Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cows come from Milk and Other Connorisms

It has been an interesting week already. Yesterday was a "Teacher Workday" at Preschool (yes, I know how lame it is for the preschool - ahem, daycare for working parents - to have a workday on a Monday, but whatever). We love her school so whatever keeps them rolling.

A sitter came the first half of the day. Connor loved Ms. Kym and Kirk's back-up daycare benefit proved invaluable. I worked a half day and spent the rest with our Peanut. Maybe that was really the crux of the school's purpose? To be sure we spent quality one-on-one time together? During our afternoon I was amazed at how engaged Connor has become in 'pretend play' and in using her imagination. Certainly I see it come out sporadically on the weekends when we are here and there and everywhere. But the low key time at home really helped bring it out. Perhaps I was that much more vigilant to it as I just started reading this book about "the creative family" and encouraging imagination.

Here are some examples of our "creative family" in action:
These show Connor's "goldfish" she spontaneously made and identified from her beads!
We are big into "being ghosts" under the covers at bedtime. It makes Connor laugh hysterically and it wouldn't be right without a hiding ghost saying goodnight.
I guess this snuggle time is one of the advantages of sleeping on a queen mattress on the floor. Ample room for kisses and cuddles and sheet-ghost fun!
One morning before school Kirk and Connor had a tea party. Looks like a yummy spread. See how proud Connor is of her handiwork?
A favorite activity is to go to our bathroom and grab as many sticky lint rollers as she can find. She calls them her "lollipops!"
This weekend a haircut was in order. Connor was very excited to get into her "car" at the shop and no telling what was going through her little imagination as the hairdresser clipped away.
Connor's teachers instructed us to bring in a shoebox. This is a tough task for the family whose belongings are still in storage with no shoebox in sight. I thought it a good excuse to buy new shoes, but our neighbor jumped in with a box in the nick of time.
The art Connor brought home from the shoebox was quite abstract. Yet there was a logical story for every little piece. What was it, you ask? But of course a castle with a prince and princess. Connor pointed out each piece to us. The "prince" is the larger, red piece on the bottom left.

And yesterday Connor's imagination led to playing "airplane" on the white couch with me...zipped up tight in her coat and her purple plastic high heels. I am not really sure where the chill came from on the makeshift plane. But it was awfully cute. Lazing around in PJs is certainly a novelty for us.

Here are some other products of Connor's imagination:

- She told me recently, "Mom do you know cows come from milk?" I didn't have the heart to correct her.

- "God made me like that" - she is big into saying this about every thing she notices about herself.

- She is in a new classroom and I asked about her naptime routine. She told me her new mat in her class has "LEGS, but not real legs! Not legs like these" she reports, tapping her legs.

- In her new class they are doing a unit on community helpers. She has learned to "call 911 in an emergency" and also all about, "stop, drop, and roll" My absolute favorite time of day is hearing about what she learned that day.

- We made our first Costco trip this weekend since moving back to the States. Only in America would such a place exist. I bought a super size pack of fresh mangos. Connor devoured them eating them by the fistful. Ask her what she ate though and she proudly and matter-of-factly answers "Flamingos" (instead of mangos). It is priceless.

Childlike imagination is contagious!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Twirly Skirts

Connor proved quite a tomboy while we lived in Europe. Most of her friends were boys and we HAD TO wear pants and coats most of the time just to stay dry and warm in the Belgium rains. But now with Atlanta sunshine and blue skies we are full force into the dresses and skirts.

Now Connor insists on wearing skirts no matter what. Not just any old skirt - it has to be a TWIRLY skirt! It must flair and flounce and Connor is always testing out the twirl. I am not sure how we will handle other seasons with the twirly skirt obsession full force. All her poor little shorts are getting neglected.

As much as I enjoyed the trains and trucks phase - I must admit I love the skirts, ballet, and dolls phase. My little girl-y girl!

Falling Asleep with Books

These photos are from our recent beach trip, but the concept holds wherever we are. We allow Connor to take two books to bed with her. One we read aloud at bedtime and the other she picks out just for her.She snuggles in and looks at the pages. Her favorites she can recite; this child is a good memorizer. These beach photos show how tuckered out she got playing in the sand. She fell asleep mid-read! This is how we found her.
I love that Connor treats books just like her stuffed animal friends. I pray I can raise a child who loves books and reading.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Art Gallery Exhibition

Connor is in the middle of what her school calls "transition." She is transitioning rooms from one classroom to the next - moving up, if you will. In coordination with the big move her current teacher organized an 'Art Exhibition' in the school's atrium. I wasn't sure what to expect but as I entered it was clear this was far from a preschool art display. This was a full on gallery the class created and the children were the artists roaming around and showing off their masterpieces with pride and glee.

When I got there Connor was in the far corner of the room. See her way back there? I love the moment when I arrive before she realizes I am there. There is nothing like her face when she spies me... ...In this case her anticipation was especially pent up since other parents had been in and out all afternoon to witness the Art Show...
She ran to me so fast and with her tongue out. Someone had redone her hair this day so her Pebbles ponytail was the cherry on top. I scooped her up for a big bear hug and she led me all around to see all her works of art.
Connor was especially excited about these plates they made with their pictures. Not sure why Connor's hair is so crazy in her plate photo, but it made for a memorable shot.
The entire class had plates on display. It was funny to see all their little faces staring back at us!
As we toured around spotting her art Connor posed with her closest fellow art-eest! I loved the way they set the 4 folding tables on their sides for display booths. The effect was dramatic and just the right size/height for our budding artists.
Here are some closeups of Connor's art:
Connor's sculpture is the fish at the bottom of the table.My little Michaelangelo wasn't very happy when it was time to leave. She liked the art show (as well as the refreshments that accompanied it!) I wonder how this compares in Connor's mind to all those art museums she toured all over Europe?!?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Books that Impact You; Picking Cotton is Must Read

I learned a lot about the simple pleasure of books the past couple of years. I have never been an avid reader mostly because there was always a long list of activities and responsibilities competing for my attention. But blessed with the time to be more at peace, I have a renewed love for books. Eat Pray Love has been a favorite of mine for several years now. I went with some girlfriends to see the Julia Roberts movie rendition on opening night. It was a good representation of the book and extremely well cast - although Liz Gilbert's words on the paper can never be entirely reproduced. The message of independence, travel, trust and love are as feel good as they come. I recently read Gilbert's new book Committed and found it equally thoughtful, well-written and uplifting. It made me affirm again how happy marriage has made me.

