Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Little things matter

I found out just last week that when Tulip's kindergarten class is lining up to go outside for recess, Wolfie's second grade class is lining up to come inside and she gives her brother a hug as they pass.

Maybe it's the only child in me, but it sure warmed my heart to know that my children have an opportunity to connect, no matter how briefly and coincidentally, with a sibling on a daily basis while at school.  What a sweet thing for that little girl of mine to look forward to each day.

Then there's this.  Yesterday I checked Wofie's assignment notebook like I do everyday but I noticed that he had written down the first and last name of a boy whose name I hadn't heard before.  At dinner, he told me that he made a new friend at school - guess who.  He told me that he was sitting next to a boy he didn't know at lunch and then the principal came by to chat with the kids.  She asked them what kind of video games they like and Wolfie and this boy both said Skylander.  So they started talking about Skylander all through lunch and out onto the playground where they played Skylander all during recess.  Wolfie told me at first he couldn't remember the boy's name but asked him on the bus what his name was and that's when he wrote it down.  At home Wolfie looked up his new friend in the school directory to make sure he was listed and we had his phone number.

I don't know if the principal planned to bring new friends together with her simple question, but that is the result of her attention and connection to her students.

It's those little things that matter so much in the big picture.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Birth control

Wolfie has two winter coats and he seems to be more fond of one of them.  I asked him if he thought he'd ever wear the other one or if we should get rid of it (which he knows to mean take it to Goodwill or to Once Upon a Child).

Wolfie said, "Well, maybe we should just hold onto it in case you have another little baby boy and then he can have it when he's bigger."

"Oh, Wolfie, I don't think we are having any more babies," I responded.

Then he asks, "Can a woman control whether or not she has a baby?"

Are you kidding me?  The boy has not asked where babies come from yet but he asks me about birth control?  And he really did emphasize the word control.

And all because I asked him about his spare coat.  Well, that'll teach me.

Friday, December 7, 2012

I yelled at a grumpy lady

I took the kids to their school's holiday book fair at Barnes & Noble on Friday night.  I pulled the van into a rather tight spot, but that's the way it goes.  I opened the door on the passenger side for Tulip and Wolfie to exit.  They know to stay by the side of the van until I come around to their side.  In other words, stand there and don't run into the street.

I was getting Luna out of the driver's side and I could hear a person kind of hollering.  I assumed it was a mom barking orders at her own children as they traverse the busy parking lot.  When I rounded the back of the van, I saw a lady standing there between her car and my van and she said, I quote, "Move it already!  Get out of my way!  I have to get in my car!"

She was yelling at my kids.

So I said, "Hey, why are you yelling at my kids?"

She said, "They're in my way!"

I said, "Well you don't have to yell at them, grumpy lady."

Then she said as we were walking towards the store, "You didn't have to park so close to my car.  You didn't leave me any room..."

I thought, "I parked in the exact center of a pretty tight parking space.  Maybe you are the one who parked crooked..." but that was too many words so instead I said, "Why don't you cheer up a little."

I entered the store, to the aid of a very nice man who said, "Here, let me get the door for you," feeling rather proud of my choice of words in front of my children.  I used "grumpy" and "cheer up" when I could have very well used different sets of words.

But hit me.  Did I just model very bad behavior?  Did I just show them how to talk back to someone?  I felt like I was defending them and letting them know that the grumpy lady should not have yelled at them like that but couldn't I have just quietly ushered them inside the bookstore and then told them?

So as I began to doubt my perfectness as a mother, I was reminded of a time my friends Jackie and Ann, Melinda and I were visiting.  Jackie and Ann had just recently adopted their 2 1/2 year old son.  Melinda was the experienced mother of the group with daughters age 6 and 8, and I had not begun having children yet.  Jackie and Ann were navigating the world of new motherhood and asked Melinda the rhetorical question, "As a mom, what do you do when some other child is behaving badly toward your own child?  Do you step in and discipline some other mother's child?  Do you wait for that child's mother to step in?"

These are tough questions no matter in what stage of mothering you are.  Melinda, the wise and wonderful, said, "No matter what, I am my child's advocate.  That's my job as a mom.  So if another person is causing some harm to my child, I step in.  Likewise if my child were behaving inappropriately toward another, I would step in."

Sage words, mama.

I decided that grumpy lady needed to be disciplined as she was in the wrong.  Also, it probably wouldn't hurt for her to know that she was acting grumpy.  I mean, really, "cheer up!" is the reminder we all could use during this festive holiday season.

What I'm hoping my children took from this interaction between their mama and a stranger is:
1.  Their mama loves them and will protect them from grumpy people
2.  NOT that the lesson is to talk back at someone, unless they deserve some redirection on behalf of protecting a beloved family member
3.  Most importantly, to have a sense of humor when faced with people like the random grumpy lady in the parking lot.

I've Done This

I've purposely given my little ones instructions, while they were naked, that caused them to run off in another direction, just so I could look at their butt.

Usually, it goes like this.  I take off a pull-up.  I hand it to the little one.  Then I say, "Go put this in the garbage can" knowing that she will pivot and skip down the hall.  Then I get a good view of her bare bottom bounce away.

I could dress her first and then tell her to put the pull-up in the garbage can but then I wouldn't get to see those little biscuits now, would I?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Fairy cards smuggler

Some very special big girls gave Luna a box of fairy cards when we visited them for a weekend.  She loves these cards so much.

This is a picture of Luna, as I found her when I went to tuck her in to sleep, and she can't hide her sneaky smile as she smuggles her fairy cards to bed.

The previous two nights I found her still awake at 10:00 playing with her fairy cards in bed.  Ten minutes before this picture was taken she was reminded that the new rule is that she can't take her fairy cards to bed.

Sometimes our friends move a little too far away, but we are happy for them nonetheless.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

green-eyed giraffes can fly

I haven't blogged in a few weeks.  I admit, I kind of forgot that I have a blog.  My mind and hands have been so busy elsewhere.  Oh, and I've been tired.  So maybe I just didn't feel like blogging for a while.  Maybe I lost my inspiration.

Though many, many times a thing would happen and I would find myself composing the blog post about it in my head...

Also, sometimes I think my blogging is silly.  I've got friends who are facing great challenges in their lives and others experiencing very interesting changes in their lives and even others doing these incredible things to make the world a better place and my life is just chugging along at a steady predictable pace, making my days busy and making me tired.  What phenomenal story could I possibly write about my life?  Our excursion to the Touch a Truck today?

But then Luna told me that green-eyed giraffes could fly.

I did resist the urge to get up off the floor where we were playing with those Littlest Pet thingies to go and blog about it right then.  Of course I resisted because something else would happen.  Are you kidding me - Luna wanted me to know that only green-eyed giraffes could fly and I wouldn't dare leave her side until she told me more secrets of the world.  These secrets are often revealed while Mama is on the floor too, and now I know why I've been so busy and tired.  But my heart is full and that's worth writing about.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Trick or Treat for 2 hours?!

Our town announces the trick or treating day and hours every year.  This year it was on Wednesday, Halloween from 5:30 - 7:30.

Two hours?!

The sentiment among the moms and dads I know was that during our youth we trick-or-treated for hours.  My cousin's birthday is on Halloween and I remember many times during my childhood trick-or-treating in my aunt and uncle's neighborhood.  We'd come home, unload our candy into a huge bucket, and go out again.  We ran.  For hours and hours.

Only two hours?!

Doesn't seem fair to the youth of today.

Last year my friend and I took 6 of our 7 kids trick-or-treating together.  We rang the first doorbell at 5:30 on the dot.  After what seemed like the allotted 2 hours, our kids started complaining that they were tired (and they were) and that their buckets were full and heavy (and they were) and I asked Tracey what time it was and she said 6:15.

This year we had three surprise visitors - Leath and Joby and Jim Morrison.  You have to say the whole name.  Never, ever, will any of us just call him Jim.

Anyway, I bumped into a mom and we began commiserating about the whole "only two hours" thing and the "when we were kids we trick-or-treated for hours and hours" thing and since three other adults were escorting my children I was able to stand back and watch them.  They were dragging.  Wolfie came up to me and said he was pretty much ready to go home.  Tulip staggered to one more house, Wolfie sat in the curb and I found Luna in Leath's arms.  It was 6:25.

I turned to the mom and said, "You know, I bet when we were kids we ran all around trick-or-treating until we were exhausted but I bet in the end it was only for about an hour and a half."  It was like this big light bulb went off over both of our heads and she said, "You know... I bet you're right."

Here they are, preparing for the 55 minute marathon:

Tulip asked me to draw a butterfly on her face and a heart on her nose (I took artistic liberty with that request and drew the heart where I felt it would look best) and with every stroke of the face paint crayon she whipped her face back and forth to the mirror and gasped, "Oh thank you, Mama."

