Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Frankenstorm: we did something right!

Just a teensy note to correct a sentiment I expressed here about the makeshift window sealing job we did-and then ridiculed-yesterday...guess it actually did some good and I shouldn't be so flippant about it.

The building sent the maintence team through early this morning to asses & begin fixing any damage...evidently lots of apartments had similar problems with the windows on that side of the building, and most of them had much worse damage than our own. We had some soggy towels to launder and a bit of damp paint around the window, but that's about it...evidently many of our neighbors weren't so lucky and had extensive damage to their walls & carpets. We've heard the watervavs going all morning, and lots of sounds of furniture being moved.

Counting ourselves lucky (again!) and feeling glad that we took the precautions we did, even if we thought they were silly and inadequate at the time.

Frankenstorm: hurricane, baby!

Well, we made it through the night!

Actually it weren't no thang...mom, James and I stayed up til like midnight watching the storm, then (after several friends helped us figure out that the blue sphere thingies were probably an electrical substation exploding-awful!) put on an episode of Dr Who and by the time it was done, the winds had died down considerably. I still couldn't sleep, but there were no more major weather events that took our attention.

I wish I could say the same for our beloved NYC and all of our friends there. It sounds like a bit of a nightmare scenario out there right now, at least for some folks. One of the scariest things this morning is the relative radio silence...after many hours of constant info pouring out of the area via social media, checking this morning and only seeing updates from 3 NYC folks (and all with dire news) was a bit disheartening. As we get farther into the power outages and people's phones are dying, I hope that everyone is able to reach those they need and that everyone stays safe. Here's to a speedy recovery/cleanup for all!!

As for us, we're cautiously reverting from hurricane watch mode back to baby watch mode. Sunday, as the pressures began to change, I could feel how easy it would be to accidentally set off labor - every little thing I did would set off contractions...being unsure of the severity of the impending storm and not knowing if my midwives would be able to safely make it to me in the midst of it, I took it super easy and went out of my way to avoid any potential triggers. Yesterday, when the storm was at its worst, I had pretty frequent but super irregular contractions all day, and towards the evening they got very consistent for an hour or so, and i started getting the brain-scatteredness that comes with labor...but then the contractions lessened back to irregular and mild, and though they're still occasionally popping up this morning, they don't seem to be part of anything larger.

My still scattered and hormonal brain is worried that I somehow "missed" something I was supposed to take advantage of for an easy labor, but I know that isn't rational...trying to let it go, and we'll have fun today finishing our Halloween crafts before the holiday tomorrow!!!

Today's plan: sock puppet bats!! Footprint ghosts!! Maybe even handprint cats...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Frankenstorm: What the...

So, we're a tad freaked right now...

Cadence opted to sleep in the "playhouse" (a giant walk-in closet in the interior of the apt...really probably the safest place to be right now) so James kept her company in there while I cuddled with Hazel on the couch.  (Hazel was going to sleep in the playhouse but got very angry when bedtime came and ended up wanting to be with me wherever I was, so we settled in on the couch while mom sat next to us...

So, laying there in the semi-dark I start to see lightening...but it's odd, it's remarkably blue.  After several flashes I remarked to mom that it was quite the lightening, and she agreed, but it wasn't until a few minutes later, after James and I decided (based on how much the balcony door -which is pretty well protected by the terrace walls and not even on the side of the building that's taking the brunt of the storm - was shaking and straining) to close off the room with the leaky window (wind and rain coming through the glass...not terrible, but that is the window that's facing the hardest hit side of the house, and if the winds are going to continue to increase as they say, it's not one I want to rely on... ) and had herded the cats out of there and shut the door (SACRILEGE!) and James, mom and I were all back in the living room when we saw it for what it actually was...

"What the hell was that?"

So, I don't *think* it's lightening...it was a giant, bright blue sphere that appeared (as if blooming) on the horizon (at ground level) and flashed so bright it lit up the entire sky just as lightening does, and then retreated into itself and disappeared, as if closing up.  What. The. Crap.

