Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Boys: Knives, Lipstick and Pumps

A pair of black patent leather court shoes wit...Image via Wikipedia
As the only woman in a house with 3 boys, a husband and a male cat, it doesn't take much to convince me that boys are different. I am not sure if they are from Mars but I know that they are from a planet where there is a lot of yelling, jumping on tables, hitting, laughing about body parts and getting excited over strange smells.  I spend a great deal of time saying, " don't hit your brother", "no, I don't agree that your poop is cool", "please don't pull the cat's tail", and "please don't swing from the chandelier." My boys are happy, energetic and prone to pinching each other when I am not looking. On the other hand, both have been so fascinated with my lipstick that I lock my purse or keep the lipstick on the top shelf.

This week, I read two articles on the New York Time's "Motherlode" blog about raising boys.  The first was about the seemingly inherent violent nature of boys and how teachers react to boys in the classroom and the second was about "toughening up boys", particularly boys who have a fondness for lipstick and high heel shoes.   I have enclosed links to both posts below. I say let the boys be boys. Let them safely define their own path. Growing up, we had several breaks during the school day where boys and girls were allowed to run free. I think that the boys, who had boundless energy, loved those breaks more than the girls. Now there is little time during the day dedicated to sports or free play and boys are labeled as hyper at a very young age. In the second article, parents worried about their son's love for traditionally feminine products. I have not met a boy who at one point in his young life was not curious about lipstick and high heel shoes.  I love that boys are complex. I love that the same boy who wants to collect bugs in the yard also wants to try my lipstick.  I hide my knives, lipstick and pumps, not because  I fear that my boys will march down to the local Target and trade in all their cars for dolls (I would probably support the trade) but because lipstick on the wall is a pain to clean and I would prefer not to spend my night in the emergency room dealing with a broken ankle.


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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Devean and Ja'van: Your Life Mattered

The story of Devaen and Ja'Van, two lovely boys who were killed by their mother has stayed in my consciousness since this tragic ending to their lives.  Only the mother truly knows what led her to murder her two boys but reports are that she was unemployed, a single mother, overwhelmed, and that she couldn't handle the harsh criticism of her own mother. Everyone desperately searches for answers when a mother takes the life of her child; we want to believe that she is mentally unstable or a bad person but the answer is often more complex. In the wake of this tragedy, there was a news report that a mother takes the life of a child every 3 days. There is no spin to put on this story, we can only learn from the tragedy.  

As mothers, we all have moments, days, and even weeks when we feel overwhelmed by parenting, we fear that we are failing at it, we have little personal time, and we have great moments of insecurity. Have you ever slumped down on your sofa in defeat saying, "I can't even get a 3 year old to listen to me?" If you have seen the movie "Sex and the City", there was a moment when Charlotte was so overwhelmed, even with a nanny, that she went into the pantry and cried. Well, there is absolutely nothing wrong with making sure that the kids are safe and then taking a  moment to go into the pantry or the bedroom or bathroom and taking a moment to cry, center yourself or just breathe.  When all 3 of my boys are crying at the same time and I am feeling outnumbered and unable to meet all their needs, I just have to cry too, or call a friend for help and not feel guilty about it.  Thankfully, most mothers won't seriously harm a child but when you will find yourself yelling too loudly, too often, swearing, feeling hopeless, overwhelmed or just saying to yourself, "maybe, I wasn't cut out to be a mother", it is time to ask for help. It is just fine to say to a friend, a family member, a co-worker, sometimes even a stranger, "I NEED HELP!" You will be surprised how  many people are willing to assist.  There are no perfect moms, just moms doing our best everyday in our own way. 

It was reported that the worker who retrieved the bodies from the water didn't immediately put them on the stretcher but hugged them like the precious babies that they are. When I look at their photo and into the beautiful eyes of Devean and Ja'van, I silently say to them, "boys, you were here, you were loved, your life mattered." 
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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Pick safer school supplies with EWG’s back-to-school guide | Environmental Working Group

Front of Crayola No 54 crayon boxImage via Wikipedia
Today is the big shopping day for back to school items. I dutifully went to the school's website and downloaded the list. 

