Monday, September 28, 2009

Entering a new Era...

When Dan and I decide to sell our previous house, one of the things I hoped to find in a new place was a neighborhood with kids for Max and Luke to play with. I remembered fondly playing with the neighbors across the street and across the commons area of the house I grew up in, and wanted my boys to have that same opportunity. The knock on the door with the "Can ____ come and play?" followed by squeals of laughter from neighboring backyards and shouts of "See you tomorrow!" at the day's end.

But I wasn't ready for it quite yet.

On Thursday, while I was out, two of our neighbor children came by to see if Max could come and play. Dan was a little unsure about the whole thing, so he wisely agreed, but he went also. They ended up jumping on the trampoline in a backyard a just across the culdesac, while Dan watched on with the mother of the home. Both Luke and Max loved it - and were so excited to have new friends that lived so close. When I got home and heard about the evening's events, I was happy for the boys, and thought that it was sweet that the neighbor kids thought to include them.

On Friday, the kids were back ringing the doorbell. This time I followed along, and watched the kids play together. Both neighbors (one girl and one boy) are 6 years old, and in first grade. And boy, did they seem A LOT older than my tiny 4 year old. I stood there, in the neighbor's backyard watching them play, and wondered if we were doing the right thing by letting Max play with them.

Saturday they came by a couple times, but both times Max wasn't able to go out. This didn't sit well with Max, and I started to see how this could be a problem. Was I going to have to go with him every time he wanted to play? If I was, then he wasn't going to be able to go very often, because I have other things to get done at home. The other parents' weren't always right there - just like I won't always be once my kiddos hit that age, but at what point is Max able to go play on his own a couple of houses away? And how much do I need to know about the neighbors to feel comfortable with him at their homes?

Today they were back. Three times. The third time I went to the father of one child, and asked about the "policy" for kiddos coming to his house. He said that Max was welcome any time, and that they all just keep an eye out. They shot baskets in his driveway for a while, and then Max invited them to come over here and play. They all played upstairs and in the backyard for a while, and then asked to go to the other neighbor's home. I decided to try and relax a little, and give it a shot. I told all three kids that Max needed to be home in 10 minutes, and could the big kids walk him back, please? Sure enough, in 10-15 minutes, they all came back across the street to drop Max off for the day.

Max appeared to have a good time, and can't wait to play again. And if the pattern holds true, I bet we'll hear the doorbell tomorrow night sometime.

Now Dan and I just have to figure out the rules for this kind of thing. How often, where, when, and how long? Any suggestions? Because, really, we weren't ready for this....

Sunday, September 27, 2009

It's done....

About 5 years ago my mom took her first quilting class. And soon thereafter, I followed her into my first quilting store. It didn't take long before I fell in love with the idea of quilting. You mean I too could purchase lots of little bits of gorgeous fabrics, put them all together, and end up with something? Sign me up.

So shortly after Max was born I took my first quilting class. It was a Bento Box pattern, and I chose the most child-friendly combination of colors I could find. And I had a blast making the top of this quilt.

But I didn't know how to do the backing, binding, or quilting. I didn't want to waste all the effort I had just put into the top on messing up the rest of it. So I decided to do some practice baby quilts, and use those to learn a little more. Over the next three years, I made a few simple block quilts for the boys and as baby gifts. But still the bento box top sat in the closet.

As the summer began and I started to set some goals for my free time, the quilt top kept coming to mind. This was the summer I was going to finish it. When August 23 rolled around I an still saw it sitting there, I knew it was time. Now or never. And in the next three days I sewed the backing, made my "quilt sandwich" ( top, batting, backing all safety pinned a zillion times together), quilted, and bound the entire thing.

It was done.

There are still plenty of mistakes and things I have learned for next time. But on the back of my couch lies this quilt. And truth be told, I'm really proud of it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Starting preschool....

The first week is done. Thank goodness. I want to thank you for all the comments about my last post. Your support and encouragement buoyed my spirits more than you can know. And I survived.

But Max thrived......

Seriously. I am so proud of him. Starting preschool is a big deal - all new people, new place, nothing familiar. For my highly emotional, intense little guy, this had all the hallmarks of disaster. We knew it was going to be either a nightmare or the best thing that ever happened to him.

And it was the best. No tears at drop off, and upon coming for pick-up, he looked up at me from a game of duck-duck-goose, turned back around, and said "I don't want to go. I want to stay forever."

We got into the car, and upon being asked how the day was, Max replied, "It was wonderful. I loved everything about it." And when Mema (my mom) asked about the day he energetically told her that school was like one big party. He was glowing.

Day two? More of the same. Day three? "Does it have to be the weekend?"

Now, we don't know a lot about the details of all the greatness. Mostly we hear about playing outside. We've heard a few names - Max B., Eli, Roxy, and Hannah. And he finally took a nap there on Friday (which made for a much nicer evening at home!). But all that matters is that he's happy.

All along, I have said that my only goal for preschool is that Max comes away from it with a good feeling about school. It looks like we are well on our way, and I couldn't be happier. And neither could Max.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Big days....

With the beginning of the school year here, we are in the midst of lots of "big days" - those days when we're all doing something big and new and important. And sometimes hard.

Today Max had his "new student orientation" at his preschool. We went into his classroom with him while he met his teachers, stayed for a minute while he saw a few things, and then left him there while we went to wait in the hallway. Now, let me tell you - he was doing well. He was asking the questions that he had, checking out all the neat materials, listening to instructions. He was doing great.

Me? I was a mess.

I'm just starting to see what a constant tug-of-war this parenting thing is. I want to raise independent, confident children. But right now I want them to still want me. I want them to feel comfortable in their environments away from me. But I still want the tight hug that tells me it would be better if I stayed. I want him to feel good in his ability to take care of himself. But I still want to be needed.

So while I hope that he grows up, I still want my baby.

And then there's tomorrow. Luke begins his new daycare in the morning. After only doing in-home childcare prior to this, this will be our first center experience. Having worked in a daycare, I know that they can be wonderful places. And I really feel good about the place that we have chosen. But I thought that about a couple other care arrangements I had found - and they didn't turn out to be positive experiences. (Thank God for Lauren!!!) So tomorrow we begin this new adventure for him - and I pray that they enjoy him and that he doesn't get lost in the crowd. Because he's my baby, and he's still so little.

With all of this comes the guilt. The tears that well up in Max's eyes when he realized tonight that he won't see his brother all day - five days a week. The fact that after dinner and getting ready for the next day, we're left with just a couple hours a day to spend together. Something about it just feels so wrong. And I know that I'm spoiled for getting summers and vacations to spend with my children, but in my gut, there's just something very unnatural about being away from your children so much. It hurts.

It will get better. After tomorrow, we've got two big days left - my first day of teaching, followed by Max's first day of school. Then it's all just settling in. We'll find our way to our new normal. But in the meantime....