Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

Well it has finally happened. My little Buddah bear has started moving--and what a mover he is. (Sigh) I love watching him. It has been a long struggle for us both (I realize 9 months is not such a long time, but he has been struggling with moving due to his size for quite some time now). My younger son has taken to rolling around the room to get things--mostly his older brother's things.

He is so proud of rolling over. He stretches, rolls up on his side, teeters for a moment on the brink, rolls on his fat little arm, and then body surfs until he can pull his arm out. Then he pushes up on his stomach and looks to see if I am looking. Of course I am. Then he just grins. He has the biggest grin. In addition to this new found mobility. He is struggling to try to sit up on the changing table while I'm changing his diaper. Not at all fun, but I am not about to stop this new found desire to move. Hooray for baby!!

A month from now, I'll be completely certifiable with two moving targets in the house. Luckily older brother has been well trained. He's quite capable of running over to his younger partner, snatching the toy from his chubby little fist, and saying "no no your not bigger enough for this toy. It's mine." So I must remind him to always replace the "big boy" toy with a toy that the baby CAN play with. (Sigh again)

Needless to say, I've been MIA on my blog for a week due to this new rolling phenomenon. I can no longer leave them together in the playroom while I blog. And I can no longer have the baby sitting on the floor beside the computer desk while I write. And since the baby has given up his two naps for one nap and his older brother doesn't nap at all, my time to write is severely limited. Thus I am just now posting.

The very best part of all this of course is watching big brother and little brother play together. Luckily big brother loves little brother and little brother adores big brother. They give kisses, they make each other laugh, they tickle and giggle. It's precious time. I am so glad that the boys have each other. Soon they really will be playmates, and maybe just maybe, I'll get back to my writing.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle; Part I Reduce

One of our favorite video characters is Bob the Builder. Sunflower Valley (where Bob works) is very big on being Green. We do what we can and often don't do as much as we could around here. Forming the habit is the hardest part. Sunflower Valley's Mission is to "reduce, reuse, and recycle." So today was an exercise in Reduction.

My oldest and I embarked on a clean up mission. We went through his closet, his toy box, his floor, and the playroom with two boxes. We had a cardboard box and a red plastic box. If he wanted to keep something it went into the red box to take up to the playroom. If he didn't want it anymore, it went into the cardboard box to give to another kid who might want a toy.

I took a page out of one of my former supervisor's books. She and her daughter do this clean up activity every year around her birthday. She lets her daughter decide what to keep and what to throw away and honors her child's choices even if she herself disagrees. So I let my son tell me what to keep and what to throw away. We actually filled the cardboard box until it overflowed with stuff he doesn't want anymore.

My only twist to this exercise is that I'm putting the box out of sight for a month before I get rid of it. My son's sense of time is very limited. I'm not always sure he understands what forever means. So just in case he asks for something he threw away, I'm hanging on to the box for a few weeks. If he hasn't asked for it by then, I'm taking the whole kit and caboodle to the Goodwill.

I also got this hang-on-to-it-for-a-bit idea from a parenting magazine. One mom wrote in that she periodically takes things away while the kids are sleeping and if they don't ask for it after a month or two, she throws it out. I prefer to let my son choose what to throw out, but I think holding on to it to make sure he doesn't ask for it anymore also makes sense, particularly at his age.

It felt good to clean things up. My children have far too much stuff. The stuff is a result of multiple errors of generous hearts at birthdays, Christmases, Easters, and trips, but it's too much regardless. I realize it is easy to give and be generous when you have more than you need. But at four, he isn't ready for more than that. We will get to those lessons later on.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pop culture

Have you ever wondered what people mean by pop culture? Do they mean People magazine? Do they mean American Idol? Do they mean Kate Spade handbags? Do they mean the Royal Family of England? Do they mean stale popcorn and rated R movies? What exactly does pop culture mean?

