We're visiting family in the states - crazy, I know. Everyone is shocked that I am traveling while so pregnant but we wanted to sneak in 1 last visit before the baby arrives. Here's a bunch of pictures from our visit to North Carolina - 31 weeks pregnant and counting! We got to see our pup Scout (he's actually 9 years old but is still crazy and cute!), the gorgeous mountains along the Appalachian Trail (on our way to the outlet mall!) and Brian's sister Sophia with her hubby and 2 kiddos. The weather was great while we were there - a few cold days but the sun was always shining and Luke got to explore the woods and a pond with daddy and grandpa. We're headed to Texas next for Thanksgiving with Uncle Dave. Mom and dad are heading to Lubbock as well. We're looking forward to an delicious Thanksgiving, which coincidentally happens to be Luke's birthday! We're celebrating with a turkey theme which sounds like a cop-out but it's really not - Luke will love all the turkey balloons and decorations we have for him and he'll think that big huge meal and all the desserts are just for him. :) Anyhoo, I'm still waiting for nice weather to get some Tennessee pictures so in the meantime, enjoy the pics from North Carolina.
Things around here have been hectic! I was asked to sell my Fray Baby items at our huge fall bazaar on base. And although I won't be here, I can still sell! I am donating all my items to the Spouses Club Ways N Means table and they will sell for 3 days straight and keep a small percentage of the profits. It really ends up being an amazing deal - I get to make a ridiculous amount of cute items, the club gets to keep a percentage, I don't have to pay the booth fee (which starts at $50 for a tiny booth) and I don't have to sit at the bazaar for 3 days straight while 30 weeks pregnant for 8 to 10 hour days. So needless to say, I have been busy not only sewing but tagging, pricing and labeling everything and making sure I have my master inventory spreadsheet perfectly updated and easy to understand. I am trying my hardest to make this as easy as possible for everyone. And as excited I am to be selling at the bazaar, I am really bummed that we won't be in town to check it out. There are other "crafters" who are donating items to the Ways N Means table and there is going to be an amazing amount of AMAZING vendors from all over Europe. I am tempted to email a friend who is helping coordinate the bazaar and ask her what "must haves" I must have and hand over a little cash to her. Tempting.....but we'll see....there is always next year and many more bazaars in between for us to attend and I am headed back to the states in a few short days and I'm sure I'll be doing a little bit on shopping there (Target anyone?) ;) In the meantime, not only am I "bazaaring" but I am cleaning, folding, organizing, packing, list making, refrigerator cleaning, gift buying, etc, etc, etc in preparation for our trip. Not only do I want things to run smoothly and all of us to have everything we need for our 3 weeks, but seriously, who likes returning to a cluttered, disorganized or sloppy house after being on vacation? Not me! So I have 2 days to make this house shine and I guarantee that we (this means you, Brian!) will LOVE walking through the front door in December to a welcoming, clean and comfy house. (See? I take care of YOU!) ;) Anyhoo - since the chaos of the last week or so is coming to an end and things are starting to slow down, I busted out the camera last night to snap some pictures of Luke hanging out with his daddy. (Okay, okay, I was taking pictures of all the bibs, burp cloths, blankets and tote bags galore but they were hanging out in the room with me and they were pretty cute so I took some of them too.)
Luke started preschool today, can you believe it? I don't know that it was the best day of his life but the teachers said he did pretty well. Although Luke won't be 3 until the end of next month, they squeezed him into the part day time preschool program. He will go 3 days a week for 4 hours a day and the kids in the room are ages 3 to 5. I'm thrilled that he was able to get into the room with the older kids because not only do I think it will be good for his socialization, but he will constantly be stimulated and will follow the kids leads. If he were in the 3 and under room, I know that he would be restless and bored and that would lead to a lot of heart ache for Brian and I having to drop off a miserable child. Anyways, Brian and I dropped Luke off in his classroom at 8:30am and let him walk around to check everything out. He seemed pretty content and was engrossed in watching some boys stack dominoes so we said "see ya!" to the teacher and walked out the door. As we walked by the window to his room in the hallway, Luke caught a glimpse of me and immediately his face changed. I waited a minute and peeked back through the window and saw Luke standing still, rubbing his eyes while Chris squatted in front of him and talked him through it. I was pretty confident that they could handle it and they did. When I went to pick Luke up, I asked how he did and I admit I was a little worried. Chris said that he was great all day but that he asked about me (or told Chris about me) every 5 to 10 minutes or so when they were inside. He also said that Luke really wanted to go outside and play (the door to the playground was open when we came in the room because the heat was up too high), but that they played outside for about 45 minutes so Luke was pacified. :) Now I have to say, THAT is the difference in watch care (day care) workers and preschool teachers. The fact that Chris told me that Luke had a really good day FIRST and then told me of the little nuances SECOND and without any concern or stress about it, put me at ease. When I pick up Luke from watch care, they tell me right away that Luke has been asking about me the entire time and that he doesn't want to play much. Gah! It drives me nuts - I feel like I have to give the watch care workers a little lesson on "how to make a happy child" and remind them of the power of distraction, the power of interaction and the power of validation. The preschool teachers acknowledged Luke's feelings, didn't get stressed about it and let it roll. They carried on their normal scheduled day with circle time, play time, outdoor time, clean up time, etc....and Luke rolled with the punches, all while reminding them that "mommy be back in a couple hours". But honestly, I think that preschool teachers (and kindergarten and maybe all elementary ed) have seen it all and know that any and every child can have a crazy quirk of their own. AND, they all know that it takes a couple weeks for a child to get in the groove and get comfortable with the new surroundings, new people, new