Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Bright Spot...

Well, my beloved Wildcats lost the game tonight. I called my parents to make certain nobody had experienced a heart attack, and luckily, nobody had. My mom reminded me that even in Manhattan, Kansas, the sun would rise tomorrow.

I thought I'd do my best to end the day on a high note, in spite of my broken heart.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Let's Play Ball!

In my house, when you participate in an activity, you practice. Even if you have no hope of ever doing anything more than making daisy chains in the outfield, you practice. (Although not the daisy chain making, which I suppose I was quite good at, but the actual activity.)

At some point, my sister and I decided to participate in whatever come-all t-ball league existed in our hometown. As in, no talent required to participate.

Being that my dad is an engineer, he immediately set to manufacturing his own tee for t-ball because, ahem, why would you pay for something like that when you can get an old coffee can, fill it with cement, add a fat piece of pvc pipe, and put some random rubber thing on the top to make your own tee? That, for those who don't know, is what living with an engineer is like in a nutshell.

Besides being a cost effective way to get a baseball tee, it's also a way to guarantee that your grandchildren will be able to use the tee. I'm willing to bet that my friends whose parents purchased a tee saw that tee tossed in the trash a few years after their t-ball careers ended.

Not mine.

My tee is still standing, in like-new condition as the folks on Craigslist would say.

And so it is, that every time Connor visits, he attempts to master the game. And now I present to you, baseball in 6 steps.

1. Grab metal bat that weights about as much as you do.

2. Approach tee.

3. Hey batter, batter, s-wing, batter, batter.

 4. Make contact with the ball, or in this case, the tee. Because that tee? It's set to exactly one height. If you're too short, you hit the rubber part. Throw the bat and start running!

5. Do a victory dance after outwitting your dad by moving the bases so you can get a home run!

6. Then go inside and bake a cake with Grandma.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Connorspeak: Being Out-Talked

Yesterday afternoon, Connor and Helen had a playdate with someone I hadn't met before. As I came near the craft room, where the kids were all deep in craft projects that were to be loaded onto "Santa's sleigh"*, Emma was talking a mile a minute. On occasion, she would pause for air, and Helen would chirp in with some tidbit, and then Emma would be off again. Not only did Emma talk constantly, she talked so fast that it was impossible to get a word in without talking right over her.

At dinner, I asked Connor if he'd been able to talk at all that afternoon and he replied:

"Well...I didn't get to say too much, because Helen and Emma were talking so much, but it was OK. I didn't have much to say."

Which I guess is a good thing, because if he had wanted to talk, I'm not sure he could have.

As much as I joke about Helen talking all the time, this little gal set me straight. I believe Emma was sent to my home yesterday just to show me that although sometimes things may seem a little overwhelming, they might be more under control than I think.


*Santa's sleigh is a board with four wheels attached that was left by the previous owner. It has provided hours of entertainment at this point as it morphs from one function to another.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Looking for Baby Clothes? Try Organically Grown - But beware, you'll have to fight Helen for them

Pink bear goes almost everywhere with us. She's Helen's current love, and Helen insists that many, many privileges be extended to her bear. For example, when I made fairy wands for Connor and Helen, Helen insisted that "pink bear needs one!". Pink bear sits with us at dinner, rides in the car with us, and is carried around in a sling quite often. Recently, I've tried twice to make a quick run through Target with Helen and both times, she's insisted that "pink bear needs new clothes!". The wand, I caved on. And I don't mind if pink bear goes places with us, though Ed did toss her in the washing machine recently. But at Target, I repeated my standard mantra when asked for items I wasn't planning on buying "I'm sorry, Helen, it's not on my list today". I did, however, gift Helen several outfits from my now dwindling collection of baby outfits, and for a while, Helen deemed them suitable.

And then a certain package from the oh so chic store Organically Grown shop arrived in the mail. A package containing a super cute and super soft outfit that was pink. PINK! And it came with a hat. And immediately Helen started droning on about how pink bear really, really needs a new hat (even though pink bear has at least three suitable hats). So I told Helen pink bear could test it out, but as soon as Helen was interested in something else, I swiped it and hid it in my stash of "my pregnant friends with babies are going to love me" pile, to be gifted to the first of the four to deliver a girl. Race is on, friends. I'm crossing my fingers for Connor's assistant teacher, because I know she would love this. At our school, the faculty emphasizes putting children in natural fabrics. These tend to breathe better and the kids stay more comfortable.