Am I crazy for sometimes trying to be a part of it and sometimes even liking it? Am I evil? Am I doing my family a disservice? Sure I like McDonald's. In fact, I love Chick-Fil-A. They have better milkshakes than Steak-N-Shake. I like to read the occasional People Magazine because I can usually catch up on the latest Royal Family fiascoes and find out whether or not Will and Kate are actually going to get married. I rarely get popcorn at the movies, but I can't remember the last time I went to a movie that wasn't rated R. Surprisingly I even got "carded" at the last rated R movie I went to. (Okay so they were checking tickets and not id's.) I have a love/hate relationship with American Idol, but I never miss an episode. I would never dream of owning a Kate Spade handbag. I'm a mom, there isn't room for all I have to carry around with me in one of those tiny purse things. Besides, I'm a Coach woman to the core, although I love my Vera Bradley diaper and matching purses.

So why does everyone always lament pop culture? What is it? Is it because we're too lazy to teach our kids the difference between what is excessive and what is a treat? We know that eating at McDonald's should be reserved for travels, trips, and the occasional bribe, but our kids don't. Well if you teach your kid that McDonald's is for special times, then you don't have to worry about their eating habit right? We know that Rated R movies are not for little kids and really not for tweens either. We know that too much violence and too much sex is really too much for kids. Isn't it really too much for anybody? So don't take your kids to movies you know they aren't ready for.

I'm really not sure why we sigh and shake our heads when we are talking about kids today. You know, a parent has a responsibility to pull the plug on all that stuff. There are clean good movies out there. Meat'n'Three restaurants still exist--my son loves Cracker Barrel, mostly for the toys and the mac'n'cheese, but occasionally he'll eat some carrots.

Teenagers are not bad because they're aliens. They're out of control because we don't take time to understand them. Somehow so many of us stopped putting limits on behavior, what our kids spend their money on, and with whom they spend their time. Just because teenagers can use grammatically correct sentences and walk and talk and dress themselves, doesn't mean they're grown. I got grounded at no reason at 17 to prevent me from going somewhere I shouldn't have been going in the first place. I was terrified of breaking curfew. My driver's license was a privilege not a birthright. If I hear "oh, the Internet" or "oh, that cell phone" one more time I'm going to scream. Take the blooming computer out of the room, the house, whatever. Take the cell phone away. Take the keys away. Parents don't do these things anymore because they don't want to be the bad guy, they don't take an interest, or they don't have time. Being a parent means being unpopular and making choices that often have to inconvenience your own life in order to do the right thing.

I just don't know why pop culture gets all the blame. I know it's hard to make good choices in the wake of everything that's in our world. But do you really think our parents had it easier? I doubt it. Drugs, alcohol, and sex are not new issues. Neither are disease, gambling, prostitution, slavery, or abuse. The Internet is new, but at one time so was rock'n'roll. Clothing options (particularly for girls) are more and more astounding, but at one time wearing pants was a major shocker. It's so hard to be a parent. You just have to have faith in yourself. Know your own limits. Make your own rules--and then keep them.

How do you expect your kids to respect limits when they don't see you respecting yours? Granted this is easy for me to say, my boys are little. I'm already getting into trouble though. I don't always mind my mouth. My own son told me that I said a bad word yesterday. From the back seat, while I was on the phone with a grown up, he sings out, "Mommy you shouldn't say crap. It's not a nice word." And I thought I was doing good to use "crap". Of course, the day before that, he told his little brother to "shut up". I said "Oh we don't say that to each other honey. That's not a nice word to use." Then I get, "Well you said it to him." I had said it, he was right. I just felt awful. So my son and I sat down and talked about how mommies make mistakes too. Mommies sometimes say ugly things when they are upset, much like little boys scream and shout and throw things when they are upset. It was probably a more constructive talk for me than for him, but I'm trying. I get my comeuppance too. I do not speak these platitudes about rules and limits blindly.

Regardless of our mistakes and missteps, we are the best stewards of our family's time. What we allow sets a precedent for what will be. We're all in this together too. It's as important to be aware of your friends' limits as you are of your own. Talk to each other. Support each other. Get together and make alternative opportunities for your kids together. I'm not saying don't go out in the world, or be afraid of it. I'm saying there is safety in numbers and if we help each other, we'll really be helping all of our kids make a better future. Let's go to the pool or the park and let the kids play while we read our People magazines and talk about what we saw on American Idol last night. Then we can hit Subway instead of McDonald's on the way home. We can surf the Internet (or write blog posts) while the kids nap instead of while they're in the room. We'll save that funny R movie for after the kids are in bed so we don't have to worry about hard questions and we can eat all that stale popcorn ourselves! We can indulge in pop culture on occasion without having to make our kids swim through it. Hang in there. We'll all make it. And someday we will just nod and smile when our kids lament to us about the latest craze in pop culture that's driving them crazy.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Blogging, Bi*^*ing, and Baking Cookies

Nah nothing to rant about today! Haha. Life got busy on me. I haven't had any time to write or anything to really write about in almost a week. But here is another four year old funny to share with my readers.