I don't know what inspired this pose except that she was so into her face and must feel that this is the way to pose for pictures when your face is painted.  Oh that girl.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fuzz on a Rock

I've noticed lately that Tulip and I are amazingly in tune with each other.  She has been finishing my sentences and speaking my thoughts out loud.

For example, last weekend was Fall Break and we had Friday through Monday off.  At dinner Thursday night, I was thinking - to myself quietly - how great it was that I didn't have to go to work the next day.  Or the next.  Or the next.  OR THE NEXT.  So I said spontaneously, "I think it's so great that..."
Tulip cut me off and said, "...we have four family days in a row!!!"

She calls Saturday and Sunday "family days" because I think her kindergarten teacher calls them that.  Maybe.  Maybe she made it up on her own but I call Saturday Saturday and Sunday Sunday so she didn't get it from me.

However, she knew exactly what I was thinking, now didn't she.

Okay and then there was today.

I was looking at this soft textile rock designed by Ronel Jordaan:

Not the best image capture but you get the idea, right?  In the background we noticed a blanket made of felted pebbles.  See it?

Tulip was looking over my shoulder and asked me what I was looking at.  I told her that this artist made a rock out of soft fabric so it is actually a cushion or pillow to sit on.  Clever, right?

The website had a magnify-by-scrolling-over feature so I began to do that and in the instant that I clicked on that feature I thought in my head, "I'll say out loud 'Let's look and see if we can notice any fuzz on that rock'" to point out that the oh-so-realistic rock art we were looking at is, in fact a soft fabric object.  But in that nearly same instant I thought, "Why would I say that out loud?"  But then Tulip giggled, "I see fuzz on that rock" as if to confirm that it is, in fact, soft.

And to confirm she read my mind.  Right?

Monday, October 29, 2012

in a week

I haven't blogged in a while.  Last weekend was warm and this weekend was just different.

Last weekend we went to Merrie Acres.  We spent an afternoon there one day last year so I suppose it has become a family tradition even though we came home without a pumpkin.  Really, the kids just want to play in that corn box and I don't blame them.  It's ingenious.  Merrie Acres is closed for the season but please keep them in mind for next year.  Gabe and I sit on rocking chairs and the kids run around and play for hours.

But that was last weekend.  What else has happened in a week:

Tulip asked me to teach her how to write her name in "cursidge" and I held her hand in mine while she held a pen and our fingers swirled around in loops on paper.

Tulip also asked me if I've ever heard of a boy named Justice Bieber.  Sigh.

Luna has the sniffles and is constantly looking for her "hanker-wiper" and I'm so grateful that she wipes her nose on something other than her sleeve.

Wolfie learned the phrase "cut the cheese" and I admit I giggled like crazy the first time he said it.  So you can imagine what an event that phrase has become.  Oh, and both his sisters say it just about as often as he does.  But he did refer to Tulip as a "beautiful girl" so he's totally off the hook for, like, forever.

Monday, October 15, 2012

After Hours

It's waaaay past Luna's bedtime but she finds me.  She wears an incredible grin and does this seductive toddler sashay with her shoulders as she makes her way towards me.

"You cannot resist my cuteness," say her eyes.  "Crinkle, crinkle, crinkle," says her pull-up.

Even if I wanted to scowl, or frown, or somehow express that I am not happy with her choice to wander around this late at night, I can't because...because...because I'm so incredibly happy to see her.

Besides, she has a peace offering.

"Here Mama, you can snuggle Foxy."  Oh, she is so pleased with herself.  So pleased.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Big Girls

Luna has been trying to convince us all that she is older than Tulip.  And Wolfie.  She wails, "But I'm the oldest!" and I just figured that this was one of her cute and quirky methods of coping with the fact that both her brother and sister now go to school all day.

This morning she tried to convince us that she should get one more gummy vitamin than her brother because she is older than him.  Then she totally appropriately used the phrase, "I realize..." in a sentence so I guess there's no slowing down that vocabulary.  Then Tulip ate a serving of scrambled eggs, two English muffins with apricot jam, a bowl of cereal and then said she was still hungry.

Oh, and this happened.  My girls are getting so big.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Lego Monster

We have in-the-middle-of-the-night lore in our children's lives, don't we?  There's the Tooth Fairy.  There's Santa Claus.  Or maybe St. Niklaus.

We have the Lego Monster at our house.

Wolfie likes to follow the instructions and build his complicated Lego spaceships and put them on display on top of his dresser and bookcase.  He also likes to invent things with the other gazillion pieces from his smaller sets which have all been dumped into one giant tub.  But there are a few sets from a few prime collections (Star Wars, Alien Conquest, Atlantis to name a few) that he likes to keep in designated bins.  And like I said, there are a few prime spaceships that he likes to keep on display.

That is...until the Lego Monster gets them.

The Lego Monster visits Wolfie's room in the middle of the night and methodically disassembles one of his spaceships but then conveniently puts all of the pieces in a big zippered baggie.

To Wolfie's delight, he must build his favorite spaceship again.

The Lego Monster doesn't visit that often. I mean, it's not a nightly thing. But when he, I mean it, strikes, it's pretty special.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

the orchard (and other things I didn't do as a kid during fall)

Okay, maybe I don't really want this to be a post about things I didn't get to do as a kid.  But that is a sentiment that struck me as I chaperoned Tulip's kindergarten class trip to County Line Orchard.  I picked apples off of trees only once in my life prior to having children.  Once.  It was a field trip and somewhere in my mother's house is a picture of me and my 5th grade class standing in front of the sign for the orchard.

We have several pictures of our own children at various orchards.  Is this something that just wasn't done in the 70's?

Also, I raked leaves when I got home to make the leaf jumping pile huger.  And then it hit me - I didn't jump in leaves as a kid either.  We had two massive, and I mean massive, pine trees in my front lawn growing up.  I don't know what variety of pine tree they were except that they shed needles that hurt your feet when you stepped on them and they dropped pine cones.  Not soft, slender, corncob shaped pine cones.  Very hard triangle shaped pine cones.  The type of pine cones that are perfect for spray paint and dipping in glitter.

Anyway, there was no raking of leaves and jumping into leaf piles when I was a kid.

But enough about me.

As parents, we prefer Garwood's.  It's a bit rough around the edges and I suppose that's why we like it. County Line Orchard is a well-oiled field trip hosting machine, let me tell you.  Here's the thing that is so brilliant about County Line Orchard (in terms of hosting field trips, that is): the gutters.

Yes.  Gutters.

When the trailer brought the class to the apple picking row of trees, we were told that all the trees were bare.  And this was true.  Then our tour guide told us that last night while we were sleeping, it rained at County Line Orchard.  It rained apples!  (Clever, right?)  And to catch all those apples falling out of the sky, they had to install gutters in the apple trees.

Yes.  Gutters!  The children were able to easily pick apples out of the gutters.  Well, not that easy.  It still had to be a bit of a challenge.  An event.

It was interesting to chit-chat with the other chaperone moms (there were dads there too, of course) and to hear them mention their favorite orchard or pumpkin patch.  Places where they have started family traditions or have been carrying on old traditions.

What's yours?

Friday, September 14, 2012

When it's too much

I have an all boys class this year.  Uh huh, all boys.  Many of them are really into football and yesterday I said, "If you were on teams, the team winning points for listening and following directions would be these guys" as I gestured to a few that were listening to me amongst the rowdiest of, well, an all boys class.  So then they got all excited about forming teams so today we did.  Three captains were randomly selected and they picked their teams.  Then each team was instructed to create a team name, a team mascot, and brainstorm a list of rules, activities, and behaviors that would earn them points or deductions.  It was all about the boys.  I was giving them tons of freedom and tons of choice (within structure, of course).


And they started to whine.  I realized that an all boys class would never imagine being given this much freedom and choice.  Many of these particular boys were probably never given this much freedom and choice.  It was just too much to take in.  Maybe they were a little unsure.  Maybe even a little scared to trust themselves.  Maybe they were not used to this type of learning environment and their whining was really their way of asking me to just do it all for them.

Then there are my own young children.  Tonight as we read books before bed, Tulip began to flop around the way she does when she's tired.  When she was a toddler, I used to say that she gets clumsy when she's sleepy.  Tonight I watched the way she was so fidgety and restless and floppy and wild and realized, um, it's the Friday night after a whole week of going to school all day.  The girl was exhausted.  And here I was reading her a book and expecting her to be cognizant of the story and our routine.  It was just too much.  She was begging me for permission to just let her shut down.  Her wild floppiness is her way of communicating to me, "Mama, just send me to bed.  I can't do any more."