I saw it first, and had just enough time to explain what it was before James was on his feet, seeing it for himself as it happened again behind my back, and then Mom was up too, and we all watched a third burst...it didn't happen again in a brief time and I realized that when I had been laying on the couch and noticed the blue quality of the "lightening" I was seeing, I had noted that it seemed like it was coming in waves...several (maybe three?  I wasn't really paying attention!) 'bolts' in a row, then nothing...

I have my camera at the ready now, so if I see it again I'm gonna grab it and try to record it...but that's probably a guarantee that it won't come back.  Does anyone have any clue as to what that could have been?  It was unlike any lightening I've ever seen (and I have seen ball lightening before), and it was originating from the exact same spot every time...I wouldn't call it a UFO 'cause, as I said, it seemed to be originating from the ground (or at least only slightly above it)...google did me no good, my searches only turned up UFO reports that didn't seem anything like what we saw...anyone else in the DC metro/MD area see this thing?  Anyone know what it is??


Frankenstorm: Worrying about friends

Things are still relatively consistent/calm in our area...

James remarked a while ago that he was surprised to see people still driving around out there...and just a few minutes later the news started reporting that Maryland had its first storm-related fatality, and it was due to a car crash right here in our county.

Still, I feel pretty lucky, our little fam is doing just fine so far...the lights have flickered every now and again, and there are still scary gusts, but for the most part the winds aren't so bad as to take attention away from what's happening indoors, so that's good...

Checking facebook has been far scarier than anything that I have seen on the news, because soooo many of our friends - most of them back in NYC - have been posting real-time, real-life pictures, videos,  and reportings of things happening to them and around them.  Friends have posted about streets  being underwater, pics of water covering entire stairwells, submerged cars, downed trees, cranes dangling dangerously from high rise construction sites, entire facades of buildings tearing away, collapsing scaffolding, the east river flooding its banks and making an island of the carousel in DUMBO...The girls' school is right across the river from that carousel, actually, and seeing the extent of the flooding on the brooklyn side gives little hope that our stompin' grounds on the other side will be able to muddle through without taking a bit of a bath.

Stay safe, everyone, I hope that whatever damage happens is manageable and only to material things...Much love coming to you from a blustery DC...we're staying safe, listening to the wind rattle the balcony door...Despite our sealing, there is enough wind coming in that bedroom window to make the call to spend tonight on the other end of the house for sure, so its off to prep the kids for a campout-at-home.

Love love love to all!

WTF, EXPLOSIONS, now?  seriously?  Hope most of you are bored senseless and not in imminent danger...

Frankenstorm: WAVES!!!

So we have a cute little terrace up here in our skyline abode, and usually speaking it stays remarkably dry in any rain, since there is an identical balcony above us which covers the same area.  The wind has to be blowing pretty hard for rain to get more than a few inches in on the edges...

Now the wind is blowing hard enough that the water is pretty horizontal , and our terrace (which also features drainage holes) is pretty well drenched.  So drenched, in fact, that I don't feel like I am exaggerating when I say "flooded"...especially given the fact that the wind is now causing WAVES to lap at the balcony door!!

OK fine, you can't really tell that its waves based on my poor point-and-shoot still photography...the lighter areas there are MOVING WATER.
The pond is also looking rather swollen  - I think the ducks have finally taken shelter...

Feel free to correct me if you can spot any ducks.
And one of the benches in our little park flipped over...
Reminds me of the sarcastic "never forget" meme of the overturned plastic chair...but this bench is significantly heavier.

Our bedroom window has leaked through our gerry-rigged sealing system and we're now considering just relocating the whole family to the other end of the house for the night...juuuuuust in case.
It's starting to get chilly in here...but the power's still on (for now) and that falafel smells divine!  DINNER!

