Sunday, January 31, 2010

Can't We All Just Get Along

Sometimes I focus on the wrong things. Over the past year I have obsessed with the “right” school and the best curriculum, and the competent teacher, and readying my children to compete with all the other bright eyes in a classroom. By nature and training, I like research. And so, I had read every bit of material I could find on preparing kids to enter school, stay in school, and graduate. Now that both of them are in a classroom of some type and have friends who attend the elementary school I know the success my boys need may begin between the pages of a math book, but it most assuredly does not end there.

Enter… The subject of confidence.

Please don’t misunderstand. Of course I’d like my children to be proud of their own accomplishments. But I’d also like for them to know what it is to build another child’s self esteem. To understand that to tear down another is to sully the shine of their own soul. To delight in the ease of making and keeping friends and doing no harm to those around them. To recognize the part they play in boosting the confidence of their classmates. To see only uniqueness, not ugliness, in the face of unknown.

We all recognize children start learning at birth; the foundation for future learning is laid in the first few years. But how many of us realize the subject of confidence is as important as spelling, and algebra? And moreover, let’s remind ourselves now that if the foundation of confidence is solid the learning environment runs so much more smoothly for all students in all subjects.

Confidence is a self-fulfilling prophecy of positive proportions, particularly when a knowing, disciplined parent has groomed that assurance with patience, persistence, and play. I’m not suggesting I have all the answers. But I’ve got a hell of a lot of questions. I’m thinking about it. And I’m not resigning myself to the idea that children – without knowing – can be brutal, critical, unkind, and unfair. I will take responsibility for the unkind things my children may say in the future, because it is my job to teach them not to say them in the first place.

Here’s to 12 years of peaceful playgrounds!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Simply Sweet

It’s the little things. Namely celebrating the simple joys of kindness with a lit candle and a cupcake full of confectioners’ sugar. When my boys discovered that one of my friends had selected some special desserts for them, they couldn’t wait for the moment when I would permit them to sink their little teeth into the rot inducing, pretty, delicious and very appetizing little cakes

The glittering candies and jimmies sprinkled on top were not enough for my boys. They wanted candles. And so, even though no one in our house is celebrating a birthday, we pulled out the candles, lit them, sang “Happy Birthday to You”, and even made a wish as we blew out the flames.

A cupcake is sweet, might be filled and layered, even piped and topped with the utmost in perfection. It may be given for birthdays or special celebrations. Might be from your humble kitchen or from the most esteemed shop in town. But truly – as we learned this morning – the most tempting cupcake of all is the one offered for absolutely no reason at all.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Don't Leave Home Without Your Crayolas

Some friends you meet at Kindergarten. Spasmodically you meet a few in junior high. You even pick up a few more when you head to high school And don’t even get me started on the ones you meet in college.

Others you meet at the park. And on that sparkling day that person may write her name and number in yellow crayon on a princess notepad. She may become your very good friend. It is a rare but fantastic joy to meet a friend this way.

Just want to say Happy Birthday to my dear friend – who took a chance in becoming my friend.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Life in Balance

What is your job title? I've thought about this off and on for nearly six years. Primarily because over the past six years I've found myself doing jobs I really like. Raising my children. Creating just about anything I can get my hands on. Managing relationships. But now I know of a career to which I aspire.

Was watching one of my favorite shows on the T.V. -- Project Runway -- when I downright giggled at the introduction they gave Lauren Hutton. Illogically beautiful. Everyone knows she's an actor... model... entrepenuer... guest star judge. But they introduced her as an ADVENTURER.

Now that is a career choice I want to know more about. I think I can still swing the whole work/life balance thing as I pursue this endeavor. Don't you?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I Know What You're Thinking

It's January. Actually, it's almost February. And you're thinking, where is my Christmas card? In fact, you may also be thinking, where is my thank you card. If you haven't gotten it by now, just don't hold your breath.

We had a system this year. But I'm hearing there might have been a few faults with the procedures. First, I mailed the Christmas cards in shifts. Mainly because I write letters on every single one. I mean really, why send something if you're not going to say Hello. That takes a while.

Then there was the whole addresses issue. My husband and I do this back-and-forth thing for about two weeks trying to e-mail each other the most up-to-date addresses of all of our friends. I even resorted to Google satellite in one instance. Creepy, folks. Downright creepy.

