Monday, January 12, 2015

Beachin' It

It is not possible to contain everything about our Florida trip in to one post, so we're going to have to do this in stages... starting with the day we headed to Nokomis Beach.  Before Sam and Eva entered my life beaches used to mean hot sun and cool drinks and laying on a clean, sand-free towel for long stretches of time that were broken up with a quick dip in the water to cool off.  Now beach trips are filled with running and shell collecting and lots and lots of sand.  Sarah came along and helped with kid watching and kid burying, and TT walked the sand to look for shark's teeth and interesting shells while the kids ran circles in and out of the water.  Eva is a master shark tooth hunter already, and sam still loves to run as far away from me as he can, and all three of us love the space and the wind in our hair and the time spent with family.  We oohed and ahhed over shells and coral and feathers, and we all laughed when Eva insisted that her sand mermaid have boobies and a long tail, and we only finally trekked back to the car when we started to get hungry.  Beach time has changed for sure, but it's never been so fun and magical, and as I told TT when the kids were ready to leave, I could spend all day there. 


Monday, December 22, 2014

19 Kids Rockin' with Chuck

When Sam told me he wanted to have his birthday party at Chuck E Cheese this year, I grimaced and tried to tempt him with Great Wolf Lodge in Wisconsin Dells.  After all, I had managed to avoid having to attend any parties at Chuck E. Cheese, and all of my friends' statements about overly sweet pizza sauce and the smell of urine and out-of-control noise didn't really ever make me think I was missing out.  I had dropped Sam and Eva there a couple of times but the dinging of the arcade games and the long lines to pick up the prizes with all the tickets they earned had left me sure that I would never actually have my own child's party there.

"You don't want to bring some friends to Great Wolf Lodge?" I spoke to the rearview mirror.  "Remember how much fun that was?  I thought you wanted to bring just a few friends and have birthday weekend like last year?"

"But I have too many friends," he said.  "And I can't pick.  How many people can I invite if I have a party at Chuck E. Cheese?"

Not knowing how the whole thing worked I told him 10 or 15 depending on what it costs, and he set about making his list.  His best best best friends from St. Mary's that he misses all the time because they now go to St. Stan's and he's in public school.  His new buddies from The Y after school program.  All the new friends he's making in first grade.  Kids from the neighborhood.  How could he narrow it down to just 3 for a weekend at a water park?

He made his list.  We sent invites to all 11 boys in his first grade classroom and I emailed all the moms from St. Stan's, the moms who have been our community since the kids all went to preschool together.  A few invites by text or facebook to moms I don't know well, and we ended up with 19 yesses.  Add a 4-year-old sister and a couple of friends to keep her company, and you've got yourself a big party.

And you really are going to hear me saying this:  Chuck E. Cheese was an awesome choice.  The fact that they have security up front and kids can't get out without the adult that let them in was a godsend.  It allowed me to let the kids go and run and play and just be kids without me freaking out about having them in control and accounted for.  And we had a party coordinator who handled the timing and the pizza and the drinks and the buckets of coins and the ticket blaster machine.  ("Come on Sam.  You can do it.  We believe in you," the boys were saying as he put on the goggles and crawled in the booth to try to catch as many tickets as he could.)  And I got to briefly meet parents that I didn't already know and quickly touch base with friends I've known for years.  And the kids had fun!  All 19 of them.

A few kids didn't want anything to do with Chuck E so they hung back with the Moms, but here are all the crazy ones who rocked out with Chuck.

Pokémon Cake

Eva's Favorite

Sam's Best Girl Friend

Ticket Blaster

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Seven years ago today when I first met this guy, I could not have imagined the yellow-belt-wearing, pokemon-card-loving, chapter-book-reading, song-and-story-writing, Minecraft-and-Sims-addicted little Renaissance man that he would become at age 7.  I am so proud to be his mother and I cherish this age when he still wants me to crawl under a blanket and snuggle him on the couch or sit at the dining room table and play endless rounds of Old Maid with him or listen from the front seat as he tells me about the Lego robot he built or the spelling test he aced today in school.  He surprises me every day, but the thing that surprises me more than anything is that I could love another human this much.  Happy Birthday Sam!  I love you beyond space!
A look back:
December 2013
December 2012

 December 2011

Dec 17, 2010

Dec 17, 2009

Dec 17, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2014

Shrinky Dinks and Icicles

A surprise mid-week visit from TT meant Grandma got to be here when we decorated our tree.

Aunt Judy's Jeans and a Reindeer Shirt

As we race across the black asphalt to the school doors, Eva turns around and looks up at me.  "I'm so excited, Mommy," she says.  "You're coming to my show today."  In the car she told me that some kids would be wearing stars but she'd be wearing a hat and Harmony would have bells.  Eva's little purple shoes slide on the ice and she makes a happy "Whoooooooaaaa" sound as she catches her balance and then begins skipping.  Bubbly and excited and full of energy.  Climbing the stairs towards her classroom she doesn't seem to notice that every girl in the hallway is decked out in some bright red taffeta skirt and white tights and patent leather shoes.  A threesome I don't recognize twirls for each other in front of the office door, but Eva just skips past them in her red reindeer shirt that is probably already a size too small and the jeans she got from Aunt Judy over Thanksgiving.  Earlier I tried to talk her in to dressier black pants with white polka dots, but she insisted that she loved these pants from Aunt Judy the best.  What Eva wears when we leave the house is not one of the battles I've decided to tackle. 

