Sunday, October 28, 2018

Our Old Soul Turns Nine

Abigail has always been an old soul.  I was recently thinking of something that happened when she was 2 1/2.  We were at the playground in our neighborhood and she got stung by a bee.  She tried not to cry, but got a bit teary eyed and I took her home and gave her some TLC.  I tried to make her feel better by telling her that she may have been stung, but the bee died when it stung her.  (I know this only happens to honey bees, and I doubt that is what stung her, but I thought it would make her feel better to know the bee was brought to justice.)  But this only added to her misery as she began to sob for the poor bee with her own discomfort forgotten.

That is still our girl.  Still our old soul who likes quiet time.  Still our little introvert who would rather be around 2 or 3 special people than a whole party room full of people.  For those of us lucky enough to be in her orbit,  she opens up to us in both silly and serious ways.  She is thoughtful, persistent, kind, clever and a loyal friend.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Joseph's Summer of Growing Up, Part 3

Sometimes it is the little, subtle things that make you take notice of your kiddo and see them in a new light.  Take Joseph.  This summer, he has decided that sometimes he wants to dress himself in clothes that are not athletic wear or DriFit.  You know, shirts with collars and khaki shorts and reef flip flops. You know, the fancy stuff.  I also took him shopping for school clothes for kindergarten. He wanted jeans. Skinny jeans. He looked at least 3rd grade in them!

Joseph is trying to become Mr. Responsible too.  He clears his plate after dinner without being asked (and often clears the plates of other people too!). 

He speaks in more complex paragraphs.  He is full of clever one-liners.  For example, we have a needle for the hand pump so that the kids can blow up their basketballs when they are low on air.  I keep the needle in the garage, in its tiny cardboard package, hanging above a box of sticks we use to start fires in the winter.  I kept warning the kids not to drop the needle into the stick box.
Then Joseph told me "Mama, I dropped the needle in the stick box."  (This was also an out-of-context sentence that really confused Larry.)
I said "Jos, I told you guys over and over not to do that!"
He fired back immediately "Well, maybe you shouldn't have hung the needle over the stick box!"

I had no comeback for that.

Recently his sister had surgery that limited her walking and what she can eat.  He has been so kind and helpful, even though he has been jealous of all her new Lego sets and ice cream dinners. 
She has not wanted to be alone for a second either and when Larry and I told her she had to start getting brave enough to get over that, he looked deep into her eyes and sincerely told her "I will never leave you Jie Jie."

Friday, August 3, 2018

Joseph's Summer of Growing Up, Part 2

Together with my parents and brother we rent a house we love on Smith Mountain Lake.  The house has a swimming/ party dock that is huge and the water at our dock is deep and clean.  Abigail has always loved to run and jump and swim in the deep water.  She was fearless (even when she thought there were sharks in the lake) because her Uncle Jim was there.

Joseph has preferred to sit on the dock and watch or wade into the shallow water up to his waist.

This year, before the car was even unpacked, Joseph was down at the dock jumping off the ladder to his grandmother.  We were all saying that maybe he'd be brave enough to jump off the dock by the end of the week.

Ten minutes later:

And shortly after that, he yelled "Cannnnnoooooonnnnnnnbaaaaaaalllllll" while running for the length of the dock before launching himself into the deep water.

But that wasn't all.

By the end of the week, he was riding piggy-back style into the lake on Larry's back.

We went to the community beach for the lake so there was a zero-entry swimming situation for Joseph.  He decided it was time to start swimming both under water and on top of the water, teaching himself how to come up for air without touching bottom.  And then, as soon as we got home, he announced he would be swimming in our pool (where he can't touch  bottom) without his life jacket anymore.  Okay, kid.  You got this.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Joseph's Summer of Growing Up, Part 1

It was a pleasant morning in June and the kids were riding bikes and other riding things on the driveway as they often do on pleasant mornings. Larry and I had been bugging Joseph about relinquishing his training wheels for a while, especially since he could ride his balance bike down a hill while weaving between two rows of trees, over a driveway, and into a drainage ditch without issues.  

