Thursday, March 27, 2008

welcome friends and most

Welcome everyone! I discovered that my blog is in my husband's Google Reader list. We share a computer at home, so I'm not exactly surprised. Hi Sweetie! You've been outed! (Or is it me who has been outed?) Anyway, I've decided to share my blog with friends. Out of town friends who I am unlikely to want to write about. I haven't invited my mom, other family, or local friends. Not sure why I'm feeling bashful about this, but I am. So, don't go telling my mom to read this. I'm sure I'll want to write about her sometime if you do. My sister for sure, and I can't rant about my darling husband now anyway, can I? So, if you are one of those friends, known in my email address book as "Old Friends" (sorry), then welcome.

I've always been a writer. If Northwestern U. had accepted me that early admission date in the darkages, I would have been a journalism major. They didn't. I became a psychology major instead, at another school. Why not a journalism major there? You ask too many questions. I don't know. I was eighteen.

Occasionally I pick up a pen and write about amusing events in my life. I emailed lots of people on the day I caught my lawn mower on fire (sorry, no copy around) and I try to share funny anecdotes when I update our website. When I got involved as an early Parent Hacker, Asha tried to convince me to start a blog of my own. I procrastinated for a few years. Honestly, did I need something else to take up my time? But I gave in this winter and decided to try it. Immediately some of the bloggers who had read my comments on their own blogs followed me and left comments for me. Intermittent positive reinforcement. (I said I was a psych major.) And so, here I am. Welcome.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

rappers and whackers

I've mentioned our enjoyment of books by Beverly Cleary before, and the one currently in our house is no exception: Ramona Quimby, Age 8. I'll just have to quote her. " There were a number of ways of cracking eggs. The most popular, and the real reason for bringing an egg to school, was knocking the egg against one's head. There were two ways of doing so, by a lot of timid little raps or by one big whack." (The part that comes next is worth tears of laughter, but I don't dare spoil it for you. Get thee to a local library!)

I read this aloud to both boys the day we were dyeing eggs for Easter. They were, of course, rolling with laughter, as was I. And how could I not say that they'd be able to try it with our own eggs after Easter? Of course I suggested it! I predicted Bug to be a whacker (as would most people) and that Pook would probably be a rapper unless he was strongly influenced by Bug. I thought I'd prove to them both what a cool mom I was by whacking an egg myself.

So the time came at which all beautifully colored Easter eggs become egg salad. In my opinion, the only reason to dye them in the first place. You can't hide candy in a hard boiled egg. Kids don't usually like hard boiled eggs. You can't hide and re-hide and re-hide hard boiled eggs for the days following Easter. You dye them, enjoy them briefly, then eat egg salad.

The kids were incredulous. "You mean we can really whack them? Really?" I pulled out two bowls, one for eggs, one for shells (ha! that's what the floor was for!) and told them to go for it (as soon as I got out my camera to videotape the whacking ceremony. And which we will post on our family's website, eventually.)

Pook picked up the first egg, carefully dyed blue on one end and green on the other with a rubber banded white stripe in four directions as if it were a small package. Then he whacked that egg on his head. Hard. Bug immediately followed suit. They picked up egg after egg to whack them, then, surprisingly, they completely peeled them for me. And then ate egg salad with little pink and blue specks from having a few slightly cracked eggs placed in dye.

Me? I was a timid rapper. Those eggs are hard!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

spring in the south

It is the day after this year's early Easter and the Bradford pear trees are blooming in Atlanta. And the plum, cherry and crab apple. Forsythia is sending up golden yellow sprays. The azaleas are starting to come out. Apartment and corporate landscapes have red tulips. The city is wrapped in white, pink and purple. But the trees are also beautiful when they lose their blossoms. They float in masses through the air, settling in corners and sprinkling the grass with white. Once I stood in awe in the preschool parking lot - might have been with Pook - and scooped up handfuls, throwing them into the air.

