Tuesday, January 27, 2015

When the World Shuts Down for a Day

The over forecasted Blizzard of 2015 has come and gone, leaving far less snow than was predicted.  All over social media, people are complaining about the hype and the meteorologists getting it all wrong and the town and state governments for overreacting and shutting down highways.  Here, on Quaker Lane, we're soaking up every minute of this free day off.  With nothing to do and nowhere to go, today has been a warmly welcomed break from the work/school routine.  Jim came home from work early yesterday and armed with a house full of food and a porch stocked full of firewood, we waited for the snow to start.  Lilly and Jack went to bed knowing there was no school to wake up for and Jim and I stayed up late watching Homeland (our guilty pleasure for the week). We definitely have snow out there--it may not be the 20-30 inches that was originally predicted but it's about a foot; enough to look pretty and keep life from returning to normal, at least for today.

It's after 1pm and everyone is still in pajamas or sweats.  We had a lazy morning (as lazy a morning as you can have when your children are ready to start the day by 7:30) full of coffee, a long breakfast, an early morning dance party, more coffee and a late brunch.  The fire is in full force, and the little ones have been playing (mostly) nicely together.  I even sat and read my book by the fire for a good part of the morning.  As I write, Hannah is asleep while Lilly and Jack are upstairs having their "quiet time," complete with books and trucks and coloring and writing.  Jim is reading, I am writing and enjoying these quiet minutes with some more coffee, pausing to feel the little kicks in my stomach that are getting stronger and more frequent by the day.  What's on tap for this afternoon?  Probably some shoveling and playing outside--maybe building a snowman or two, some hot chocolate and a little sledding.

I would like to say thank you to everyone who got it wrong and overreacted.  Days like this are few and far between.  The Clarks will take an over forecasted snow storm any day.

A Blizzard 2015 Dance Party

Has anyone seen Hannah?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Our New Normal

First Day of School: January 5, 2015
Today marks the end of Jack's first two weeks of school.  What a whirlwind couple of weeks they have been!  The first 3 days brought a whole new set of emotions into our house.  Lilly was thrilled to have Jack at school with her.  Jack had mixed feelings and given the option, would have rather stayed home. Hannah was not one bit thrilled and spent her mornings asking where Lilly and Jackie were.  I was a pregnant, emotional mess and Jim tried to preserve some kind of order and sanity in our house.  The first few days were filled with uncertainty; Jack trying hard not to cry but often bursting into tears when it came time to put on his coat in the morning.  His teacher, Miss Rachel, was amazing.  She suggested we read The Kissing Hand, a really sweet book about Chester the raccoon who misses his mom when he starts school.  Just like the story, I would give Jack a kiss in his hand before we left for school each morning, so that he could hold it up to his cheek if he missed me, reminding himself that I would always be back to pick him up.  On his second day, when I picked him up, I asked him how his morning was and he said he was 10 times happy and 1 time sad, so he held his hand to his cheek when he was sad.  For the rest of the first week and into the second week, he asked me to kiss his hand every day.  Then, today, I realized that he didn't ask me to kiss his hand before school. I panicked a little bit but decided to let Jack take the lead, and he was absolutely fine.  He was more than fine.  He was confident and happy and had a great morning.  

So, here we are after two full weeks of school, and we have found our new normal.  When I dropped Lilly and Jack off this morning, Lilly said her usual, "Bye Mom," and was talking a mile a minute to the teacher who took her out of the car.  Jack got out of the car, turned around and said, "Bye Mom, I hope you and Hannah have a fun morning!  I'll see you at lunchtime."  And then Lilly put her arm around Jack and walked him through the doors and down to his classroom.  Nothing profound or amazing.  But simple words and simple actions that let me drive away from school with a proud smile on my face.

I love picking Jack up at noon.  He chats the entire way home about his day.  They are such different conversations from my ones with Lilly, who informs me not only what she did during the day but what every other child in the class did as well.  Jack, on the other hand, tells me what he had for snack and how he didn't want to sit on the ellipse when the bell rang because he wanted to keep doing his "lock work" (work where he has 4 padlocks and 4 keys on a keychain and has to figure out which key unlocks each one).  Last week, when I asked him if he knew the names of any other children in the class, he said he didn't yet but maybe he will when he's five like Lilly. Yesterday, he proudly told me that he had a clementine for snack and that he made a friend named Heidi who is 4 and knows how to peel clementines. Such special little moments.

On the way home today, his teacher told me to ask him about Martin Luther King Jr.  They were learning about him since he is the reason they don't have school on Monday.  So, I asked Jack who MLK was.  "Oh, he's the boy in the white shirt."  When I asked him what the boy in the white shirt did, Jack told me that "he was nice to people."  And that is a perfect 3-year-old description of Martin Luther King.

Jack's first painting: a rocket.
Yesterday, Jack told me that Lilly came down to his classroom and read his class a story, and then she stayed for a little while and helped him with some work.  It was the first thing Lilly told me when I picked her up later in the day (except from Lilly, I learned what book she read and who Jack was playing with and how she really likes Miss Rachel's class and thinks she'll go and visit more often...) What an amazing environment for their earliest days of school.  I hope they have some memories from these days when they're older.

Lilly's painting of a car that drives both ways, that she made for Jack so he wouldn't be sad.
Hannah has adjusted too.  She spends her entire morning talking and playing and following me around the house "helping".  Today we organized closets.  We've taken trips to Target and the mall and Trader Joe's.  We have vacuumed and cleaned and folded laundry.  We have played with Mr. Potato Head and Hannah has cooked me an inordinate number of meals from their toy kitchen. Hannah really makes me laugh, and I'm going to enjoy these few months with just the two of us home in the mornings.

Hannah's Mr. Potato Heads!
Seeing the three little ones happy makes me happy.  It seems like we've worked our way through this transition.  Let's see what next week brings.  I may be adventurous and try potty training Hannah--it seems like as good a time as any!