And last, but certainly the most heroic. We had Cooper walk most of those little cards down to the mailbox. All. By. Himself. He
s big on that right now. Gotta have some independence. In fact, he typifies the close mailbox as "level 3", the far one a "level 5". Our little gamer quantifies all distances and roads crossed into measurable levels that he can defeat. True story.

So, if your mailbox still hasn't been kissed by our festive and grateful thoughts... don't take it to heart. It simply means we put a little too much heart into it. Ooooops.

PS -- If you're also thinking that either a) my children wear the same thing every day or b) I take all my pictures on the same day, you are wrong. These pictures were taken almost 10 days apart. But, they way things rotate through it just happened that it was the same sweatshirt and pants. Oh, and they do kinda wear their monkey sweatshirts when it's coldish. And it's been coldish a lot lately. So, maybe the former is a bit true.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

There's Still a Thrill

Some things you never grow out of. For instance, I'm pretty sure that my brother Devin and I have a mild case of roller-coasters-freak-me-out. Naturally as young adults we decided we had grown out of this ailment and bravely boarded that non-sense known as family entertainment in Las Vegas (my parents looked on in gentle amusement). As the thing -- that I will hence refer to as the devil -- inched its way to perilous heights we simultaneously looked at each other. I know he was thinking, "I might very well wet my shorts." Because I just had. Then we both gripped that damned lap bar and started screaming.

Remember what it used to feel like when your dad pushed you on the swings a little too high? It was fun, and frightening. And nothing equals it. You trust your dad. But, then again, you've seen him do some stuff that even your little brain might question. So you squeal hoping against hope that it's OK when the swing is parallel with the ground. That, unfortunately, you grow out of. But for now, Coop's still got it. The thrill, the tingle, the squeal.

That boy loves the swings.

PS -- Does anyone else think my son looks like my brother Andrew?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Games Boys Play, IV

Once upon a time we went on a vacation. Yes, big news -- we don't do this much since having children. But once, a long, long, long time ago we took the boys to the mountains. It was a great weekend and we stayed in a nice condo, kept the boys active doing lots of adventerous stuff, and went to some really nice restaurants (considering we had 2 small children with us). But when we asked Cooper what his favorite part of the entire trip was he quickly and frankly answered, "When I stayed up late and played games with mommy and daddy." My husband and I took this meaningful advice to heart. We started investing in all types of games and diligently try to play games with the entire family. But I see, now, that the boys like to play a game with each other the very most.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Girl's Best Friend

At dinner the boys got in a heated debate over who knows more. Good heck! These conversations annoy me. Cooper said, "Mason doesn't know what rhyming is!" (insert nana na nana)


Steve and I chorus in, "Of course he does!" And I venture further, "Mason, what rhymes with Cooper?" (Desperately hoping he says pooper.)

Mason shouts, "Diamond!"

We're still working on rhyming.

PHOTO NOTE: A few pictures of the boys fighting... I guess the more things change, the more things stay the same.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Mommy's Little Helper

I'm just going to admit that on occasion my jeans are a little tight in one or two areas. Because I have to get over this part of myself so that you can enjoy the embarrassment into which I was recently lead. So, hypothetically, let's say my pants were a bit tight around the middle. In said scenario, it left a bit of a mark, like a sheet mark, where my excess chubbiness was strategically tucked into my pants. Get over the gross factor because we're just talking about red, pleated, excess skin.

Perhaps because my jeans were a bit tight, perhaps because I love shopping, perhaps because I had 2 hours to lug around only one kid, instead of two, I decided to go shopping for jeans. Whatever the reason, I found myself in a dressing room with approximately seven pairs of seriously overpriced jeans and Mason. As soon as I managed to pull too-tight jeans off, Mason gasped and said (loudly enough for all in dressing area to hear), "Oh mommy, do yous have a rash on yous butt?!?!?!"

Now again, from a purely speculative position would you...

a. Yell over the dressing stall, "Someone left their kid in here. Any takers?"
b. Resolve to muzzle child in public.
c. Leave all jeans and child on floor of dressing room and run like hell.

Frankly, I don't see that any of those plans of action are mutually exclusive.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Time Out

A Note to Builders:
This is certainly not the first time you've heard from me. Though, in the past, my comments have been of the complaining nature. Mainly my endless lamenting concerning carpet in bathrooms. While I will not let you off the hook for all the bathrooms, in all the houses, in which you have laid carpet, I do believe in giving credit where credit is due.