I noticed them this morning as lovely blossoms flew gracefully around the yard and in sweeps across the sidewalks and roads. I sighed and thought of my poor Northern friends as they were shivering in yet more snow. I left the house, feeling cheerful and optimistic about spring, and I went to go pick up Bug at preschool.

Oh, how beautiful! More blossoms falling all over my car as I drove through the neighborhood. No. My windshield was getting wet. From flower petals? No. From snow.

Humbled, I picked up Bug. As I waited for him to fasten his seatbelt, the sun returned and a billow of pale petals blew across the parking lot. Ah. Spring in the South.

*** This photo was taken one week later at the preschool parking lot. It was a dreary, rainy day, but those pink snowflakes sure do make for beautiful snow!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

go Lego: teach my kid patience

I remember very few toys from my childhood. I played with baby dolls and stuffed animals and Lego. They didn't make Duplo or Quatro or Mega Blocks or any of the other variations that exist now. It was little Lego pieces that made a clinky noise when my mother vacuumed the shag rug by where we played. According to my mother, my sister got some when she was three. That means that I, the hunks-of-grass-from-the-lawn-eating-baby, must have had access to those tiny Lego blocks. And I suppose those that I didn't eat I must have used to build. My memories start much later when I made lots of houses and schools. Once a fancy airport, but usually rectangular buildings.

We've had Duplo and Mega Blocks around here for years. Pook was chewing on Duplo before his first birthday. His favorite (tasting) pieces were a small Duplo guy's torso and a piece with some mail on it. Bug came along and started using destroying the Duplo creations and Pook had to start hiding it. We kept Bug away from it as much as we could. He was only two when Pook received his first small piece Lego kit. While age five was maybe a little too young, Pook did get that first creation finished finally. It took a lot of sweat and tears (from both of us). In the past year Pook has done several more elaborate Lego sets and found them much easier. I'd say his sixth birthday would have been a better age than his fifth.

Bug didn't show much interest in building with it himself until recently. Now he wants to build a castle like Pook's set and build a Star Wars ship like Pook's and build a robot like Pook has and build a whatever like Pook has. The good thing is, he's using it and making great creative projects.

The bad thing is, Lego structures of all types break. Often. I've worked on the concept of "catching/covering the cracks" to strengthen things they've built. Pook has the concept pretty well down, but Bug is just starting to create and some of his items are just asking to be touched (or looked at wrong) so they can break. Worse yet, they're touched (or looked at wrong) by someone else (such as the brother) and they break. Often it brings on tears and the just-barely-broken-and-easily-repaired item is thrown across the room. I know this is the start of a meltdown as that loss of control causes great frustration.

However, one time I got to hear, "It's just a little destroyed. I can make it good as new. Oh no! Again! I can fix it but it was a really big one. But I can make a new one with these pieces."

Lego as frustration tolerance. Good stuff.

Friday, March 14, 2008

bunny baskets

Bug gets in the car after preschool and starts his monologue. Since Pook is usually a one word answering kid about school, I love hearing Bug tell me all of his day. Today it was talk about Easter. He tells me all about "Jesus and the Bad Guys". The "bad guys wanted to be in charge so they didn't like Jesus and made him carry a cross a really long time and he got sweaty and bloody and stuff." Oh. Ok. Then he brings up the Easter Bunny. They are having an egg hunt this Friday. That way they can celebrate St. Patrick's Day on Monday and have no school Wed. or Fri. next week. (Oh, lucky me!)

"The Easter Bunny is coming." he says. Brief pause... then, "Is the Easter Bunny real?"
Oh my. His brother hasn't asked me that one yet. Yikes. Think quick...
"I guess he has to be a person because that would be impossible-- a bunny holding an Easter basket. Can I play with my light saber when we get home?"

Saved by impatience this time.

