Halloween Pictures

Trick or Treat!

We only had about 20 trick or treaters this year, down from about a hundred last year. I think the cold weather and Steeler game kept a lot of people closer to home. Only one of our trick or treaters was an actual panhandling grown man, which is pretty good for our 'hood. Anyway, I've never been a huge fan of Halloween. I don't really like dressing up, and I spend too much time with ungrateful children during the work week to want to see them lined up outside my door begging for candy during my free time. M called me a curmudgeon more than once this weekend as I voiced my opposition to this holiday.

However, after tonight, I must officially change my stance. Halloween is awesome.

M's mom (the infamous Grandma Cake) was born on Halloween, so she came down to our house for birthday cake and to pass out candy. We dressed Laurel up in her Eeyore costume and she toddled about the house. We didn't really have a plan for trick or treating, since she's too young to eat candy, but once she was dressed up, we couldn't resist showing her off to some of the neighbors. M took her to a couple of houses and they came home with a small bag of loot, and Laurel was gripping a Milky Way that she refused to let go all evening (it got really warm and mushy and I threw it out after she went to bed.) Laurel thought dressing up was fun. She couldn't figure out why our doorbell kept ringing, although she did wave to the trick or treaters. She loved walking around the house, and liked walking in the leaves even more. And man, did she like that somebody gave her a Milky Way.

Stay tuned for another blog post about the Rally to Restore Sanity, and we have tons of pictures to share. For now...here's a video of our almost-one-year-old on Halloween.


Not one picture?

I must ask you to imagine a two and a half foot tall human gleefully finding herself upright, of her own volition, for the first time in her existence. (I do have a video of the historic event, don't worry. However, it's stuck on my phone and I don't know how to get it off and my precious computer time is better spent on the Plato Learning Lab Praxis software, since I need to take my math teacher certification sometime in the next six months.)

Laurel is walking! Today M helped her walk into daycare and she was greeted by cheers! (This is how I know we have a good daycare.) He said she seemed very proud of herself, and it must have done something to her disposition, because she was pleasant at daycare all day and even took two naps. Yesterday she discovered grilled cheese at Big Jim's in the Run, while we were treated to an unexpected visit from Caveman of Ohio. Danna made a ridiculous amount of pumpkin roll this weekend, and there's still cups and cups of pumpkin leftover. I see a pie in our future, if Laurel doesn't end up eating it all for lunch this week.

We also neglected to take a single picture of a very nice party to celebrate M's grandparents in Saint Marys, PA. Hopefully the cousins will post some photos.

I'm beat tired and feeling the end-of-the-grading-period slump. I had a very unproductive conversation about subtracting negative integers with Period 7 today. I do not look forward to ten thousand conversations with parents who will suddenly be concerned about their offsprings' avoidance of homework completion, and who will, no doubt, argue with me about 1. My syllabus (which is why it's intentionally vague), 2. The grading policy (determined by the district - not my fault!) or 3. My accommodations of special education students (thoroughly and lovingly documented in color-coded detail...I did my part to ensure your child had access to a Free and Appropriate Public Education.)

Anyway...hot cider on a cold and wet autumn night, with a baby sleeping upstairs and a husband quietly studying in the other room is awfully comforting. There's no place I'd rather be at the moment.


Working Mom, Part 2

A lot of the blogging about being a working mom is on the negative side, and I will admit that I've been in a this-job-is-stupid-and-I-want-to-quit kind of a funk for the past few days. But today, I was thinking about all the good things that have been added to my life since I started working.

Nothing beats the way Laurel greets me at the end of the day when I pick her up, and I'm surprised at how good it feels to have other adults get to know her. Watching her daycare teachers figure out her personality and hearing them talk about her first steps or learning to wave with a sense of pride boosts me up a little each day. Miss Sue and I are currently bonding over our shared struggle to get Laurel to sleep.

M and I are starting to get organized. We lived something of a carefree life before Laurel joined us, and while I wouldn't trade those experiences for anything, we did feel a bit scattered from time to time. Getting organized is more than just knowing what's for dinner. We know what needs to be done in a day (even if we don't always get it done). Nobody runs out of underwear. My car always has enough gas in it. (That never happened before...I used to drive so infrequently that I paid no attention to the gas gauge and ran out of gas on more than one occasion.)

M and I are also starting to live more purposefully. We have an idea of where we'd like to be in a few years. Putting Laurel in daycare was not an easy decision for us, and we didn't want to do it unless it was actually going to make things better for our family. Going to work is more than just getting a paycheck, every dollar I earn gets us closer to a better life.


That's a lotta candles!