On this particular morning, Joseph said that he was ready to take off his training wheels.  I said okay, buddy, let me go get some shoes on and I'll help you. I went inside and when I returned to the scene a minute or two later, Joseph had already obtained a crescent wrench, removed his left training wheel, and stored it on a shelf. I didn't even know he knew what tool to use for such a job, much less how to use it properly!  The right wheel was on a bit harder, so I helped him with that.  

Then he hopped on his bike and started to go.

That was it.

By the next morning, he was standing and pedaling and turning.  A few days later he was confident enough to ride to a local playground a mile away.

I don't know if I am more proud of the bike riding or the wrench usage.

Video here:  Link to YouTube

Proud to be a Minnow

I have seen the stat that a typical pre-schooler asks 144 questions per day.  Joseph, god bless him, reaches his quota by about 9:15 AM.  I try to nurture his questions to promote his love of learning and curious nature.  But sometimes, I am just worn out.  Read:  I begin to make sh*t up.  (Ask me sometime about the great footballer Silas Bojangles.)

Sometime this past spring, I was with the kids and Abigail was talking about being a GES Gator.  And we talked about the Wildcat mascot where Lar and I teach.  And the Tiger mascot at the middle school.  And the Bobcat mascot for another school. More questions kept coming.  At some point, Joseph wanted to know what animal represented his school.  Ready for the interrogation to be over, I quickly answered with mock surprise "Oh Joseph, don't you know you are a Merit School Minnow?" 
He saved face by saying "Oh yeah, I knew that."

The conversation was forgotten (by me, at least) until last night.  I asked Joseph how he was enjoying his summer break so far and he said it was great, but then sighed and paused and said "I miss being a Minnow though, and seeing Ms. Kelly and Mr. Jay and getting Friday dum-dums."

Sunday, March 11, 2018

a day in DC

Joseph has been spending his last year before kindergarten in a really amazing, top-notch, perfect-for-him, OMG-does-he-really-have-to-leave-this-place preschool.  He is doing their Montessori program and, for those of you who don't know, Montessori teaches kids about discovery, love of learning, independence, and (my favorite) about the greater world of which they are a teeny, tiny part.

His amazing teachers, Mrs. Kelly and Mr. Jay, have been teaching the kids that not all kids have water. (Some of Joseph's new favorite YouTube videos show kids walking barefoot to get buckets of muddy water and then their village gets a well built and they drink clean water.)  The kids have been collecting change to raise money for Amman Imman. They have been studying artists, mimicking their work, and selling their art at a fundraiser for Amman Imman.  

Joseph has learned about Andy Goldsworthy and done his own multi-media nature piece, Piet Mondrain and done his own rectangles and primary colors piece, and he learned about van Gogh and really loved his self portrait and tried his hand at his own version of starry night.

This, combined with Abigail's interest in art, led us to drive to DC today (55 minutes to get there, 100 to get home because I-95 does not have bi-directional HOV lanes, which I will never understand).  Our first stop was the Smithsonian Art Museum.  Joseph got to see one of his favorite new paintings.  

After that, I had packed lunchboxes for us to eat lunch on the drive home, but it was such a mild day (nearly 50 degrees, but, for the first time in forever, NO WIND!!) that we had an impromptu picnic in front of the Capitol building before heading to the United States Botanic Garden where there is an orchid spectrum happening now.  The kids got to try vanilla ice cream (vanilla is in the orchid family), see a cacao tree (not related to orchids, but fun for them), and plant their own orchids which may flower in 2 years if properly cared for.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

The (gale) Force was with us

What do you do when a 2-day long wind storm with 70 mph winds knocks out the power to almost the whole town? 

You eat Easy Mac and cold fried chicken (practically the last food left at the only open grocery store, which took us a round trip of 70 minutes to get) and watch Star Wars while taking shelter at school!  We were the only ones there, although teacher friends later wondered why they hadn't thought of doing that while they shivered in the cold and dark.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Sunday Snapshot(s)

Happy Year of the Dog

I love finding an old brick wall when I have a camera with me

I told them to look grown up.
They pretended to have cell phones.

