You Should See The Other Kid

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gregory's eye has turned some spectacular colors in the aftermath of his run in with the hall table. There was still a lot of swelling this morning so we brought him to the pediatrician this afternoon for a quick look. She thinks he's fine - nothing broken - and that we should expect his face to look like a rainbow for the next 7 to 10 days. Guess we won't be taking that Christmas card picture anytime soon.

Bookmark and Share

The Good, the Bad, and the Ouch

Sunday, September 27, 2009

It's been an eventful weekend here at Chez Corbin. The good is all the fun we've had. Friday night we attended the Fall Festival at Rebecca's school. The only dinner choice was hot dogs, which my vegetarian self found kind of odd. So Greg and the kids ate hot dogs and I had apple crisp for supper - oh how I suffer (not!). There was face painting, Blinky the clown, and lots of screaming K - 5th graders. The fun continued into Saturday with a trip to the playground, the town library, and Kids Fest at Mount Wachusett. With a forecast of rain all day Sunday, every family within a fifty mile radius decided to hit Kids Fest on Saturday, and it was packed. Long lines everywhere - the bouncy castles, the cafeteria, the games. I had planned to buy the kids lunch there but the cafeteria line was so long, we ended up hitting all the free sample booths for bags of chips, pretzels, goldfish and fruit gummies. Yup, all four food groups! That didn't really cut it so we hit Papa Gino's on the way home for some pizza. Today we watched the Patriot's beat a very good Atlanta Falcon's team and fed the kids homemade lentil vegetable soup (trying to make up for yesterday).

So that was the good. The bad? I've had a miserable cold all weekend. My brother Kenny was supposed to come stay with us for the week (he's working a booth at The Big E), and also had a bad cold. Greg feels like he's coming down with something and Rebecca had a headache all afternoon - probably also coming down with it since she's the only one left who hasn't had it yet. Cold and flu season is here.

And the ouch? My poor baby boy decided to climb up on the hall table to get his sister's Leapster, and it tipped over and landed on his face. He now has a shiner that would make John Lester flinch, and a healthy fear of the hall table. His 'booboo' slowed him down for about forty-five minutes but he was soon back to his wild man self, trying to dive into the tub during his bath (repeatedly), and showing off his 'trick' (which starts with a little dance, followed by slow motion running, hurling his Sponge Bob foam football at the TV, and ends with a cartwheel). The good news is he has made tremendous progress on the potty training front, and we are hoping to be completely diaper free within the next week or two!!

Bookmark and Share

A New Faire

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rebecca's face painting

This Sunday, my very generous mother-in-law took the family to King Richard's Faire in Carver, Massachusetts. Unfortunately, this was also the weekend we had set aside for Gregory's potty training, and had already started working him up to it when we got the fair invitation. It turned out that we were still trying to turn the tide of the battle on day three, so we made the hard decision to keep him at home with Greg, to continue the potty battle, while I brought Rebecca to the fair with her yia-yia, aunts, uncles and cousins. Somehow I always get the short end of the stick (not!). And we ended up with a glorious, sunny fall day to boot!

King Richard's Faire is a Renaissance fair that comes to southern Mass every September. I've never been to this type of event so I found the whole thing fascinating. When we parked our minivan next to a Camry full of adults in full medieval costume (and no, they were not employees), I realized we were not in Kansas anymore. It's a celebration of fantasy complete with elaborate costumes, jousting matches, 'royalty' strolling through the grounds conversing with us common folk, muscle powered carnival rides and fantastic animals, where pretty much anything goes. The best part? For me it was the employees. I think it must take a special kind of person to work at a Renaissance fair, and the way many of them got into their role was contagious. The worst part? The commercialism! The price of entry for a child 5-11 is $15, and $26 for adults. That totaled $41 just for Rebecca and I to get in. I would have sucked it up without complaining, but for almost every activity inside the gate you also had to pay. As we walked through the gate, we were surrounded by a vast number of storefronts selling everything from costumes to musical instruments to housewares, all medieval themed and all extremely pricey. The there was face painting, food and drinks which I guess I can understand, but they were also way overpriced. The worst was the rides. $3 per body to ride on a boat shaped swing, that you had to swing yourself. It was just a wooden boat hanging from ropes. With five kids, plus an adult to help them, it was close to $20 to go on a three minute swing ride! A small 'maze' with a 10 foot slide at the end? $2 per person and it took all of three minutes to get through it. Didn't they just charge $41 for the two of us to get in? Come on. They could do the same thing at the playground for free. Lucky for Rebecca, the day was on yia-yia, who is much more generous than myself.