2 packs Crayola crayons (24 count)
1 pack Crayola crayons large (8 count)  
1 pack Crayola thick classic markers (8 count)
              (*no neon, pastels, skinny, etc. markers)
2 Dry Erase Markers (1 black/1 blue)
1 (3 prong/2 pocket) plastic folder   
2 4 oz. bottles Elmer’s white glue
2 Glue Sticks (Jumbo size)
1 pair Fiskars blunt tip children’s scissors
2 boxes Kleenex 
** 1 bottle hand sanitizer
1 ream letter size printer/copier paper
  Kindergarten supplies continued…..
GIRLS: 1 box 24 ct. Ziploc bags (quart size)
1 container Lysol wipes
BOYS: 1 box 25 ct. Ziploc bags (gallon size)
             1 container baby wipes

 Hard not to notice that almost all the product were listed as "Crayola" or a name brand. Crayola must be a huge supported of schools to have such a hold on the market. Or maybe it is because they have been around since 1903.  Dare I buy non name brand crayons, markers or lunch boxes? No kid wants to be the "different" one, especially on the first day. I was surfing Twitter this morning at 5am, otherwise known as mommy-time, and conveniently stumbled on a list of environmentally safe school supplies. I will be taking this list with me to the store today. Hope that I can get away with buying a few items, especially the environmentally safe lunch-box. I bet that it doesn't have Batman on the cover.

BTW, I wonder why the girls are asked to bring Lysol wipes and the boys are asked to bring baby wipes? :-).  If I chicken out on the environmentally friendly backpack, at least I can get soothe the guilt with the environmentally friendly baby wipes.
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lost the car key found the key to my happiness

Have you ever had a day where nothing went as planned? Have you ever became so worked up over something minor that you had to talk yourself down from an emotional high, or maybe I should say emotional low?  That was my day on Monday.  My husband left for work and I had the boys fed and ready to rush out the door to school and work when I discovered that my car key was missing. 30 minutes later, I still couldn't find them. Searched the entire house, climbed on chairs, rummage through toy boxes, looked under sofas and even went outside to peer through the tinted window of the car. No keys. The kids, feeling my anxiety were getting cranky, the extra key is with my hubby 60 miles away and I am living in a new city with very few friends to call. Taxi to work and school would be about $30 and no child seat for the boys. The main road is about a 20 minute walk away and public transportation is practically non-existent. I started feeling overwhelmed and had a funny thought "if no tears fall, is it actually crying?" I took a deep breath and "centered" myself. 

Now that I can see and think clearly I had a great idea - walk the kids to school and then get a ride to work with a friend a few hours later. Problem solved. It began to rain. Called my husband who thankfully simply sympathized. 

Better idea! I have a bag full of lemons; boys do you want some lemonade?  Why not relax, take the morning off and have a leisurely morning with the kids. We had more breakfast, we played with cars, we listened to music and before we knew it it had stopped raining. Gathered the boys and we turned a 15 minute walk to school into a 30 minute leisurely stroll. We stopped under every tree to hide from the sun, picked up rocks and sticks, strolled along the pond and made it to school late and hot but blissfully happy. As I dropped the boys off, I thought "wow, what a wonderful morning!" I didn't get to work until 2p.m. but work is not the most important thing that I do everyday. Losing the key reminded me to focus on what is really important; my heart is happy.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

But Will it Make You Happy

"Running with the seagulls", Galvest...Image via Wikipedia
"New studies of consumption and happiness show, for instance, that people are happier when they spend money on experiences instead of material objects, when they relish what they plan to buy long before they buy it, and when they stop trying to outdo the Joneses. Attached is a NYT article about what makes up really happy." 


All the material things make me happy in the short term. It is instant gratification. Buying a nice dress that I don't really need, looking at a bigger house, the concept of a great big screen TV....all gives us that feeling of excitement. That feeling is often mixed with a sense in the pit of our stomachs that this new toy is too expensive or that the money would be more wisely invested in the retirement fund or the kids college fund.  I am far from perfect at this; we all chase what we perceive as happiness.  However, we can all try to identify what really makes us happy in our souls and channel our energy towards that purpose. Most often we will find that it is not a thing that money can buy.  Playing in the backyard with the kids, walking on the beach or even looking at a beautiful photo of the beach, a peaceful afternoon nap, writing a free blog, catching up with an old friend, watching the kids discover something new, are all things that make me blissfully happy.

