Thursday, December 20, 2012

I am the Mother of a Six-Year-Old Kindergartener

I am a mom of a six-year-old kindergartener. I have wanted to say that aloud since last Friday when I heard the shocking news about Sandy Hook Elementary School.
I know what it is like to watch your little guy, wearing a backpack that is bigger than he is, give you a toothless grin and a wave as he gets on the bus. I know what it feels like to hear him read for the first time. I know how proud I was to see his art work hanging on the wall of his elementary school. I know the courage it takes for him to give me a kiss in front of his friends. I know the secret ingredient in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is love and I know he secretly likes the notes I sometimes leave in his lunchbox.
My mind keeps going back to last Friday when I sat in Tyler’s classroom surrounded by 20 of the cutest, funniest, energetic and innocent children. I was there to watch him sing the Torrence Creek School song with his classmates on the morning announcements. I, like several other parents, captured the performance on my iPhone. Before leaving, I hugged him and told him how proud I was of him. I left that room feeling happy, hopeful, optimistic and let’s admit it, na├»ve. I had no idea that our country, make that our world, was about to change.
What has changed for me? Now when I look into my sons eyes, I see six years of memories. I see the smiling 9 month old baby that learned to dribble a ball before he could walk. I see the toddler building sandcastles on the beach. I see the three-year-old “big brother” holding his sister for the first time. I see the four year-old giving me thumbs up after scoring his first soccer goal. I see the five-year old with his baseball hat over his heart listening to the “National Anthem” before playing in the T-Ball All-Star Game. I look into his eyes and I see the best of me and my husband. I look into his eyes and realize that he and his sister, Molly, are truly gifts from God, on loan to me and Todd.
I am not sure what I did to deserve such gifts. However, I will continue to love them with all my heart and appreciate them for who they are. As a result, I am going to try harder not to cry, okay yell, over spilled milk on the couch, stepping on a matchbox car in the dark with my bear feet or fetching another glass of water after everyone has been tucked into bed.
I don’t know is how it feels to be a parent in Newtown, Connecticut. But I do know what it feels like to be the mother of a six-year-old kindergartener and a two-year-old princess.
True confession of the day: This post has emotionally drained me.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Two Views of Band-Aids

My children have a lot in common in addition to their DNA. They both can dribble a soccer and basketball. They both love black beans and despise carrots. They enjoy teasing the dog, never find themselves dirty enough to warrant a bath or shower and can’t help but dance when they hear a tune from the “Fresh Beat Band.” However, they do have differences that stretch beyond their political preferences, bedtime routines and favorite shake preferences at Cook-Out. They particularly do not see eye to eye on a simple item found in most people’s bathroom closets – Band-Aids.

 Tyler tries to avoid them at all costs and Molly asks for them even when she is not hurt. Last week while putting dishes into the dishwasher, I knocked over an empty can of corn, which still had the jagged top attached to it,  and in slow motion watched it land on the side of my pinky finger. I had a nice gash on my finger that started to bleed immediately. I quickly asked Tyler to go upstairs and get me a Band-Aid. Without hesitating he said, “I can’t,” followed by, “Do you really need one?”

Then I remembered what happened when he was 4 ½ (over 18 months ago) and I got my own Band-Aid. He had fallen on the playground at day care on the first spring day warm enough to warrant shorts. “The injury” required two Band-Aids. That night when I told him it was shower time he freaked out saying his leg hurt too bad. I gave in and only washed his hands and face. The next night he refused a shower again. This time, I didn’t give him a choice and said we could wash around the area. He stepped into the shower with tears in his eyes and refused to put any weight on the leg that had the Band-Aid. As the water hit his leg, he closed his eyes and started screaming, “My leg is falling off. I know it is.” Holding back my giggles, I managed to get him washed up and dried off, only to find that the Band-Aid had fallen off in the process. Believe it or not, his leg was still attached to his knee.

