Week Three: Things I Am Good At

This one is difficult! I think about the things that make up the most significant portion of my life, and I struggle to find things I am good at without following with “but” or “even though.”   I am good at making bread even though I am terrible at baking. I struggled to create this list, but I managed to build it.

  1. Being organized. I am ridiculously organized. I can elaborate, but that would make for boring writing. Trust me, I am fabulous at organizing.
  2. Planning and time management. I am a self-proclaimed “pre-crastinator.” I get things done, and I get them done as soon as possible. My entire school year is planned before well before the first day of school, sometimes before the last day of the previous school year. My clothes are planned for the week. Knowing where things are going is one of the easiest ways for me to control my anxiety.

    New Planner Day is one of my favorites!
  3. Setting goals. I often tell Liam that he is not allowed to merely complain. If he doesn’t like something, he needs to either do something about it or accept it. At this point, he finishes complaints by saying he will practice. “I’m not as good at drawing circles as my other friends… I know, I know, I need to practice.” If there is something I want to be able to do, I try to create a plan to make it happen.
  4. Teaching. Teaching is the career I chose at the age of twelve when Mr. Eccelston cemented my love of reading and writing. It was then I decided I wanted to do exactly what he does. I consider myself fortunate that I knew at a young age what I wanted to do with my life. While the road to teaching was a long and winding one, I am thankful life took me down the path it did. After fourteen years, teaching is still something I enjoy. I feel I truly make a difference.                                                              

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Liam was younger, he had all the self-confidence in the world. As he gets older, he is beginning to doubt himself, which is sad to watch. I asked him what he thinks he is good at and he, too, struggled to think of real, noteworthy items to put on his list.

  1. Hanging and pull-ups. He just learned to do pull-ups and is very proud of himself, doing them from the swingset and the pull-up bar in our house as often as possible.
  2. Reading. Liam loves to read! He will read just about anything he can get his hands on: magazines, fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels. Right now, he’s devouring the Dog Man and Minecraft series. I love that he loves to read and I love his confidence regarding his ability to do so.
  3.      
  4. Playing outside instead of sitting in front of the TV. I was surprised to head Liam state this one because, like most kids, the struggle to balance screen time is real. Once he said it, I noticed that I can’t remember the last time he even turned on his tablet. He’s been reading his books. He and I had a Saturday morning date. After our classes at Laid-Back Fitness, we went to a new coffee shop then headed to the used bookstore. Liam loves roaming the isles and looking at all of the books. Because we came home with a shopping bag full of books, he has been focused on those over Minecraft and other games on his tablet. The weather has been so beautiful this week that we have been spending a lot of time outside. I’m thankful that he is conscious of his good decisions.

Sunshine Blogger Award

I was nominated by the lovely Laketra Chick!

I love her writing style! She manages to be optimistic and positive while creating engaging, thought-provoking pieces. I have been moved to tears by some of her reflections and experiences.

In response to the nomination, I have to thank the blogger who nominated me and link their blog (check!), write a post and answer her 11 questions, nominate 11 other bloggers and let them know, write 11 new questions, and display the award on this post.

Here are her 11 questions…

1.) If you could have an unlimited supply of one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Time. I feel like I am always trying to get the most of every day and preparing for the future. In doing this, I feel like there are never enough hours in the day. I would love to have a few extra hours to get in more runs, read more chapters of Harry Potter with Liam,  throw the ball for Banjo, and maybe even just get caught up on my DVR, which always makes me feel guilty.

2.) Celebrity crush? John Green. He’s a nerd writer who looks very much like my husband, proving that I do, in fact, have a type.

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3.) If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be? Pizza. I don’t even need to think about this one! I love all types of pizza: traditional pepperoni, breakfast pizza, fire cooked pizza. I could each pizza every day an never tire of it.

4.) If you had a time machine, would go back in time or into the future? I would not use it. I like where I am right now and would not want to mess with things.

5.) What would the title of your autobiography be? When I was younger, I lived in a town that was one town north of a town called Harmony.  North of Harmony always seemed like a great title for an autobiography.

6.) What is your biggest accomplishment thus far? The eight-year-old who is currently playing in the yard with his dog. He is inquisitive, smart, thoughtful, reflective, and kind. If I can keep him this way, I will have lived a successful life.