My son: Chi-Chi (grandmother) why don't grandma and grandpa (his great-grandparents) live in their house anymore?
Chi-chi (grandmother): Well they live in the nursing home now.
Son: Why?
Chi-Chi: Well they're old and sick. Sometimes when you get older you can't take care of yourself anymore.
Son: Why?
Chi-Chi: Well it just happens that way.
Son: Oh. Well why did they get old?
Chi-Chi: Well from the moment you're born you age and get older and older. Like last year you were three. This year you'll be four. Next year you'll be five. And some day you'll be 86.
Son: Uh-uh Chi-Chi. I'm gonna ask God to keep me new.

Don't you just love the honesty of a four year old? It keeps me young. Gotta go, the cookies are burning....

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


My baby used his first sign today!!! I am so excited. I am concerned about his hearing--I'm not sure how many speech sounds he is hearing, although I'm fairly certain he can hear. Anyway our little Buddha used "more" several times with intent during dinner tonight to get more food. Oh I was so excited!!! I couldn't help myself. I cried. I'm so mushy. We are hoping words will follow in the next three months or so, and more signs at any moment!
Then, when we were getting ready for bath, my oldest son took his own shirt off. This is the last getting dressed/undressed frontier. He's successful at everything else, but getting that shirt off is hard. Tonight, he took it off all by himself. I cried again. Double mush. Yesterday he said "go in the other room mom, I have a surprise for you." When he came out, he had his shoes on all by himself and a grin the size of Texas on his face.
Milestones are important. I don't know why exactly, but they are. Maybe it's a sign you did something right? Maybe it's a sign that you can't screw them up? I don't know, but I do know that each and every milestone is important to me and I write it all down. I can't help myself. I guess it's so someday when they're all grown up I can look back at the journey and enjoy the memories of this crazy wild ride that is being a mom. I can't wait to see what will happen tomorrow....

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Dinner Table

Is supper ready yet? Is Daddy home yet? Are we having chicken pot pie again? I only want milk and crackers for dinner. Some nights I just smile and say yes, no, not yet, you're right, I don't think so, just a few more minutes. Other nights I just throw up my hands and say, let's go get a sub.
Dinner is every mom's joy and pain. At first you're happy that you are making a meal for your family to sit down and enjoy. Then you're kinda grumpy because you know it will be eaten and everyone will scram with a big mess for you to clean up--in less time than it took you to make it. Sometimes you're so hungry yourself that your mood takes a nose dive with your blood sugar and you burn the biscuits, curse as you burn your finger, slam it all down, and glare at everyone daring them to do anything but eat it anyway. Then there are the nights when it all goes to plan. Everything turns out great. You even get the kitchen half way cleaned up before you sit down. The baby and the toddler eat what you've made and your husband tells you how much he likes everything.
Dinner is my favorite meal. It has always been very important to me. I believe every family should sit down to a meal together. Pick one--breakfast, lunch, or dinner. There is something comforting about breaking bread together that loosens the tongue, soothes the hunger (both real and imagined), and generally makes everyone feel they are safe. When I was growing up my mother chose dinner as the main meal. We would wait for my dad most nights. Then as we got busier and busier, my mom chose breakfast as our main meal.
My husband doesn't eat breakfast. He just chooses not to. So dinner is our main meal. I eat breakfast with the kids, but I try for us all to sit down to dinner at least a couple of times a week. Granted the children are small and can't always wait. There are many nights when my husband isn't going to make it in time. Regardless of these stumbling blocks (and countless others), I continue to try to make dinner a family affair.
I know this choice will only get harder as our family gets older. Perhaps dinner will become a pipe dream once everyone is driving. I know that monitoring my blood sugar so it doesn't take a nosedive at five will only get harder as I get older. I know that nobody will call me no matter how many times I ask for people to be on time, or to call me ahead of time if they're going to be late. I know that I'm not going to stop the calls that come 10 minutes after dinner is already ready saying that they're late. But I'm not going to stop making dinner and it's not going to stop being a family affair. Attendance is compulsory until you leave this home for every man, woman and child, period. And that's all I have to say about that.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Just a Plain Old Good Day

