Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Burbs

For the metro-DC crowd, we live in the boonies. The Wilds of Maryland, where there are still lots of u-pick farms minutes away, cows a-plenty, and a decent segment of the population that wear flannel shirts by choice and trade. It is very Republican in these parts.

I love our neighborhood with it's neurotically manicured laws, big green open parks and neighbors that wave to every car that drives by. Our next door neighbors are like family to us. They have a set of keys to our house and will always help if you need it. It is a quiet, friendly, safe place to live.

This images keep haunting me.

I was putting Clare down for bed. I kept thinking, What is that noise? The neighbors must be having a party. Thank goodness Clare is a heavy sleeper.

Matt and Grace weren't home. It was the first time in... well, ever ... that they were gone at 7:30 at night. He took her to a town all meeting to voice his support for a bike trail near our house.

When I went downstairs, the noise was louder. I walked right past the front windows and into the kitchen to clear the dinner dishes. Through the water I caught snippets of words.

Come out with your hands up.

Holy shit. Wait, what???

I immediately called next door. Across the street, a neighbor was being arrested. I saw it. I stood like a statue, though shaking slightly at the thought of what might come, with all the lights turned off and the front window open. I saw him come out after an hour; I saw him remove the gun from his waistband; I saw him put it on the car; I saw him kneel down and put his hands on his head; I saw the police take him away.

It was horrible. For the family, the neighborhood and for us.

We don't know the family very well, their post college aged children don't mesh much with our preschool demographic. But Gracie loved the family dog, and the kindness the man who was just taken away always showed her.

We were never afraid of him. Should we have been?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Chicken Feed

Grace has been at her new school for two and a half months now, and its been..... fantastic.
We love the school. We love the curriculum, the teachers and the families. We knew it would be a great fit from the first week.

I was worried though. I was worried about the change and how it would effect her, which was silly because I was the one who cried on her last day of school at her old daycare, not Grace. I tried writing about a fantastic party the school held in honor of the end of summer West African Yam Festival, but Clare threw up all over me after eating about 1lb of rice, and I didn't feel much like talking about it.

So one of the things that we love about the school is that they spend A LOT of time outdoors. The kids eat lunch outdoors whenever possible, they do yard work (raking leaves, pine needles and gathering branches), they garden (planting, watering, harvesting and spreading hay), they being afternoon recess at 3pm and stay outdoors until pickup and they care for their chickens.

Yeah, you heard me, they have chickens. Some of the (even more liberal than us) parents seem to raised concerns that the chickens being kept in the coop over weekends was cruel, so beginning last weekend families were asked to sign up for a weekend day to care for the birds.

We, of course, were the first family to enroll.

The coop, will there be eggs?
Of course not.

Release of the birds. I only stayed in the pen for 30 seconds after that.

If your on chicken duty you have to feed them, right?
Luckily we'd been saving egg shells and strawberry tops for a week.

Clare under the impression that the little beasties wanted to play with her instead of peck her.
Thank goodness for the upgrade of two layers of chicken wire.
We all escaped the good deed unscathed, next up, the Thanksgiving Picnic.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


You are four now. No more of this almost business.

This morning when you came downstairs, there was a demure batting of the eyelashes at the birthday paraphernalia hanging from the ceiling, and you whispered a sincere Thank You.

You will be a brilliant four.

In the last year you have grown so much. So full of life, beauty, kindness and empathy. So full of creativity, curiosity and chutzpah (at times). You reason and love more than you fight and cry. You hug with your whole body and snuggle with your whole heart.

 We love everything you are and all that you will be. Happy 4th Birthday Gracie!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Almost Four

Sunday was Gracie's birthday party. It's been under discussion for the last 10 months. She was very specific in her wishes.

One, a princess cake:

These cakes are how you know I love my children. A weekend of test cake making and then a full Friday/Saturday combo of baking and decorating went into this beast.

Two, a pinata:

Carefully selected with the inspection given to dozens before this unicorn was chosen. On the way home from the store, she hugged it and whispered how it was beautiful, but she was going to whack it with a stick and it wasn't personal.

Three, the ability to dress up:

So do you see what Sugar and Spice in all their Princess Glory are holding in this picture? Yep, the head of the unicorn. There is a whole series of photos where they entertained themselves by pummeling the broken paper-mache carcass.

The irony of it though? Grace was REALLY upset when I through the bits into the dumpster.

The best part of the party for me? A concentrated mass of mom's from her new school telling me how sweet, well mannered and kind she is.