royal evening

IMG_5788 After weeks and weeks of hard work, Callum shone in his school play, The Emperor's New Clothes on Friday night.

IMG_5766 New schools bring a host of new experiences, and this was one of many this fall. This theatre program is very different from what he's used to. After school rehearsals, a group of kids who sign up to be there instead of a whole-school production. Callum is used to having a significant part to play, and he stepped into a crowd who is just as committed as he is. He did a great job at handling a smaller role. Fewer lines maybe this time, but learning to function as an important part of an ensemble. And honestly, he didn't want a big role this go around. There was enough to adjust to as it was.

IMG_5777 He hates that it's over, this Royal Guard of mine. But, what a show! Callum had his grandparents and a great-aunt and uncle in the audience, as well as a large contingent from his old school. I'm so thrilled for him that he had so many familiar faces in the crowd.

Spring will bring lacrosse and not a chance to be back up on the stage, but he's already looking toward summer camp (The Lion King!), and even next fall. Bravo, my friend. Job well done.

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his Tom Sawyer moment

IMG_5246 We've been in this house for seven years now and in the last year have really just started settling into it. I have more to say about that. All my thoughts about sinking into this home deserve a post of their own, I suppose. But this post is about Callum and the fence. We've added a tiny bit of fencing, perpinducular to the house to train some plants and such along. It's the one idea about the front yard that I've had that Neel actually agreed to. The fence went in two weeks ago, and last weekend Callum painted it.

IMG_5254 We paid him cold hard cash to do the job, and he made great work of it. He was nervous at first, but he took his work very seriously (much more so than his father would have, ahem). As a result, the fence looks great. We have another step to get the project completely finished (that will involve more painting and another paycheck, I imagine), and I'll post pictures after that. Nice work, young man.

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it's all good

IMG_9443 You can tell things have been rough, camera-wise, when I'm recycling old photos from trips to the Farmer's Market!

Well, it's been a month now, since the great New School Experiment started, and I think I can safely say that it's all good.

He's so happy. It's different, certainly. More work. More tests. More grades. He tucks in his shirt and buckles his belt every morning. He dresses out for PE. He eats a hot lunch (At his old school, his dad packed his lunch everyday and they ate outside - weather permitting - for an hour.) where he's in charge of serving drinks to the second graders and making sure he gets himself fed in about 24 minutes. He changes classes. He has a lot of homework. That's been our biggest adjustment, I think. The amount of work coming home. And it's not as much the amount of work, as the fact that it just takes Callum a long time to do it. And it takes him a long time to do it because he has to stop and tell us things every few seconds. Or get up and walk around. Or have a snack. Or look out the window.

But we worked on it. September is always hard at our house, and we just worked and worked and tried new things and figured it out. October is like turning on a switch, and suddenly homework, our biggest adjustment, is going better too.

He has after-school activities three times a week, and his old karate teacher is at his new school now. Something familiar in a sea of novel moments. His grades are good, great in fact, and we couldn't be more proud. It's fascinating, really. This kid of mine. What would send me into a tailspin of mortification, what could freeze me with fear: grades...well, they excite and challenge him and propel him forward. Pretty much what they are supposed to do. Who knew?

It's still tough sometimes, because simply everything is new. We're still working out just when to leave in the mornings to miss the worst of the traffic and not be too early or too late. But oh, how I love the brevity of our new commute. We skip the carpool line because for now; Callum likes me to park and walk him in. He likes me to be in the lobby waiting at the end of the day too. He may be the only kid in fifth grade to do this, but as long as he wants it, I'm happy to.

But we're lucky too. His best bud, who is also our neighbor on the street, is in his class, and he rides in with themat least once a week. He knows teachers there and other kids. In so many ways his path was smoothed as much as possible, but in many, many others he was made to feel at home and welcomed and part of a family. He's made friends where just a few weeks there were mostly unfamiliar faces. In a month it's become infinitely more comfortable, and by next month it'll be even more so.