First person I know that delivers a girl will receive the outfit pictured below. I'm quite certain your baby will love the soft fabric. The information that would normally appear on a tag is stamped on, so your wee one won't be fussing with some tag scratching her neck. You won't have to wonder if the product was treated with some strange chemical (it was not!). And I will get super kudos for gifting you this fine outfit. It's a win-win, as I see it.

But never fear. Even if I don't know you and you're pregnant - or if you're not the first to deliver a baby girl, you can still get this or several other outfits. Just go to The company is running a promotion now allowing you to use the code "organic winter" to receive 15 percent off all orders - and free shipping to boot! So go grab one of these outfits. But you might want to make sure it is securely on your child before visiting. Helen will definitely try and swipe it in the name of pink bear.

Honesty clause: As stated in the post, I was given this outfit to review. I'll be passing it along as soon as I can because this outfit should definitely be in use, not sitting in my home. It's not so fantastic that I'm regretting the decision to not have any more babies, but it is definitely nice. I just know my friend and baby fashionista Thrift Store Mama would approve!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A New Creation Myth, Brought to you by Connor

A couple of weeks ago, I co-hosted a cookie decorating party for the children in my mom's group. I provided the house and the cookies, Amanda provided the doo-dads to go on top (and Laurie and Susan both brought frosting leftover from their daughters birthday parties earlier in the year to add to Amanda's quite extensive collection of doo-dads - apparently age 5 is the age of cookie decorating!).

I think I have discovered Connor's favorite thing about Christmas.

And Helen performed her own physics experiment, testing just how strong the cookie was.

In some ways, I love a party like this. Even though both Helen and Connor know I really do not like messes, I want them to know that sometimes, I'm totally OK with them. My mom was like that. Nobody would confuse her for someone who wanted to live in a messy house - and her house is rarely messy - but she was always letting my sister and I have friends over, and I'm sure we were anything but neat and tidy.

After the cookie decorating, Connor busted out his latest puppet show. It was a story about how the world came to be. He recruited his friends Eamon and Zoe to help out. I'm not sure they knew what was going on, but everyone seemed to have a fun time.

My friend Marya wins the award for being most engaged audience member. It's obvious she has a background in education. She really pays attention, she absorbs what's going on, she puts the action into context with what she sees happening.

At times, it's hard to stay the course with Waldorf education. I see Connor's friends reading and writing legibly, and clearly doing more academic things than he is. But when I see the joy in Connor's face and the creativity in what he's pursuing, my heart rests easy.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy months 37 and 38, Helen!

Dear Helen,

You make me smile more times than I could ever record. You embrace life with squeals of delight, and wow can you put on a show. At Thanksgiving, your Grandma Lynn gave you your Christmas presents since we won't see her again until after the holidays. After opening each one, you gasped "this is just what I wanted". But really, we all knew instantly what the favorite one was.

I present to you, photographic proof that you are quite possibly not my daughter.

Along with photographic proof that you most definitely are my daughter.

You love your Grandpa Dick - just adore him. And during our Thanksgiving visit, you found some automated music making device, which you brought out to share with everyone. You then announced there was a dance contest and let's just say, Grandpa Dick has moves. Unfortunately for him, he lost, because although you didn't mention it before the contest started, to "win", one needed to do a surprise drop to the floor maneuver, that really only you could do.

After the dance contest, you insisted that Grandpa Dick hold your hair back so you could properly apply your make-up.

Your first visit to Santa this year was like all the rest. You kept a cautious distance. But then we attended the Daughters of the American Revolution annual Christmas party and wow - I guess you just know who the real deal is because you climbed right up on this Santa's lap. He is, by far, the best looking Santa I have ever laid eyes on.

You yell, you stomp your feet, you don't get pushed around by anyone.

And you, more than anyone I know, seem to realize that politeness and a smile can go a long way.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Photo Contest!