Myself?  Sometimes I catch myself fantasizing about having someone else's job.  Someone at the store. A cashier or something.  Some job where I show up, my boss tells me exactly what to do, and I do that one task for a few hours.  I get to talk to some people and then they are on their merry way and I get to perform the same task again.  Safety.  Sometimes I even think about a job where I am supposed to only work with objects, not people.  Which is so unlike me so I must be really really exhausted and stressed with my work when I have this fantasy.  But sometimes the thought of taking objects from the place where they do not belong and arranging them attractively in a new place where they do belong is a very appealing job description.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I've Done...

The phone rang and as soon as I heard my husband say "Hi" on the other end, I began walking, briskly, to the calendar.  I had just sent him to take Tulip (and the other kids) to soccer practice and I was sure that he was calling because there was no soccer practice.  I had to double check.

It was all good.

I have been known to, on more than one occasion, take my family or a friend to an event that was not there.  Wrong day.  Wrong time.

I've done other things too.

Please enjoy my piece in the May 2012 Listen To Your Mother Show.  The video was released today and it has been such a treat for me to "see" my friends on stage again.  And, it's a hoot to watch myself and think, "Oh my, I said that?"  At least I didn't sing Jingle Farts.

Monday, September 10, 2012


I took Luna to the potty at a store.  When we use a public potty, I like to wipe off the seat with some toilet paper before she sits on it.  While I was doing this, she asked me if she could do this task.

"No, I'll do it for you, sweetie."


Now, if I were to say the truth which is that I don't want her to touch the toilet seat she would immediately reach out and caress the toilet seat while grinning at me.  So I don't say that.

Instead I say, "Because it's mama's job to wipe the toilet seat for you."

"But mama!  Don't you know that I'm the best toilet seat cleaner ever?  Don't you know that?!"

This is Luna logic.


A few days ago, Wolfie was trying some new food.  Ravioli.  He said:
"If there was a chart that had I Like It and I Don't Like It and I Don't Really Think It's My Favorite But I'll Still Eat It on it, it would be that."

That's Wolfie logic.


Recently I was having a bad day.  And I hollered.  My words just came out louder than necessary.  It tears me up when I do this.  I am extremely apologetic afterwards.

I told Tulip that I was sorry that I hollered so much.  She said it was okay and she gave me such sweet hugs.

I said, "Even Mama makes mistakes sometimes.  But you know what's so great about my life?  I..."

"...have wonderful children who love you," she finished for me.

That's Tulip logic.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Only the Lonely

Luna is goofy and silly and funny.  And loud.  This afternoon our neighbors came over and she and her 5-year-old buddy boy were tearing through the house and yard playing tag and squealing with delight.  Oh, and you may have heard, she was part of a real theater for the summer and engaged in an awful lot of "Poke! Now Try To Catch Me" with brand new people.

I wouldn't really characterize her as shy.

So.  Here's my husband's report from today.

He went to the Y so Luna hung out in the child watch area (we call it the play room).  But when he picked her up, the caregiver told him that Luna didn't play with anyone and he found her in the corner sucking her thumb.

This is such a pitiful little image for me to picture.

I did some role plays with her at bedtime.  I asked her if she knows how to make a new friend.  She said no.  I said that she should talk to a new person and be friendly and say, "Hi, do you want to play with me?"  and she said, "...and be my friend?"  Then we practiced.  I played the role of the new child and Luna played herself.  All she had to do was say "hi" to me so I could say "hi" back and she could practice saying her friendly thing.  But whenever I said "hi" back to her she cracked up.  Apparently, the image of me as a three-year-old is hilarious.

I can't wait to hear the next report.  Maybe the caregiver will say that Luna approached the other children, said "hi" and then laughed at them.  Sigh.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Summer lunch

I'm going to miss these summer lunches.  The kids ate lunch at this picnic table almost every day.  Today we were able to sneak in a morning of swimming and a picnic lunch before the rain.

I was eating some seaweed salad.  I shared with Tulip.  "Mermaids eat this," I whispered to her.  She nodded knowingly.

"Do you know who is a mermaid in this family?" I asked.  She pointed to me, then to herself.

"I was a mermaid when I was a baby," she said.

"You were?  How do you know that?" I asked.

"I was swimming under water," she replied, grinning, while making a swimming motion with her arms.

Tulip was born underwater, you know.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

more on OP kids

We were at a hotel and Luna was not enjoying the swimming pool so she and Papa went back to the room to watch cable TV cartoons - huge treat.  I stayed in the pool with Wolfie and Tulip and when I say "in the pool" I guess I mean in the pool room because I actually sat in a chair and watched them swim and play.

Then a boy showed up, Sam.  He was unattended by an adult.  I mean, he was 8 and there are signs everywhere in that pool room that dictate that children must be accompanied by an adult, no lifeguard on duty, no one is allowed to be in the pool alone, etc.

No biggie.  Surely Sam's mom or dad or other adult would show up shortly.

No one showed up for Sam.  I got the impression after about 10 minutes that Sam gets to go places by himself.  At the modest age of 8, he seemed rather worldly.  I mean, he had a long blond pony-tail and the beginnings of some dreadlocks.

I can be the adult for my kids and OP kids (OP is other people, by the way, whom I wrote about in a previous blog entry).

But then!  I! Had! To! Poop!

Let's take a moment here to check in with reality.  As much as all of you delicate mamas would like the world to think that you do not poop, you do.  And you know that sometimes the urge comes on with extreme ferocity.  As was the case with me in the pool.  Well, pool room.

I tried to ignore it but mamas, the urge was calling to me something fierce.  Like I started to get chills and my shins were getting kind of shaky.  I was shifting around in my pool side chair like crazy.

So what do I do?  I tell all the kids to get out of the pool and sit together at a table and talk because I have to go to the bathroom and children are not allowed to be in the pool without an adult.

There.  The truth.

And then comes the moment of truth when you attempt the first negotiation with an OP kid who has unintentionally become your charge.

"Well, I can go in the pool by myself."  Really, Sam?  "Really, I can."  Because he is reading my mind.

Moment of truth.  Truth is, I'm a mom.  And even an OP kid has got to recognize that.  And the truth makes sense to all kids, OP or you own.

"Well, Sam, my kids are definitely not allowed to go in the pool without me here.  And even though you're probably a better swimmer than both of them, I would like you to join them at this table while I'm in the bathroom."

More truth, a little flattery, and a truth conclusion.

"Well, you're probably right," says Sam.

Thanks, OP kid.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Costco and strangers

We went to Costco and Luna has been in this climbing phase.  The freezers are on top of a cement step, a curb if you will, which naturally beckons to Luna.  She was climbing along, using the handles of the freezer doors to aid her in her climbing.  Probably imagining she was climbing a great rocky cliff...


I told her to get down.  Twice.  I mean, Costco is crowded and it doesn't need to be her playground.

So then I was looking at some rain boots and she climbed right on top of some man's flat screen TV.  It was in the box on a flat bed cart but still - she climbed on top of his TV!

"No, no, no. Get down," the man said to Luna.

She hustled over to me and looked mortified.  Now, this was a grandpa-man and he used a mild tone of voice and all things considered this stranger disciplining my child was all right by me.  In fact, it was terrific timing.  I crouched down to Luna's level and began, in my own mild tone, to explain that there is a reason why I tell her not to climb on things.  There is a reason for my rules.  This was a perfect example.  "You can't climb on top of that man's box."

I guess the man felt guilty or thought he may have scared Luna (which I really believe he didn't; she was truly remorseful for having made the mistake) so he came over to her and was really really gentle in saying, "I didn't mean to holler at you.  I just wanted you to get off the box so you wouldn't break anything.  Okay?" and then he rambled on a little bit more, making sure this toddler understood that he was not a big ol' meanie.  He even threw in a little "Hello sweetie, how are you?" to Tulip for good measure.

Once he left, Luna scrambled up into my arms and sincerely, oh so sincerely, said, "Mama, I'm really sorry I do that."  I wanted to cry over any chance that her feelings were hurt but actually I was really proud.  And, I admit, kind of psyched that this chance encounter happened and, I'll admit again, I kind of milked it with further reinforcing dialogue about why I have rules and why it's important to follow those rules, etc. and etc.

And I told her how proud I was that she said those good words to me.  And I reminded her that she's only three and it's okay to make mistakes.  She really didn't want to leave my arms.  I guess it was like the man's over-rambling to make sure we all understood that he wasn't a meanie; Luna really wanted me to know that she was sorry she do that.  And that she's three.  And that it was a mistake.

Then five minutes later some totally random grandma-lady stranger calls over to me with enough emphasis to make sure my children are paying attention to her, while reaching into her purse, "Mommy - can I give your children some candies?"

"No."  Enough said.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

August so far

Tulip picks clover and then plucks the petals apart and presents these green heart-shaped tokens of her affection to me with a big smile and her hands clasped together under her chin.  She also has a "cocoon" collection.  She has found four hollowed out cicada shells and has them tucked into what I would call one of my prettiest household accessories - a handmade, blue beaded bowl one would reserve for potpourri or a collection of shiny things.  Tulip keeps bug carcasses in this bowl.  They are nestled on a leaf.

