Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's Halloween - what's not to like?

Sadly, it does not seem that John has the same enthusiasm for Halloween as the rest of us vans. (Paul is already talking about next year's costume, and CJ regularly wants to discuss how we can have the scariest house on the block.) Perhaps it is because he does not yet understand the joy of candy. Perhaps he is too young to appreciate the thrill of donning an alternate persona. Perhaps it is because there is a scary zombie in our front hallway. Whatever the reason, he most certainly does not like to get dressed up. My friend Nicky handed down her son's dragon costume and it is as cute as ever. But when I tried to put John in it for his story hour costume party, he completely lost it. Granted he is a bit out of sorts, suffering from a head cold and the arrival of several teeth, but his reaction was quite over the top. Being the insensitive mom that I am, I snapped a few pics before taking off the costume. In the end, he was happy to be a frog for an hour and collect things in his treat bag. Someone passed out cookies and I rewarded John for his bravery by letting him eat his immediately. Hopefully he will agree to wear the dragon costume for trick-or-treating, or at least our church party Sunday afternoon. It really is cute when the child inside isn't bawling his eyes out. Mom, please don't make me wear this scary costume! I don't want to be a frog either!!
Oh. Light sabers make it all better.

(In case you thought the frog looked familiar, it was Paul's costume for his first Halloween. And cousin Sam's a few years before that.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The force... it must be a boy thing

Feeling inspired by costume god Shawn, I dusted off the sewing machine and began working on Paul's Yoda costume. I was pretty proud of what I had accomplished until my husband came home and asked, "Is he supposed to be Spanish? Did you even look at a picture of Yoda?" Well, yes. I tried. But my searches kept turning up head shots and endless photos of dogs in costume. I suppose I could have popped in one of the movies and searched for a scene with him in it, but then I would have had to watch Star Wars. Ick. It's bad enough that I have to endure endless conversations about it with my son.
"Mom, mom. You know that guy in Star Wars? The one with the blue light saver?"
"What's he called again?"
"I have no idea."
"Mom, can I tell you something? Did you know that General Grievius (I believe his name is actually Grievous, but that's how P pronounces it) has four light savers??"
"That's so cool. Right mom?"
You get the idea. But I digress. After the humiliating unveiling of my poncho cloak, I enlisted the help of my husband. We both have basic sewing skills (thanks to our 7th grade home economics teacher) and he set to work on improving the costume. I had happily found a Yoda t-shirt earlier in the day that showcased his entire "person" and we were able to use that as a guide. (And then
hide it until Christmas.) I purchased a brown shirt that also contained Star Wars images and P could hardly contain his excitement while putting it on. The final part of last night's dress rehearsal was the presenting of the GREEN LIGHT SABER. I was surprised Paul did not ask to take it to bed with him.
Here is the boy at his first party of the week. I decided to wait until the actual holiday before applying green makeup to all of his exposed skin. Oh, and I still need to figure out what to do with his feet. ????????
P.S. I did not appreciate Target's anti-homeade costume commercial. Paul said to me today after the party: "Mom, I love my Yoda costume." So there.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Make the perfect Halloween costume I must

Not sure if I am motivated by the desire to be the mom who creates awesome Halloween costumes from scratch, or the refusal to shell out 39.99 for a flimsy polyester piece of junk. This year it may just be because it is impossible to find a costume that fits my child's desire and current stature. Too short to fit into the boy costumes, he has been pouring over the Halloween catalog in search of inspiration. We convinced him that he would make a great Yoda and now he happily tells everyone he sees. Last year he changed his mind daily, and when he finally decided on a ghost the day before Halloween, I did my best to create a cool costume. I forgot, as my husband likes to point out, that our son does not walk, he runs. What started out as a ghost ended up as a muddy sheet with a giant hole for his head. I vowed not to let that happen again this year. Upon investigation I learned that the only available Yoda costumes were for babies and dogs. I did find a mask and quickly went into sticker shock followed by an image of my son not being able to see while trick or treating. Again. Then I found directions online for making your own and this morning we set off on a quest for materials. We quickly located tan fleece at the local fabric store (on sale!) and purchased a yard. Advice was given on how I should construct the cloak and hopefully I will not screw it up (more on that next week). I found a $1 pair of green gloves while checking out and had already purchased brown sweatpants for $3. The last two things on the list were a brown turtleneck and a green hoodie. The directions say to cut the sleeves off the hoodie, attach them to triangular pieces of cardboard and sew them onto the hood. Easy enough. What is not easy is finding a green hoodie. We went to four different stores before finally finding the right color (it matches the gloves PERFECTLY). However, it is a really nice hoodie. And I cannot bring myself to cut the sleeves. I thought about trekking back to the fabric store to see if I could just find some matching fleece, but at that point in our day the boys were both completely fried and we were late for library hour. Thankfully I still have next week to find some fabric and get the whole thing sewn. Stay tuned, more insanity to follow.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

In need of a lifebook?

