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August 29, 2011

Gap-Toothed Smile

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This morning, right before we left for school, Adelaide's first tooth fell out! Well, to be completely truthful, Joel gently pulled Adelaide's tooth out, after we noticed that it was really, really, really quite wobbly. Adelaide is the proud new owner of a very square gap on her bottom row. Looking back in our baby book archives, I noticed that the left central incisor was the tooth that first erupted and now, the first of the baby teeth to depart. It's funny to think about how hard it was to grow the little thing, and now how easily it came out.

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Hal wants in on all the tooth excitement; he has been running around, probing at his own teeth, saying "I have a loose tooth!"

August 24, 2011

Pick-Me-Up

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I took these pictures of Hal on Adelaide's first morning of Kindergarten after we'd dropped Adelaide off at her classroom, parted ways with Joel, and had had a glorious morning together playing at the Seahorse Park. Can you hear Henry laughing? I can.

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Today has been a bit of a rough one, so these laughing pictures have come in handy.

Joel had four wisdom teeth extracted yesterday. He's not feeling very well today.

I took advantage of the kids' occupation at school and daycare today to give the wall paint a just touch-up on all three floors of our house and clean for the flooring guy who's going to come over tonight and give us the lowdown on laminate flooring. I could use a shower before he comes over.

This morning, on the way to school with Adelaide, we listened to the beginning of By the Shores of Silver Lake. Mary looses her sight in the first few minutes after which the Ingalls' good old bulldog Jack dies the day before the family moves. Good pick, huh?

But, perhaps worst of all, lack of sleep and overwhelmedness with her new life crashed over Adelaide right before the school bell rang this morning. We stood outside together, Adelaide sobbing and wailing about "being too tired" and "school is so long" and "is it Saturday?" I had to physically carry her into the classroom this morning and force myself not to peek in the window to see if she'd recovered. Although her school is shorter than her usual daycare routine day, she has never before been so continuously challenged day in and day out. Art class, P.E., monkey bars, spilled milk cartons, computer lab, red tickets, bathroom breaks, self-portraits, new friends, discipline, backpacks, after-school van; it all builds up after just a couple of hard-working days. It was an ugly drop-off.

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So, I look at these pictures of my Hal Pal and remind myself to laugh.

August 18, 2011

Adelaide's Big Day

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Cinnamon oatmeal pancakes are really the way to begin one's academic career on the first day of Kindergarten. Their sweetness - along with the pot of jam and the jug of syrup - lends a "This is a Special Day" air to the morning. And as Adelaide said on this particular morning, "These pancakes are real wintery"; 'wintery' in this case referring to the heartiness of the pancakes, which puts a person in a mind of sledding or snowshoeing.

Well, this morning we did not sled or snowshoe, but expended a fair amount of emotional and physical energy, so the stick-to-your-ribs pancakes came in really handy.

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After washing, brushing, dressing, and breakfast, our family of four marched across the park under rainy skies to our new place, our neighborhood elementary school. Joel, Adelaide and I anxiously waited outside Adelaide's classroom door with scads of other new Kindergartners and their parents, snapping pictures and using our nervous energy to giggle and frantically chat with one another. Henry, not the least bit nervous, interestedly passed the time by throwing small stones a nearby storm drain.

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Suddenly the bell rang. I was quickly transported to my own school days by the sound as I think were many other parents: we all straightened up and lurched forward toward the opening classroom door. And behind the door was Adelaide's teacher, Miss C., welcoming us into the room with a pert, pleasant query to the parents, "Any tears this morning?"

"None so far," I thought to myself. Shortly after our arrival, after Adelaide had hung up her backpack, found her seat, we all began looking around at one another, uncertain as to what to do next. Most of the kids were settled into the toys and games that had been thoughtfully laid out at their places by their teacher, but then, I saw another kid clutching his dad for dear life and sobbing. Another little girl stood by watching looking a little bit shocky and her lip started to quiver. Joel and I looked at each other and had the same thought: "We've got to go."

We've been well-trained by our clever, practiced daycare director to make good-byes quick. Good-byes can be terribly painful somedays, but if separation is necessary, then we must make it practiced and quick, like a good assassin.

I knelt down next to Adelaide, gripped her tight, and whispered my well-wishes for her day. And then, suddenly and surprisingly, she clutched me back and began to cry. Adelaide has been so excited, so eager about school, but here, here at the moment of truth, when we had to part ways, her resolve floundered. It is so difficult to know what to do or how to respond. So, I floundered, too. Joel and Henry looked on, grimly.