At Mrs. Norton's classroom we are greeted by Stella and "the dad."  Most mornings we guess who will be there with Stella, "the mom or the dad," and even though Becky and Ryan are our friends, at pre-school drop off we call them "the mom" and "the dad."  Eva turns for her "kiss-and-a-hug" and then I walk away as she says hi to Mrs. Murray.  In the halls are more girls in frilly silvery holiday dresses, and I pass Harmony on her way up the stairs. 

"I'm in so much trouble," I say to Jamie.  "Every girl here is in a frilly dress.  I didn't know."  Harmony's very proud of her full dark red skirt with black lace.  Her big sister dressed up for a choir concert a few nights ago and Harmony could not wait to be girly too. 

"I might have one at home if you need something," Jamie says, and I tell her I think Eva will be fine.  I'll think about it.

But as I get in the car I start to cry, and I'm not sure why.  Is it because even at 4 my little girl is already going to start getting the message that looks are important, that what she wears will be studied and scrutinized and compared?  Is it because my little girl is growing up and entering the world where other mean girls might hurt her?  Is it because I feel like an epic failure of a mother because I didn't think that a pre-school singalong warranted purchasing an ensemble that included patent leather shoes that will never be worn anywhere else?

At the office I do the thing I do now when I'm troubled and torn... reach out to my community of facebookers, friends who will give it to me straight and tell me what I should do, whether or not I will actually listen to them.  Most people seem to say Eva will be fine.  She's strong and independent and she has a mind of her own.  But put a dress in your bag just in case when you go back for the singalong.

So I have the dress (minus the patent leather shoes) in my bag and my camera in my hand as the show starts.  But the dress is not needed.  My brilliant little angel with a white hat that is supposed to turn her into a dove walks in to the church and points her reindeer-covered belly at me and smiles while she sings from the front row.  And when we go to the basement for cookie decorating, she slurps up frosting and Mike & Ikes and runs circles around me as she seeks out all her friends.  And only then do I notice how many other little girls are in leggings and long-sleeved t-shirts and how many other mothers look exhausted but happy to spend a little extra time with their little girls who will be growing up way too fast.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Diamond Sword and Torchlights

A week ago I started texting my new neighbors to find out how things work in our neighborhood.  Our old neighborhood was mostly flat terrain with homes spread wide apart on large lots, and many of the families loaded their kids into minivans or SUVs and chauffeured their children from house to house while our family walked the streets (mostly alone) with a wagon, experiencing just enough of the spooky dark and the chill in the air to make me feel like we were doing Halloween the way it was supposed to be done.  We would head out just as the designated hours started and watch for porch lights and hit almost every house.  But after searching the local papers and coming up empty handed on any sort of designated trick-or-treat hours for our new neighborhood, I checked with the neighbors and decided we didn't need to go anywhere else, there would be plenty of candy and Halloween spook within walking distance of our house.
In the car on the way home from the Y Sam was dressed in his skeleton from last year, and he talked about wanting to wear it under his Minecraft costume when we got home.  Eva whined that she wanted HER costume and when did she get to put on her costume I want to have my costume it's not fair that Sammy has his costume and where is mine.  I reminded them both that we were going to have dinner first, that trick-or-treating didn't generally start until dark. 
"That's forever," Sammy said and Eva immediately repeated. 
I told them it was only an hour.  Six o'clock.  We would go out at 6.  "That's forever," they both whined again.
They inhaled their midtown broasted chicken and pineapple and raspberries, asking with every bite if they could have some of the candy they'd brought home from school and whether or not it was six o'clock yet.
We bundled up in warm clothes with costumes layered over the top, and I threw a medium-sized tantrum over the fact that I bought Sam 4 pairs (4 pairs!) of black fleece gloves this fall so it wouldn't matter if he lost one here or there and here it was only October 31st and we could only locate one glove.  One glove.  Not even a full pair.
We stumbled out on to the back porch where Sam complained that he couldn't see because his cardboard enderman head kept falling forward and he couldn't carry his skeleton trick-or-treat candy bag because it was too heavy and he needed both hands for other things like his enderman head and his Minecraft diamond sword.  And Eva stopped in her tracks and crossed her arms across her chest and pouted because her witch's hat would not stop blowing off in the wind.  And I put away my gloves and my camera and started carrying everything except the kids themselves and we made our away down the yard and over the creek and up the cul-de-sac.  They argued over who got to ring doorbells and whether or not to go to the house with the scary dog and whether they were called "torch lights" or "porch lights."  And Eva refused to say trick or treat or thank you and sam mostly worried about where were all his friends from the neighborhood.  But in between all the parental challenge moments, we had the delight of being greeted by witches and skeleton pirates, the pure joy of running through bright yellow crunching leaves, and the laughter of children enjoying another spooky chilly Halloween night with their Mom, who by the way, wore a costume herself this year.
My own little Minecraft Enderman
 Eva's little witch tutu costume was cuter before she insisted that she wear one of Mommy's black jackets because her big brother was wearing one and it was only fair that she be allowed to also.