Hercules, the liger

The only thing that you didn't have to pay extra for was the entertainment, which was pretty good. My favorite was the wild cat show, although I spent the whole thing with a six year old on my shoulders since it was so packed we couldn't get anywhere near close enough for Rebecca to see on her own. The highlight was Hercules, the liger. Hercules is a lion/tiger hybrid who measures 11 feet long when fully stretched out. His birth was an 'accident' (it's illegal to purposely breed the two cats), and he is in the Book of World Records (I assume they meant Guinness, although they didn't actually specify that), as the biggest cat ever recorded. Interestingly, the fact that his father is a lion and his mother is a tiger is significant in producing his gigantic size. If his mother were a lion, and his father a tiger, he would be called a tion, and he would be a dwarf instead of a giant. At least that's what they told us. My picture doesn't do him justice, he is actually curled up in it, but I had a forty pound six year old on my shoulders when they had him stretch so I couldn't get a picture of that.

My next favorite show was the Aerial Angels, three fire eating, aerial silk performers from Michigan who include a great deal of humor into their clever act. Rebecca loved the pony ride (she got three of them) and she even got to hold a falcon. Yia-yia made sure she and her cousins got to ride on whatever they wanted, and on her way out she told me "this is the best fair ever". I must say it was quite the excursion into fantasy land. Thanks Charlene for giving us such a nice day.

Bookmark and Share

The Sterling Fair

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Gregory admires a pig

We made our annual trip to the Sterling Fair today, after a one year hiatus due to torrential downpours last September. For anyone who has never been, the Sterling Fair is part agricultural fair, part cheesy carnival, held every September on the runways of the Sterling airport. Rebecca had a vague recollection (last time she had just turned 4) and of course Gregory had no idea what to expect.

We hit the agricultural part, which is actually my favorite, first. This consisted of large exhibits of stinky but cute farm animals including cows, horses, goats, pigs, bunnies and donkeys. The kids LOVE this, and want to stop and look at every one of the thousands of livestock. I have to say my favorite animal was a 14 month old pig. He was very cute, and did I mention that he was six feet long? At 14 months? Does anyone know what age a pig is considered full grown? I have no idea, but if this guy gets much bigger, they may need to build a bigger stall.

We took a brief stroll through the craft competition displays, which mostly consisted of Greg and I repeatedly yelling "Don't touch that!". They did have some
gorgeous quilts, and an elaborately decorated fairy house built entirely out of materials found in woods. The latter was built by a thirteen year old girl and was really cool.

The last part of the agricultural section is the horse and oxen pull. I never thought I'd say something like this, but I love the animal pull competitions (the tractor pull doesn't do it for me, but the men love it - must be a guy thing). Today they were doing the horse pull, and I could have watched it all day. If you've never seen it, they have this metal sled thing on a dirt track with 1600 pound blocks stacked on it. The sled has a ring on one end which they slip over a hook attached to a harness attached to a team of enormous horses. The participant must then pull the sled a certain distance (in the horse pull it's about twenty feet). After each team has a go, they take a huge front-end loader and add another 1600 pound cement block to the sled, and repeat the process. If a team cannot pull the sled, they are out, and the last team left wins the event. It's kind of like watching bull riding or the strong man competition on TV - you can't believe you're watching it, but you are, and actually find it somewhat interesting. (OK, the strong man competition isn't all that interesting, but you know what I mean). We only watched the beginning, so maybe it gets more painful when the sled gets really heavy?