7.) If you can instantly become an expert in something, what would it be? When I was younger, I wanted to earn a degree in late 18th Century American Literature and write a dissertation comparing the Peanuts characters to Mark Twain’s protagonists. Now, I am happy being happy with my life. I would love to be an expert in being content with what you have.

8.) What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? Recently, I’ve been hearing “Run the mile you’re in” a lot. It carries over into other parts of my life. I get caught up worrying about the future and worrying about what ifs.

9.) As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? When I was very young, I wanted to be an astronaut. This dream was shattered when I realized I was scared of flying. Since I was in seventh grade, I knew I wanted to be an English teacher. I’m thankful that I am able to live my dream.

10.) You have to sing karaoke, what song do you pick? The only time I’ve even sung karaoke, I sang Superstar by the Carpenters.

11.) Are you a morning person or a night owl? When I was younger, I was a total night owl. Now, I am the exact opposite. I am in bed by 9:30 most nights, even on weekends, and rarely sleep past 7.

 

Why, yes, I was asleep at 9:19 last Saturday night!

 

Running is a “Get To”

 

Banjo and I during one of our spring-like runs last week!

 

My students often ask if they “have to” complete certain parts of assignments. My reply is always “No, you get to do that part.”

“Get to?”

“Yes. Get to.”

When we read I am Malala, there were many conversations about the importance of education. I remind them that the educational opportunities so many students here resist are the same ones Malala and her friends are willing to fight to receive. During our Socratic Seminars, we discuss the concept of education equaling freedom. Even before reading Malala’s book, directions have always been explained as “get to” rather than “have to.”

I had to remind myself this as I am getting deeper into half marathon training. I get to do this. I get to push myself, set a goal, and complete it. I may not reach that three hour goal the first time around, but I am nine weeks away from putting a “13.1” sticker on the back of my Subaru. (Yes, I am going to order it ahead of time and put it on my car before I leave the race!)

When I tell people I have been running, many times I hear reasons why they can’t, past injuries, bad knees, etc. I get to do something that many people cannot, even for short distances. As I go deeper into training, the goal is to run at least two short runs and one longer run each week. I’ve been managing two two to three mile runs after school and completing a long run during the weekend. Last Saturday, I set out with the goal to complete at least five miles, allowing enough time to shower and get ready for Liam’s first penance at 10:30. We experienced a Nor’easter the night before, leaving 150,000 people without power. Once I got to the fields near the airport, strong winds whipped my face. I’ve run in the cold; this was a whole other beast. I wasn’t feeling well. Also, I was sick and was having difficulty taking deep breaths due to a terrible sore throat.  (A trip to the clinic Sunday revealed an ear infection.) I felt like it would be a failure if I turned around. However, running is a “get to.” If I miss a workout, it will be okay. The world will not end. I will not forget how to run. I called Mike to inform him I was on my way home.  I managed to get out for two short runs later in the week.

Yesterday, I had a wisdom tooth pulled. (Yes, it has been a week!) My goal is to try to get out and run today after work. If it happens, great. If not, life will go on, and I will get in my long run Sunday. The world will be okay. I get to run. It clears my mind, makes my body stronger, and reminds me I can do great things.

Expectation vs Reality

This week’s creative writing class is reading Sandra Cisneros’ Eleven, a story about a girl whose eleventh birthday doesn’t go as she hoped. My students and I discuss the concept of expectation versus reality. They shared a few examples of toys and experiences that let them down. The cumulating activity involves rewriting the story through another character’s point of view. It is one of my favorite lessons.

This conversation led me to think about expectation versus reality.  Am I very far off from where I hoped I’d be?

Over the summer, I stopped at Newbury Comics to sell some of the crates full of CDs taking up space in our basement.  For non-locals, Newbury Comics is an insanely cool local chain of record stores. I browsed while waiting for the clerk to sort through my CD collection, remembering all the times I’ve visited this store over the past twenty years. I met Luscious Jackson there just after graduating high school, raced there to purchase REM CDs on Tuesday release days, and discovered all sorts of interesting things through the years. We now take Liam there to buy comic books.  I looked at myself in the reflection of one of the cases, examining the forty-year-old staring back at me. I happened to be wearing cut-off jeans, an Elizabeth and the Catapult T-shirt, and Converse, the under part of my hair freshly died pink. Quickly and inconspicuously snapping a selfie to send to a friend, I couldn’t help but think that seventeen-year-old me would be okay with how I turned out.

