didn't appreciate the several hour lengthy submersion in lake water.) Fortunately, Bea got some beautiful shots (she is amazing! Thank you Bea!), so our trip was not entirely un-documented. All in all, it was a week of precious moments during which many friendships were forged and life-long memories made. We are so grateful to the O'Malleys & family and Bea for thoughtfully including us in such a grand time!

Monday, September 20, 2010


Get: laundry in, dishes out, beds made, breakfast on, breakfast cleaned, them bathed & clothed, our teeth brushed & hair done, lunches packed, us out the door, her on the bus, her off to school, him to preschool, her to nap, them fed lunch, lunch cleaned up, laundry out & put away, his owie kissed, the yard cleaned up, his reading lessons, his bike tire pumped, her home from school, after-school snack, hear about her day, house cleaned, books read, homework done, dinner on, them fed, dishes in, kitchen cleaned, house cleaned again, their teeth brushed and jammies on, them in bed, books read, them to sleep,..........and I wouldn't have it any other way! :)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

First Day of School

(Warning: Long post)

Since Angel never went to any formal Preschool, Sept 9th was truly her FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL EVER! And she did AMAZING!

She's been looking forward to Kindergarten for months, of course. But her first experience wasn't entirely positive. We arrived in Maine after flying the entire previous day and into the night, getting only a few hours of sleep, then driving the rest of the way. So sweet Angel was exhausted! When we arrived in Portland we learned we would not be closing on our house as planned, and therefore had no place to go (or even live, for that matter), at least in the foreseeable future. So we were quite stressed. Craving some air conditioning (arriving in 96 degree weather at 90% humidity was a bit of a shock!), someplace with free wi-fi (to check the status of our house closing, etc), and someplace to sit down we sought refuge and had lunch at the nearest McDonald's. And then, just an hour or so after
making our way to Portland, it was time for Angel's Kindergarten Orientation. If she hadn't been so excited about it, I would have said "Not today!" But trying my hardest not to allow my own personal stresses/etc to negatively affect my children, I decided we should try to make it. The Mr. and I had to go prove our identity to our loan officer (for the umpteenth time) so Opa graciously offered to take Angel to Orientation in our behalf.

I'm not sure how much of the Orientation she was able to participate in, or how events played out...but the Mr. and I returned from our business to learn that Angel had vomited at Kindergarten Orientation and, as a result, had come home early. To make matters worse, we were on the way to view our house with the realtor. All our clean clothing was packed in the truck and essentially unaccessible, so the poor dear had to ride around town throwing up in a McDonald's happy meal carton, sitting in, and covered with, vomit. Poor thing.

Needless to say, she might not have been thrilled with the idea of Kindergarten.

On the contrary, she was ecstatic. A few weeks before Kindergarten began, I asked if she was excited or nervous about starting Kindergarten. She replied "Both. Mostly excited because I love learning new things. But a little bit nervous too, about people saying bad words or being mean." That touched my heart.

The week before Kindergarten, we went to the Back-to-School Barbeque (once again, driving up to the school late, on our way back into town, though this time from vacation and not nearly as stressed!) She was able to see her classroom and meet her teacher, Mrs. Jordan. She immediately sat down in the reading nook and started devouring books, but when I asked her later what she thought of her classroom she said "I can't believe how many toys there are! There's even a play kitchen!" She also thought her teacher "was really nice!"

Two days before Kindergarten, she went in for "Screening". I waited in the library with Grins and Wiggles while Angel went with various teachers and other helpers for different 'screening' tests. I wasn't sure what all 'screening' entailed, so I tried to question her about it afterwards.
Me: "What did your teacher do with you?"
Angel: "She asked me to read a book about a snowman. But it had very big words."
Me: "Oh really? Well, that should be fine because you're very good at reading big words. What sort of words were they?"
Angel: "No, not long, hard words. Big, tall words. It was a baby book - a board book. It was way too easy for me to read."
Me: "Oh, I see. So you read it just fine?"
Angel: "Yeah. But I didn't learn anything new."