It's challenging and exciting, and he comes home saying how many cool things he's learning. When we first embarked on this journey of considering a new school, it was remarkable that we were even considering it. I'd thought Callum would have stayed at his old school forever. It was small and nurturing and familiar. There were many reasons for why we had to leave, all valid, but not unimportant was understanding that just because Neel and I wanted small and nurturing and familiar didn't necessarily mean that Callum needed small and nurturing and familiar. He's proved to us that he doesn't. He's more confident, more responsible and more self-assured. He's like a kid pulling off a too-small sweater. Stretching his arms with delight. It's not that his old school wasn't right. It's just that it wasn't right for him anymore.

One evening a few weeks ago, Callum and I were having our bedtime snuggle. It's where we tuck into his bed for a bit and chat about the day. We do highs and lows and talk over any clashes we may have had as a family. It was still in the middle of the homework struggle, of the learning curve on handling the increased work load, and we'd had a tough evening. We'd managed to work it out though, and Callum said to me that night, with a measure of satisfaction, "Momma, it's hard, but I think that school has me written all over it."

Little man, I couldn't agree more.

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checking in

IMG_4514 Hey guys, just a quick check in to say I think I'm going to step away from the blog this week. It's our first real week of school, uninterrupted by holidays and potential hurricanes, and I think we're all going to knuckle down and work on getting into routines and keep getting pain-free. I may not be there yet, but every day seems to bring me a tick closer. Step by step. It's all we can do, right? So Monday at the latest, and I'll be back with a fall masthead and hopefully lots of other things. Meanwhile I'll leave you with this picture of my boy that I love. It's from his 11th birthday, and he's on the phone with an old friend from far away.
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IMG_4165 Well we're managing to get our feet under ourselves. It's hectic and crazy and all new... Everything that was old is new again. Everything that was familiar to all of us has been replaced. Shirts to be tucked in, belts to be buckled. Rushing out the door, still trying to learn the commute. When should we leave? When should I merge? How long will I sit in this traffic? When is first bell?

Callum's feet are as light as his backpack is heavy. I can't get over how brave he is to do this. We've made it as easy as possible (he knows his teacher, his best friend is in his class), but still! Everything is different. But good. He's frank about his fears, but he's so happy too. Energized by the challenge. Every night a new worry comes home. I know I've told this story about my grandad before, how he'd say, "You may tell me not to worry, but I am worried." Well, duh. Of course you are. There's little we can say that alleviates these fears.

"Will my teacher understand that I didn't understand?"
"Was I supposed to bring that paper back today or tomorrow?"
"What if I don't pass the fitness test?"

We can tell him it'll be okay. Tell him not to worry, but the only way to get past the worry and the fear is to go right through it. He's doing it. Every day, he's doing it. That's what I'm proudest of. And he loves the food.

It's only Wednesday, but it's my first day working from home in all this. That takes adjustment too. I crammed all the doctor's appointments I'd been putting off into those first two days. (Migraine meds refilled: check. Diagnosis of plantars faciatias: check.) Today, I didn't have to rush anywhere. Just home to work.

So when I got here, I made some toast.

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brand new day

It's the first day of school. New school. New teachers. New friends. New clothes. A brand new day. My poor boy was SO nervous. We all were a little, I think. I worried over carpool lines and could I park and walk him into the building? Callum worried over dressing out for PE, being a server at lunch and managing his belt. He had go to the bathroom as soon as he got there!

Over the weekend I was thinking about the start of school last year. I know I've told you this story before, but even as we started thinking about new schools waaaay back last summer, I looked forward to that coming year and fourth grade with a lot of hope. It didn't last. I felt sad, scared, worried and trapped before Callum even got his foot in the door.

This year is different. We're filled with hope and excitement. Trepidation, of course, but my anticipation this year was SO different than all of the fear we faced last year at this time.