Thankfully, mercifully, magically, the school's principal chose that moment - in what I can only imagine is her own most exciting, most chaotic, most maddening day - to help and comfort our family. We had met her once before, at an ice cream social at which she probably met a bazillion kids, but she looked at us, assessed the situation, and swooped into action.

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"Adelaide!" she exclaimed, "I'm glad to see you! You know, my five-year-old son is next door and he's feeling a little nervous, too. Can you show me your seat?" And she took Adelaide's hand, was led to Adelaide's seat, and engaged her in delightful chat. We escaped, ninja-like, to the library, where parents gabbled at each other in wild surmise and revived their spirits with coffee and bagels.

We snuck a peek through her classroom window on our way out and spied her seriously at work at her table, dry-eyed and bushy-tailed.

After school, on the ride home, she was abstracted and quiet. At one point, I looked at her in the rear view mirror, and saw her, eyes closed, wind from the open window washing over her face, and thought, maybe a nap? But then, revived by a glass of lemonade on the deck, she proceeded to chat my ear off for the next three hours about her day. To sum up:

-Adelaide sits at the red table.
-For gym, Mr. H. had them run a lap around the square, do push ups and sit ups.
-Her new sneakers make her feet hot.
-Her first grade friend Helenipa hugged her four times at recess.
-She wore a name tag in the shape of a blue beetle.
-Her teacher is "bossy", demands that they raise their hands before speaking (a totally foreign concept) and revealed that she once had purple hair.
-She struggled with her luncheon carton of chocolate milk, spilling it a little bit.
-She was disappointed that there wasn't art class today.
-Miss C. read The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn to the class.
-In music class they banged sticks together.
-She learned a song that involves lots of greeting and Simon-Says-like actions.
-She had to stand up and introduce herself to the class by standing up and saying, "My name is Adelaide, and my favorite color is lavender and purple."
-"When I go back tomorrow, more things will happen, and maybe there will be art class."

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These are but a small sampling of Adelaide's whirlwind of anecdotes. Call her, and she'll be happy to give you an account in her own words. Just make sure that your cell phone is fully charged, and that you have a comfortable place to sit, first.

August 12, 2011

Last-Minute Summer Vacation

Our family knocked off work a little early on Wednesday and buzzed out to South Dakota for a little last-minute summer vacation ... No, we didn't go to the Black Hills. Nope, not Sturgis. We didn't go to Mount Rushmore. We didn't even make it to the Corn Palace. We only ventured about 15 miles west of I-29 ... Our destination: Sioux Falls & Vermillion, of course.

I gave Adelaide the camera and encouraged her to snap photos of the sites that impressed her in and around town. Here's what she captured:

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The excellent playground equipment at McKennan Park.

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Her little brother on said playground equipment.

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The Sioux Falls Cathedral.

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A charming, colorful gingerbread house in the Cathedral District.

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A castle-shaped hospital.

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Your photographer, before the famous falls at Falls Park.

(A description of our foray back to Vermillion shall follow ... It takes time to collect one's thoughts and solidify the laughs, the surprises, and the fondness for that place and time.)

August 9, 2011

Gathering

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Adelaide and Henry recently gathered and treasured a smattering of forest detritus out at the Mushroom Forest. They eagerly gathered and cataloged their materials, Adelaide organizing by shape or color or number and Henry quietly and sincerely watching her every move and making his own pert little observations along the way.

Summertime is quickly slipping through our fingers and we are watching the first days of Kindergarten fast approach on the calendar. In a way, I am more than wistful and nostalgic for this time already. Although Joel is anxious for our first-born to enroll in undergrad, so that he can renew his own experience by joining in on her classes and flying along on that J-term trip to Greece, I am feeling a little heart tug as I smile at the passing of Adelaide's free and easy preschool life. I heartily embrace the influence of new people in my children's lives, other parents, teachers, fellow classmates, and I look forward to re-learning some of the things I've forgotten from grade school, like Christopher Columbus, fractions, and sentence diagramming.

But, I guess what I'm a little wistful about is the simple passage of time. In two weeks, Adelaide will meet a very big and clear milestone: School. We've marked lots of other milestones, like first tooth, first birthday, first bike and (lately) first loose tooth, but the commencement of School is a biggie. All of our life's hopes and expectations for Adelaide are wrapped up in this one idea of School.

I have absolutely no doubt that she will thrive and love it. She's ready, and I'm ready for her go off and love this new adventure. But on that first morning, a little part of me will smile and miss the little baby or little toddler that she used to be. These breezy August days before the whirl of School begins I have often found myself gathering up my thoughts, in quiet reflection of all that my Adelaide was, is, and is yet to be.

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