Frankenstorm: Welcoming Sandy

Well, here we are about a year after our exciting little mini adventure with Hurricane Irene, living in a new city under very different circumstances, and we're right in the path of the "catastrophic" and "devastating" effects of another "historic" storm: hurricane Sandy, AKA Frankenstorm.
I figure-hey, we've already got the hurricane tag for posts here, and why not? Could be fun. Plus, it's kinda neat to see the similarities and differences in the storms and our reactions to them.

An opening recap of what'd gone down so far:

So we're in the dc metro area for this (hurricane + nor'easter + couple o' cold fronts from different angles =  megastorm), living on the 19th floor of a high rise building without much of anything else this tall around us.  There are trees everywhere (granted, all well below us) but nothing to shield our building from the winds this time around.

We've taken the usual precautions, stocking up on non-perishable food, filling every empty juice container we could get our hands on with potable water, filling (both!) bathtubs with water for flushing/cleaning should that become necessary... and, as with last year, we have obsessively checked the weather forecasts at various intervals to see what we're in for...and been pretty consistently told we're totally in for it (even the radar showed the big red spot headed straight for us!  Imminent danger! it'll be here within the hour and the power will be GONE!) ...and then there wasn't really much to speak of other than some cool lookin' clouds and drizzle.  Glad to keep the family safe, but kinda silly nonetheless.

I was supposed to have a community prenatal session this afternoon (wherein all the home-birthing moms due around the same time travel to the midwives' homes instead of the midwives coming to ours - a chance to meet other families within the home-birth community and an opportunity for discussion and education and all that good stuff), but given the weather, it was postponed until next week, and the midwives braved the morning storm to makes sure they checked in on every one of us before the worst of the storm hits.  Good news:  Baby and I are just fine! Yay.  So back to hurricane endurance.

Hazel's creations on the left,  Cadence's on the right.
So far, we've been spending our time hangin' out and having fun...the past few days we've spent doing Halloween crafts, which we continued today.  The kids have been VERY busy carving jack-o-lanterns, crafting ghosts out of cheesecloth (with sharpie-drawn faces!) and decorating foam pumpkin decorations with spooky-themed stickers.  This morning Mom helped them to hang their ghosts, pumpkins, and pumpkin wreaths up, and then they settled in for today's creation:  Jar-o-lanterns.  Basically, you take a mason jar, make a masking tape face on it, and then paint the whole thing orange. When you remove the tape and insert a light source...non - perishable jar-o-lantern.  They did a first coat of paint this am, and once they're dry we're planning to do one more coat before  removing the tape.

As the wind and rain have been picking up, we did have our first "eek!" moment when James discovered that our bedroom window was leaking, but even that was pretty comical as we took our crafting skills towards sopping up the excess and creating a makeshift seal.  The wind is really hitting the building from that direction, so that's the area that is getting the brunt of it.  As such we decided to seal it as best we could, and then cover the sill in towels just in case, and close the blinds juuuust in case the window did happen to blow out.  And then we decided that we should move the bed out from under the window, too.  Which meant moving everything in the room, pretty much, which of course happened to be a mess.  So that was a silly little adventure, but was soon accomplished.

not that you can really see our hack, but the whole window well have been stuffed with paper towels, covered in duct tape, and then covered with cloth towels and the blinds (not pictured.)  The white on the horizon is just clouds, visibility is moderate at best right now.
 James and the kids are now in the kitchen, cookin' up some falafel...the winds are getting a bit more howl-y now, and the rain is holding steady...But, since there are still ducks chillin' in the (VERY swollen) pond outside, I think we're ok for the time being.

If you look closely at the center of the photo, you can see the little specs that are the ducks, I swear!

(iphone photography from 19 stories up through 50mph winds ain't easy.)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Unexpected emotional fallout

When I was little, my dad used to sing Cat Steven's song Moonshadow to me as I went to sleep at night.  (Among many others, but that one always stuck with me for some reason.)  I have no idea why, but I always had a really strong connection in my head between that song and our cat, Ashley, a big ole russian blue tomcat.  (Dad and I used to have constant arguments about whether he was a black cat [I firmly believed he was.  He honestly looked black to me!!] or grey...) In that sort of ephemeral way that things connect when you're a child, Ashely was my moonshadow, that's just how it was.