We got him in the door and said goodbye in the lobby. I didn't walk him to his class. I regret that now, but by the time we hugged, he had his game face on. Ready for the brand new day. If he wants me to, I'll walk him in tomorrow. I can't wait to pick him up this afternoon and hear how it went. I can't wait to see what happens.

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three young men

IMG_2785 Callum's best friends are two brothers who live on our street. One is just his age and will be in his grade next year at the new school, and the other is two years older. Somehow, they manage to make this friendship, with varied ages, work splendidly. It has been a summer of three. Callum over there playing Wii or World Cup Soccer outside, or them here, playing Wii and FIFA World Cup for Wii inside. Callum's days are organized around these two. How soon he can get over there once he's up in the morning. How soon he can get back to them if we go out. They've been here all day, playing Callum's new World Cup soccer game. I've been cleaning out the Blue Rain Room, and I can hear their shouts and laughter all the way upstairs. When one of them scores they take a lap around the new circuit of the house that our remodeled pantry has created, big boy footsteps thudding. Callum made sandwiches for lunch for everyone, and I happily cleaned up the detritus when they bolted back outside.

Of course as I typed this, they got in their first "fight" of the summer. Some boys storming off and one boy in tears. Callum would handle this better if he had a brother, I think. Would better understand that arguments are part of friendships. They took a little breather, and it typical boy fashion, they were soon back in front of the Wii as if it never happened.

It's bittersweet for me, of course. Watching this boy who used to need only us be shaped by deepening friendships. Especially bitter when he's hurting. But it's mostly sweet as I see him rush out the door to be with his friends, as anxious to be together as if he hadn't played soccer with them until after dark the night before.

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a cheesy surpise, by Callum

IMG_2097 Yes, you see, my dad and I made nachos. This was a fun and inspiring process to do. We made a list and went to the grocery store and got all the ingredients. Then we melted some cheese on the chips and then we put down all the ingredients.

IMG_2100 One of my favorite parts was putting the chips all around the edge of the plate.

IMG_2105 My dad and I were just getting ready to sit down and have our nachos.

IMG_2108 Here we have dug into our nachos and they taste really good!

IMG_2111 We finally finished our nachos. The process of eating and of making them was really fun!

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dig a little, swim a little

IMG_1527 It took forever, but we finally made it to the beach yesterday.

IMG_1510 It was brutally hot at the house, but by the time we got to the oceanfront, the temps had dropped ten degrees. It was foggy and gray with a light breeze...the perfect beach day in my book!

IMG_1516 Callum had a goal to dig a hole.

IMG_1525 So he did. I helped.

IMG_1543 Then the fog moved in. Going...

IMG_1544 going...

IMG_1545 gone.

IMG_1508 It's official. Summer has begun.

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Updated to add...

IMG_1252 Well, the last day of school was pretty hard for me. Every time someone came up and said, "Doing okay?" I could feel the fullness of tears shimmer behind my eyes. It was a half day, and at noon I sat outside Callum's building waiting for the kids to come out. Tissues and camera in hand.

One by one his classmates emerged, a gaggle of happy geese set free for flight. Talking, laughing, hugging. Summer reflected in their eyes.

And I waited. I could see through the window as Callum sat alone in the hallway, under the coat rack. He was slowly putting things away in his backpack and sorting through the bags of detritus that every student was bringing home. 

That's when I really started to feel weepy. My boy, slowly saying goodbye for the last time. I pictured us sitting in that very spot, my arm around him, sticky from the heat. How could I comfort him if I was so sad myself? Moments later, Callum burst through the door. Without a glance at me, he dashed off toward the back playground.

That's what this photo is of. Not Callum feeling bereft at this leave-taking. But Callum serious and concentrating as he seeks out the enemy in a water gun battle. Sometimes good-byes need to be just like this.