Rebecca on an old school motorcycle ride

Rebecca would have watched the horses all day, but Gregory was more interested in climbing the metal bleachers so pretty soon we moved on. Onto the cheesy carnival part. You know - ridiculously overpriced deathtraps, I mean rides, and the worst food you can imagine. We took a ride on the ferris wheel ($10 worth of tickets for the four of us for one ride). The kids rode the merry-go-round, and each got to pick one more ride, and our $20 worth of tickets were gone. While I was waiting for Rebecca to finish the sparkly motorcycle ride, I was eavesdropping on the people standing next to me. Greg was on the other side of the fair putting Gregory on the truck ride, so I needed something to entertain me. I was stunned to hear the Dad say he had spent $80 on tickets so far that day. His wife had spent $60 and the grandmother had spent $40. Guys, that's almost $200 on shifty carnival rides. You should have spent that money on a couple of season's passes to Six Flags. The rides are much better and you can go for a full year. I don't get it.

Anyway, that was it. Lots of fun as usual and now I'm all set with shady carnival rides until next year.

Bookmark and Share

Labor Day Escape To Maine

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Rebecca and Gregory pose with a moose at
the Maine Wildlife Park

We headed up to Maine over Labor Day to visit Jiffy, Kenny, Chris, Evan and the cutest baby ever, my niece Nora. Greg had to work until 6:00 PM on Friday, so we all met at Mom and Dad's, terrorized Jackie and Don for awhile, and set out. Amazingly, there was no northbound traffic, and we made it to Jif's house in Pownal, Maine by 9:15 PM. Gregory fell asleep 15 minutes before we arrived, so we carried him in and put him right to bed without waking him up. At 1:00 AM, when he sat up in bed crying because he didn't know where he was, I belatedly realized my mistake. After his 4 hour nap, he was ready to play, and it was 4:15 AM by the time he went back to sleep. Rebecca had him (and us) up at 6:30 AM - not a good start.

Needless to say, I was less than motivated on Saturday, and ended up taking a long nap. Gregory and Rebecca played all day outside with their hilarious cousin Evan (3) and his 2 imaginary friends, Dinosaur Bones and Mr. Oatmeal. This whole entertaining each other thing is great. By afternoon, I was feeling better and spent a few hours running around the house with the kids in a very loosely structured game of hide and seek. We ended with a cookout and early to bed.

Rebecca's scary bear face

Sunday was another beautiful day, and we headed over to Gray and the Maine Wildlife Park. This fabulous rescue zoo is full of animals native to Maine. Some of the more spectacular occupants include a pair of mountain lions (mountain lions in Maine? Who knew????), bobcats, lynxes, 2 black bears, 2 young moose, 1 gigantic mature moose, a bunch of deer and some porcupines. The animals are kept in natural enclosures (for the most part), and the park paths are lined with colorful late summer flowers. We spent a couple of enjoyable hours there before heading home for lunch and naps.

Later, we visited with Beth and Leah, and then headed into Freeport for a chilly dinner on the deck at Gritty's. This was my first time at the Freeport branch of Gritty's, and was happy to find a large grassy area attached to the outdoor dining deck. I want to know what genius came up with this idea. Our kids ran and played with hordes of other hungry kids for the entire hour it took our food to come. What could have been a very stressful and unhappy experience (sitting at a table for an hour with 4 small, hungry children) turned out to be a pleasant hour sitting at our outdoor table, having adult conversation and watching the kids play.

Monday morning we were slow to get moving but eventually got packed up and said our good byes. Reluctantly back to work/school/real life starting Tuesday!

Bookmark and Share

Rebecca Goes to First Grade

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Rebecca back to school

I just put Rebecca on the school bus, bound for her first day of first grade. No hesitation, she didn't look back once as she ran across the street, towing a huge bag of school supplies to a bus filled with kids who looked way to old to be going to the same place as my little first grader. That's it - she's on her own from 8:30 AM until 4:00 PM. I hope she loves every minute of it, finds joy in learning, makes lots of friends, and doesn't lose her lunch money. We've tried to hammer home those important lessons - work hard and you can do anything, and don't forget to flush!