I took the girls miniature golfing and it was Luna's very first time.  We came home an hour past bedtime but she immediately made cards for everyone in the family.  As she presented us each with a card we had to ask her to translate her purposeful scribble.  The cards were inscribed as follows:
To Mama: Thank you for taking me to Zao Island.
To Tulip: Thank you for taking me to Zao Island.
To Wolfie: Thank you for staying home when I went to Zao Island.
To Papa: Thank you for staying home with Wolfie when I went to Zao Island.
To Luna (herself): I went to Zao Island and I love it!

Tulip had her first soccer game of the season this morning and Wolfie, who is no longer playing soccer, told me he wanted to wear one of his old soccer shirts to Tulip's game.  Out of the six shirts we have collected over the years, I only saved the most recent one which happens to be maroon - the same color as Tulip's team.  They were thrilled to match.  At her game, at the start of it, Wolfie called out, "Have a good time, Tulip!"

At home there were two bright yellow finches right outside our window nibbling on the echinacea.  Just inches away!  "Look!" I pointed.  Luna let out a loud sound because she couldn't form the important words fast enough and had to say something.  Wolfie said, "Oh, wow" in his soft contemplative voice.  Tulip simply gasped, her breath genuinely taken away.

Oh my, oh my children truly take my own breath away.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The importance of exposing children to the arts

I wrote an entry for Chicago Street Theatre's blog.  The kids and I performed in a summer production of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.  We performed at two free community events at Valparaiso's Central Park Plaza to audiences totaling over 2,000 people!  Then we performed our show 6 more times at the intimate Chicago Street Theatre.

This has been a truly awesome experience for me and my children.

Please read my piece here, as a means to support the theater.

Enjoy these pictures on my blog.  My kids totally have headshots.


photo credits include Nancy Haller and Mary d'Aloisio from CST
and Donna Lind

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Here and now

Luna is sleeping with her hand under her cheek.

Tulip is wearing a dress inside out and backwards.

Wolfie just told me that he would like a new "guys walking around" type of game for the Wii, like Batman or Pirates of the Caribbean.

I don't want things to change at all.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I have, I have, I have so much...

I have been on summer vacation for over two weeks and I have hardly blogged at all.  Why?  I'm on summer vacation.  I should be free to blog all day every day. 

Um, I have been doing other things.  Oh, and I have three adorable children to do these things with all day every day.

I have been swimming.
I have been reading a cheesy book.
I have been napping and snuggling.
I have been coloring and doing puzzles and playing make believe.
I have been watering my plants every morning after breakfast.
I have been staring and staring and staring at my hair in the mirror wondering what the heck to do with it and deciding that haircuts are expensive and I'd rather spend $50 on more plants or take my kids to the zoo and so I'll just see what the sun does to my hair this summer.
I have a three-year-old.
I have a five-year-old.
I have a seven-year-old and do you know how much fun they are?
I have been playing ladderball and frisbee and scoops and paddleball and badminton.
I have been drawing with chalk.
I have been doing yoga.
I have had rehearsals (more on that later)!
I have been hosting visits and playdates.
I have been running errands freely; not "in a window".
I have been cheering on my children as they ride their bikes and trikes with more and more confidence. 
I have been on day trips with my children.
I have been lounging afternoons with my husband.
I have not been shuttling anyone anywhere - how nice to not have any sort of schedule.
I have been interrupted while at my computer intending to blog.
I have just been handed an invitation to a tea party complete with a golden coin so I can pay to get in.
I have just been instructed that when I hear hands clapping and my name announced it is time for me to enter the tea party.
I've just heard hands clapping followed by, "We are now ready for Mama."

Well, don't let my silly blogging keep you waiting my dears.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mama playpen

I would like a playpen just for me.  Not to contain me, but to keep them out.  Here's what happened.  The kids and I were having lunch outside.  I served their food and they sat happily at their adorable kid-sized picnic table.  Then I came out with my plate, sat at the patio table which is all of 9 feet away from the kids, and they immediately descended upon me.  The girls were oohing and aahing my plate, even reaching for items off it, while Wolfie decided at that precise moment he needed to tell me an interesting fact about whales while standing a half inch from my face.

Yes, they love me to pieces and I them, but let me be when I want to eat!

So I shooed them away and had this sci-fi thought that I could really use some sort of force field right about now.  But then I thought of it - a Mama playpen.  I'd pop it up around me and I would be able to eat in peace.  I mean, they would still talk to me non-stop but I wouldn't have to swat any little hands away from my plate or politely reject an offering of a half-eaten carrot.  "No thank you, just put it back on your plate.  You're so nice for sharing, though."  I know, I know, they would just throw their food at me, but that's the price you pay for being in a cage and if I choose it, if it's voluntary, I can handle ducking every now and then as a trade off for not having a child with a wet bathing suit insist that she  sit in my lap while I'm typing on my laptop.  Or the are-you-kidding-me arm grab while I'm painting my toenails.

No wonder my mother (and all of your mothers too) sent you outside to play in the fenced in backyard and then locked the screen door.  Sure, if there was a real emergency, you could yell for her attention.  But for the most part, you were on your own.  My mother wasn't locking me out, making the backyard my playground.  She was locking herself in.  And so what if it's because she wanted to vacuum and dust.  It's what she wanted to do and she wanted to do it without me underfoot.

Yes.  A Mama playpen.  I'm taking orders now.  Who would like one?

Friday, June 15, 2012

To be righter

This afternoon I was happily, no, blissfully pulling weeds.  Then Wolfie approached me with two paddles and a small ball and asked, "Mama, do you want to play this game with me?"

I hesitated and he said, "Come on.  What sounds like more fun to you - pulling weeds or playing with your son?  So, do you want to play?"

In a flash, I experienced what could only be called "Mama Sense" and my answer would have been a resounding, "No."  I'm a terrible person, right?  How can I even call myself a mother?  I don't even deserve this sweet boy.

Here's what I considered during my flash of Mama Sense:
1.  Wolfie, you are darling, but you are not very coordinated at paddle ball so we will not have much of a volley.
2.  Because your shots toward me will be wild, I will have to lunge awkwardly and might pull a muscle.
3.  Because your shots toward me will fall short, I will have to do much bending over and that will hurt my back.
4.  Some of your shots will go way way away and I will have to walk all over the yard to get them.  See number 3.
5.  There are only two paddles.  What are the chances the girls will not start demanding, hollering, whining, and interfering to get a turn?

But I love my boy, and I am a good mother, so I said "Yes."

Guess what?  All of the above happened.  But you know what else happened?  We giggled really hard.
1.  When we did have a volley of three in a row - we whooped it up.  It was a celebration.  And I love to see that boy smile and laugh.
2.  His wild shots were usually accompanied by some sort of wild gesture and pose.  This was hilarious.  What's more, I imitated some of his ridiculous postures and that was even more hilarious.
3.  I bent over.  So what.  I was pulling weeds.  Duh.
4.  Even though I had to walk all over to pick up the ball, Wolfie judged the cause and effect relationship and evaluated his actions and talked about using smaller power or stronger power or just medium power next time.  It was a lesson in physics, people.
5.  The girls did want to play.  Of course.  And they got to.  We set up a rotation that both enforced the imperative skill of taking turns in a family of three kids and reinforced the fact that we don't need to buy three sets of every single thing because we have three kids.  It is good to learn to be patient and gracious and to sometimes enjoy watching your silly brother do something that you cannot do.  Plus, is there anything sweeter than seeing your toddler say, "Here you go.  Your turn."?

Did I mention we laughed?  We all had giggle fits.  Wolfie smiled big and toothless and that just warms my heart.  He made a good argument and even though my Mama Sense was right, his logic was righter.

Monday, June 11, 2012

I don't really know how to go to Pizza Hut

Tonight was a school sponsored mother and son date night.  We were to all meet at the movie theater at 6:15 for a group picture, treat bag, free popcorn, and tickets to Madagascar 3 at 6:40.  Wolfie (and I, of course) was so excited for this date.  At first I figured we would all eat dinner as a family, then Wolfie and I would skip over to the movie theater.

Then I thought that he and I should go out to dinner.  When I proposed this, he said I could chose the place.

Pizza Hut popped into my mind.  We had never been.  He had earned a free personal pizza every month last school year for a reading incentive and we never, ever went.  Pizza Hut, in his mind, became this unobtainable restaurant we had tickets to.

Maybe some of you go to Pizza Hut often, I'm not making judgments here, it's just that we only have gone once with our nieces and my mother-in-law.  So I thought I knew what it was like to go to Pizza Hut for dinner.  Or maybe I was confusing Pizza Hut with a pizza place at the food court.  Or maybe, since I sometimes do this, I was fabricating the whole Pizza Hut experience in my mind to match what I needed to happen.