Teenaged me would have approved this!

The decision to become an Engish teacher was made in seventh grade. Nothing sounded better than being paid to read and write all day.  Obviously, thirteen-year-old me was very naive about teaching, thinking lessons would magically come to me, only to be delivered flawlessly. Anyone who has ever taught knows that, sometimes, even the best lessons fall flat. I’d like to think that this is what I expected. I have nights attached to my computer, long days of constantly being “on,” and constant concerns about how to better help my students achieve. I’d like to think that I am fair and my students know how much I care about them. Recently, a graduating student stopped by to say goodbye. She thanked me for pushing her, even when she didn’t want to be pushed. I love seeing my students accomplish things they doubted they could complete. Those A-Ha! moments are all we need to help keep us going. When I imagined being an English teacher, I’d like to think this is what I had in mind!

Teaching the Summit Learning Platform last summer

Parenting is another story. Mike and I were so naive about this as well. I swore that my future child would never sleep in our bed or wear all tacky character clothing. Then, said child was born. He was prone to ear infections, often waking up in the middle of the night screaming in pain. Once he had tubes put in his ears, he continued to wake at 4:00 every morning. By the time we got him back to sleep in his crib, it was 5, allowing Mike only fifteen minutes of sleep before his alarm went off.  Liam began coming to our bed around four o’clock each morning. The consensus was that sleep with a toddler in the bed was better than no sleep at all. For the first few years, it was easy to avoid character apparel. Eventually, he discovered shirts with Thomas, Lightning McQueen, and Dusty Crophopper. Eventually, it did not matter. Seeing the joy on his face when he received his first pair of light up Thomas sneakers made me understand why parents buy these ridiculous shoes.

   

 

 

Like many new mothers, I never anticipated how exhausting parenting can be. Yes, I love being a mother and would not change it for anything in the world. However, my mind never gets to turn off. It is constant thinking, considering, and worrying.

Did I get the Box Top off of the granola bars before putting it in the recycling bin?

Do we have extra tubes of toothpaste in the basement or should I buy more while they’re on sale?

Did I spend enough time with Liam today? Like, real time, talking, playing, and interacting?

Does Liam know is addition and subtraction families well enough? He’s going to start memorizing multiplication soon; he’s got to have addition and subtraction down before learning the more difficult material.

When was the last time I dusted the living room? or scrubbed behind the toilet?

While I wouldn’t change my life for anything, motherhood is a lot of work. Is it more than I imagined? I don’t think so. I do know that my concerns about motherhood before having Liam are definitely not the things I worry about now. I will chalk this up to being part of the adventure.

I Went a Week Without Working Out… and it was Fine

What is that quote about the best-intended plans?

I had every intention of working out each day this week.  I have a routine established:

Monday: Strength Class

Tuesday and Saturday: Yoga

I usually get at least two in each week. However, all bets were off last week. On Tuesday, I had a faculty meeting after school and stomach issues that evening, causing me to miss out on both running and yoga. We got three inches of snow on Wednesday. I had a hair appointment Thursday afternoon. Friday, Liam woke up at 3 am with leg cramps, and I never got back to sleep. I had been keeping a cold at bay with plenty of sleep and Emergen-C; this night of lousy sleep was enough to bring on a full-blown cold. I skipped running Friday afternoon and spent the weekend on the couch. Mike was in Tennessee this weekend, making me unable to go out running even if I wanted to. I planned to do a few Beachbody on Demand workouts over the weekend, but I could not get myself off the couch.

So there you have it: why I didn’t work out for an entire week. While I thought I would be upset with myself and feel terrible, I am actually okay with this. I managed to keep my mild cold from becoming much worse. We watched The Martian.  I introduced Liam to Fuller House. I caught up with friends Sunday morning by helping at a fundraiser and attended a birthday party that afternoon.

Liam was very impressed that I saw the “Full House” houses at Alamo Park!

Because I didn’t work out, I meticulously watched my food intake, still managing to lose two and a half pounds this week.  (Having a cold definitely attributed to that weight loss. It’s not ideal, but I’ll take it this week.)