Anyone who knows Ed, knows that the mall is not a place he likes to find himself. So why does he find himself there on occasion? Because of Helen's smile when she gets to go to Build-A-Bear! Seriously, who knew putting stuffing in a skin could be so delightful?

My parents spent a small fortune turning my rather odd teeth (hint: I still have baby teeth in my mouth. Lots of them!) into teeth that look like most adults. My best guess is that Connor has Ed's teeth. Which is to say, he has all of them - two sets, in fact - but they're prone to cavities. Helen, on the other hand, might have mine (please, tooth universe, no!). She doesn't seem to be missing any like me, but she has a couple of pointy bottom ones and those are trouble, trouble, trouble in my family. But on the bright side, even though I only have one set, for the most part, it's made of concrete and that's why at age 37, my baby teeth are still hanging on. It's only appropriate, then, that I enter Helen's smile in a photo contest, because I might just be going to the sponsor of this contest in a few years and begging them to have mercy on my checkbook.
I am participating in the Invisalign Teen Bright Smiles Holiday Photo Contest with Dumb Mom. Wish me luck!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Happy 63 and 64 Months, Connor!

Dear Connor,

I know it's late, but happy 63 months - and now it's even later, because you're 64 months! But when I started this note, you were only 63 months. This month has These past two months have been marked by you working very hard to grow into yourself. I can tell you're on the brink of change, and these changes can be hard on everyone. You handle the uneasiness you must be feeling inside by stomping your foot and shouting "FINE!" and then often issuing some ultimatum, like, "FINE! If you don't let me eat that piece of candy than I won't go to school" to which I reply "sorry, pal, I don't negotiate with terrorists" (a phrase borrowed from my friend, Helen) and you will stomp your foot again and say you are angry. I acknowledge that anger, Connor. And eventually, it dissipates and you move on. Five is a tough age. You're torn between being this incredible free-moving spirit growing into your body and struggling as you move into your head. Many people tell me that six can be a particularly difficult time of figuring out when to assert yourself and when to go with the flow. Perhaps that's what's going on now.

You love the weather this time of year, whether it's the few flakes of snow that you looked at out the classroom window one day - when your teacher let you run out and try and catch a snowflake on your tongue, or the light dusting that came during breakfast, you want to play with it. You also love the leaves that crunch and I must say, you were the champion of leaf rakers this year. Between you and your babysitter, you kept the leaves in the backyard at bay for quite a few days!

You also love the Christmas season - starting with the Advent garden at school and ending with the big huzzah at whatever grandparents' home we happen to be at. Similar to years past, you are excited to hop right up onto Santa's lap and let him know you want trains, more trains! But lately, you've also been very insistent that you NEED a volcano. Why? Well, just in case we're ever near a volcano, you would like to have practice running away from it. You even make the distinction between this volcano and every other item on your Christmas list. Those other things? You want them. The volcano? You need it.

You've changed, as an artist. Typically, you draw crazy lines going every which way. In the book of drawing made by you and your peers at school for your birthday, you drew one side with lots of colored lines everywhere and the other side was mostly black (hello, future therapy!). Before I had much time to worry about this rather dark version of the world, you explained that it was a thunderstorm. But recently? You were hanging out with Helen while I was at a meeting at your school and your dad was continuing the destruction of what remains of the boardwalk on the side of the house and you drew seagulls flying all over our path. It rained later, so the seagulls are no longer there, but maybe you'll put them back another day.

You've upped the number of puppet shows around here, and unfortunately, I have very few of them caught on video. I had a cocktail party / cookie exchange about a week ago and you prepared a show for everyone. You insisted that we all come upstairs to your room, where you then told a story about a few characters that flew out into the audience, complete with sound effects from a harp and guitar.

On Sunday, I hosted a cookie decorating party for children and you prepared a creation myth for us to enjoy. There was quite a nice setup, some magic stairs, some mention of a time when it was all dark, and then when it was all light, and then animals were created on various days. It actually had a beginning, middle, and an end. Nice!