Me and Ashley helping dad in the kitchen sometime in the mid 80's...
Fast forward about 20 years, and now I sing  Moonshadow to my own kids almost every night.  I remember being really struck when Cadence was first born, and I first began singing it, that I got the same comfort and pleasure out of singing it to her as I did when I was little and Dad was singing it to me.  It was more than nostalgia-it was total recall.  Far beyond simply enjoying getting to share the experience, it restored that safe feeling entirely.

Anyway, both Cadence and Hazel now adore that song, and will even sing softly along with me sometimes...and I suppose it naturally follows that I now think of Puy, who is also at least partially russian blue (she has that same coloring!) as being their moonshadow.  We've always referred to her as our shadow cat, even before we had kids and the song came into play... I think it's because she's the color of a shadow - which, I can now see and admit, is NOT black. Though Cadence and I even have that same argument dad and I used to have, and of course I'm on the side dad used to be on...but I don't argue too hard, because I have such visceral memories of KNOWING that Ashley was black, and not understanding why dad didn't agree.  Maybe it's something about developing a discerning eye, but I honestly couldn't tell the difference.  Perhaps she can't see it yet, either.   But I digress:

This journey with Puy is certainly not mine to claim as major emotional turmoil (I'm not the one losing a limb without any warning or ability to understand why...) but there have certainly been moments of deep emotional impact.  Some have had more of a comic backdrop - like the time during the weekend before her surgery, when I walked into the kitchen looking for comfort, telling James that I didn't want to take Puy's leg away, at the precise moment that he was disarticulating a chicken leg at the hip and ripping it apart from the body - and some are more just heart-wrenching, like watching my beloved little kitten trying to navigate this strange and horrible thing that is happening to her.  The instance that inspired this post, though, is one that came totally from left field, which is, I guess, how grief tends to getcha.

Last night was the first night that I have sung that particular song since Puy's surgery, and I have to admit it struck me rather hard.  That second verse just suddenly felt so much more...close to home, or something.  

"And if I ever lose my legs, I won't whine, and I won't beg. For if I ever lose my legs, oh if, I won't have to run no more."  

My poor little moonshadowcat...she lost her leg, more literally than I would ever have expected, but she is absolutely picking up and carrying on. 

Good kitty.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A farewell to limbs

When we first brought her home.
Today is Puy's very last day as a four-legged cat.  Tomorrow we have to bring her in to have her rear-left leg amputated - a seemingly horrible fate, but an action that will save her life, and save her from months of unnecessary suffering at the hands of the cancer that has taken hold in that limb.

 If we opted for removal of the tumor only, and even if we followed up with weeks of chemotherapy, the prognosis would not be as good (or immediate) as it will be with the amputation.  And as one vet put it, it's one surgery, one recovery, and then she's cancer-free and will likely go on to live a long, full, happy life as a three legged kitty, and she won't have to suffer through surgery, recovery, weakened function, possible subsequent surgeries, the horrible experience of chemo, all with a strong possibility of recurrence, and starting all over again.

Just a few weeks ago, pre freakishly-fast growing tumor.

So we opted for what sounds on paper like the more extreme route.  She's our sweet baby cat, and while we feel bad that we have to take her (oft used!) leg, we've embraced this as a largely positive thing.  Cats are remarkably adaptable and I think that, after the inevitably adjustment period, being a three legged cat will suit her personality just fine, and this way, the cancer will be gone and she'll be able to move on to her next adventure, likely learning how to take revenge by pouncing our toes through the sheets with added, three legged vigor.

But I still love and worry about my little Puy Berry Blue, and mourn the loss along with her, and hope this transition will be as smooth and painless as possible.