Do you ever have plain old good days? Nothing fancy. Nothing new. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just plain old fine. I had one of those today. Except for the frantic way in which I left the house to make our 5 o'clock doctor's appointment, because we all overslept during afternoon nap, I had a perfectly normal, busy, regular Monday. We were out of waffles for breakfast, but nobody complained. The OnDemand didn't work and we had to watch Dragontails instead of Thomas the Train, but nobody complained. We had peanut butter and bananas for lunch with milk instead of going out or having something more palatable because it isn't payday yet, but nobody complained. We had a boring casserole for dinner, but nobody complained.
It's days like this that have me waiting for the other shoe to drop, because I don't know how to enjoy them exactly. I can't explain very well what I mean. I enjoy days like this. I even wish for days like this---particularly when my days are NOT like this. However, I can't quite accept that I can have days like this. For some reason if the drama is missing, I'm wondering what else is going to happen.
That's so silly isn't it? Ah well. Live and learn and then let it go. I'm betting I won't have another day like today the rest of the week. But, oh, it's been a plain old good day and I am just plain old happy with that.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Instilling Gratefulness

How do you teach your child to be grateful? I'm not really sure how I learned. I think at first it was a guilty conscious actively working in my head. Then as a grew older and really began to see obvious differences in life situations I became more aware of my blessings. Later still, when tragedy hit me in various ways I began to see even more clearly that being grateful is an essential part to moving forward. Now as a parent, I am again at a learning point, this time in teaching lessons that plant the seed of gratefulness.
How does one do this? I don't know. I have learned in my short parenting tenure, that being grateful is a learned behavior. It is not automatic and it is not an easy lesson to learn. I am not sure I can explain gratefulness to my children. One must have a certain amount of empathy I think before the feelings of gratitude arise. How do you teach a child empathy? You can teach them please and thank you. You can talk to them about helping others. You can have them with you when you go to church, when you pray, when you visit the needy, or take a casserole, or assist a loved one. But can you really teach them to be grateful? I think having them with you while you do things you do out of gratitude is how they learn. You cannot instill gratitude by saying, "you ungrateful little wretch" or "how can you act like that after all I've done for you?" I have stopped myself on many occasions from saying those words. They aren't helpful and they aren't instructive. First of all, your child hasn't got a clue what you're talking about. Secondly, that's not teaching gratitude that's teaching conditional love.
I had a wise teacher from high school who gave me some excellent advice once. I had not seen him in 10 years or so. We were at a reception for one of my friends and I introduced him to my husband and first son. Before we left he said, "make sure you give him plenty of standing time." I was puzzled and I didn't know what my former teacher was talking about at first. And then he elaborated, "you know make sure he (my son) sees you doing the right things." It is probably the single most important comment he personally ever said to me, and even though I was no longer his student, I took it heart and think about it often.
So how do you teach gratefulness? Give them plenty of standing time. Let your children see you doing things with a grateful heart for a grateful purpose and tell them why you are doing it. I promise in time you won't be disappointed. I may be 50 years old before I ever see the fruits of my labor, but I know some day I will see them.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Just One More Time

Let's do it just one more time. Please please please please please. One more time! one more time! ONE MORE TIME!!!!!!!!!!
As long as this request isn't directed I me, I just love hearing it. I know that my son is really really enjoying whatever it is he is doing. I especially love hearing it when he is with his dad. I love how much the play together. My husband and my sons really get into each other, what they're doing, what they like, what they don't like. My husband is very patient with them both. I love to watch them "work" in the yard, or "help" daddy with the tools. My son will run in from being outside while my husband is doing yard work and say, "I gotta get my hammer. We're buildin' sumpin. I'm very busy with my work mommy. I will see you later."
Last night I was at a meeting and I came home late. My husband looked spent. "What happened?" I asked. "Did everybody go to sleep okay?"
"Oh yeah," he said. "We played trains one more time about five times. And then played one more minute in the tub for about 20 minutes. We read one more book, got one more drink of water, got one more hug, went to the potty one more time and finally we both collapsed in bed."
I couldn't help but smile. "He loves you so much," I said.