Monday, March 10, 2008

teddy, meet teddy

I was told that babies find an attachment object at about 8-10 months, so I started substituting the blankets randomly, putting different stuffed animals or dolls with my boys each day, and--placing the teddy/puppy I wanted them to "attach to" right near them. It might sound odd, but I would sometimes rub it on the back of my sweaty neck so it would smell familiar to them. And, with both boys, it worked. Wild, huh?

So, since I could, I got duplicates. Actually, there were three but we think one Teddy got thrown away in a vomiting episode. The loveys are in rotation, or rather, two are in rotation for each boy. Pook has a third puppy but it still has tags on it and may just hang out in my closet until I have a grandchild! Ha! Funny thought.

I'd had a Blue Puppy when I was tiny, a gift from an aunt who was still in college and found it at the school bookstore. I slept with his ear for a time after he'd sort of dissolved, then somehow my parents got me onto Teddy. They don't even know where or how I got Teddy even though I swear I have a memory of a three year old girl giving him to me, used. I still have Teddy, up on the kids' bookshelf. He comes down occasionally, but he's pretty tattered and fragile. I give him a hug and kiss but don't let them rough handle him. So when I got pregnant my mom found me a Blue Puppy for Pook. We searched for the right Teddy for Bug and found the same brand as Pup-- "My First Puppy" and "My First Teddy" by Gund. Except I think now they've changed. Because last summer I had to go searching online for a Teddy after I managed to leave both Ted and Pup at home when we flew out of town. (I realized it before the plane took off too. I felt awful, but didn't really think the pilot would wait for me to drive home and back before take off. Although I never asked.) So when I arrived at our destination I started checking to see if I could get new ones. I couldn't, but the kids coped pretty well actually, and Daddy overnight expressed them to us for about $40.

Someday they'll find out about the duplicates and I don't know what will happen. One of my friends has a child who found out and now he just has to sleep with both. Pook sort of already knows, but since I think he doesn't really want to know it's a bit like Santa or the Tooth Fairy and he's staying mum. We'd come home from a long vacation a bit later in the evening than we'd hoped (of course) and needed to put the boys to bed right away. Pook had played with Puppy in the car but once we got home he was no where to be seen. Finally in desperation I pulled out Puppy Duplicate. I'd never done that when one was MIA, only when one was in the laundry. Sure enough, in the morning Puppy Original was found in the art cabinet, (naturally-- a logical place I should have looked). I was so quick to get that stuffed piece of trouble hidden away that Pook saw it all in a blur. He tried to ask me and I gave him a quick "not gonna talk about it" and moved on.

Another time, I'd tossed a grimy Puppy in the laundry and put the clean Double in his bed. The next morning he says to me, "Isn't it weird? I cut the tags off Puppy one time and now they're back!" (They didn't stay on long- I got in there asap, hoping he'd forget.) So, between those two episodes, he must know. He could probably handle it, but it seemed like a slippery slope because I don't know if Bug could. But maybe they'll feel deceived when they find out. For now it's a matter of practicality. I'll hope they'll be pleasantly surprised to meet the Doubles.

This morning I pulled a clean Teddy from the dryer and took him upstairs to hide in my closet, in his usual hiding place. I passed Bug's bedroom and saw Other Teddy on his bed. I hesitated. The practical side of me said to put the clothes away and get some work done while both boys were at school. The sentimental side of me wanted to hold them both at the same time. Introduce them. "Hey Teddy, this is Teddy."

Saturday, March 8, 2008

planning for my empty nest

I guess I'm going to be mothering Bug for a long time. Pook has already asked how soon he can move out, but Bug seems to want to stay. The other day he said to me, "When I'm 100 I'll get a new home. Will you still be my mom? Will I still be your baby?"

Then, another day I got, "'When will I die?"
I hope you won't die until you're a really really old man. Older than me, Daddy, Nana, Papa, Grandma or Grandad.
"Like 100? And then I can live in another state like them?"