Love you, Puyta cat!

Last Tuesday, after the biopsy confirming the diagnosis.

Fuck Cancer.

I don't know how to start this post.  I've been wanting to write it for a while now, and have written many irreverent, witty versions of it in my head that come across as meaningful but not whiney.

Unfortunately, I can't ever seem to figure out how to translate those from my mind through my keys and into cyberspace, so I'm just gonna start and go with it, and see what happens.

My life has been touched by this thing, this rising trend, in many ways, and I have to say, I dislike it.  Enormously.  And it is not something that is even remotely within my control, and so I sit and stew and try to figure out how to come to terms with this evil thing that wields such unfair power.  And then I move on, and try to make the most of what I've got, because getting bogged down by the awfulness of it all would just be contributing to its victory.

I'm referring, of course, to Cancer.  Niggling little bitch gets into places it doesn't belong and shoves everything that lives there out of its way to make room for itself - talk about elitist, this disease takes the cake!  Taking gentrification, resource guzzling, and self-importance to the extreme!

This whole thing is just to send a big FUCK YOU out to cancer in general.  There is no deep inner thoughts, no poetic meaning, I just want to rant and wag my middle fingers at this smarmy-ass disease.
I'm tired of feeling haunted by it, and just kinda wanna call the damn thing out.

Why now?  Well, the overwhelming reality of it is hitting me pretty hard this week because it showed up really unexpectedly.  AGAIN.

For me, pregnancy comes with cancer.  It started in 2006 when, two months after a clean mammogram, my mom noticed a lump in her breast.  Since she'd just had the clean screening, she didn't think much of it and took about 3 weeks to get around to calling the doctor.  Then it took the doctor about 3 weeks to bring her in to check it out.  By the time they realized it was bad and the biopsy confirmed the result, it was mid-September and the cancer was one stage shy of fatal.  Then, a few days before her mastectomy, my beloved cat and faithful best friend from kindergarten on, Ragamuffin, was diagnosed with cancer as well.  These were the circumstances under which we began Cadence's pregnancy.

Mom, thankfully, was able to fight her way through a pretty grueling year, and beat it.  Ragamuffin, sadly, was not.

Fast forward a couple of years:  We receive word sometime in the early summer that my Grandpa Ed had a bad cough, which they thought was pneumonia...but it was soon discovered that it was, in fact, a rapidly aggressive form of lung cancer linked to his exposure to Agent Orange during his time as a medic in the Vietnam War.  Thus began my pregnancy with Hazel, who unfortunately did not get to meet him.  I was still in my first trimester when he passed away that September.  (Also around this time, my cousin Aaron's father lost his own battle with cancer.  It was a rough time for that side of the family.)

Fast forward another couple of years, when I suddenly find myself pregnant for a third time, rather unexpectedly.  Evidently the first two experiences had a bit of a traumatic influence on me, because this time I was waiting for it. "Uh oh," I thought, "who's gonna get cancer this time?"

So I can't say I was surprised when my mom called to report that she was going in for a bone scan.  It seemed inevitable!  I felt so guilty...and stupid for feeling guilty, too.  So I breathed a huge sigh of relief when the scan was negative.  "See!" I tried to tell myself, "Just coincidence!  No connection at all."

That only lasted until the doctor (thankfully) decided to send her in for a PET scan, just in case.  Sure enough, there was a big ole inoperable tumor wrapped around her sternum, (which we later found out it had pathologically broken) and the cancer had once more reared its head.

It wasn't too long after that when my cousin Jessie, who had just had her own first child, lost her half-brother to the disease.

We headed down to KY to spend the summer with my mom while she underwent some pretty nasty chemo treatments.  While we were there, my friend Liz - who is my age and not in a high-risk category - reported that she had been diagnosed with skin cancer!  Insane!