Baby books are not exactly adoption friendly. One of the suggestions given by many adoption experts is to create a lifebook for your child instead of a baby book so that he/she can understand and appreciate the journey to becoming part of a forever family. A fellow adoptive mom gave me a adoption friendly baby book to use for Paul, but it is rather intense and requires that I actually keep track of minor details that slip past us with little fanfare. I know there are moms out there that write down the dates of every tooth appearance and the first 100 words their child uttered. I am lucky that my son's have easy birthdays to remember. So yeah, the lifebook. I figured that because I am not much of a scrapbooker and more of a writer, I would keep journals for the boys instead. I started Paul's during the adoption process; back when I used to have a whole lot more idle time on my hands. But even with all that time I started to procrastinate and did not keep a very good record of how I was feeling during the stages of the process. And I didn't bring it with me to the airport where I could have killed the many hours of waiting with writing. Instead I tried to go back after the fact and write down key events that happened within the months leading up to and immediately following his arrival. (Thankfully I kept the calendar for that year!) But it seemed contrived and not very honest, and I wondered what Paul would think when he read it. I vowed to do a better job with our second child's journal. Unfortunately the first few entries were all about how we wanted a girl, and when we got the referral for John I ripped them out. Nothing like setting your child up with a complex. When I went to fill in the details of our journey, I couldn't find the 2008 calendar and was stuck trying to remember the order of events. I did manage to bring the journal to the airport this time and wrote a nice entry on the day of his arrival. I wrote it part way into the journal hoping I would go back and fill in the missing pieces. I promised myself I would be better this time and mark down important events of his first few months at home. I did neither. Yesterday I was cleaning out the shelves in our den, mostly because John regularly opens the cupboards and dumps out the contents and I needed a more baby proof system of organization, and I found the journals. Waves of guilt crashed over me as I flipped through them and then stuffed them into a box along with Paul's baby book and the calendars for 2007 and 2009 (still looking for 2008). I convinced myself that it would all be okay because I maintain this blog pretty regularly and it's a pretty good record of what has happened to my boys since April 2008. Would it be cheating to print out entries and just paste them in the journals? How horrible am I for not maintaining an actual lifebook for my sons? Paul is very familiar with his adoption story (a little too familiar perhaps as at one point he was convinced that all babies arrive on a plane from South Korea), but I think he is also the type that would appreciate it all in book form. I recently picked up a kid-friendly baby book and we worked on it together, but I felt horrible when it asked for "firsts" and he had either experienced them before joining our family, or I had forgotten when they happened. I honestly thought this would help me stay motivated in writing more down for John. It hasn't.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

At the Crossroads

Establishing yourself as a teacher requires staying in one place. And my life was not destined to play out that way. I married a Navy man and spent the early years of my career traveling around the country. On the positive side I was able to earn a Master’s Degree for a lot less money and in a lot less time than many of my peers. I also learned the fine art of resilience and have some crazy stories to tell about the places I have seen and the people I have met. But in order to establish myself as a teacher, we needed to settle down. So when my husband was faced with the decision to re-up or get out, he got out. For my sake. We moved back to our home state so that I could finalize my certification and put something substantial on my resume. I found a great job a few hours from where I grew up and was able to work there for almost four years, earning tenure and gaining confidence. But the nomadic lifestyle that we had grown accustomed to in addition to the growth of our family pulled us here. I left the comfort of my teaching job in hopes that I would easily find another in our hometown. Who could have predicted the crash in the economy and the profound impact it has had on education. It is now nearly impossible to find a permanent teaching job despite my years of experience and multiple certifications. Luckily I have the distraction of two amazing sons to keep me busy, but the pull of the classroom remains deep in my soul. I am faced with the decision of staying at home to raise my boys and ignoring the empty hole left by what should be a great career, or starting over in something completely different and more suited to the current economy? The other day I saw a story about a lawyer who was forced to enter the home cleaning business in order to make ends meet. It breaks my heart to think about people who spent years educating themselves and building a career only to be sidelined by the unavailability of jobs. I have to ask myself, is this a sign for me to try something different? Or do I just stick it out, knowing that eventually the economy will recover and the hiring of teachers will begin again?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Another look back

Paul's first Halloween and first trip to the pumpkin farm. It was about 80 degrees out that day! I love his sweet little face in this picture. Trip #2. Quite a bit colder but still tons of fun! Trip #3: Trip #4 was today. The weather was perfectly crisp and the boys had a great time checking everything out. Paul added a ghost-like facial expression for added entertainment. And of course I had to start the whole process with John. He was hesitant at first to stick his head through the hole, but quickly began to ham it up!