Namely, there is a crazy little nook in our house. It serves no purpose. Obviously it is ill-advised, wasted space of the utmost degree. But, can't change it, so I've found a way to use it. It is the time-out corner extraordinaire.

It is hidden from plain sight. That is to say that when a busted child is sitting there, the other tormenting child has to go out of his way to get at said punished. It is not within reach of electrical outlets, heating and air-conditioning intake registers, shelves -- glass or otherwise, or a toilet, nor anything that someone may be able to flush down a toilet. In a word, it's adequate.

Well, anyway, that's it for now. But please note, I'm just tabling my heated debate on the actual appropriate measurements of a laundry room. If you've never done a load of laundry in your life, by all means design one. I'm just saying.

Head Laundress and Time Out Giver-Outer

Thursday, January 14, 2010

While It Lasts

In the beginning we elected to give our children separate rooms. I'm starting to regret that a little bit now.

Someday they will kick and scream and punch and bully each other into a form of brotherly love. But for now they ask for sleepovers and then share a pillow. Sweet while it lasts.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Tomorrow morning I will register my oldest for kindergarten. In preparation I explained to him that kindergarten was for big kids who can take care of themselves for an entire day. Our kindergarten lasts from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and requires that he will need to bring a lunch and be in charge of his own backpack. This is a big deal for a 5 year old. Just as this sunk in he interrupted me with panic in his voice:

C: "What if I have to poop?"

M: "Well, then you'll use the restroom."

C: "But who will wipe my butt?"

We're still working on independence.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Merry Christmas to Me

Guess what I did? I accidentally won something. Something big. Well, I guess that all depends on what YOU think big is. But I was overcome with surprise and gratitude. I won my little city's photo contest -- which is farcical at best. But I won nonetheless and the prize was just what I wished for: a gift certificate to the local camera shop.

Of course I wouldn't be me if I didn't also spend three times as much as the gift certificate and get something I REALLY wanted.

But in winning this contest I realized the most important thing. It's not the camera, it's the perspective that makes the picture. The way I see things, or rather happened to see things at that very moment were enough to get someone's attention. That point was proved when I showed up to be interviewed and photographed with the 11 other winners. The reporter/photographer asked if I brought my camera with me.

Surrounded by true professional and hobbyist photographers wielding fancy cameras with big lenses I said, "Oh just one minute, it's in my purse." And I rummaged around in my much-too-full purse and pulled out my little pink gem, a SONY point and shoot. Stifled laughs all around. But I won just as much as them, so pfffft!

PHOTO NOTE: The winning photograph.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Thank You From ALL of Us

We are a blessed family. Though we geographically isolated ourselves from our families this holiday season, they didn't let us escape knowing how much they love us. We received many, many, many packages filled with love and fun stuff. Showing us once again that no matter where you go, your family follows you. We are grateful.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I'll Miss Morning

Mornings hate me. I'm not kidding. And all you people who have good relationships with the Crack of Dawn are like alien creatures from another realm. I don't get you. And neither does Mason. Maybe that's why Mason and I love each other so much.

When we finally decide to face the sunshine, we do have a nice time scowling over our scrambled eggs. Occasionally he takes up conversation with me...

Mason: Mommy. Talk to me.

Julia: What do you want to talk about?

Mason: Did you know Spiderman has a web?

Julia: Where did he get it?

Mason: No places. But ... he has a Spiderman pack-pack.

And it occurs to me, that next year when he's at preschool, I'll miss our mornings.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Write It Down

I just found a note that I wrote to myself. It was tucked in my purse on a ragged and worn shred of paper. I was meant to remember that while riding in the car I could hear Mason whimpering and crying. When I asked him what was wrong he said, "I can't sing when I have the hiccups."

Oh that was worth remembering.

Friday, January 1, 2010

There Was Some Toast

With only 3 minutes left in 2009 the hostess of the party we attended gathered all the kids around for a toast. The other seven children excitedly grabbed their respective cups of sparkling apple juice and started waiting. Our boys said, "Where's the bread?" We handed them each a chunk of garlic bread and didn't think anything more of it.

Until midnight when they eagerly bit into their TOAST.