So this brings us (in this super-summarized version,) to current events.  I'm sitting here now, 38 weeks pregnant and ready to welcome our new little life into this world, watching somewhat helplessly as various iterations of cancer pull at strings around me.  Jessie, the loss of her brother still fresh, just lost her dad to the same disease a few days ago. (this has been a rough time for that side of the family.)   Mom got word that the chemo has stopped working, and her best bet now is a dangerous surgery that will involve a team of surgeons to remove most of her breastbone and bits of her ribs, and then rebuilding them with artificial replacements and grafting muscles around them to reconstruct the area...its great because it's possible, and will give her the best chance at a full recovery.  It's awful because it's a scary, major surgery that will require a months-long and seriously unpleasant recovery.

And last week, our sweet little kitty Puy cat suddenly (literally overnight) developed a (huge) lump on her back leg, and after a trip to the ER and a biopsy, we've learned that it is an exceptionally tenacious, localized form of cancer.  Evidently it doesn't spread very quickly, but it's almost impossible to excavate from its chosen spot, which is why tomorrow, I have to take her in to have her leg amputated (and pray that I don't go into labor before we can pick her up, and bring her home to adjust to life as a [cancer free, but] three legged kitty).

And all of this is just since I got into the game of bringing new life into this world.  It doesn't mention my friends' parents who struggled with it during our childhoods.  Or my friend Rob, who lost his battle with it back in high school.  Or my friend Jonathan, who was one of the most advanced students at my martial arts school when he suddenly had to seriously scale back his studies to begin treatment. Or Jacob, my friend Kate's remarkable son, who suffered through and beat a particularly nasty form of brain cancer when he was only two!  Or my high school teacher who would often show up with fresh bandages from where he'd had to have yet another tumor removed in his fight against skin cancer.  Or my mom's friend who's stomach cancer took her away from her new husband shortly after their wedding.  Or my own grandfather, who lived to be 91 years old, but was finally doomed by colon cancer.

And it also doesn't include all of the amazing stories - wonderful and horrible - that I have heard from friends and members of our various communities who have come out of the woodwork to offer support, especially since I took the highly visible step of shaving my head to make a wig for mom.  There was one woman in particular who approached me after that and shared her own story, and I feel I've gained a friend from it...but then last week she reported that she had lost a close, young relative to the disease somewhat unexpectedly, and it drives home just how unfamiliar and unpredictable it can be all over again.

So seriously, Screw You, Cancer.  Passive aggressive bastard.  Stop harassing my loved ones at every turn.

Mom wearing my hair.
I wish I had the knowledge and skill to aid in the research to make it all go away.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Adventures in Home Schooling: The Kick-off

NOTE: THIS IS AN UNFINISHED DRAFT. I rediscovered this recently and decided it was worth sharing, despite the woefully incomplete state...you'll notice I never actually even made it to a mere mention of the subject the heading suggested. (Originally I was going to do a post about that first week and how it transitioned into our homeschooling...but it was long and unwieldy and I spent more time working with the kids than writing about it, which ended in my neglect of this post.) At this point (a year and a half later) I no longer feel I would be able to complete it, so I am back-posting it to the original date when I last worked on it and leaving it as I found it. Enjoy.

Hazel in her element: right at home once again at the Blue School
Last week, I took the girls on a Megabus adventure to NYC so that they could have a chance to get to know their teachers and classmates from the get-go, as everyone else was getting to know one another, in the hopes of establishing a close relationship with the classroom and reducing the "new student" stress once they return full time in the new year.

It was a very full (and exciting!) week, and while I'd hoped to do a day-by-day breakdown in real time, the reality of the couch-hopping-and-friend-seeing-AND-school lifestyle we adopted during that time made it pretty impossible, and unfortunately this will have to be a less than thorough summary of the awesome events that took place during Cadence's first week of Kindergarten and Hazel's first day of school ever.