This is what I learned by taking a week off: I genuinely enjoy working out. I like seeing what my body is capable of doing and how I feel afterward. Working out is a want to, not a have to.  It is no longer a punishment for being idle or for overeating.  While I am happy when I have the time to work out, I no longer need to beat myself up if it just doesn’t happen.

Random Thoughts Thursday (on a Friday)

Today, I received a check from the state’s unclaimed treasury.  My name has been in the database for at least fifteen years. The amount was listed as “under $200.” When it was printed in the paper, relatives would call my mom, telling her they saw my name on the list.  (I don’t know if this sort of thing happens in other states, but it was a huge deal twenty years ago in these parts.) My mom would, in turn, call me, reminding me of my “free money.”  Whenever someone mentioned the list being in the paper, I would wait for Mom’s call. When I first made the list, for me to claim my money, I had to go to the office and fill out paperwork.  Later, I would also need to produce my marriage certificate to prove that I used to be the name in the database and find paperwork showing I once lived at my parent’s house.  I would set the intention to dig through records to find the necessary paperwork but never got around to actually doing it. Like all great information previously available in the newspaper, the database moved online.  Eventually, you could submit the claim via the treasury website, which I did a few months ago.  Today, I received a letter from the treasury department.  After years of my mom nagging me to file the claim, the case is closed.  It is bittersweet, that is one less thing for her to haunt me about.  I feel like I should do something special with the money, all $183 of it. I definitely need to spend it doing something with Mike and Liam.  That’s what Mom would have wanted me to do with it.

I love that Liam shares my weird sense of humor.  He and I can say something random and silly and manage to roll with it far longer than anyone should.  This morning, while trying to get him out of bed, he began singing about the need to stay under the covers.  We spent the entire morning singing a narrative of everything we did, titling our antics, “Friday Morning: the Musical,” sung to the tune of “Elmo the Musical.”

“Staying under the covers now!”

“Brush your teeth in the bathroom!’

“Did you get your socks on?”

Yeah, we are hysterical. Trust me, it was funnier if you were there.

Also, we picked right back up when we came home from school.

When I was sixteen, I began adding piercings up my left ear.   Every week or so, my mother would check my ear for extra piercings.  Luckily, she never committed the number to memory, so she never realized when she counted a new hole. I am thankful that sixteen-year-old me was wise enough to add all of these piercings in a straight line, allowing me to still wear studs up my ear as an adult.  I currently have eight holes in my left ear and four in my right.   I am also thankful that teenaged me was wise enough to rebel through piercing rather than tattoos.  Piercings are easier to change your mind about and remove.  There have been gaps of time when I’ve removed my earrings; no one can see the holes unless I mention it to them. (Oddly enough, my second tattoo, which I had done at age 38, contains REM lyrics in my mom’s handwriting. REM was my favorite band in high school, proving that maybe I could have been trusted to choose permanent body art as a teenager. However, anyone who knew me in high school knows that my fashion choices were not at all timeless.)

  

Ziauddin Yousafzai, Malala Yousafzai’s father, liked a Tweet I chared on my school’s Twitter! My students read her book. I took a picture of them during their Socratic Seminar.  I did not tag anyone in the Tweet, yet he managed to find and like it. The books influenced my students, bringing them to discuss women’s rights and other issues affecting the world.  As a teacher, there are few moments greater than when your students demonstrate the ability think critically about an issue. Not only did that happen, someone I greatly admire acknowledged our work!

I’m now finishing my third week of eating dairy-free.  We went out to dinner last Friday and I was able to find something to eat without issue.  My sinuses continue to improve, and my skin hasn’t looked this great since I was pregnant.  My stomach issues have not changed much, forcing me to continue my search for that culprit. I’m happy with my skin and running proves slightly easier (because I am breathing better), convincing me to stick with the dairy-free diet.

I love that being a teacher provides so many new beginnings.  For example, I get two starts to a “new year,” one in January and another in September.  A few weeks into January, a new semester begins.  I love the notion of beginnings.  They’re so hopeful.  At each of these beginnings, I assess and create goals.  Every September comes with the promise of keeping a sleep schedule, meal planning on Sundays, and keeping the house mildly tidy during the week.  (This year, I’ve actually maintained these routines!) January promises to stop eating the terrible diet that begins at Halloween and runs through New Year’s Day.  Ten days in the house allows me to clear through closets and various spots to get rid of items we haven’t used during the previous year. When we go back to school that first week of January, the house is at its cleanest.  The new semester brings a clean slate to think about successes, reflect upon my practice, and start anew.  I added a giant chalkboard wall to my classroom.  It contains the steps of the latest project, complete with final products, checkpoints, and due dates along the way. I am hoping that having an outline bringing us through the next two months will keep us on track, avoiding the inevitable panic scramble at the end of the semester.