Another recent read was The Help by Atlantan Katherine Stockett. Written mostly through the eyes and views of maids living in Mississippi during the time of Jim Crow laws, it was a revealing tale of courage and discovery. Definitely worthwhile and a good summer read. All three of these are loosely based on true stories of love, friendship and self-discovery.

But the book I just read, Picking Cotton, definitely ranks on my top 10 most "jump into your heart" gripping books I have read....ever. It is a true story of Jennifer Thompson, a student at Elon College brutally raped in Burlington, NC during the 1980s. Alternating between Jennifer's perspective and Ronald Cotton's together they detail how Jennifer identified an innocent Ron as her attacker, thereby sentencing him to life in prison. After 11 years behind bars DNA evidence exonerated Ron and convicted another man of the crime. Jennifer and Ron's unlikely friendship is the ultimate testament to forgiveness against all odds.
This book should be required reading for all Americans. The fact this true story took place in my childhood backyard - Ronald Cotton served much of his jail term in Raleigh when I was in grade school - made it that much more real to me. The book read like a mystery novel even though clearly the entire plot is detailed on the cover. It is the perfect example of how technology and reformed policies and processes can make us better as a population. Had DNA not been a factor, albeit 11 years later, Ron Cotton would have spent life in prison for another man's crime. Just imagine if that was you. Or your husband. Or your son. Here is a book trailer of sorts...the book is beautifully written and you will not regret reading it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bedtime or Playtime?

Connor has had a hard time falling asleep once in bed for the past few weeks. She will sing at the top of her lungs, talk to all her stuffed animal friends, read, look out the window, jump on her bed. Anything and everything but closing her eyes and falling asleep!

It is hard to be too upset with her, because she is always so happy about it. The tunes she belts out and the infectious laughter make us laugh. Her joy is contagious. Last night Kirk went in to check and with her hands behind her head, looking up at the sky through the window - she whispered through the dark, "Daddy, I am waiting for the sun to wake up!" (she is very big into noting when the sun is asleep versus awake).

Also this week we decided she had too many "friends" in bed with her. They were keeping her awake. So in a moment of tough love we took them all away and told her she had to "earn" them back one by one - and no more than 2 in bed at a time. She earned back Grover. The next morning Kirk went in to get Connor and before a "Good Morning" was ever uttered she proclaimed "Grover misses his good friend, Elmo!" But don't worry - good behavior earned Elmo back too.

Tonight we went into her room to check and we found that while Connor wasn't ready to lie down with head on her pillow, she had at least tucked in Elmo and Grover nice and neat right beside her...
It is hard to appreciate but these photos were taken in darkness. The flash is just lighting everything up. It was absolutely precious.
Connor took her two pink muh-muhs and very symmetrically folded them into squares for pillows. And pulled the covers up just right.
She was so, so proud of herself. No doubt having Mom come in and snap blinding, flashing photos didn't help in the calming down and falling asleep category - but hey, it made us smile!
Thankfully she did finally settle down and fall asleep. Oh what an imagination on this little girl!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Go Wild - Part 2

Wild Dunes is a happenin' place. It is kind of like a "Kellermans" of the beach. (You know the resort from the Dirty Dancing movie).The house was wonderful. Lots of living area for everyone to do their thing separately and still together.
One of the most exciting parts about the beach was observing the maturity of Kirk's brothers. I have been 'with' the family now for 15 years - Davis was 5 years old when Kirk and I started dating! My, how times change. The two youngest brothers brought beautiful, sweet and sophisticated girlfriends to the beach. I am pretty protective but these two have my seal of approval. It was a special treat to hang out with my handsome brother in-laws...plus the girl time with these lovely ladies was great.
Poppa Ed rented a boat one day. We piled in - all 10 of us - and rode the waves under the Charleston bridge and along The Battery. Connor was a good sport and shrieked at the salty spray. We even spotted dolphins!
Davis arrived a day late to the beach and directly from his fraternity national conference. He serves as the fraternity president and under his leadership they won the national award for the best chapter in the country. We celebrated his huge accomplishment!
The last day we used this tree for a family photo setting. Evan and China staked out the spots for us - Evan proved quite a monkey.
On our way out of town we all had one last yummy meal together in historic Charleston at Hominey Grill. Highly recommend it.
It was fun to have a balanced number of guys to gals in our group of 10. I think Kirk and I must seem like old fogies to the other kids - we are married with child. Our days are spent with early bedtimes, toddler discipline, potty breaks and kid meals. These couples are full of young love, trendy fashion, late nights on the town and idle time relaxing at the beach. One day our life stages will catch up, but for now it is grand to live a little in both worlds - reality in one and vicariously the other.

That said, I still feel like my love with Kirk is just as young and intoxicating. And I wouldn't trade a moment of motherhood to rewind (even if it did mean a smaller waistline). Just look at this sweet face....worth every bit of the old fogi-ness!