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doing his part

Dear Callum,

Hello my lovely. Happy Last Day of School. And oh, what a bittersweet day this will be, won't it my friend? You asked at dinner the other night for something positive to happen, and here today let's do that. Let's not think about the goodbyes and the loss, but instead all of the wonderful things that have happened along the way. When you started here at school, you were such my baby, and as always with you, starting something new is hard.

Cottage2 05 It was hard for me to send you to school actually and hard to find the perfect place. School was not a place of fun and comfort for me, and I didn't want that to be true for you too. But, as I often tell people, when we stood on the playground in front of this magical Cottage, I started to cry because here, I knew I could send you. I do admissions tours sometimes and I always say what was said to us that day. "We want kids to learn that there is this magical place of fun and learning outside their homes and we give that place the name 'school'."

We had a goodbye ritual each day, you and I as we walked down the path to the Cottage. Take a few steps, kiss, take a few steps, kiss. Once inside you went straight to the window and waved as I backed away. The first day that you dashed to play without looking back was a bittersweet victory. I was so proud of you.

I was proud of you then, and I'm proud of you now, big-time almost fifth grader. You breeze into your classroom without a backward glance now. As it should be.

Last 12 Months - 0824 You started this year with a bang. In school a few days and woosh! Off to Hungary! We're so grateful that we can offer you the opportunity to travel and grateful that your teachers encouraged this trip. It was a great experience and a great place to turn ten years old. When you came home, you proudly told your classmates about your trip. You still love to get up in front of a crowd.

Last 12 Months - 1954 We traveled a lot this year. To Charlottesville to see Monticello, up to Pennsylvania to see friends, to Atlanta to see your grandparents. South Carolina for New Years, and almost South Carolina again this spring (bummer!). You're still one of the best, most enthusiastic travelers I know.

Last 12 Months - 4460 You still love dressing up and will take any opportunity to do so. You always look so sharp for your class pictures. A friend gave you a box of ties as a gift, and you were overwhelmed with delight. Your new school has a dress code, and I actually think you're excited about that! Still, you don't like getting haircuts and you don't like taking showers (?), but I'm working on that! 

Last 12 Months - 3511 School this year had as many bumps as delights. Hard stuff with friends that we hadn't experienced before. Hard work that took a lot of effort. You worked hard, (even though you parents still think you could work a little harder...a-hem) although I think things (both with your friends and your studies) were more challenging than ever before. It didn't help that we threw this whole "new-school" curve ball at you. Sometimes things aren't fair.

Last 12 Months - 3493 The more things change, the more they stay the same. You still do your homework at the kitchen island (more difficult when our kitchen was under construction), and those are still my favorite times of day. You still read like a mad-man, although we sometimes have to encourage you to try something new, and this is still your way to fall asleep at night. In math, you worked like a demon to memorize your math facts (aack, multiplication tables), and you were one of the first three students in your class to accomplish this goal. And you still love science and history and World War II movies. Mama has to leave the house next week so you and Papa can catch up on all the movies you taped over Memorial Day Weekend!

You still have popcorn and gatorade after school almost every day, and you usually need to grab a snack out of my office before we head home. You've been eating soup for lunch still, and fried chicken this year now too. We stop packing your lunch next year, and you're a little sad about that, I think. You still love seltzer and tonic with lime, but this year saw soda creeping in to your beverage options. Sprite we're okay with (in small doses), and I;m always very proud of you when you call from a friend's house to ask if you can have a coke.

Last 12 Months - 4845
You love to learn and you love to try new things. This year you took French lessons, willingly giving up your Saturday mornings to dabble in a language that you've decided that you want to learn. You and I did some cooking together this year, and we had so much fun that I hope we do more. When Alfie came, you guys painted a picture together. You threw yourself into that project, like you do most projects. You love nothing more than involved, complicated be working on SOMETHING! You're always planning something like building a cabin the size of our living room or a fort in a tree. Go big or go home, that's my boy.

Last 12 Months - 4770 When you and your buds on the block planned a lemonade stand and ping pong tournament, you made $30! But more important to you, I think, was the fun you had. Although you like money too.