Enough nostalgia. Time to rant. Since when did the list of required school supplies grow to include 2 boxes of crayons, 10 no. 2 pencils, 1 box of colored pencils, 1 box of fat colored markers, 1 box of thin colored markers, 1 bottle of Elmer's rubber cement, 2 glue sticks, 2 rolls of paper towels, 2 containers of Clorox antibacterial wipes, a box of sandwich bags, and a box of tissues? The poor kid was so laden with stuff, she could barely climb the bus stairs. Ah, the good old days, when everything you needed fit neatly inside your plastic pencil case. Seriously, why do we need all this stuff? I know the school budget, like everyone's budget, is extremely tight. But does each kid really need their own crayons, colored pencils, 2 different types of markers, and 2 different kinds of glue? Greg and I are trying to reduce household consumption of unnecessary and unsustainable stuff, but the pre-school shopping spree felt like a giant step backwards. In addition, we packed 2 healthy, peanut free snacks. Many parents search high and low for the elusive healthy, peanut free snack. In my opinion, the popular "fruit gummies" are too laden with high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, artificial flavors, and chemicals I can't pronounce to count as "healthy". Here's an easy tip: pack fruit. We packed a container of blackberries and a banana. Her backpack was pretty full at this point, so I sent her with $2.25 to buy the school lunch (shudder). I've heard all kinds of horror stories about toxic school lunches, but this was something she really wanted to try (it's her first time in the cafeteria). For now, we've agreed she can buy lunch one day per week, and the rest of the week I'll try to compensate by packing healthy, organic food. Life's a compromise, right?

Enough about my feelings. Today is her day. She is a bright, energetic and determined little girl, and I hope she has a fabulous experience. The house seems too quiet without her as I prepare to start my own work day. I can't wait to hear all about it this afternoon when the bus returns my precious child to me.

Bookmark and Share

First Grade Nostalgia

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My daughter started first grade today. This was a big event for us. All day, the big playground, cafeteria lunches, the real deal. While standing at the end of the driveway this morning, waiting for the bright orange-yellow bus to whisk her away, I thought back nostalgically to her first day of kindergarten. The excitement of going to a new school with the 'big' kids. Riding the school bus for the first time. Has it really already been a year?
When the bus stopped, she struggled across the street, laden with three bags of 'required' school supplies (don't get me started). Up the three stairs she climbed without a look back. No wave for Mom - she was too busy making her way to an empty seat on a bus filled with alarmingly older looking kids. I experienced a sad, sweet flashback to last year. She would arrive home from kindergarten on the bus, eagerly peaking out her window. The bus would stop, and there was my baby. She would run down the stairs, a huge smile on her little face, and jump into my arms with an exuberant 'Mommy!'.
As my day passed quietly by, I thought of her often. Was she being treated kindly? Did she remember the important lessons Greg and I have tried so hard to teach her? That if she works hard, she can go anywhere? That she is a beautiful, precious child, no matter what? That she is loved? That she needs to wash her hands after visiting the girl's room, and please, don't forget to flush? OK, that last one was more practical than sentimental, but important nonetheless.
Time is a cruel concept, where fleeting, precious moments flicker across our reality, and then are gone in the blink of an eye. Forever.
As I waited for her bus this afternoon, I thought of all the ways she has grown. She seems so tall lately. In the last year she has learned to read, add, subtract, tie her shoes and swim. How many other countless tiny changes are taking place everyday without my notice? Panic rose as I thought about how quickly her milestones have come and gone. How long before she is a big kid in the back of the bus? In high school? College? A wife? A mother? My rising panic changed to joy as the bus pulled up, and I saw her smiling little face in the window. And there she was, running down the bus stairs and jumping into my arms yelling 'Mommy!'. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for that gift. I will treasure it every day it is still available.

Bookmark and Share