The rest of October is gone in an absolute blur. I remember taking Penny and Leah to the mall for their photo shoot, and I more or less don’t remember a thing afterwards until I looked at the calendar today and saw a big, fat number 1 on it and thought, “Oh man, it’s November already!”
Penny did go to Homecoming with her friend JB and met up with some new friends at the dance itself. She looked lovely in her dress and she had a very good time going, although I think she would have liked to have danced more than she did. Her friend is not much of a dancer and she felt badly leaving him alone while she went to dance. Still, they had a great time having dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings with JB’s cousin beforehand and then going the dance and coming home. Penny looked beautiful and felt great in her new dress, so I’d call the night a success!
Another big event this month was that we went to Florida for my mother’s 60th birthday party. We had been planning this for a while and we were all very excited about it. My mom lives about 90 minutes south of Orlando, so a trip to Disney was definitely called for. I left the little one with her father and grandmother and took Penny to DisneyWorld’s Magic Kingdom for the day. It was a lot for her to take in and she was absolutely exhausted by 2:00 in the afternoon, but we managed to go on quiet rides then, like the Carousel of Progress, where she could take a little nap and get some rest. We were laughing and joking with each other about daring ourselves to go on the “scary rides” like Space Mountain and Splash Mountain, but ultimately my host mom instinct kicked in and I decided that Penny was not going back to Thailand regretting the fact that she hadn’t done things. I always tell her that she will regret the things she didn’t do much more than the things she did do. So I did the rides too, even though I really didn’t want to. But it was fun. Space Mountain is probably better for me than other coasters, since it’s in the dark and you really can’t see what’s about to happen. There’s no time to get scared. Penny was screaming the whole time, and she informs me that I laughed. We did every ride either of us wanted to and a few I’d never done before in all my trips to Disney and left by about 7:30PM. It was a beautiful day and a lot of fun.
The next day was my mom’s party. We had a beautiful time celebrating my mom and her special day. We did a lot of decorating, we made centerpieces, we put together cookie trays, got cake, entertained my mom’s friends, and made a glorious mess. My mom is a special lady, and has packed a ton of special into 60 years, so even though I gave her a big hug and she and I both burst into tears, it was a good kind of crying. I hope she felt all the love in that room—I know we all did!
Monday, we took Penny for her first glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean. It was a beautiful day but the hurricanes were churning up the water pretty good, so the waves were very choppy. She elected not to get into the water, but at least she got to see it.
Then it was one week till Halloween!!! Penny was very excited about Halloween and it is really her first big American holiday, so we were excited too. I had great plans for trips to the pumpkin patch, baking cookies, etc. but the wheels came off our family bus for a while and most of our weekend was taken up with meetings with our AFS liaison and a good deal of sulking, screaming, crying, and door slamming. I am happy to say that things are better now, but it was very stressful and consequently we didn’t get much done! She did go to her friend Victoria’s party on Saturday night, though, which was great, since she was able to meet some more kids and have a good time. She even told us not to wait up for her. I sort of didn’t, I just waited up in my bed instead of waiting in the living room.
So we crammed it in yesterday. When Penny got up, there was apple cider and donuts waiting for her. We carved pumpkins together—something she’d never done before. It was fun to hear her when I got the top off the first pumpkin and pulled up and the strings and seeds came with it. She really cleaned out her pumpkin with gusto, though, and took to the spirit of the thing right away.
She carved her own design into her pumpkin and she was happy with it, even if one of the eyes fell apart on her! I made Leah a little happy pumpkin and in the other pumpkins we had gotten, we used some Mr. Potato Head type pieces that they sold at Target a few years ago to make a pirate pumpkin and a diva pumpkin. The were all nicely displayed on the front steps.
Costumes were cool too. I let Penny have the ultimate say in what Leah would be this year, and she chose a pumpkin outfit we found on line. Leah looked super-cute, I must say, even though I wanted to go with a pirate princess costume. I’m happy with the pumpkin! (My sister-in-law pointed out that Leah is going to start forming opinions about what she wants to be soon enough and I may not have another chance to dress her as a pumpkin, so I should strike while the iron is hot!) Penny chose to wear her traditional Thai dress, something she had brought with her from home and has decided she will also wear to the prom. She looked beautiful in it, it was a cream colored lace top and a gorgeously patterned golden skirt. Michael and I wore our traditional Frankenstein and Witch hats that we got the first year we were married. We cut a beautiful picture as a family.
I took the girls out trick-or-treating starting at about 6:30PM. Penny kept asking what time it was and could we go yet and so we left as soon as we saw other kids coming out. We went to all the neighbors up and down the street, but it was COLD!!!! and Penny was freezing in her outfit. She had on a sweatshirt over it and at each house she would take it off before ringing the bell.
Halloween is dying, at least in Fredericksburg. It makes me sad—Halloween was such a special night when I was a kid, but I guess now people are scared about taking candy from strangers, so they take candy from strangers in church parking lots now. Our neighbors had invited us out to their church for the “trunk and treat” where you go around to parked cars and accept candy from people’s trunks, so after we finished our block, I put the girls in the car and we drove over to Falmouth Baptist and picked up loot and hot dogs to boot!
On the way back, we stopped off at JB’s house, where the dog got loose and Penny ran in circles screaming with the dog barking and chasing her—it was some Halloween excitement!!! Then we went to Mike’s radio buddy Jack’s, and then I told Penny I needed to get Leah home. She said she wanted to keep going, so I gave her my cell phone and came home. She was home about 15 minutes later, having gone to only 3 other houses before the cold got to her and she called it a night.
We all sat together at the table while she counted her loot. She and Leah bagged 150 pieces of candy total, the top 3 of which were M&M’s, Butterfingers, and KitKats. She was very excited by the gum she got—the kind in the red, yellow, and blue wrapper that turns rock hard in your mouth after about 5 minutes. She apparently loves the stuff! I’m going to go find her some today on sale.
Shortly afterwards, we perused our pictures and then it was bedtime.
So now it’s November and time to look ahead to the crazy season, which is getting underway. I can hardly believe it. Penny has off tomorrow for election day, so we are going to DC for the day. For Veteran’s Day, which I think she also has off and which Mike has off, we’re going to Richmond for the day. Our best friends and my father are all coming for Thanksgiving, then we’re hoping to make a trip to NYC, and then it’ll be Christmas time!!! Time for cookies and shopping and presents and trees and excitement. Penny is simultaneously praying for and dreading snow. We’ll see what happens!