Wolfie and I entered Pizza Hut and a hostess asked us if we were dining in.  Sure.  But what I was expecting was some sort of cafeteria experience where there was a pizza bar and Wolfie and I would each grab a slice of pizza, sit down to eat it, quickly, pay and leave, again quickly.  Because, um, by the time our hostess seated us and presented us with menus (?!) I realized that we were cutting it close to group picture time.

I had to order from a menu?  What is Pizza Hut trying to do?  Make me miss our photo op at the movie theater, apparently.  Do you know what's on the menu?  A couple of pizza choices.  I mean, there is nothing to really pore over at the ol' Pizza Hut.

I ordered two glasses of water and, um, oh, I don't know...a pizza.  A cheese pizza.  Size medium because there are only two sizes of pizza on the Pizza Hut dine-in menu.

I expected our waitress to walk directly into the kitchen, pick up a cheese pizza that was all ready to go and just sitting under a pizza warmer, turn right around and deliver it to our table approximately 15 seconds after I ordered it.


When you dine in at Pizza Hut they make a fresh pizza for you.  Or, at least I think they pretend to.  I do think the pizza is ready to go and sitting under a pizza warmer only out of sight and the waitress waits 8 minutes to make you think a chef is personally preparing a fresh pizza.

By the time she brought it to our table, on a pizza-in-the-oven-slider thingy, we had to leave.  I told her as much and she brought me a box.  What a friendly girl, and the pizza was piping hot, so maybe some sort of pizza chef prepared and cooked this pizza just for us.  But the box cracked me up.  It was the quintessential Pizza Hut delivery box.

So much for dining in.

But, I ask you - when was the last time Wolfie ate a slice of pizza in the car on the way to a movie theater?  Never!

Friday, June 8, 2012

OP kids

Other. People's. Kids

I like other people's kids.  I do.  I like kids in general.  I really, really do.  But....

We went to the water park today.  We arrived, put down our bag at a chair, took off our shoes, and entered the wave pool.  We were in the wave pool for less than 5 minutes and this little girl comes up to me and Luna and asks, "What's her name?"

I said, "Luna," and the little girl said, "I'm Audrey.  She can play with me."

Oh, adorable, I thought.  Then...

Audrey asked me what my name was.  I said, "June."  She pointed out that she was wearing inflatable water wings to help her swim.  "Awesome," I said.  Then....

Audrey said, "June, watch me swim.  Watch me swim, June.  June.  June!  Watch me.  Watch me.  Watch me.  Watch me, June.  Look at me swim.  June, look at me swim.  Look at me swim.  Watch me swim.  Watch me.  Watch me.  Look at me.  Look at me swim.  Look at me.  Watch me.  June.  June.  Look at me.  Watch me swim.  Watch me swim.  Watch me swim.  Watch me.  Look at me."

No one came to rescue me.  She did not have an attending adult.  Duh.

Why does this happen to me?  I'm accessible, my husband says.  I'm Mama and Mrs. Saavedra.  All the kids come talk to me.

But today I was MAMA.  Yesterday was the last day of school, Audrey.  Okay?  Audrey?  Give me a break.  School is over and I get to be my children's mama all summer.  So here's what I said:

I'm watching my own kids.
I'm not going to watch you, Audrey.  I'm watching my own kids.
Where is your mom?
Oh, well what grown up is in charge of you?
Okay, you need to ask Miss Cindy to watch you.
I'm not watching you.

And I swear I almost said, "Get away from me."  But I didn't because I am a teacher and teacher's don't say that to children.  But today I was Luna, Wolfie and Tulip's mama, only, and mamas can tell other people's kids to go away.

I've Done This

I've failed to put away the laundry.

I did the laundry, so give me some credit.

The way laundry works in our house is that dirty clothes goes in the tan cloth hamper in Mama and Papa's room and clean clothes reappear in Mama and Papa's room in the white plastic hamper.  (then I usually fold it while sitting on my bed, and then put it away in my and my children's dresser drawers)

For the past week I have found myself saying, "Check the clean-clothes hamper..." in response to phrases such as, "Where did all my shorts go?" and "I don't have any underwear!"

I never folded it.

I never put it away.

We pretty much rifled through a full hamper of clean clothes sitting just 4 feet away from the dirty one.  We merely transferred clothes this week.

And really, isn't it all about cutting out the middle man?  Why do I need to fold it and put it in drawers that are much much further than 4 feet away from where it will inevitably end up?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

more things I should have not seen

When you see your children in an environment that is not your own home, it's a bit confusing.  Then, hopefully, it's surprisingly lovely.

We were at a party over the weekend and I saw/heard my kids playing some sort of "Wake the Mummy" game in a bounce house.  I've never witnessed my daughter coax another child to rise from the dead and become a mummy.  But boy oh boy was there a huge smile on her face.  She loved this game.  I mean, you get to count to 5 and she's a real pro at that.

Then, when the child who was playing the mummy got up, everyone jumped with glee and this one boy sang that line from that one song....every....single....time.  Yes.  That song.  What line from what song?

"I'm sexy and I know it."  Do you know how many times the kids played Mummy?  And likewise do you know how many times we all heard this boy sing "I'm sexy and I know it?"

87 times!

My daughter is not too familiar with that song (and for the record, I have nothing against it) but you have to understand how music works in our house.  We don't listen to pop radio.  No.  My husband currently has just shy of 500 gigs of music on his hard drive.  I'm serious.  Come on over and burn whatever you want.

So after hearing it 87 times I wondered what she would do with those words.

Here's what: the next morning at breakfast she sings out, with a huge I-know-something-you-don't-know smile on her face, "I'm 15 and I know it!"

Friday, May 25, 2012

I've Done This

I have fallen asleep while playing a board game with my child.

One afternoon we were playing Guess Who on the living room floor.  The sun was streaming in through the windows and I had propped a pillow under my head for...ahem...comfort.  The next thing I know I'm hearing, faintly at first and then with growing intensity, "Mama!  Mama!  Mama!  It's your turn!  Mama!  It's YOUR TURN! MAMA!!!" 

I swear I snapped awake.  I was that asleep.  That's kind of a sucky thing to do to your child, right.

(It was kind of sucky that she woke me up from my nap too, right?)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tulip Violet

Mama made good on her promise to give Tulip a plant of her own to celebrate the second best graduation ever.  Even though the idea of graduating from preschool seems a bit silly, I figure this is as good a milestone as any to give Tulip her very own plant to take for.

She's wearing a dress I found at Once Upon a Child the night before which I'm surprised she didn't ask to sleep in.  She's also wearing my bracelet which a friend bought for me in Paris a dozen years ago.

And of course she was so into her cap that when we got home, she drew a rainbow and a tulip on it.  I told her she should be a graduation cap designer when she grows up (which I think would suit her better than "princess" which is what her book about herself says she wants to be when she grows up...sigh).

Her diploma says Tulip June Saavedra which is so much better than Tulip Violet Saavedra.  (But if she decides that her princess name will be Tulip Violet Daisy Iris Chrysanthemum when she grows up, that will be just fine too.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Second Best

Tulip looked through a kaleidoscope and spotted Wolfie's sunflower plant.

"Can I water it?" she asked.

I explained that it was Wolfie's special plant and then offered her this, "But maybe tomorrow for your preschool graduation you'll get a special plant all of your own..."

I had actually planned to do this.

She jumped into my lap and squealed, "This is going to be the second best graduation ever!"

"What was the first best graduation?" I wondered.

"Ummm...probably that time that you and I sat side by side and ate pudding at a picnic."

I looked at her smiling face through the kaleidoscope and her happiness spun out into a million pieces.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sandbox conversation

"Hey Mom..."  Tulip called to me.  When she says "Mom" I know that she is initiating some role play game where I am the mother character and she is a daughter character.  That's because my children all call me Mama.
"Oh?  What is it daughter?"  I respond to let Tulip know that I am in on her game.

We are playing in the sandbox and she eagerly whispers, "Do you want to play where you are the mother and your name is Clara and I'm your daughter and my name is Amy Amanda and we're going to make a sand garden and...I'm in college?"

Tulip will be five next week.

"Of course," I whisper back.

"Hey Mom, do you want to make a sand garden?"

"Sure Amy Amanda.  Hey, how's college going?"

"Great." She smooths out the sand and plants some leaves in it.  "Did you know that there are some toads that are as tall as humans?"

"Wow!  I didn't know that Amy Amanda.  Did you learn that in one of your college classes?"


"What's the name of that class?"

"Nature class."

Yup, this girl has got her whole life figured out...well, at least up through college.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I scream, you scream, we all scream for Yonanas!