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the counting, and the obsession with money. It makes me nuts, but you love putting quarters into dollars, and nickels, and dimes, and pennies, and really - any piece of change you see sitting around the house that you quickly lay claim to. Your Great Grandpa Bill sent you and Helen a check in the mail and you immediately announced to Helen what her share was. And you were correct.

Rules. You know them. You live with them most of the time, but you flirt with breaking them as well - and sometimes do break them. It's obvious, of course, but parenting after the breaking of rules is loads more difficult than parenting that mostly establishes following rules. I'm hoping this flirtation ends soon.

You are still my loving, happy, entirely charming best guy.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Organizing your people can be so hard

Connor and Helen are most definitely a team, and they've tried many times to move from the status of parnters in crime to union with power. Unfortunately, the leader of the union is regularly thwarted by the younger member of the union. Yesterday after lunch, they were getting ready to rally. They had banned together, had started to create general chaos, and then the younger member of the union stopped and said "Wait, wait, wait, Connor! What are we mad about?".

Back to the drawing board.


Monday, December 6, 2010

The Albert Einstein Look Better Suit Me

When I turned 16, my dad taught me how to drive. That same summer, his hair went from virtually black, to mostly white. Maybe it was the driving lessons, maybe just a coincidence of time.

A few years ago, I noticed my first white hair. It stuck out of my head like a crazy antennae, and it was then that I realized as an old lady, I might have hair that made me look as if I had just put my finger in an electric socket. I didn't notice another until today.

A few hours ago, I looked in the mirror and noticed two more white hairs sticking straight out. I share this with you in case the next time you see me, you feel compelled to ask me if I have recently electrocuted myself.

Rest assured. I have not.

But I have worked hard for those white hairs, and I'm not about to color them.

Bring it, old age. I'm ready. (And it is not lost on me that today, my sister celebrates her 40th birthday.)  I'm pretty sure her husband isn't posting on his blog about any white hairs on her head.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Happy Saint Nicholas Day!

Growing up, I always thought St. Nicholas Day was pretty special. Not only did little chocolates appear in my shoes, but it was my sister's birthday.

Ed did not celebrate the holiday growing up, so it took him several tries to get it right. And now, I think he's grateful we have kids so that I just take care of it, rather than expecting some little gift from him.

At school, Connor's teacher has been telling stories about Bishop Nicholas. And on Friday, the children left their indoor shoes out (rather than putting them in their cubbies) with a carrot. I didn't realize St. Nicholas was supposed to get a carrot, and he didn't get one at our house, but given that the school has a German foundation, I suspect Mr. K. is right about this one.

Tomorrow morning, my children will be greeted with a couple of books, some tiny pads of paper, a few chocolates, and the homemade fairies I just finished. Ed even complimented them by saying they looked professional. They could be destroyed in minutes, but it'll be some fun minutes, I hope.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Connor's Nemesis

Several months ago, on the camping trip that I almost lost Connor - well, technically did lose him but found him shortly thereafter - Connor collected an enormous bag of acorns. His plan was to sell them for $100 each, so that he would have a lot of money. The sale never took place, but as the bag sat on our front porch, an enterprising squirrel took note and begin to nibble.

The first day we walked out and saw acorn tops and shells scattered, Connor was mad. So we wrapped the bag a little tighter. This fellow was persistent though, so the squirrel had another snack the next day. Then I allowed Connor to move the bag inside, and it was finally safe.

Of course, soon I spotted some strange worm-like bug in the house, and having nothing else to blame, I blamed the acorns and back to the porch they want.

The squirrel was happy, indeed.

So happy, that eventually it ate more than half the bag. Our porch was a mess, and Connor was furious. (But not so furious as to actually move the bag into the shed, or something clever like that.)

We move the bag around the porch, tie it, wrap it up, but always, the squirrel gets in.

A few days ago, Ed hung the bag from a nail on the porch, up high. Today, I sit at my office window watching the squirrel try and figure out how to climb about 4 feet up a column to get his tiny little hands on the acorns he desires. So far, no luck.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Lunch with Helen

As I sat in my home office today, I heard the following exchange:

mumble, mumble

And then Helen in a very animated voice: The Library! Oh honey, you must go to the library! It's A-Mazin'!