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
― L.M. Montgomery

Six Reasons Yesterday’s Run Was Great (And Three Reasons it Was Terrible)

For the first time in over a week, I made it out for a run on the Boulevard.  Last week, I was still recovering from Boldrdash and only made it two miles.  Every step strained my hamstrings.  But I was there and committed to two miles.

Because my Mindfulness class talks a lot about perspective and active seeing, I intentionally chose to find twice as many positives as negatives.

Six Reasons it Was Great:

  1. The weather was perfect!  It wasn’t too warm or cool.  It was cloudy enough that I didn’t need my sunglasses.
  2. It is a beautiful time of year!  We’re at the sweet spot of New England between summer and fall.  Flowers are still blooming, but the leaves are starting to change color.
  3. I met my preset goal.  I wanted to pace in the 12’s.  12:59 pace is in the 12’s!
  4. I felt so much better after!  Yesterday’s session gave me much-needed time to think and clear my head.
  5. Three miles no longer feels like a daunting task.  I can do it pretty easily.  There were a few times that my legs tired, but I easily convinced myself that I could keep going.
  6. I am able to run.  This may seem overly simple, but too many people are physically unable to run or walk for various reasons.  I am thankful that my body is healthy enough to allow me to run and workout.

 

Three Reasons is Was Terrible

  1. Allergies.  This is a big one.  Most of my adult life consists of a vicious cycle of me taking allergy meds until they work, assuming I no longer need them and not taking them, then suffering a few days later.  My eyes may have loved the summer/fall beauty, but my sinuses were not impressed.
  2. I’m still not as fast as I’d like to be.  I made a lot of progress early on.  I’m not sure why I’m not getting any faster.  I think it may be a mental block; I slow down too quickly.  I need to find an app to track intervals that is also Spotify friendly.
  3. I still can’t make it much further than three miles.  When I start BRG, the goal was to run a 5K.  I’ve done that many times now.  At the beginning of each run, I make myself promise to get over the three-mile hump, then stop when I reach that distance.  I have a four-mile race coming up; I want to run that distance a few times before doing it in a crowd.

Keystone Habits and Making Time

This semester, I have the fortune to teach an elective about mindfulness.  The skills are so important; I am struggling with these ideas in my forties.  During the first month, we are learning about how the brain reacts to stress and researching the idea that we can retrain our brain to adapt differently to stress and anxiety triggers.  In addition to ideas and theory, I’m providing concrete things students can do to improve their mindset.  We are exploring keystone habits.  Keystone habits are changes that spill over into other aspects of your life.  For example, when I work out, I tend to eat healthier.  When I’m not exercising, my healthy eating habits go away as well.  My students and I decided to start with two simple keystone habits: drinking a glass of water as soon as we wake up and making our bed each morning.  Research shows that people who make their beds each morning are happier than people who don’t.  It takes less than two minutes and provides a sense of completion before leaving the house.  I already make my bed, but have begun drinking a cold glass of water each morning.  I’m interested to see how it helps.

I’ve mentioned my excitement over being back into the school routine a few times.  I love being busy!  I thrive on it! In all of my bustle, I always give thanks to my husband.  It’s not that I need his permission to be busy, but it definitely changes our routine at home. I also try to make sure that everything that needs to be done that around the house is completed.   On Mondays, Liam and I got to the gym for his Ninja Skills class and my Strength Training class.  On Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings, I go to yoga.  My try to run twice a week (this week, I will only get out once).

Sometimes I feel guilty that I am out a few times a week and away from my family.  Mike has never given me an ounce of grief about it.  Last semester, I joined BRG and took a class on change management at Bryant University.  Some weeks, I was out four nights a week.  Mike didn’t flinch, only promised me that we would get through it.  There is no way I could invest this time without his help and support.  I know I am fortunate.