routine, etc....and eventually they thrive and flourish. Luke is one of the youngest kids in the classroom and I am so excited to see what he is going to pick up and learn from not only the teachers but the kids that he interacts with (and here's hoping it's nothing awful! LOL). I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to put him in this situation and I feel very at ease with it. He is at a really good age, eager to learn and although he misses me while I am gone, I know that he has plenty of activity and stimulation and that for the most part he is pretty happy. And a little about this cool preschool room that he gets to be a part of - well....it is a big room - 2 main sections (1 on either side of the room) with sub sections in each main section. The entry way to the room are the kids cubbies and the middle of the room is the kids wash area and bathrooms - all kid sized and kid friendly. They really encourage the kids to do everything by themselves - go potty, wash their own hands, throw away the paper towel. etc, etc....There is a computer corner (I KNOW!!! crazy!), a music corner, an arts and crafts area, a building and construction area, a science area, an imaginary play area and a big circle time area. The circle time area is where the "school" part takes place and is complete with numbers, letters, days of the week, months of the year, seasons and clocks telling time, all over the walls. Oh, and what I am sure is Luke's favorite part, doors that lead to their very own playground. Each age group has their own playground with age appropriate equipment and activities and the kids love going outside. Parents are more than welcome to sit in to observe to see what is going on in the classroom but I think that I'll wait a few months before I check that out. I want to see Luke comfortable and in his element, not in that awkward stage where he is still trying to figure things out and doesn't necessarily follow along. (I know that sounds lame but that would cause me stress, unwarranted and unwanted stress.) So, today was a good day. As soon as Luke noticed me (I actually had to call his name a couple time and say hi before he "discovered" me), he ran over and said "let's go to the car!" All the kids were getting ready for their naps so we went over to the cubbies to get his jacket and I sat to ask him about his day. Ha! You sure don't get a lot of information from a 2 year old little boy. All he told me was that he had a good day and had fun. And as I asked him questions, he repeated them back to me. "Did you play outside today?" ("Did you play outside?"), "Did you have fun playing with the kids?" ("Have fun playing with kids") But then I asked him if he got to play on the piano and you could see his little brain working and him look at me and say "Yuke (Luke) play the piano!" - telling me that he WANTED to play but didn't get to. I'll have to remember that when I drop him off on Wednesday and tell them that if he is talking too much about mommy that he might enjoy playing in the music corner for awhile. (Do teachers like you letting them know about little "tricks" that work with your kids?) I know, I know, this post is really long and probably beneficial only to me, as I get to type out my free flowing thoughts about childcare and attempt to appease myself and feel perfectly at ease about my little boy going to preschool at such a young age. (let it go.....let it go....) ;) What it comes down to is that I am not enough for my little man. He is curious about everything, interested in everything, wants to DO everything....and hanging out with mom every day (as much as we have fun and I do little projects and activities with him at home), it is not the same as that social interaction you get with other kids and the structure you get with teachers and the variety of COOL THINGS that you get to go (that mom doesn't necessarily think of), you know? All in all, preschool is cool and I'm cool with that. :)
Yesterday was Luke's third Halloween. Luke's first Halloween, Brian was deployed. Our FRG got together at our house to take pictures and hang out before trick or treating started. Luke was still crawling, was dressed as a "hunny" pot and was annoyed with the huge hood flopping over his eyes. We didn't go trick or treating because, well, 11 month old babies don't need candy but we did enjoy seeing everyone in costume. Luke's second Halloween, Brian had just returned from Iraq 13 days earlier. Halloween ended up being a rainy day but in the days leading up to Halloween we took Luke to a pumpkin farm, carved pumpkins and decorated the house. On Halloween, we threw Luke's honey pot costume back on him (which barely fit this time around), and Brian braved the rain and took him around the neighborhood. At first Luke was terrified, petrified and wanted nothing to do with it. By the time they hit the 8th house or so, he was holding up his little plastic pumpkin for some treats. He went to about 15 houses that year and had fun sampling the candy. This year we are in Germany and have had a lot of neighborhood and troop activities that were in the spirit of Halloween. We had a costume Hail and Farewell, a costume birthday party, and a neighborhood full of kiddos that were ready to trick or treat all night long. Earlier in the day, Luke and I carved a pumpkin and around 5pm, we got Luke dressed up. Luke was a slick 50s guy and his little friend, Lilly, was a 50s girl in a poodle skirt. Not that they were in the vicinity of each other for more than 30 seconds, but it was still a cute idea. :) Night fall was around 5:30pm so it was nice and dark when the trick or treating began. This year, as we walked around the neighborhood, Luke wasn't very interested in candy at all - he was fascinated with all of the lit up jack-o-lanterns and candles. He pointed them all out, squatted in front of them to check them out and went on to the next house to see what they had. People would ask him if they want candy and he would say no and keep on walking. After about 7 houses he told me he was all done trick or treating! So we headed back to our house and spent the rest of the evening rotating between sitting outside with the dads (and the little fire pit and jack-o-lanterns) watching the parade of costumes and munching on candy and going inside every once in awhile to warm up. And for those of you wondering, the German kids (and high schoolers) came out in droves to our neighborhood. I don't think that Germans go all out on Halloween like Americans do and they don't trick or treat but after all these years of Americans living in their neighborhoods, they have caught on and join the party.
Luke's first taste of candy corn - can you see the excitement? (Although he keeps calling it acorns instead of candy corn.) :)