I'm not very politically active, but I'm ready to start a petition.  Ot a protest.  Or something.  If it were a protest, my children would wear t-shirts that say, "We Don't Carry Cash!" and our signs would read Keep Going! on one side and Don't Slow Down! on the other side.

This is aimed at the ice cream man.  And I'm sorry, I know he is doing his job.  But does his job have to include an absolute 1 1/2 mile per hour crawl around my court?  And, does his job have to include making deliberate eye contact with my children through our living room window?!  I think that crosses the line.

"The ice cream truck is coming!  I can hear it!  The ice cream man is in our court!" they scream with hysteria.

"We are having Yonanas for dessert," I nearly scream back with misdirected frustration that I am feeling towards this ice cream man because I really am wondering if he has come to a complete stop in front of my house and that intent gaze upon us through my window is a bit unnerving. 

He has finally left and Tulip says, "Did you know that a snow cone is actually ice with fruit flavored juice on it?!"

"Uh huh," I murmur.

"Well did you forget that I've never tried one?!" she asks with indignation.

Again, I nearly scream, "We.  Are.  Having.  Yonanas!  For.  Dessert."

My logic of, "We are not going to buy expensive sugary popsicles now because in approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes we will be making pure home-made fruit smoothies, i.e. Yonanas, for dessert..." is lost on them.  I may as well say, "No snow cones because that wall is green."

The kids play in the back yard after dinner.  They are wonderful children.  And they are smart.  And they need to remind us that they have not had neither snow cones nor Yonanas...yet.

Luna is crying.  She accidentally got hit in the head with the child-size picnic table umbrella.  I help fix the problem, then go back inside.

Tulip starts crying.  She accidentally got hit in the head with a plastic baseball bat.

Seriously?  They are going to hit themselves with objects until we serve the Yonanas?

So, when I come to your door with my petition, understand that I am not actually trying to put the ice cream man out of work.  I am trying to save myself a trip to the emergency room because as fate would have it, if that were to happen, I'd be stuck in traffic behind the ice cream man driving 1 1/2 miles per hour.

Monday, May 14, 2012

That moment

"Are you nervous?"

One of my students asked me this Thursday afternoon.  He was, of course, referring to the sold out Listen To Your Mother show that I was to perform in that evening.  He's a sweet kid, and a musician and as it turns out he and I have performed together in an annual Blues concert at school where I am the MC.  So he and I have been on stage, together, before and he knows what it's like to be nervous.  And excited.  Or nervous-excited.  Or excited-nervous.  And I was all those and I bet he knew it.

I was nervous that my aunts weren't going to get their tickets.  Then I was nervous that I was going to pee in my pants (dress?) because it totally felt like I was going to.  I was nervous because I was cold so I was shaking, or at least I felt like I was shaking, so I thought I would be shaking on the stage.  Shaking and peeing.  Lovely.  And I was nervous because some of my colleagues were coming to see the show and that's different than when your friends or family come to see the show.  Family and friends know all sides of you but colleagues...well, they might only know some sides of you.  Hopefully colleagues know the non-shaking and non-peeing in my pants (dress?) side of me.

Then there was the nervousness that comes with being on a stage, sharing something personal, and hoping that the audience gets it.  Um, a sold out audience.  And for me, that was funny.  Not that I think a sold out audience is funny.  What I was planning to share with the audience was funny; or, at least I thought so.  That was my plan.

We had been getting terrific coaching advice from Stephanie.  She told us all to be ourselves.  She told us to take a moment, even if on the stage, if we needed it.  She reminded us that if we got choked up during our piece, the audience would be supportive.  In fact, she said, the audience would love it because it would be so real for them because it's so real for us.  (Um, my piece is supposed to be funny so thanks for the "go ahead and cry on stage" advice, sheesh.)

But then the thing happened.  That great thing that comes with being on stage and knowing that for the next 5-61/2 minutes you are going to own it.  Because, after all, Listen To Your Mother is about sharing a story and connecting with someone in the audience.  Someone in the audience would think that shaking and peeing in my pants would be funny.  Aunt Betty certainly.  But when Stephanie began to introduce me, and I got a chuckle from my introduction (which I wrote and meant to be a little bit funny) I instantly warmed up and my urge to pee left.  I approached the stage - and here I have to again applaud Stephanie and all her direction - and I felt such a surge of supportive energy from those front two rows.  My women.  My LTYM cast mates.  By the time I approached the microphone I knew it was going to be fun.  You know, people, it's really fun for me to be on stage.  My student who asked me earlier if I was nervous knows that about me.  I'm sure of it.  It's fun for him too.  That's why we have that bond.

And guess what?  I had a "moment" on stage.  I did.  No, I didn't cry.  My piece was funny!  And there was this moment where I delivered a punch line and the audience was laughing.  Really taken by surprise laughing and I was engaged in my "pause" to let them finish their laughter so I could follow up with my next remark and really be heard.  And I let myself go.  I laughed at myself.  On stage.  And in that moment I heard whoops.  I'm pretty sure some of the whoops were from my LTYM cast mates.  They got it.

Because if a mom can't laugh at herself, how will she ever deal with the inevitable moment where she really does pee in her pants (dress!)?  And now I know that because of LTYM, and the mission of LTYM to share something personal with an audience in which someone will connect with your piece, I could pee in my pants and some mama would turn to her neighbor and whisper, "I've done that."

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Joey Ant

Joey Ant was a great concept while it lasted.

Like all parents, we have values which we want to instill into our children.  Appreciate the earth.  Respect nature.  Be kind to living creatures.  And don't be afraid of bugs.  And don't become the type of kid that steps on bugs for fun.

When Wolfie was a toddler, he noticed a large black ant crawling across our carpet.  Seizing the opportunity to teach all those values at once, I scooped up the ant and brought it outside.  Somehow, throughout the process, Wolfie named the ant Joey and so from then on whenever he saw an ant he would talk to it as if it were Joey Ant, his old friend.

This went on for years.

Then one day a relative gave us a small basket of dried fruit and I left it on the counter while we went out for the day.  When we returned, there was a whole happy colony of ants crawling all over that basket. 

I smashed a bunch of ants.  And I'm pretty sure my kids saw.  And then I dropped the act because, really, I'd rather smash those crappy ants for crawling around inside my house than to pretend that I scoop up every one of them to bring outside.

Well, my children pretty much appreciate the earth, respect nature, and are kind to living creatures.  They don't scream at the sight of bugs like some children do.  And they don't smash bugs for fun like some children do.  They alert me to the sight of ants in our house and I do the smashing.

Today the girls were helping me in the garden and we searched for bugs.  We found some grubs, worms, saw two spiders with huge egg sacs, and found tons of roly polys.  Everyone was fascinated.

Tulip then says to me, "Mama, sometimes when I see an ant in our house and there is no grown up around, I find something hard and I smash it and then to be sure I smash it's head again to destroy its brains."  My sweet darling nature-loving flower girl said this.

"Oh," was just about all I could say.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Sports mom fail

I'm not a jock mom.  That's okay.  I'm another type of mama and I do that well. I didn't expect to be the type of family that has children enrolled in tons of "activities", shuttling children back and forth, juggling a calendar of weekly events leaving us breathless with one foot in or out of the door at any given moment.  And, okay, we're not really there, we just have a couple things going on but this weekend I haven't handled the business very well.

Wolfie is playing  basketball on Friday nights.  I thought his game was at 5:00.  We all went; we showed up at 5:00.  Wolfie's shirt is blue.  There were red and yellow shirts there at 5:00.  I checked the schedule posted on the bulletin board and sure enough, Wolfie's team was playing at 7.  We went to Burger King. 

Tulip had not only a soccer game, but pictures on Saturday.  Her game was at 11:30 so pictures were at 11:00.  At 10:39 I am hustling the whole family to get their shoes on and then, just for good measure, I check the calendar.  1:30.  Her game is at 1:30 and pictures are at 1:00.

"Wait!" I holler because some people are beginning to board the van.  "We have two hours."  We didn't go to Burger King or anywhere else fabulous.  We stayed home and had left-over mac and cheese for lunch.

Fast forward to 1:00.  Well, 12:50 actually.  We are cruising through the parking lot at the soccer park.  We typically park on the other side of the soccer fields, but today we decided to park in the actual lot which is completely packed. The kids are not used to us cruising the parking lot.

"Do you know where you are going?  Are we here at the right time?  Are we supposed to be driving here?  Is this the right place to be?"  The kids pepper us with questions, no interrogations, from the backseat.  I have completely lost credibility with them.

But we make it to pictures on time and everything is fine.  Tulip's soccer game starts promptly at 1:30.

Luna wants to play in the playground.  This is frustrating because I want to watch Tulip play soccer and the playground is far from her field.  Luna wants to swing on the regular swing, not the baby swing.  I push her.

She falls off.

Yes, I pushed her right off the swing. 