Fast forward to bed time last week. I put Molly’s PJs on, brushed her teeth, made sure her night lite was on, covered her with her 55 blankets and kissed her goodnight. As I was shutting off her light and putting her gate up, she asked for a drink of water.  I got her a drink, covered her up again, said goodnight again and put the gate up. Less than two minutes later she started whining and said, “Ouch, I hurt my finger and need a Band-Aid. I am bleeding.” Did she say there was blood? I went to check on her and she was perfectly fine, except for the smirk on her face and the words that came out of her mouth next - “I won’t be able to sleep without a Band-Aid.” I told her that we only used Band-Aids when we really need them. She repeated with very accurate annunciation that she wouldn’t be able to sleep without a Band-Aid.” What harm is there in giving her a Band-Aid, said the frustrated mother who was ready for both kids to be in bed? The harm was that she woke up in the middle of the night and realized that the Band-Aid had fallen off, which caused her to cry and me to have to find it in my sleep induced haze.

Needless to say, I now have a love-hate relationship with Band-Aids, giving me something in common with both children.

True confession of the day: Santa tells me that both Tyler and Molly will be getting Band-Aids in the Christmas Stockings this year.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mixed Messages Via Nyquil

For better or worse, I am a very light sleeper. The only thing that can truly knock me out for a full night of uninterrupted sleep is a dose of Nyquil. With this said, I only use this sleep aid if the stars are aligned or I am sick and Todd is home.

So here I was with a terrible head cold, a husband out of town and two small children. I didn’t want to use the Nyquil because I wanted to make sure I could hear the kids if they needed me in the middle of the night. So I relied on my box of tissues, three stacked pillows and Sudafed, which I had to sign for at CVS. My efforts, while notable, did not result in restful sleep on Tuesday or Wednesday night.

On Thursday evening I was watching TV when my iPhone beeped, alerting me to a magical text. Todd had boarded the airplane for home and would land around 10:30 pm. Hip, hip hooray! I could finally take a nice long swig of Nyquil and pass out, knowing daddy would be home if the kids needed him or Tobi needed to go out during the night. I turned off the living room lights, blew out the candle on the kitchen counter, headed upstairs (I already had my PJs on) and set my alarm. I did leave the foyer light on for Todd, because I am thoughtful like that, but somehow forgot to blow out the second candle I had lit on the desk.

The first thing Todd saw when he opened the front door after a long day of travel was the candle. He immediately thought I was welcoming him home with romance. He left his suitcase by the door and came upstairs to find…..

His wife passed out with a bottle of Nyquil beside her. Sorry, honey, I have a head cold!

True confession of the day: The Nyquil gets me every time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

20 Questions

My kids are really good at asking questions. Some of their questions are funny, some are insightful and some are easier to answer than others. Here are 20 of their most memorable ones, in no specific order. How would you answer some of these?

Can I go back in your belly?

When you married Daddy, did you have any other choices?

If Tobi doesn’t have hands, how does she clap when she’s happy and she knows it?

If soda is not good for you, why do you drink it all the time?

What happens if I wake up when the Tooth Fairy is in my room?

Why do girls have two private parts on their bodies and boys only have one?

Mommy, what is half your name?

Did Jesus climb a ladder to get to heaven?

If we leave cookies for Santa and a carrot for the Easter Bunny, what do we leave for the Tooth Fairy?

Are you making me go to bed just because the Yankees are playing and you don’t like them?

Where can we get more babies?

Do we have to eat at home again tonight?

Why can’t you get rid of the commercials? You know they make me crazy.

Mommy, when will you be 2 ½ like me?

If I poop on the potty, will you take me to Target again?

I poop on the potty every day, why can’t I get a prize at Target like her?

Do you have to take me to school today?

How does the moon stay in the sky?

Do I smell like Daddy?

Why do the angels like to bowl so much?

True confession of the day: I really don't have all of the answers.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Picking out the Right Names

Picking out the right names for my two children was very important to me and my husband, but not easy. We were picking names based on what we thought their personalities would be. We also had to keep in mind that their names had to fit them as a baby, as a child, as a teenager and as an adult. We also had to consider the following questions: Will the kindergarten teacher be able to pronounce it correctly? Would it roll off the tongue of the announcer at the high school baseball and soccer games? Will it fit in the heart drawn by their first girlfriend / boyfriend? Would it look right on their college diploma? Will it sound right between the words “I … take you to be my wife / husband? Needless to say we felt some pressure in naming our children.