Partially due to the nature of our couch-hopping existence and the fact that we ended up running late on our first day (facepalm!), I didn't really get to do the "first day of school" photos that I had been hoping to catch.  One of our gracious hosts snapped this photo for me as we waited for the bus Monday morning:

Cadence with Mama & Meimei, on her way to her very first day of Kindergarten!
(Ignore Hazel's backwards shoes.  She insisted.)
It was kind of exciting (and exhausting) to suddenly be jolted back into the "get-up-and-go" schedule of  the school-year routine.  But the kids were thrilled - Even though Hazel's first day wasn't until Wednesday, she was SO HAPPY to be going back to blue school and seeing all the friends she has there.  We got to try several different commutes and methods of transport during the week, and we kicked it all off with what is affectionately referred to as the "party bus" by many of our friends...it's simply a certain route of the city bus that a bunch of Cadence's classmates happen to live near, and due to the nature of schedules, many of them end up on the same bus in the mornings by chance.  Clearly, our ladies loved it:

Ridin' the bus to school! 
Unfortunately for us, we arrived late and missed the community meeting, and I just had time to tap Mara, one of Cadence's new teachers, on the elbow to let her know I was there before Cadence hopped into the line of her classmates that was already disappearing up the stairs and they were gone!  In true Cadie fashion, though, she took it in stride and rolled with it  - and when we picked her up at the end of the day, teachers Mara and Nancy informed me that she gleefully integrated into the class without any problems at all.  I'm never surprised by reports like this, but I am consistently amazed.

Hazel and I then got to go to JACK'S!!!  (She was more than a little happy about this.) Luckily for us, our friends Josie (who is sadly not in Hazel's class, but is in the one immediately prior and has the same teachers) and her mom Kate were able to meet us there, and we all walked over to the Imagination playground, where Hazel and Josie got a jump-start on the water curriculum their classes will be delving into.  On the way there, we happened to run into Dina, one of their teachers!  She was between home visits (the 2s program kicks off with the teachers visiting the children in their own homes, which is great, as the kids get to meet their new teachers in a safe, familiar environment where they are in control, and also get to share their favorite things, activities, places, etc. with this person who is going to be so important in the coming year...Hazel, obviously, didn't get to have this experience since we're out of state, but this isn't a huge tragedy since she's known Dina for two years now, and she got to know her other teacher, Tara, last year, and already likes them both.) Anyway, this was a particularly nice run-in since it let Hazel reconnect with Dina before being dumped into a room with a bunch of new kids, and have a 'fake mini-home-visit' where she got to tell her about living in DC and coming to NY for school...it was a brief encounter, but a very positive one, and it was especially fun to go from that to this:

She didn't want to get her dress wet.  Pants, evidently, were fair game. She would jump off the deck there and then run to try to catch the water, and seemed fascinated by the blurby bubbles of low-pressure jets.

When we picked Cadence up at the end of the school day, she was all smiles and was SO pleased to be there, and to show me her 'mailbox' cubby where we could pick up her work, and to tell me all about getting to meet the kids who were new to the school and reuniting with old friends.  All in all, I'd have to say that her first day was a huge success, even if I can't provide details about what made it so awesome for her.  And as much as that is strange to me, it's awesome that she was able to have such a great experience just being sort of unceremoniously plopped in like that.  I was very proud of her.

Moving on to Hazel's first day, things didn't go quite as smoothly, but I think the results were still positive in the grand scheme of things.

First off, I should preface this by pointing out that, while this was Hazel's official first day of school, she has technically kinda been coming to classes here for the last two years.  She was a mere 4 months old when Cadence started at the blue school (as part of the 3s program), and due to the geographical distance & timing of everything, there wasn't really enough time for me to actually go anywhere while Cadence was in class, so most days Hazel & I would kick around the school...we'd hang out in the multipurpose room and 'help' Connie at the front desk, or read books and play in the "parent nook", or, if there wasn't anyone in the space already, we'd explore the "glow hall" together...and the more we were there, the more we got to know the staff, faculty, and families that made up the community.  By mid-year, we were invited to join in a class or try out some new activity almost daily...it was a gift I will forever be grateful for.  Hazel got soooo much out of that first year, what with all these amazing people strolling by, who would watch her exploring whatever new aspect of her development was currently capturing her interest, and then sit down and interact with her - the mutual inspiration was often palpable.  Some teachers even started talking about how much they longed for the school to start an infant program and would let hazel 'test run' some of the ideas they had for such an endeavor!

