Sunday, November 18, 2007

October Hightlights Final Installment: Halloween

What choice does a family blogger have than to report on Halloween? I only have a few days before Thanksgiving to get the month of October wrapped up, and then we move headlong into the Christmas season.

The nice thing about little babies and young toddlers is that you can usually dress them up however you want, or you can skip dressing them up altogether. Look at this cute Pocahontas costume I got to put Esther in last year:

And this year she was a little Michigan cheerleader:

But one day, all of the fun you had picking out the cutest, most creative showcase of your talents will evaporate when your child becomes old enough to choose his own costume. Gone are the days of tiny pea pods, knobbly-kneed giraffes, and hot dogs with a squiggle of mustard down the front. Now I must submit to the fact that my child wants to be a ninja every single year. Or a black phantom. Or, in Eli's case, a ninja for the school parade and a black phantom for the night of trick-or-treating. One thing I am grateful for is that Adam's recurring choice of costume, a devil, is at least a really cute homemade suit from Dan's mom, complete with horned cap and pointy tail. Eli, on the other hand, wears the nasty k-mart special black jump suit with artificial pectoral muscles made of rubber on the chest. Sigh.

We began our Halloween celebration this year with a party at the church on Tuesday night. Then on the big day, the boys packed their costumes in their backpacks and changed into them at school after lunch. In the past, the students at the elementary school have marched in a Halloween parade that requires them to weave in and out of every single classroom. This parade route is actually an object lesson in gridlock, particularly designed to make parents rue the day they ever tried to come and watch it.

This year, some genius person at the school decided to have the children parade through the neighborhood instead of through the halls. We were blessed with beautiful sunny weather, so all was well. Here is Adam (aka SATAN) lining up with his class to start the parade:

Here is Eli thinking he is much too cool and old to have his mother chasing him down the street with a camera:

And I'm sorry to say that I don't have any good pictures of the boys trick-or-treating because they were in too much of a hurry this year to waste time posing for pictures. Geeeeeeeze, mom!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

October Highlights, Part III: The Haircut

Part three of October Highlights is Eli's haircut. Here is Eli Before:

Here is Eli After:

Now, the story.

I've always thought boys with long hair were quite cute. I remember a little boy I met as a missionary in the Philippines. He was 5 years old and his mother had never cut his hair. It was so beautiful, long and wavy and thick. She was planning to cut it for the first time when he started school. I remember thinking that if I had boys, I'd like to do the same thing.

When Eli was a baby, I protected his hair from getting cut as long as possible. Finally, after his first birthday, Dan insisted that it was time, and lopped off all of Eli's little blond curls. I cried!

About a year ago, Eli had a regular short boy haircut. Then he decided he wanted to grow his hair out. I remember this as happening gradually; I hardly noticed it. He started getting lots of compliments on his cool long hair, and I started noticing that all the teenager boys had similar hairstyles. I was sort of proud of him for having long hair, although I did think it was gross the way he didn't like to wash it very often :) And it was always hanging in his eyes, which bothered me, and drove my mom absolutely crazy.

Recently, Dan and I had been wanting to cut it because it always looked so messy, but Eli would get hysterical whenever we brought it up. In May, we forced Leslie to give him a trim for our family picture, and after that he was nothing but evil, hateful looks.

During the first weekend of October we listened to a world-wide broadcast from the leaders of our church. One of the speakers mentioned a faithful mother in South America taking her little boy to church each week in his clean white shirt and missionary haircut. That was the first time that the thought came into my mind that there was a reason to cut Eli's hair other than personal preference.

Soon after that, another church leader visited Ann Arbor and gave a fireside. One of the teenagers in the audience asked what he could do to prepare to serve a mission. Elder Bednar explained that he can start now by becoming a missionary long before he serves a full-time mission. One of the things he mentioned in becoming a missionary is looking like a missionary--a second reference to having a missionary haircut.

Then I was listening to some talks given to the church in April and I heard a third reference to boys having a neat appearance and a missionary haircut. I talked to Dan, and we decided that it would not be a good idea to force Eli to get a haircut, but that we could encourage him to pray about it.

So we had a family lesson about grooming and hair cuts. Eli began praying about it. At first he told us he would get his hair cut when he turned 12 so that he could pass the sacrament at church. Then he said he would get a haircut when he turned 9. As we kept talking about it with him and he kept praying about it, he made more and more concessions. His plan became to get a trim on each major holiday, starting with Halloween, until he turned 9 and would then go to the full missionary haircut.

That is when we remembered that Aunt Leslie was coming. Leslie, besides being the family birthday cake-maker, is the family hair-cutter. We asked Eli if he would like to have Leslie cut his hair. He decided that would be a good way. So on Saturday, October 20, 2007, Eli took a seat of his own free will and choice, and submitted his hair to Leslie's scissors. He was very brave. The night before the haircut, I asked Eli if he was excited about it. He said no, he was not excited, but he felt peaceful. In the middle of the haircut, when he looked down and saw how much hair was on the ground, he started to cry. I asked him if he was still feeling peaceful. He gave me a thumbs down. Then Leslie told him that when he became a missionary some day, he would be asking people to sacrifice all kinds of things in order to join the church. This was the first big sacrifice he was making so that he could be obedient, and he could use this experience to understand better what sacrifice feels like.

Eli was pretty calm after the haircut, until he looked in the mirror. More tears! Then, calm again, until he saw his dad sweeping up all the hair. Even more tears! Finally, when he saw the Before and After pictures I had taken, he burst into tears again.

Eli, we know it was hard for you to lose your long hair. We think you look handsome both ways, and we're so proud of you for being willing to follow the counsel of our church leaders. You set a very good example for the whole family, especially for your little brother, Adam. Thank you, darling.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

(insert catchy title here)

I got home from getting my hair cut this afternoon, and Dan was online (he stayed home from work sick today). "Are you reading my blog?" I asked excitedly. "No, I'm just using it to look at other people's blogs. There is nothing new on your blog--you haven't posted in over a month." Ouch.

When you haven't posted for awhile, thinking of the perfect post to stage your comeback gets harder and harder. Well, having given up thinking of the perfect comeback post, I have decided to just get back on the horse.

Okay, to start with, here is my husband:

I know what you're thinking. "Why does Potato Girl get to have the handsome-est husband in the world? It's not fair." You're right. It's not fair. I'm just luckier than everyone else.

Now, for a brief re-cap of the month of October. We started out October with a visit from my parents:

I had told them to come the first or second week for the best fall colors, but this year we had a freakish hot spell. The weather was in the 80s during their visit, and all of the leaves were green, green, green, except for this one tree that we saw growing in the middle of a dam on the Huron River:

We went for ice cream several times...they might as well have been here in July for all the fall weather we got.

The day mom and dad left it started feeling like fall again, so we had a fun trip to Wasem Fruit Farm for more apples. Here is Esther, enjoying her harvest:

While I was busy selecting our donuts, the Adam and Eli, with friends Theo and Jake, were debating the various merits of an assortment of gourds. In the end, they convinced me that each of them needed two gourds. They are now rotting (the gourds, not the boys), ever so slowly, in a bowl on my kitchen counter:

Stay tuned for more on the exciting month of October.