Today he called to me from the bathroom, "I'm done!" (meaning, 'come wipe my bum') and I sighed, When are you going to start doing this yourself?
"When I'm in college I think."

Friday, March 7, 2008

candy holidays

"So, what is the next Candy Holiday, Mama?" Pook likes to ask me questions that I'm sure he knows. I'm not sure if this is just to verify his knowledge, to see if I know, or to drive me crazy. When they're little we do it all the time: What color is this? What is Daddy's real/grownup name? I quiz them on lots of things I already know. Maybe he's just doing that to me. Maybe he just wants to drive me crazy. But what the heck is a "candy holiday" anyway? Have we reclasified the holidays? Clearly some are more important to Pook than others, and I believe the reason can be deduced from the question. Perhaps I should cut down on the candy consumption to make it less of a focus on holidays. We'd barely finished Christmas candies when I got sucked in by Valentine's Day and bought them each a little heart shaped box I filled with chocolate pretzels. (Melt a Hershey's Kiss on top of a pretzel and plop an M&M on that after it starts to melt. Yum. But I digress.) Hmm. I'll play along. Candy Holidays....

(Easter is next. It comes really early this year, in March.)
"Nope! You're wrong! St. Patrick's Day comes next!"
He's thrilled to catch me in error. But I'm not wrong. I correct him.
(No, St. Patrick's Day is mostly just to wear green. There's no candy.)
"Oh yes! You do get candy for St. Patrick's Day! The Leprechaun hides chocolate coins for you to find!"
(Uh... I see. Well, I don't think he hides them at our house. It must be a school thing....)

Did I get out of that successfully?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

be good

Today Bug climbed out and tossed a "love you Mama" my way before prancing off. I had forgotten to tell Pook "I love you" when I dropped him off this morning, so it was particularly poignant for me today. I hate when I forget to tell them good bye.

My father used to call, "Learn something!" to me as I left for school. I rolled my eyes. And if he'd ask at dinner what I'd learned, I couldn't come up with anything. Sorry, Dad.

For the first year and a half of Bug's preschool, I told him to "Have a good day" as I said goodbye. Then one day he caught me in my tracks and asked why I always told him to be good. Hmm? For all that time, he'd thought I was reminding him to have good behavior. Wow. I really don't want my kids to think their behavior is that high on my priority list for them. While I do, of course, want them to behave at school, I revamped my goodbyes to really tell them what I really hope for their day.

Have fun! Be good! Learn something!

Monday, March 3, 2008

my heartstrings

My heartstrings- or are they "apron strings"?- are aching. He is so independent. A huge grin on his face as he climbs out of my idling car, hefts his Kermit backpack onto his shoulders and then, up on his toes (giraffe toes), he truly prances away toward his preschool class. All by himself. He doesn't need me, his Mama, at all.

I wanted to stay to watch until he turned the corner to his room. To prolong the pain- a proud pain, but still a pain. Deep in my body from somewhere between my heart and my uterus. My eyes are filled with tears and I drive around the corner, hoping to catch a glimpse of him again. But I don't. He's gone. And I don't want my baby gone. Not yet.

This snippet about Bug was actually written October 4, 2007. From the first day of school after Labor Day, I had walked him to class. While willing to join the carpool group at dismissal, he still wanted me to bring him in. I was glad. I like peeking into the room, seeing the teacher, the kids and the art on the walls. I was still wavering about creating a blog, so it got "posted" on a little scrap of paper while I sat in the grocery parking lot crying. I kept seeing it and thinking about posting it online.

This morning he asked, "Do you miss me when I go to school?" Absolutely! I answered. And when I dropped him off, I watched him as his little blue hood bounced up and down, above and below the railing by his class. His bouncy gait is so identifying I could pick him out of a crowd quickly. He loves going to preschool and he fills my car with all his excitement when I pick him up. I'm proud that my children are so independent. I just don't want them to ever not need me.