I questioned her about the other various places she went, and she responded "In one room, I had to count a bunch of plastic teddy bears. Then, another lady told me 3 different stories and then asked me to tell one of the stories back to her. So I did." Her teacher told me she would be putting Angel in an older reading group since she is reading at such an advanced level, and one of the other adults said "Wow! She did amazing! You must read to her a lot! She is definitely ready for school!" I was so pleased, but also a little concerned that she might not be adequately challenged in school, since everyone was so surprised at how well she did. I suspect we shall do a lot of supplementing her education at home. But I am certainly happy to do so!

Finally, the moment arrived. Angel wanted to ride the bus and, though I was nervous at first, I decided to allow her to, at least for the time being. We went to her bus stop the day before school, to see where it would stop, etc. And when the bus came around the corner, I could no longer hold back the tears. Tomorrow, my baby would be getting on that bus and leaving me for 6 hours a day! I could not
bear the thought! But seeing her smile and watching her excited wiggle as she anticipated going to school the next day melted away my sadness. I knew that this was a big, exciting step, and that, rather than wish it away, I needed to excitedly support her. So I wore sunglasses (to hide any tell-tale tears) and a smile the first day of school!

Angel came into my room, fully dressed, at 5:20am Thursday morning (the first day of school). "Can you do my hair, Mommy?" she asked. I laughed (I was awake in bed trying to get Wiggles back to sleep) and asked "What are you doing up so early?" "I don't want to miss my bus! It's my first day of school!" was the reply. I couldn't convince her to snuggle with me; she was too afraid of missing the first day, and too excited to sleep anyway. So we got up and ready.
We were ready to go a full hour and a half before the bus arrived! :)

The Mr. went into work late so that he could share in the excitement of Angel's first day. And it was a good thing he did! When the bus came, Angel's grip on his hand tightened and she wouldn't let go. So fortunately, her sweet bus driver let the Mr. join her on the bus. (He was the only parent - what a sport!) (Had he not been there, she would have had to go alone, since the bus prohibits siblings...)
I drove like crazy to the school and after an eternity trying to find a parking spot, go to the playground (aka drop off zone)
in the nick of time. It was a zoo! I was SO glad we were there with her - I can't imagine how overwhelmed she would have been all alone! We were able to walk her to her classroom and help her find her seat.
The two other children at her table were crying miserably - so sad! - but Angel took everything in stride. I asked if she were nervous and she said "No, not really!" I gave her a kiss and said "Let me know when you're ready for me to leave." to which she replied, "I'm fine, Mom. You can go!" I had to pry Wiggles away - apparently she was ready for her first day of school too - and we left. Angel didn't give us so much as a second glance (as you can see in the picture below...I snapped a photo as I left and she's not even looking back!) And I was glad; it made leaving SO much easier! I don't know how the moms with crying children left, I certainly couldn't have done it!
I convinced Angel to let me pick her
up from school on the first day,
because I couldn't bear the thought of waiting another second to see her and hear about her day! We picked her up on the playground and I asked "How was your day?" She didn't want to talk - just wanted to play on the playground (unwinding, I suppose) as though recess had only whetted her appetite for playground play. As we walked home, however, I was able to get little tidbits of explanations of her day. "Kindergarten is longer than I thought. It was really long." and "We had to lay down for quiet time for a long time. When I sat up and looked around, everyone was just laying there. My teacher wouldn't even let us read!" My favorite: "We were so busy learning all the rules that we didn't even have time to learn anything! I haven't learned anything new yet!" She also mentioned "Mom! I got to eat at the cafeteria! It was healthy and they didn't even make me pay!" (I had sent her with a very special 'cold' lunch, explaining that hot lunches aren't quite as healthy, plus we don't want to spend the $ for 'hot' lunch everyday. But I said it off-handedly and not specifically enough...... apparently they let Kindergarteners run up a tab in the cafeteria, so she assumed she had gotten a free lunch and that, since it was "healthy" (salad wraps), she totally scored! :) I thought that was hilarious!)