Last 12 Months - 2836 You're happiest when you're moving your body. Climbing, running, on the rope swing, playing capture the flag or dodgeball. You got your first Nerf gun, and now you have an arsenal. (Your dad likes them too!) Nothing shows the holiday spirit like the Nerf gun battle that took place on this block on Christmas morning. 

Last 12 Months - 3207 It was a weather-y year too. A nor'easter that shut down school, not to mention our neighborhood, for more than two days. And, oh, the best snowfall ever. You could have stayed outside all day during that snowstorm. You were at a perfect age for Mother Nature to dump eight inches of snow on us. We both hope it happens again next year!

Last 12 Months - 3948 You had some disappointments this year too. You didn't win the Teacher Jane book award, but when you told me, after having had a pretty bad day, that the only good thing to happen was to hear that a classmate of yours had won...well, Mama and Papa were prouder of you then than if your essay had been chosen. You played lacrosse again this year and had a lot of fun, but you guys were more like the Bad News Bears than reining league champions this season. That's okay. Learning how to lose gracefully is good for you and something you needed to do. You competed in the hardest category in forensics and didn't win, but your essay was wonderful and we thought you did a great job. You're a kid with a lot of sparkle, and I think the hardest lesson you learned this year was that simply being Callum isn't always enough. It's always enough for me though. 

Last 12 Months - 4026 Speaking of "sparkle," you absolutely SHONE in the school play this year. You love to be on the stage, and you have a great ability to connect with your audience. You look so at home up there, and you got so many laugh-out-loud moments that it's hard to remember that it's a big deal for kids to get up and perform on stage. Very nicely done.

Last 12 Months - 3822 Our vibe as a family has been pretty good this year. We have a lot of fun together. You still love to snuggle and you still seem to need us in a lot of ways (like a death-grip on Papa's wrist when you're struggling with math homework). I see shades of growing up, of course I do, and that's okay. You call us "Mom" and "Dad" when you're with your friends. I can understand it, even when it makes me sad.

Last 12 Months - 5798 I am so enjoying the person you are becoming, that it makes everything so worthwhile. I love talking with you and hearing the questions you ask. You want to know and understand things, and you love having knowledge about anything in the arsenal of your mind.

Last 12 Months - 4336 Yesterday was your DARE graduation at school. In another post I will write about how timely and important this experience has been for both you and your Mama and Papa as well. Your essay was chosen to represent the 4th grade, and when you read it to everyone, I had to fight back tears. I told you on the way home that of all the writing assignments you've had this year, I was happiest that you won this one. As we all look to your very near future of navigating the teenage and young adult world of violence and drugs and bad choices pressing in on all sides, the intensity I so love about you definitely gives me pause. But the confidence you have in yourself definitely gives me hope.

It's been a year for the record books, my sweet. My Bug, my Moo, my own sweet baby. A year of challenges and crazy fun. You navigated it well, my lovely. You've handled everything we've thrown at you. And if you're sad today, this last day of school, that's okay. It's a last day like no other last days, a final goodbye that is as bitter for what we lose as it is sweet for what we all have to look forward to. We're both jumping out of the nest, aren't we, chicklet?

I love you to the moon and back again my man-child. Love you, I do.


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Doing our part

  Last 12 Months - 3498 It’s nearly time to write my year-end recap for Callum. It’s been a bumpy year, for many reasons, and just because it hasn’t been all fun doesn’t mean we shouldn’t mark its passing. But what I want to write today is separate from that recap, I think. We’ve handed Callum a lot to handle this year. We’ve all had a lot to handle this year. In the early fall Neel and I made the decision that it was time for him to leave his current school and attend another next fall. In many, many ways this was a tough call to make. He’s been at this school since he was barely four years old. From the earliest of preschool right through fourth grade. And he loves it here. Callum once said that when he died he wanted to be cremated and have his ashes spread on this campus. I work here, and Neel’s on the board…the fact that this is Callum’s school is as intricately entwined in our lives as our house is to our homelife. So many wonderful things have happened here. Callum learned to read here. Callum discovered his love of writing here. Callum decided that he might like math, just a little, here. He’s come into his own on the stage and on the field while he was here, and he even learned to sing! 