Grunge Frame

Monday, February 5, 2018

It is good to have goals, by Abigail

Abigail is eight and in grade 3.  Lately, she has been really doing a great job taking care of her dog.  She cuddles it, reads with it, pets it.  It is the first thing she wants to see in the morning.  She often considers her dog's point of view on matters.  She has it do tricks and she feeds it.  The change has been sudden, and I thought it was because she wanted to get a new dog in December but we told her to just be better with the dog she has.

Most weeks, Abigail's teacher sends home work from the past week or month and we look through it and recycle 99% or more of it (kids generate SO much paperwork).  Last week, a banner-foldable came home with her that she did at the beginning of January.  On it, she answered questions about the year, old and new.

Here are her answers:
The best part of 2017 was:  I got to go to New York City
Something I am going to stop doing:  Hitting my brother when we fight
School Goals: To read a little faster.  To do money better. To do math better. To be good.
Personal Goal: I hope to treat my dog better.
                         --- And there it is!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Tales from Christmas 2017

This post could have been titled Epic Mom Fail

I am a planner.  I love the planning of November and December.  I love making memories for and with the kids.  I love being thoughtful.  The planning and anticipation is more fun for me than the actual event.

Weeks before Christmas, I take the below photo while the kids were sleeping.  (Yes, they seriously are that cute when they sleep.)

I plan to leave it out for Christmas morning with a note from Elfie that said "I hugged you goodbye."
Sentimentality tear-jerker, for those who get the Elf, right?  The magic is so short, only a few years long really.  It is surely to be the last year in our house;  Joseph is figuring things out and told Abigail all month that Santa isn't real.

I had the photo printed and hidden from the kids.

On Christmas Eve, I bathed the kids and I made sure that Joseph wore a red shirt to bed because some red was visible under the blanket.  

I made sure the same pillow cases were on the bed, in the same order and the kids were in in that order. 

After the kids were asleep, I carefully laid out the picture from Elfie and a letter from Santa, next to the cookie crumbs, that said "I have Elfie.  Merry Christmas."

I filled the stockings.  I put presents under the tree.  I cleaned up various dishes and things lying around the house.  

I went to bed with a feeling that I was forgetting something.

On Christmas morning, the kids were excited to find the picture from Elfie and note from Santa.  Abigail read everything out loud to Joseph and when she read "I hugged you goodbye" Joseph cocked his head to the side and trilled "aawww", his voice falling and rising with admiration.

They opened their stockings and then their gifts from Santa.  

Then they went into their playroom and I heard Abigail yell "ELFIE IS STILL HERE!  He is in the same spot as yesterday."


I slipped into a ridiculously crazy Christmas depression after that.  I couldn't believe I messed it up.  


Do you remember getting a Christmas catalog when you were little?  I remember it from the '80s.  We would get a thick Sears or Montgomery Wards catalog and my brothers and I would pour over it, deliberating what we would ask for, trying to be strategic about it.

This year, the kids got a Target Christmas catalog.  It wasn't the door-jam sized tome we used to get, but inside it had the HotWheels Super Ultimate Gorilla Attack Garage.  They wanted this more than anything.  Larry and I told them no in a thousand different ways.  They pined over it when they saw it in the stores.  They teamed up and thought if that was all they asked for together, maybe they would get it.  We prodded them to ask for other smaller stuff.  After weeks of this dance, I think they gave up hope of getting it, but still really couldn't be pressed for anything else they wanted.  But they didn't ask for the garage anymore. 

By that point, the garage was already hidden in a closet.

On Christmas morning, the kids opened the gifts from relatives and the very few modest things we got them (galoshes, flip flops, shirts, a board game, a few Legos, a book).  They looked around and we asked "Did you get everything you want?  Are you happy?  Is anything missing?"  

And the kids assured us they were happy, there is nothing more they could want, and that they were very content and grateful for what they had.

I was so proud of them.  But then we had my parents cover their eyes and Larry carried out the Gorilla Garage.  

They were very excited and surprised to get it.  

An hour later, Larry had the thing put together.  
And the kids decided it was more fun to play in the box next to it.


Lastly, I wanted to share what a kind, old soul Abigail continues to be.  She discovered a box of generic Christmas cards this year and she wanted to make cards and drawings for everyone she loved.  We all got the sweetest drawings and letters from Abigail this year.