"I want to go see Papa!" she wails, as I hold her in my arms.

I sit down next to Papa in our folding chairs, holding Luna in my lap.  She's tired, she's missed her nap, and I just made her fall off a swing.

"I want Mama milk!!!" she wails.  She's covered with mulch.  "I.  Want.  Mama.  Miiiiiilk!" she wails again.

Yup, I'm that mama.  I nurse an almost three-year-old.  I nursed her, and got to watch Tulip play the rest of her soccer game.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Flipper, the Thrower and the Wiper

I love toddler's emerging language.  I loved how Wolfie leaned to say his sister Tulip's name when she was born and he was just over two years old.  He called her "Baby", then "Baby Girl", then "Tubik" and finally "Tulip". 

I love the way Tulip would enunciate the word "actually" like this: AT-uwalleeeee

Luna will be 3 in one month and three days.  She will no longer be a toddler.  She will be a pre-schooler and that is a child.  Not a baby any longer, but a child.  (Let's not tell her, okay?)

In the meantime, I am going to enjoy some of her two-year-old idioms.

1.  The Flipper
I have a large, light-weigh solar-powered calculator.  It has big enough buttons that make a subtle "click" sound when pressed.  Luna calls this toy the Flipper.

2.  The Thrower
Somehow, my family has come to acquire an 18-inch diameter Whoopee Cushion.  It's enormous.  One night, we were having a dance party.  The kids were taking turns dancing and when it was Luna's turn, she incorporated the Whoopee Cushion in her routine.  It was deflated, and she sort of twirled it around like a lasso while she ran in a circle.  Sure, two-year-olds call this dancing.  Who am I to argue?  But ever since that dance, she has referred to the Whoopee Cushion as her Thrower.

3.  The Wiper
Right now, as in this week and very much so this minute, Luna has a snotty nose.  It's just running like a faucet.  Gabe and I are armed with handkerchiefs in our pockets and there is at least one handkerchief stashed strategically in each room of the house.  Two nights ago I gave Luna a little handkerchief to keep next to her pillow so she could wipe her own nose.  She thought this was awesome.  I guess, as a two-year-old it is a rite of passage to be awarded your own personal handkerchief, or Nose Wiper.

As I write this, Luna approaches me and I notice a wet streak under her nose.  I tell her to come close so I can wipe her nose and I reach for my back pocket.  She says, matter-of-factly, and with the slightest air of annoyance, "Mama, I have a Nose Wiper in my bed.  I have a Nose Wiper in my bed all day."

How soon to three?  Too soon.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hey commercials, I'm still awesome

I had the TV on the other night and this commercial came on - okay - let me interrupt myself here to remind all of you how much I dislike commercials.  I do not care for the way commercialism assumes I am lazy, dumb, insecure, gluttonous or easy.  That said, when I see an ad for a new type of lip gloss I find myself obsessing over getting some new lip gloss.  So, yes, I am easy but I don't like it that the commercial industry has figured that out.

So this commercial comes on and since I'm not going to endorse the product this commercial was promoting, I'll just call it the Dunk Your Doughnut store.  Okay?  So in this commercial, a grown man is delivered a bagel sandwich at his job by his mother.  He says, as if he is in 5th grade, "You made me a sandwich for lunch?" and the mom says, "No, the Dunk Your Doughnuts store made it but I wrote the note." and then do you know what I think?

Crud!  I totally have been forgetting to write Wolfie notes and putting them in his lunchbox!  I so wanted to be the mom that did that and I did, for about two weeks, when Wolfie started 1st grade.

Seriously?  The Dunk Your Doughnuts store commercial made me feel like a crummy mom?  Usually commercials make me feel like an awesome mom!  I'll see a commercial for baby formula and think, "I'm still nursing my 35 month old - suckers!"  Or I'll see a commercial for one of 6,000 types of over the counter or prescription drugs and I'll think, "I just ate a spoonful of honey, rubbed some eucalyptus on my neck and taped a clove of garlic in my ear - suckers!"

Now, if I write a note to Wolfie and slip it into his lunchbox, the lunch time helper mom is going to think I got the idea from that dumb Dunk Your Doughnuts store commercial.  She probably has better lip gloss than me too.

I think I'll fold up an origami crane which will flap it's wings if you gently pull on it's tail and put that in his lunchbox instead.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Star Wars vs. Unicorns

To say that Star Wars fever has invaded my home would be an understatement.  Actually, the fever includes Star Wars and Clone Wars.

Last night at dinner, my husband busted out a Yoda impression.  My husband.  Yoda!  Even Luna can do a Jar Jar Binks impression.  "Me-sa have a question!" she chirps.  Wolfie and Tulip engage in these really animated and poignant discussions about the movies and the characters.  Today at lunch Wolfie was holding a baby carrot.  He showed it to Tulip and illustrated how the way he held the carrot in his hand made the whole thing look like a Gungan.  Obsessed much?

It makes sense that Wolfie likes Star Wars.  He's seven.  Tulip?  Well, in her special Tulip manner she has found a way to enjoy Star Wars and Clone Wars movies.  She looks for the cute stuff.  And she has found it - baby Ewoks, cute aliens, baby aliens.  

I was ready for this.  I mean, I saw those Star Wars movies in the 70's when I was a kid.  So, I totally know all those movies.  Right?  Um...not so much.  Apparently there is a big difference between watching those movies as a kid and being the adult involved in the life of the kid watching those movies for the first time and becoming totally immersed in the thrill of discovery this whole new galaxy far far away.

Well maybe I'm being a little too hard on myself.  I can talk about the movies with my children.  There are some pretty big important themes there, and because of my job I'm pretty good at talking about themes and character relationships.

But here's the thing I can't do well.  DRAW Star Wars.  And I can totally draw!  You plop a still life in front of me and I can render it beautifully.

Wolfie has been drawing these:
He has about 8 of these large posters lying around the house.  He draws on both sides!  He draws scenes from the movies and other scenes he has made up.  He drew Darth Vader's surprise birthday party - I'm serious.

Below is a detail of one of his drawings.  I think this is a clone building factory.  Apparently that is a Geonosian in the upper right watching over the process.  See, I know my Star Wars.  (Or Clone Wars - see, now I'm getting confused)

So Wolfie will ask me to draw Star Wars with him.  He'll say I should draw the Death Star or the Millenium Falcon.  I'll tell him that I don't really know what they look like; I'll need to look at a picture from one of his books.  He gets a little exasperated and says, "How about you draw something a little more easy, like a Droideka."  I'll tell him that I don't know what that looks like either and he'll say, "Don't you recognize it from the movie?"  I want to say, "Just because you have extremely vivid images of every single scene from Star Wars and Clone Wars rolling through your memory 24/7 doesn't mean I do." But I don't say that of course.

I draw a space ship.  I just make it up.  When I sit back from the paper and look at my space ship I realize that I haven't drawn anything at all in the style of Lucasfilm.  I have drawn a rocket ship.  I might as well have written NASA on the side of it, it's so lame.  Wolfie says, "Oooookaaay..." trying to spare my feelings.  He's so considerate.

Tulip asks me to draw a unicorn.  YES!  I shout it before she even finishes saying "unicorn".  I can totally draw unicorns.  I've been drawing unicorns since I was seven.  I can draw a unicorn walking, galloping, standing still - I can even draw a unicorn flying.  I can draw a unicorn with its tail flickering this way or that.  I can draw a unicorn's mane blowing in the breeze.  I can draw flowers in the unicorn's mane and, most importantly, I can toss a rainbow in the background.

She's impressed.  For about three minutes.  Then she says to Wolfie, "Wolfie, did you ever notice that the baby Ewoks don't have to fight in the battles?  They get to stay home."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

To Have a Sister

I didn't have a sister growing up.  I didn't know what I was missing. 

A while back, Luna started talking in gibberish more often than not.  Or she would just make noises.  Wolfie and Tulip started answering for her.  I'd ask her a question and while she spoke gibberish (which I suppose she thought was funny or charming or whatever), the big kids would speak on her behalf.

"I think Luna wants..." 

I had to tell them not to speak for Luna.  "We have to let Luna use words."

Now over that phase, the other day Luna said something to me and I couldn't understand some of her words.  She wasn't speaking gibberish; I just couldn't understand.

"I want fwabba fwabba raspberries."  Yes, I could clearly understand raspberries as she loves them and is determined to articulate this delicious word clearly.

"You want a bowl of raspberries?"  I asked.

"No, I want a fwabba bowl of raspberries."  Okay, so I was getting 'bowl of raspberries' so what was the problem?

"I want a fwabba bowl of raspberries," she implored.  What the heck was I missing?

I looked to Tulip for clarification.  Yes, I needed her to speak for Luna.  I needed her to translate.

"Oh!  She wants a flower bowl of raspberries," Tulip realized.  "That's something only I can do for her."