But things change and places change and people change too. Callum needs, we decided, a bigger world, a higher bar, space that pushed him and expanded him…a place that was both more comfortable (in some ways) and less comfortable (in others).

So this past fall, the great school search began for us. At first we were just exploring. We didn’t tell our son about our thoughts, because at the time they were no more than that…thoughts. We wanted to see what was out there, what options we had. I went to open houses and reported back to Neel. We read and read and read. We talked and talked and talked. We gravitated to one school, and I day-dreamed about a (much) shorter commute. Still small, still nurturing, but a bit bigger and different enough… we thought we’d found it. And then a friend of ours, director of the lower division at another school, took us on a tour of his school. WAY bigger. Very different. We went to mostly rule it out, and, well you can see where this is going. We came out thinking, “hmm.” Hmmmm.

Then we had a decision to make, and we hadn’t yet told Callum.

Last 12 Months - 3853 On the evening we told our son that we were looking at new schools for him in the coming year, Neel and I sat across from each other at the dinner table, making the eyebrow-wiggling equivalent of, “You say it. No, YOU say it.” I’m not sure who jumped in and started speaking first but it was probably me, because all that eyebrow-wiggling reminded me of a particularly painful moment in high school which I am certain is a story for another day. There was Callum, happily eating away when we dropped the metaphorical bomb on him. His eyes grew round, he looked from one of us to the other and then quietly stood up beside his chair. It was as if his seat couldn’t contain him, but his emotions had no voice.

So we talked. All evening we talked. It wasn’t long before he ended up on my lap at the dinner table, just liked he used to do when he was a toddler. We talked about how we still loved his school. We talked about how it was hard to even think about saying good-bye. And we talked about how it might be time to think about doing something different.

After all that talking, we put him through the ringer. Tours, interviews, a day-long visit at one school, rigorous testing at another. Sitting for the tests, spending a day with kids he didn’t know…it all took a lot of bravery, I think. Hardest for Callum was having to keep the news a secret from his friends at school. It was a long winter.

Greece, part 2 775 We told him that he would have input (and he had a clear favorite), but that we would make the ultimate decision (he railed against that, let me tell you). He’d ask regularly which way we were leaning or state emphatically that he knew we weren’t leaning to the school of his choice.
And it was hard. Oh my gosh, so hard to make up our minds. We weighed pros and cons and talked and talked again. It felt like all we ever talked about was school. I really wondered if we’d ever be able to choose, but first we had to wait to see if the schools chose us. And when the first one did, I realized that I’d made up my mind. The way the light of a new day gathers so slowly, one tiny drop at a time, until suddenly it’s day, I had been gathering awareness about what we should do. And then I knew.

This post is as much about me as it is about Callum, because of what I learned. I learned that it’s not about what I need or want for him. I learned that ten is plenty old enough to have a strong voice in what happens to a person. I learned that what I wanted for Callum could be different from what Callum wanted for Callum or from what Callum really needed. And that’s the most important thing. When I was able to divorce myself from my vision of Callum’s schooling to really understand what he needed from his schooling. Well, the decision became clear. Neel got it too. At first I worried that I’d need to tug him along on this because it was so different from what we initially envisioned, but he got it.

So we’re trusting ourselves, we’re trusting our boy. We went big, not small, and we think he’s ready. As parents we’ve laid a good foundation, I think. His current school has a laid a good foundation. Now he’s ready for the big time.

We’re stepping off a cliff, but I think this place will give him wings.

