Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The End of an Era en EspaƱol

"Adios, Elliot." "Hasta luego."

A chorus of Spanish-language goodbyes enveloped Elliot. At the teacher's prompting, each child gave him a goodbye hug before he walked through the door of his Spanish immersion preschool for the last time.

After two years, Elliot is moving on...and I'm feeling a little bit sad. Picking him up today for the very last time, I thought back to his very first day at school. We were both nervous. Well, he was terrified, never really having been away from me in a new environment. He bawled when he realized I was leaving. I still remember how odd it felt when I got back home to a completely empty house. So silent.

The first three months were rough, with a lot of phone calls to reassure me that Elliot had indeed stopped crying. But, over time, he started to get more comfortable. He started participating in activities, not merely observing them. He made friends. He gained a lot of confidence. And his Spanish got better and better. I got very used to my baby being out of the house for several mornings each week.

For the past few weeks, Elliot and I have been counting down to his last day at preschool. He's been pretty nonchalant about the whole thing: "Then three days, then two days, then one day, then zero days." But this morning, he was a little upset. His stomach was bothering him. He didn't want to leave the house. "Why is it my last day, Mommy?"

I explained to him again that the school is closed next week, and then he'll start his new school after our Labor Day camping weekend. "But, I don't like new schools."

I reminded him that he didn't like his current preschool when he started. I told him that I also find change difficult. I told him that he's grown a lot and that he's ready for more of a "big boy" experience.

He agreed. On some level, I think he gets it and is ready for a new challenge But, knowing my baby, the transition will not be an easy one. However, I know we'll both have to get used to change and new beginnings because we're going to have a lot of them!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Another Fun Weekend at Grandparents' "Camp"

"Next time I want to stay five sleeps," said Elliot to my parents' friend when they ran into her at a restaurant. One night into his "three sleep" visit to "Camp Grandma and Poppy," Elliot was already planning for a more extended stay next time.

Needless to say, he had a great time.

My dad took Elliot fishing, something he'd done with Daddy several times with no results. With Poppy, he caught eight fish (although six of them were due to a friendly fellow fisher who handed his rod to Elliot every time he had a bite). When my dad told me about it, I could tell that he loved hearing Elliot's squeals of delight as they reeled in their catch on "Big Lunker Lake."

My parents took Elliot to two parks, at least one for a picnic. They gave him his favorite foods, including pizza and a "zap-a-doo burger" (which we call a bagel with honey and cream cheese at our house.) My mom indulged Elliot's role-playing games (coffee shop, driving to Costa Rica, etc.) far longer than I would likely have the patience for.

Elliot and my parents' dog Gia became fast friends, to the point where she let Elliot brush her...something that our cat Leo certainly doesn't stand for!

Elliot stayed up late. He slept well. He played and got read to and watched videos on Grandma's computer. He pretended he was driving the golf carts at the local golf course. Coming home from our weekend get-away, I texted my mom to say that we'd be a little late due to traffic. "Don't worry," was her immediate response. "Elliot and Poppy are at Home Depot sitting on tractors." (And I'm sure he was deciding which one he'd buy when he was a grown-up).

"Three sleeps" was the longest Elliot had ever spent at Grandma and Poppy's, and away from us. All in all, it was a smashing success. Tim and I got to enjoy an adults-only anniversary celebration at a Lake Michigan beach town, and Elliot got three days of undivided attention from his beloved grandparents.

And everyone involved was very happy. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Fun in Oregon

If you're like me, you might not know that "Oregon" actually more closely rhymes with "fun" than "on." That was one of the first things I learned upon arriving in the state in late June for our most recent family vacation. More importantly, I learned that Oregon is a beautiful and fun-filled destination for a family adventure with our intrepid traveler, Elliot.

Highlights of the week or so we split between coastal town Cannon Beach and hipster hangout Portland include:

  • Tidal pools: When I think of starfish, I used to think of dried-up, sand-colored creatures. No longer. Since we had the opportunity to wade through the tidal pools that form around the 220-foot high Haystack Rock during low tide periods, I now know that starfish come in colors including orange and purple. We marveled at the number of shellfish attached to the rocks and the brilliant colors of the anemones. And, we got to look through telescopes and see nesting puffins high up in the rocks.
  •  Hiking: Buying Elliot his very first pair of hiking boots before our trip was a flash of inspiration. One day, he hiked three miles! Up and down hills, through mud, over tree roots and rocks went out nimble-footed almost five-year-old. Whenever there was an opportunity to further explore, Elliot took it...whether is was using a downed tree as a pathway or seeing how many tree trunk hole "animal shelters" he could squeeze into.
  • Portland Blues Festival: Tim, Elliot and I love live music, and when we're on vacation, we really enjoy attending local events. The waterfront Portland Blues Festival was a great chance to blend in with the Portlanders and listen to some tunes on a beautiful night. And, we just happened to catch Los Lonely Boys, a band we actually know!
  •  Ice cream: No vacation would be complete without ice cream, and the ice cream we enjoyed in Portland was especially memorable. We went to two artisan ice cream shops where we sampled homemade flavors like bourbon coffee (not Elliot), strawberry balsamic and ooey-gooey brownie. One advertised flavor none of us was brave enough to try was habanero goat cheese marionberry!
Throughout our trip, Elliot literally skipped and danced with delight while playing on the (chilly) beach, wandering through the Japanese Gardens, exploring the zoo and just meandering down the streets. So, we knew he was having fun...and so were we. And that's the most important part of any vacation.