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Nervously anticipating Kindergarten

A 2010 Girardin MB-II school bus belonging to ...Image via Wikipedia
We are entering the strange land that is called Kindergarten.  Gian is excited about new friends, going to a big school and the school bus. We are nervous about the big school, new friends and having him ride the school bus.
Is 5 too young to ride the school bus? Not sure, so I will be driving him until we both get comfortable, which may be in a week or never.  I have created a family calendar to keep track of all the activities.  Already, there has been two mornings of pre-kindergarten camp, which we missed b/c mommy didn't rsvp on time, a parent orientation night, a meet the teacher night and two more "practice" days b/f the big first day. Apparently, the school is nervous about this too. I somehow felt comforted when I read his supplies list and saw that the major item was crayons - maybe, things aren't moving too fast, after all.
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Smile for the camera - all together now.

What a great achievement it is to get all the boys to look at the camera at the same time! I take credit for the photo of just the boys (after many tries) and thanks to the very patient photographer at the Kennedy Space Center for the group photo. The photo was overpriced but we were so grateful to finally get a group shot that we purchased it.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Divinely Inspired

The view from our window showed a torrential rain storm. The patio was flooded, thunder roared and lightening filled the sky. The boys and I spent all morning getting ready for church and now we were impatiently waiting for the storm to let up just enough for us to get to the car. It took us a few hours just to get 3 boys ages 5, 3 and 1 ready for church so we were too invested to think about not going to church. It was now 11 a.m. and church, which is 30 minutes away was just getting started. We debated about whether the church service ended at 12:30 or at 1 p.m. We left the house at 11:25 with hopes of arriving by noon, dropping the kids to kids church and at least catching the sermon. We were almost at church when we realized that all 3 boys were sleeping in the back seat.  I whispered to hubby, "I have a secret to tell you; we are not going to church today." With time on our hands, and a rare moment to have adult conversation, we talked about blogging about raising our boys. I am already blogging about love and friendship, why not blog about something even closer to my heart. As an added bonus, hubby and I can actually collaborate on something that as he joked "doesn't involve baking a bun.". So off we go and we hope that you will join us!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Are we all connected?

Recently a friend had an accident; she mentioned that she was hurt and alone.  When she shared the story, I thought, “What was I doing at that very moment.”  I firmly believe that as humans, we are all connected by our human spirit and by love. Regardless of where we were born or our status in life, we all have the same desire to love and be loved. Some of us can sense when someone we are close to, usually a child, is in trouble.  I sometimes get a strong urge to check on one of my children; most of the time they are just fine but occasionally someone needs my help. I usually refer to it as “mommy’s intuition.”  We frequently hear stories of twins who can sense each others joys and pains.  It would be amazing and  somewhat frightening if we all had the same connectedness to each other. As I sit here, thankful that my friend is doing well, I am hopeful that one day we all evolve to a place where we are never alone, mentally, physically and spiritually.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Uplifted by Great Service!

When you love your job it shows; you are happy and it spreads to everyone around you.  Unfortunately, I had to take my precious cat to the Vet because he was bitten by another animal. It was a sad morning for the both of us.  This was an emergency call at a new Vet so I didn't know what to expect. Surprisingly, I received the best service that I had ever received at any doctor's office, including my own doctors. The staff welcomed me with a smile, the wait was short, I wasn't charged for the emergency visit, the doctor was knowledgeable and my technician, Jo was amazing! She treated Rudy like a member of her own family. She cuddled him, gently treated his wound, and made great suggestions for keeping him safe and happy. Both Rudy and I left feeling uplifted.  I complimented her on her enthusiasm for her job. Great service is so hard to find that when you find it, acknowledge it. If someone has uplifted you, share the love and uplift that person with a genuine show of appreciation.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Song that takes you to your Happy Place

The kids were watching the movie "Cars" this evening and when the song, "Life is a Highway" came on, my son ran to me and said, "Mom, your favorite song is on." Well, it is not my favorite song but it is one of many "rocking" songs that I love. I love music and when I have a rough day, I turn to my special playlist of songs that I can sing out loud in the car or in the shower or at my desk at work.  Music is great for the mind and body and soul and the heart and every pore in the body.  You can't help but feel pure joy for 3 minutes or longer if you have a great playlist. Everyone should have a song that takes them to their "happy place". Some songs that I like to sing out loud are (Life is a Highway, Beautiful Day, Girls Just Want to have Fun, Let the Music Play, Stir it Up, Testify, La Vida Es Un Carnival) .

What is your song?
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