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IMG_0002 Callum and I played hooky today. Is that how you spell it? Anyway, we are supposed to be in Myrtle Beach with Neel right now, and we're both worn out so we decided to take the day. We lazed around for awhile before going to see How to Train Your Dragon, which was awesome by the way. The lacrosse practice was canceled, and we had artichokes for dinner. Only Callum and I like artichokes, so it was the perfect no-Neel dinner. We've been watching a lot of TLC. Callum and Neel watch war movies. Callum and Lauren watch Say Yes to the Dress.  Callum wants us to get remarried now, and he wants me to let him come along to pick out my dress.

Great kid.

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catching up

IMG_1036 My last photography class feels like it was ages ago (don't worry, there's another one coming in April), and I never posted the photos. Our final assignment was to tell a story in pictures or to take a walk around someplace familiar and see it with new eyes. This was oddly difficult for me, especially given the fact that I tend to think in picture-stories for the blog all the time. So on one warm Sunday, our first warm Sunday, Neel, Callum, and I took a walk down to the water, and I took pictures like a madwoman!

IMG_1039 It felt like the earth was waking up and the people in it were waking up too. When I came home and downloaded the photos, several themes emerged and I thought I'd take the next few blog posts to explore them. First, let's honor Callum again, how about? Our neighbors have a phenomenal rope swing, and he's on it a lot. We were no sooner out the door than we found people we hadn't seen in ages out in their front yards too. While the grown-ups got what Callum calls "talky," he got his swing on.  He'd been planning to skateboard to the water, hence the helmet. This shot is my favorite. Nothing says ten year old boy like the shredded knees of his jeans and that intense look of concentration.

IMG_1040 Off comes the helmet, and here's some context with a still-winter bare tree.

IMG_1043 Then I got crafty and started to play with my depth of field! For those of you who are wondering how we've made this year difficult for him, it's not what you're thinking. No chaining to the bedpost, no locking in closets! No (gasp) withholding meals! But he has had a trying go of it, and he's handled his own adversity with grace. It's not something we can talk about just yet, but soon. I'll provide the details at a more salutary time.

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this kid

IMG_2952 This is my friend Callum. He also happens to be my son.

IMG_3169 He had a pretty impressive weekend, this kid of mine. Rushing from a lacrosse game (won some faceoffs, scored a goal)...

IMG_3397 to opening night of his school play. He knocked both events out of the park. He also got some really good news on Saturday, so we're feeling pretty proud. This has been a hard year for Callum, and his parents have asked a lot of him in many ways.

That makes this weekend even more special, both for the hard work and the reward. I couldn't, really couldn't, ask for a better son.

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while he was out

IMG_0549 Callum went away with some friends (and their parents, of course) on Friday, so Neel and I decided to take the time and blow out a room makeover for him.

IMG_0551 His room was last painted when we first moved here and he was four. So while it's a great room, the vibrant colors and chalkboard border had become a bit juvenile for him. Picking out a color proved tricky, which is part of why we waited until he got out of town. He wanted blue, and I was down with that. But Callum's choices fell in the electric, or neon category. I wanted a blue we could all live with, and it proved a bit trickier to pick than I anticipated.

IMG_0554 We'd already moved out all the toys and ten year old's clobber (Junk is in the eye of the beholder, I guess.), so Neel came home early, and we moved all the furniture to the center of the room and started taping things up.

IMG_0569 Afterwards, the Kilz to get rid of all those bright colors.

IMG_0602 We caught a huge break because the Kilz and the paint only took one coat each. That meant we finished painting Friday night and were able to use Saturday to put the room back together.

IMG_0804 New shelves for all those toys (pared down a bit).

IMG_0619 A cleared off desk,

IMG_0608 and a cozy spot to sleep. Neel and I were so happy and the room looks so nice. Callum, however, was totally underwhelmed. Too jacked up from his overnight, I suppose. He's saying that he likes it, though. That it's a room he can relax in. Thank goodness for that. The kid could use some relaxation like nobody's business.

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