Luna nodded emphatically.

Tulip got a little bowl out of the cupboard and arranged a handful of raspberries in such a way where there was one in the middle and several others forming a ring around it.

A flower design.  Made out of raspberries.

How lucky they are to have each other.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Why get out of bed when this could happen...

Some mornings, I am so tired and I really don't want to get out of bed.  The children don't understand this so I have to invent games to play with them that will allow me to continue laying in bed.

The first game we played Sunday morning was hide and go seek.  I hid under the cover I was already hiding under.  Lame, I know.  But not lamer than telling the children, "Leave me alone.  I want to lay in bed for 3 more hours."

The next game we played was Cave.  In order to lay in bed, I invited the girls under the covers with me.  Oooh, this was exciting for them.  Perfect.  They ran and got their light up dolls.  Even more perfect.  (They left me alone, in my bed, for 8 seconds while they retrieved their dolls.)

Then we told ghost stories under the covers.  This was Tulip's story:

Once upon a time there was a ghost called...............Gobblin' Gobbler.  (dramatic pause followed by dramatic voice)  He gobbled up.............garbage.  There was a princess and she was camping and then Gobblin' Gobbler captured her.  He was eating................soda and flaming hot Doritoes!  The princess ate veggie chips and then escaped.  The end.

Monday, April 9, 2012

on purpose

I came home from running an errand and my eyes flashed to a white wall with orange crayon squiggled on it.  And while I said, "Who did this" there was no real upset to my voice.  I mean, we have a 2 year old.  Well, she's almost 3 and I guess I thought she was done writing on the walls.  And the carpets and the couch and the table and her toys and the windows.  I mean, we're pretty laid back about it because it somehow became okay.  Not acceptable but okay.  No real harm done.

But I took a closer look at this orange line and noticed that there was a circle, then a squiggly line, and then an X.  This was a treasure map and that is far too conceptual for Luna to scribble on the wall.  Tulip stepped forth and admitted to it.

Tulip did this!

It was so surprising.  I kind of laughed, you know, that surprised type of laugh.  It has been years since she has written on a wall.

Here's the thing about Tulip - this was so unlike her.  There's nothing troubling her.  She's not destructive.  She's not acting out in any way.  She doesn't seem to be enacting any sort of outrageous attention-seeking behaviors.  She does not make mistakes like this.  I think she honestly was so inspired to make a treasure map and the wall and orange crayon filled her desire.  But it was a mistake so we had to remind her of that and she was so so remorseful.  Big round eyes and a very sincere, "I'm sorry."  Yes, no big deal.

I was ready to drop it.  Crayon on the wall.  No Big Deal.  But there was an opportunity there.  It sprang from my lips.  I called the children to me for a family meeting and I explained:

When Mama has to clean extra messes, I am putting extra time and extra energy to cleaning messes instead of playing with you guys, or doing something I like to do.  (I was on a roll)  Look around the room.  See all the toys all over the place.  I'm going to pick up all this stuff and put away all this stuff and do all these extra chores and that will take away my time to be with you and play with you and read books to you.  (I was really on a roll now)  So when our house gets messy, and there are extra chores for Mama to do, we are all going to stop playing.  When Mama has to do extra chores, everyone is going to pause their activities and do chores too.  Then we can all play together when we're done.

I'm telling you, it made sense to everyone.  Especially me.  Especially them.  How many times do they ask me to do something and I tell them, "In a minute."  How many times am I on my way to a room where one of my kids is waiting for me because I promised to play and I have to make 4 pit stops along the way to clean up something, pick up something and put away something?  I mean, I know that's never going to change but it can diminish.

No one was in trouble, though in their childhood innocent hearts they knew it was a mistake.  And what happens when we make a mistake?  We admit we made a mistake and we make it right.  Tulip and Wolfie hustled and hustled to help clean up the place.  I didn't have to ask twice.  I hardly had to offer direction, they were all over the place finding things to put away.

So, while Tulip certainly didn't do it on purpose, there ended up being a purpose to her orange treasure map.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

To clarify

According to my husband's recent Facebook status update, "Stars Wars fever is running rampant in our house" right now.  Star Wars fever has affected only a few of the children (and one of the non-children) in my home.  And so, on this Easter morning, I announced that the Ewok Bunny had visited our front and back yards.

Yes, I meant Easter Bunny, but Ewok Bunny seemed more appropriate and exciting and no one corrected me.

When Wolfie was three, I announced the Easter Bunny had visited our front yard and Wolfie corrected me.  "It's the Easter Bird, mama.  A bird laid those eggs in our yard."  Yes, of course.  That would make sense.  So our family tradition, until this year, had been to search for eggs hidden (or laid) by the Easter Bird.  Now we have the Ewok Bunny.

Since we are on the subject of correcting, or not correcting, I would like to make a request.  Actually, a few requests.

1.  When Tulip and Luna pretend they are fishing with their fishing wands, please do not tell them that they are fishing rods.

2.  When Wolfie declares that he needs a handkershift, just let it go.  I'm so thankful that he wants to use a handkerchief, he can call it whatever he wants.

3.  When Wolfie and Tulip say "beard" or "root beard", please do not tell them it is "beer".  Really, I think "I do not drink beard" has the right effect, don't you?

4.  Finally, it is okay with me that Luna calls my breasts my "milks".  It's even better that she calls my bra my "breasts".

Friday, March 30, 2012

Mama doesn't belong here

"Mama, are you just pretending to cry?"

I'm so glad she said that.  I'm so glad she invited me to use that excuse.

It's been a rough two weeks.  Nothing tragic, we've just been sick is all.  And it caught up to me and was just so frustrating. 

And I did this stupid thing where I tried implementing new parenting modalities.  I know, ridiculous right?  My children and my method of parenting are just fine the way they are, right?  Right.  But I was sick and exhausted and suffering from...I don't know what.  You know how when you were a kid and if you were angry at your brother you would kick the cat?  Well it was like that but it wasn't.  Or, you know how when you are upset at your spouse, you have this misdirected impatience at your children?  Well that happens, sometimes, but it was definitely not that either.  Maybe, because of everyone being so sick, I just needed to feel like I had more control of something, anything.  Maybe I was just so exhausted that I wanted instant gratification.  Maybe I just had a lapse in judgement.

I tried doing some immediate unpleasant consequence techniques with Luna.  We don't do "time outs", more on why another time, but when Luna screamed at her sister and shouted "No!" at anyone, I would immediately swoop her up and bring her to her room and ask her if she wanted to play on the floor or on the bed (play, because she was not being given a time out) and place her where she indicated and then I would tell her that she could come out when she was ready to speak nicely to everyone.  Behavior modification 101.  It was stupid.  My gentle, natural, inclusive, attachment-parenting brain would be telling me while I was swooping her that there is a reasonable explanation for this new behavior, she's obviously reacting to the helpless and needy sick kid energy coupled with the reduction in attention because I'm too tired to do it so just do it yourself parenting energy.  Right?  But I wanted ... oh, I don't know what I wanted.  I didn't want to do what I ended up doing for a day and a half.

That wasn't me.  That mama didn't belong in my house.  In my head.

Then it all got much better, of course.  Loving acceptance of who everyone is will produce a more harmonious family.  Instead of teaching "No, you are unappealing when you do that" you teach new vocabulary such as, "You must be really frustrated.  Can you try saying what you want, again, in a nicer voice so we can help you."  Of course that's better.  Sigh.

THEN, I took Wolfie and Tulip to the park and on the way home we passed a courtyard full of kids who were all shouting Wolfie's name.  There was a classmate and her older brother who live there, another classmate and her older brother over to play, and third classmate and his older sister over to play, and a hand full of other playmates either for the original younger or older sibling.

And there were no adults outside.  Okay.  But then who am I going to play with?  This was the first time I saw Tulip in a crowd as the youngest, as Wolfie's younger sister.  What would she do?  First she asked me if she could play on a swingset and I was relieved for a moment that my duty would be to "watch" her.  But sooner or later she got caught up in the play date frenzy and began running from yard to yard like the big kids.  Then they all ran into a house. 

Picture me, standing by myself in the courtyard. 

I so wished I had a dog on a leash.  Or a book.  I just had my awkward lone self who was still not feeling 100% either.

I mean, Tulip is only 4 still.  I couldn't say to Wolfie, "Okay, you two play here for a half hour then take the path back to our house."  Maybe I could have.  But I have not yet sent Tulip over to a neighbor's house by herself and she has never come home from a neighbor's house by herself.  I know she wouldn't have been by herself.  Her big brother (big 7) would have been in charge of her.

But that Mama didn't belong in my head either.  Tulip saw me cry that morning.  How did that make her feel?  I needed to be the Mama that was "right over there" while she played.  And I needed to walk home with her so I could have more seconds of her to myself.