While we got to see and know kids from all of the age groups hard at work, there were two major strongholds in Hazel's "school" experience there:  One was, obviously, Cadence's 3s class.  At that time, the teachers made a point of bringing the grown-ups into the room for the end-of-the-day transitions, so we'd get to join them in a circle on the rug and hear about all they'd done that day, and sing the goodbye song together.  Since she was always with me, little bitty Hazel was always part of this, too, and it wasn't long before she'd show interest in what the 'big kids' were doing, and favoring the companionship of the teachers over me for the few minutes we were in there...and it was always difficult to get either of those two out of the classroom.  They loved being there SO MUCH.

The other major stronghold of her experience was the welcoming environment established by the 2s teachers at the time.  They first began to include Hazel just when we happened to be in a space they arrived in-music class in the multipurpose room, for example.  But as time went on, and we all got to know each other better, we started getting invited into the classroom itself pretty regularly...It was mutually beneficial, since many of the kids in the 2s that year were expecting new siblings at home, and the teachers recognized that it might be useful (and of interest) for them to get to observe and interact with a baby before the big arrivals, and Hazel, of course, didn't see herself as any different from those big kids and jsut wanted to play and get to do what they did...and as any parent can tell you, kids learn more and faster from peer-to-peer learning than they do from mom & dad saying "hey look here" 'til they're blue in the face, so getting to see how they all behaved and explored was pretty awesome.

While I tried not to overstay our welcome during any one visit or be too presumptuous or in the way during those visits, Hazel quickly came to see the kids in the 2s classes (there were two separate classes that regularly met during the time when we'd be hanging about) as 'her kids'.  Two years later, we are still happy to see those kids when they pass us in the hall, or get to join them at the playground...it's pretty amazing to watch them growing and blossoming.  Some of them are still very attached to Hazel as well, and always make a point of greeting her whenever they see her.

When Cadence joined the 4s last year, we figured we'd actually have time to go home between drop off and pick up.  This didn't end up working out in practice, in part because the school moved into its new, permanent home, and the newly extended commute meant that Hazel and I would have spent about three hours a day riding the subway...and that seemed like a disservice to her.  So, instead, we got to know the new waterfront neighborhood very well, taking advantage of the early warm weeks to wander around and explore, watching the boats and visiting the historical locations. When the weather got cold, we began to stall a bit, waiting for inspiration before just wandering, and over time we fell back into our previous pattern of putzing about the school, visiting with people there, observing the kids as they transitioned from one space to another, taking advantage of the new library, construction lab, terrarium displays, peg-board, and glow halls when they were not being used by classes.

There is a really cool playground near the school called the Imagination Playground. It was designed by the Rockwell group, the same architecture firm that is designing the interior spaces of the new school building.  They're a pretty cool group who are committed to studying the effect of environment on the developing brain and putting their findings into practice!  The school uses The imagination playground as its go-to outdoor space for the kids to run and play - but it is a short walk from the school building, and as such the youngest groups must have extra adult supervision to safely (and legally) make the trek over there.  Since we were almost always just kickin' around there anyway, Hazel and I began to go to the park with Cadence's class every time they went

It's hard to get Cadence to tell me about her days, but she did report back to me about a number of things that she enjoyed, which I am hoping to be able to incorporate into our own studies...Specifically, she enjoyed getting to do drama, music, resting, playing, gym, the whole class going to the park, the roles within the classroom (like door holder) monday journals and science journals...

"mine had a lot of music!"-Hazel