My grandpa just turned 81! We went down to Rices Landing and had dinner with him and grandma and my Uncle Tom and Aunt Donna, and of course, the mayor, Ryan. (My cousin Ryan inspired me to get a little civic-minded myself, so I just decided to run for the board of my neighborhood association. Seriously. Ryan is not even out of college yet, and has taken the initiative to clean things up in his town. The least I can do is volunteer a little bit in my neighborhood.) It was a really fun afternoon and Laurel entertained us all with her "walking"...also described as "controlled falling". We watched the Steeler game and ate birthday cake and looked at Grandpa's tomatoes. Even Danna was with us, so the whole family was together, which is a rather unusual event. Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

Today was the birthday of another grandmother, Norine. She died in February of last year, but I remember her every time I sing Laurel's middle name. Today, I was also thinking about salada tea and sitting at her kitchen table.

And in another couple of weeks, we'll be celebrating a birthday with ONE candle! That's right, Laurel is almost a year old!


She said WHAT???!!!

I totally want to write a post about a parent phone call I received this week. However, as I am a professional who takes seriously her obligation to protect the confidentiality of her students, I will refrain.

Instead I will tell you about a story that involves sleep, beer, blood and a pumpkin patch. My weekend so far.

My mom offered to watch Laurel overnight and I finally took her up on it. Of course Laurel was fine and actually slept for an eight hour stretch. I had a very nice dinner cooked by my sister, who is in Pittsburgh visiting right now, and then we all went out for a few beers and to watch the hockey game. But the best part was that when we came home, we went to bed and slept. And slept, and slept and slept. I slept in until 7:30 and dang, it felt good.

The blood part came when Laurel slipped and hit her mouth off the coffee table. Nothing is worse than seeing your kid's blood. She's fine, but has a big fat lip. Laurel has been a real dare-devil, pretty much since she started moving and I have a feeling I'm going to be experiencing a few more heart-stopping moments like this. She's on the brink of walking. She'll cruise along the furniture and occasionally take a step or two in between holding on to something. But she has absolutely no fear of falling. Today she started scampering up the steps, not crawling, but by standing and hanging on to the spindles on the banister! We had a visit from Grandpa Curly today, and he can attest to Laurel's mischievous ways.

Anyway, we celebrated fall by going up to Sorgel's Farm, which was predictably a madhouse, but still fun. We picked a pumpkin and sampled nuts and bought some cider and apples. Laurel was impressed by the tractor but not the horses. I don't think she understood the corn maze. The weather was beautiful and Danna took some photos that I hope to post later.

The weekend is only half over, though. What other fun and excitement will come my way before it's time to head back to the land of school bells and detention slips?


walking in autumn

Love this weather!
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Working Mom

Laurel...well, let's just say she's experimenting with asserting herself. This involves a lot of screaming. Diaper changes become wrestling matches. Bathtime is a battle to keep her from standing up and subsequently falling down (I tried once to just bathe her while she was standing up, but this resulted in too much slippage for the baby and near-heart-attacks for the mama). She insists on feeding herself, so she finishes every meal with food smeared all over her face and hair. She roars and gnashes her teeth and clenches her little fists and shouts. I can only imagine what words will come out once she's more verbal, although perhaps language will help her to feel less frustrated and she won't feel the need to race around the house yelling like a banshee.

Of course, she's still a little baby at heart, so she tends to want to crawl up in my lap for a hug moments after she's given me the baby equivalent of the finger.

I'm not sure I really have this Working Mom thing under control. We coast along pretty well as long as everything goes according to plan. But one unanticipated meeting or sudden illness or plumbing problem and it all goes to hell. I guess I should be happy that everybody is well fed and we've not run out of clean underwear, but let me tell you when I fell down the basement steps tonight while I was scurrying around to get the garbage out to the curb, and coffee grounds spilled all over the place and I banged my forearm and twisted my back, I just sat there and cried...stunned and defeated. I probably would have sat there and cried for a good long while, but my sister happens to be in town and when she came to see what happened we both just started laughing, and she swept up the coffee grounds and everything was ok again.



Loud. Food. Hugs. Beer. Laughter. Joy. Siblings.
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Game time

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Grandpa Curly and Grandma Cake (And Aunt Mary!)

We went to visit M's family yesterday, since our planned visit last weekend didn't work out on account of Laurel's ear infection/cold/general malaise. She's feeling much better, although she has a troubling cough. Troubling to me, that is. Our pediatrician, Dr. Carl, reassured me that babies get colds, colds take a few weeks to clear up, and it's all perfectly normal.

This latest bout of illness, along with some teething has made for sleepless nights for M and me. However, as Laurel nears her first birthday, which is just over a month away, I am confident that she will start sleeping all night. Any day now. The good thing is, I work with high school students, who are also very tired during the day. We get along great.


Anyway, it was a beautiful drive out to the country where they live. The leaves are starting to change color. On the way there, we saw a half dozen turkeys meandering through a corn field. Laurel was extremely interested in Mary's cat, Belle, who is the tiniest cat I've ever seen. Belle was fairly accommodating and let Laurel pet her.

Laurel had a great time playing with the blocks that Grandma Cake brought out, and Grandpa Curly fed her cheese and crackers. Mary got her some cute Halloween socks, although Laurel promptly took them off. We ate some delicious zucchini, and headed home just as the sun was setting.