I am still enamored with the names we chose and am grateful that they fit their unique personalities. Tyler Michael is thoughtful, focused, strong, funny, smart and insightful. Molly Nicole is spirited, independent, energetic, funny, smart and determined.

The names also go well in the following combinations, which I failed to consider when picking them.
“Tyler Michael it’s time to get up.”

“Molly Nicole please pick-up the toys.”

“Tyler, Molly, it's time for dinner. Please come to the table.”

“Yes, Molly Nicole, you can pee in the potty.”

“Tyler Michael, you can’t avoid vegetables forever.”

Then of course there are nicknames for each child, which also seemingly fit their personalities. I don’t know where some came from or why they are necessary, each child answers to them.
Tyler is also known as Ty Ty, Tee Ty, Ty, Buddy, Buddies, Boo, Boudreaux and Pal. Molly is also known as Moll, Moll Moll, Molls, Baby Girl, Girlfriend, Baby Girlfriend.

However, when all is said and done, I still prefer to call them my son and my daughter. That rolls off my tongue pretty well!

True Confession of the day: I did like the name Camir Comeon Howe, but I was overruled (thank goodness).

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Making the Lyrics Her Own

I have become a big fan of The Voice on NBC. The talent this season has been amazing and the interaction between the judges is always amusing. What I like most about the show is how the artists are encouraged to make the songs, “their own.”

Maybe Molly will end up on The Voice someday, because at 2 ½ years old, she is already putting her own touches on some very popular children’s songs.
Here is a sampling:

“Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stairs.”

“The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round. The wheels on the bus go round and round, all through our kitchen.”

“Ring around the rosies, pocket fulll of posies, Ashley, Ashley, we all fall down.”

“A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, two, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, N, Z.”

True confession of the day: I had a stomach ache from laughing!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Countdown to 40 Begins Now

In just a short 365 days, I will turn 40. In honor of the upcoming milestone, I have put a bucket list together. Some of the items are fun, some are a little intense and some are truly necessary. I invite you to read the list, comment on items, join me in doing some of these things and most importantly help keep me accountable and motivated.
In no particular order:  

·         Learn how to drive standard shift to cruise around in the Mustang

·         Lose the weight and get healthy

·         Run a 5K

·         Spend a long weekend in Vegas

·         Have a family portrait taken

·         Complete 40 acts of kindness

·         Learn how to make my Mom’s Danish Puff

·         Watch ET all the way through without interruptions, while eating Reese’s Pieces

·         Finish my kids scrapbooks

·         Take a Zumba class

·         Eat authentic Indian Cuisine

·         Raise at least $1,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association

·         Get off of my blood pressure medication

·         Eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (I have truly never had one)

·         Blog, blog, blog

·         Learn how to make fudge using my grandmother’s recipe

·         Thank 40 people who have influenced me

·         Buy a pair of black knee high boots

·         Make peace with the past

True confession of the day: I think this list is doable.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A House Divided: Change vs. Hope

It is the day before the 2012 Presidential Election and I am living in a politically divided house. The amusing part is that it is not Todd and I that are divided. In fact we took advantage of early voting in North Carolina and cast our identical ballots (at least when it came to the Presidential and Gubernatorial races) last Thursday. It is our children, Tyler and Molly that are divided.

The other day, while eating his breakfast, Tyler announced that he was voting for Mitt Romney. I asked him why? He thought about it for a minute and said very seriously, “Barack Obama just hasn’t done enough to keep me safe from thunderstorms.” At that moment I saw a glimpse of what was important to my six-year-old son. His sense of innocence and reasoning impressed me. However, I did tell him that it isn’t the Presidents job, any president’s job, to keep him safe from thunderstorms. This time he didn’t have to think hard before he spoke, “Well it should be.” Then he went back to eating his bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios.

Yesterday the TV was on in the living room while the kids were playing. Molly happened to look up as a clip of President Obama speaking at a rally came on the screen. My two-year-old turned her body around and dropped the doll in her arms. “It’s Barack Obama. Mommy, its Barack Obama,” she said, clapping her hands and jumping up and down.

Fast forward to this morning when Tyler reminded me that there was only one day left until the election. I told him it was going to be a close call, but I was confident that when he got up Wednesday morning, we would know who was President. His response, “President Romney sounds pretty good.”