Sunday, May 4, 2008


Today my husband and I went to the contemporary worship service at our church. He enjoys going to the contemporary service when he is at church by himself. We are usually traditional sanctuary service attendees. I enjoy contemporary Christian music, I just don't usually experience it at church.
I had such a wonderful time today! The service was so warm and open. Yes the music was contemporary, but the praise band was so genuine and worked so hard on their music, you can't help but love it. I bounced to the beat and sang along with every song. Our minister is so in touch with the congregation. He too is a genuine person. You feel like you're really having a conversation with him. While I truly enjoy and crave the "high church" practices--liturgy, candles, choir, crucifix, etc., there was something so familiar and earnest in the contemporary service that isn't present in the traditional service.
While we were listening to the sermon all of a sudden I had a vision of the Sermon on the Mount. I pondered how this service was similar to that congregation Jesus preached to. All kinds of people were there to listen to him--Jews, Gentiles, old, young, men, women, children. In our service, children were everywhere. The attendees were so wide and varied--people in jeans, people in suits, college kids, toddlers, white, black, hispanic, old, young, men, women, people with special needs, people with physical handicaps. We had a true cross section of the city at church! I thought, this is what Jesus wanted. He wanted the barriers to the gospel to be gone. He wanted all to be welcome. He wanted us to come together for the distinct purpose of learning and praising and worshipping together. The message of the minister was clear. It wasn't sugar coated. It was serious. And yet, the message was delivered in a way that felt so accessible. I was just overwhelmed.
I probably won't give up going to the traditional service. I love the traditional service. I was raised in it. I'm comfortable in it. But I will start going to the contemporary service more often. I think there is a place for me at both types of worship. I have different needs on different Sundays. I feel like worshipping differently depending on the kind of week I've had. Sometimes I want to cut loose and sing and sway and sometimes I want to open that hymnal and sing the old songs I love so well.
I think that God meets us where we are every day not just on Sundays. But on Sunday mornings, I think He's in both services. I think He hears both services. I think He wants us to worship in all kinds of ways. I am so blessed to be a part of a church that recognizes and affirms the diversity of Holy Spirit in its members and visitors.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Mom's Day Out

Today I went to Nashville to visit my sister and my little niece. We had a nice "girls day out." My niece was so cute in her pink outfit and little pink mary jane walkers. My sister had her hair done up. I was wearing this cute top I just purchased a few weeks ago and new polka dot flip flops. The sun was out. It was a beautiful day. We had a nice brunch at a local French restaurant. My niece was an angel through the whole thing--both moms got to eat. My sister and I both went to the spa for pedicures. I asked for gold toe nail polish. My niece behaved beautifully at the spa. She and I bonded over her pacifier and the latest Marie Claire magazine. It was the perfect day out.

Girls Day Out or Ladies Night Out or both are important on many levels. One, it gets you out of the house. Two, you get dressed up and pimp out for your girlfriends so that you all can congratulate one another on owning something clean and pretty. Three, you get to eat a meal uninhibited by snack crackers, spilled juice, dropped pacifiers, overturned water glasses, and mounds of extra napkins. Four, you give your husband a taste of what you do all the time (unless he's a stay at home dad in which case, he needs a night out). Most importantly, you go out for a little while to be reminded why you come home.

When I came home this evening at 7, I got mauled by my two boys when I walked in the living room. You would think I had been gone for months and months instead of a few hours. My baby's face just lit up. His smile was so big and his arms went straight up for me. My four year old leaped off the couch and attached himself to my neck and immediately began to tell me all about the day. Then he raced to the kitchen, opened the refrigerator, pulled out the takeout bag and brought it to me. "Here mom, we brought you home some lunch. Aren't you hungry? Come eat it and tell me about my day. Could you get me some milk too? I'm so thirsty." I was overjoyed by this homecoming. It took us a few minutes to detangle my hair and my necklace from the baby's grip. He cried all the way to the tub because I wasn't carrying him there. I read a book to my preschooler while I ate my dinner and then he let me put him to bed with minimal refusal. My husband just smiled and said they were perfect angels all day--not a single tear. It really was the perfect ending to a perfectly lovely day.