What does Mike get in return for being solo a few hours a week?  Since I make sure as much as I can before we switch Liam duty in the evening, he doesn’t have to do a lot around the house.  More importantly, he gets a wife whose head is mentally clear.  I am able to run out thoughts and frustrations.  I am able to challenge myself through yoga and laugh with the best group of friends a girl could wish for.  My son gets to see Mama being healthy and taking care of herself; this transfers onto him.  He wants to eat healthily and drink more water.  Liam watches me run and complete races and set goals for myself.  He does the same, wanting to cross cannonball alley at Ninja Class and feeling the exhilaration of meeting a goal!  I love that being active is something we do together.  I hope that this leads to a lifetime of health for Liam!

Why Do I Love Fall? Let Me Count the Ways

Mid August, Liam and I usually fall into a panic about the end of summer.  We need to do all the summer things and make each precious day count.  Once we get into the back to school routine, I am reminded how much I have always loved fall.

Back to School

I love the beginning of the school year.  I’ve always changed up my classroom a bit and created new projects for my students.  This year, I’ve added a couch and two chairs, a big framed board explaining projects and graded cognitive skills, and a light up “Hello” sign.  My students love their first Socratic Seminar Project. As much as I love wearing comfy clothes each day, I love dressing up and needing to do my hair and makeup.  I am also blessed with amazing colleagues who add to the excitement of transitioning back to school. I’m fortunate that I never dread starting a new school year.


Liam loves second grade, claiming it far superior to first grade.  His teacher seems lovely and fosters his love of learning.  I love seeing him grow and hearing him talk about all the great things he did each day.  This past weekend, Timehop provided a huge surprise.  I can’t believe he is so grown up!


Cooler Weather

I love sweater weather!  I love feeling a chill in the air and sleeping with a window open.  It’s also nice to be able to wear makeup without it sweating off and having cool enough temperatures to wear your hair down.  It’s nice to have fires in the backyard and sit around with the people I love most.  Running is definitely easier in the fall.  It is easier to breathe, and I don’t have sweat dripping in my eyes.  This week, I loved watching the colors begin to change as a ran the Boulevard.

Being Busy

The transition to back to school is as seamless as turning on a switch for us.  I am amazed at how well we all go back into school mode.  Over the summer, we did a great job of keeping Liam on his school sleep schedule, eliminating one of the hardest transitions.  Come September, we go back to meal planning on Sundays, afternoon errands, remembering forms and projects, planning and correcting (me), homework, evening walks, and filling the weekends with fall activities.  I love knowing that we have full, productive days.

Random Warm Days

As much as I love cooler temperatures, nothing screams fall in New England quite like a random fall day with temperatures in the 80’s.  My favorite things to do on these warm days is to head to the beach, even if we go after school.  I pack our beach gear in the car the night before.  Mike, who gets out of work after me, picks up a pizza and meets us there.  Being able to enjoy the beach in September (and sometimes October) is one of the greatest treats.


Making Time Important

While being busy, I think we do a better job of appreciating each other as a family.  We make a point of eating dinner together and talking about our day.  Each evening, we take a walk around the neighborhood.  If we miss more than a day or two, Liam reminds us that we are overdue.  Mike and I carve time for ourselves after Liam goes to bed, even if we just chit chat or watch Big Bang Theory reruns.  We have at home date nights on Saturdays, sitting outside or watching a movie.  Because we are so busy, time becomes a gift we give each other.   I love weekend adventures, trying to get as many chores as possible done during the week to gain more weekend time together.  The time together seems even more precious.

Halloween

Years of working retail killed any excitement about Christmas I had as a child.  Obviously, Liam brought a lot of it back, but I have never been a huge Christmas person.  I do the bare minimum when it comes to decorating.  I make sure Liam has a great holiday, but I do not play Christmas music or watch holiday movies.

Halloween is my favorite!  I love the silliness or decorating and dressing up.  There is something fun about the idea of dressing up and being silly. Liam and I make a point of buying a few new Halloween decorations each year.  We start talking about his costume in the spring.  Halloween gives us all a chance to relive our childhood, eat candy, and have fun!  We make great plans and spend way more money and time on his costumes than I can to confess.  We’ve made props to accompany his costumes, my favorite was when we turned his wagon into a boat when he dressed as Max from Where the Wild Things Are.  Each Halloween, we have friends join us trick or treating through the neighborhood.  We stop by friends’ houses and see the kids in the neighborhood.  Halloween is one of my favorite things about fall.