True confession of the day: I am glad that my children are excited about the election, but only one of them is voting the way I did.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Misinterpreting Homework

I have to admit that Tyler’s homework assignment this week seemed a little complex. Using toothpicks or Q-Tips and glue, he had to make a square, a triangle, a rectangle and a diamond. We tried the toothpicks first, but for some reason the glue was not sticking to them very well. In an attempt to avoid frustration (mine and his), I got the Q-Tips from the bathroom closet. However, once again, the glue wasn’t sticking well – Q-Tip to Q-Tip. There was plenty of glue on the table and on our placemats.

I told Tyler not to worry, because I had another idea. Why not reinforce our four shapes with scotch tape? This idea made Tyler smile once again until he asked his next question: “How am I going to get these four shape structures to school tomorrow? Feeling rather confident, I again told him not to worry, as I pulled a baggie out of the drawer. We attached the baggie to his homework journal, which went into his book bag and we headed upstairs to get him ready for bed.
Fast forward to this afternoon, when I told my colleagues about how much trouble Tyler and I had getting the glue to stick. My work friends couldn’t believe that the glue didn’t stick to the paper. My response was quite simple, “what paper?” It had never crossed my mind to have Tyler glue the Q-Tips to the paper in his homework journal. They laughed even harder when I said I used scotch tape to reinforce our structures before placing them in a baggie. Okay, so if my friends were laughing at me, Mrs. Anderson (Tyler’s kindergarten teacher) must really be laughing.

So I sent Mrs. Anderson a quick question via email: “How were you expecting the kids to display their shapes?” Her response was priceless: “Ha, ha, ha! I was thinking you would glue the Q-Tips to the paper. But what you did was great!”
How would you have interpreted the assignment?

True confession of the day: I think it is time to let daddy help with homework for a while.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

They Know What I Need

Did you every just have one of those days? You know, the type of day when you want to truly believe that you can make lemonade out of life’s lemons, but you can’t find the recipe. I had a day like that recently.
After some unexpected news at work that left me empowered, yet somewhat defeated (yes this can happen), I found myself at home and in pajamas by 6:30 pm. Todd took care of feeding the kids and then ran out to get me my favorite pasta dish from Carrabba’s. He also brought back a bottle of Molly Dooker Blue Eyed Boy. See, he knew just what I needed.
While Todd was out, I got Tyler and Molly ready for bed. Thank goodness they didn’t protest, as I was not in the mood. As I was about to turn Molly’s light off after laying her down in the crib and covering her with her must have stack of blankets, she knew just what to do. On her own, for the very first time, she lifted her little head, smiled and said, “Love you Mommy.” My heart melted as I responded with, “I love you too Molly, have a good night sleep. I will see you in the morning.” See, she knew just what I needed.
Then I found Tyler laying on my bed with his copy of Eric Carle’s, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. He quickly announced that he would read me the story before he went to bed – a first for my 5 year-old.  He read his version of the book to me, with the same intensity and focus he displays on the soccer field and in his transitional kindergarten classroom. He even made sure I had enough time to view the illustrations before he turned the page. By the time the words, “the end,” came out of his mouth, we were both smiling. See, he knew just what I needed.
True confession of the night: I am going to create my own recipe for lemonade.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Sweet, Innocent Note

Five years and four months ago when I heard the words, “it’s a boy,” I knew this day would come. I guess I just didn’t expect it to happen so soon.
Last night while cleaning out Tyler’s backpack or “book pack” as he call it, amidst a snack wrapper, homework folder and random stick of green clay, was a folded piece of white 8 x 11 paper. The inevitable had happened. At the age of five, Tyler had received his first love note. I have to admit that it was cute – a card with a drawing and the words,  “to Tyler, Love Lilly.” I asked Tyler about it. He smiled his shy little smile, shrugged and said, “She made me a card.”
I think I will stick that card in his keepsake box that I keep on the top shelf of his closet. It is a first, and it should have a place amongst his birth announcement, first birthday cards, various art projects and locks from his first haircut.
True confession of the day: I sprouted another grey hair thinking about what is coming down the line for Tyler!