Saturday, October 22, 2011

"I like you Mommy."

Tonight at dinner Josh pulled out the "fancy" dishes from our china cabinet.  Mason said, "When will we use that big flower plate?"

"How about tonight?", I replied thinking, we should be using this stuff more often. "What should be put on it?"

"Salad," Mason quickly shouted from the kitchen.

A penny for the fountain to make a wish...

I lit some candles and Ellie announced that it was her birthday.  As Mason started to tell her it wasn't really I started singing, "A very merry unbirthday to you, to you..."  Mason took the cue and sang something similar, but his own on-the-spot lyrics and then ran back to the kitchen to "make her a cake."  He grabbed an apple and stabbed a birthday candle in it and we lit it, turned the lights off, and sang "Happy Birthday" in the glow of the candles. The beaming smile and squeals of glee were infectious.

Just before dinner I had received a message from a far away friend that recently lost his mother. I had read an update from him the other day about his mom and it was written so beautifully.  I teared up thinking about her and although we had just met a few times back in college when I stayed at their house in Boston. I remembered her dearly.  I loved how with her Spanish accent she called me, "Hen". My friend shared with me how his mother had asked about whether or not we were still in touch and how I was.  It has been SO long since we have seen each other personally, but we reconnected online a while ago.  A whole country apart, but chatting now and then. Friendship is so amazing like that.  Time can pass and distance can come between you, but a connection can bring you right back to the fun memories you have with truly great friends. I was amazed to hear that she remembered me and I teared up again. I remember many great laughs and wish him the strength and peace that his post exuded. I can only imagine what it must be like for him at this time.  It makes me want to hang out with my mom more.  I loved seeing her last weekend even if it was brief.  I loved every minute. 

More pennies...
After dinner, Mason was anxiously awaiting my willingness to go up to his new room and play.  I said I would after I rinsed the dishes and he said, "Oh, because they are so fancy? Where did you and Daddy get those?"

I told him how they were presents at our wedding.

"I wish I got more presents."

"You will."

"Will I get married one day, Mommy?"

"You might. When you find someone you fall in love with, you might ask them to marry you."

"I like you Mommy."

"I love you, Mason."

"Hmmm, who is a girl that I know that I could marry?"

"You have time to find one."

"Let's go upstairs and play wedding day.  We will have to make a lot of plans.  Joey thinks that when people kiss at a wedding it's gross."

"I don't. I think it's lovely."

"Me too."

I think it is lovely that we have not yet reached the "it's gross" stage yet.  I know that day will most likely come, but I have to say I loved playing "wedding day" tonight.  We went upstairs and I had to use the pretend computer to type up the list of all the things Mason would need such as: flowers, decorations, bear suit, dresses, drinks, plates, rings, "and for my costume"...the list went on and on. (Did I mention I love how he referred to his attire as his "costume"?)

Mason in his "Ring Bear" costume this summer at Uncle Micah and Auntie Maddie's Wedding

Then I had to make my list. Then we turned all the lights off and waited for our guests because it was a surprise party wedding, but by the time Daddy came upstairs to play we were all pretty sleepy from hanging out in the dark and Mason sadly reported to him that we hadn't had time to "hang up the decorations."

It is amazing when you take a look at the world through the eyes of a child. At one point in the conversation he told me how when he got married we would all sleep in the same bed because people that get married share a bed.  I am pretty sure any future daughter in-law of mine wouldn't want to share her bed with me, but that isn't what he meant, it was just pure love.  The idea of us not being together does not compute. It is like my neighbor growing up that wanted to marry me when he was four, and was going to buy us a house in the middle of the street (when no cars were coming) so that we could both still live by our parents.

As we grow up and want to become more of our own self, we venture away, but then there is the strong desire to be a part of their day, to share with them, to be around that love.  I can't imagine my life without all the memories and love and support that my parents have given me through the years. I look forward to more to come and wish my far away friend the strength and peace to continue his journey through life in a new way.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Frog In A Well

Does anyone remember that math problem from back in the day about the frog in the well?  It went something like there is this frog stuck in a well and every time he takes a few steps up toward the escape at the top he slips back down a certain amount of steps. The trick is figuring out some sort of formula to help you determine how long the poor guy will be stuck in that well before finally reaching the top and launching himself into freedom.

For some reason I keep coming back to this problem.  It is so odd to me how this came into my brain.  I mean years have gone by since I grappled with this problem.  I remember always being "good at math". I was in the "high" math group.  I went to Mr. Moore's math group in elementary school and was a bit "ahead" along the way.  I am not generally one to brag and boast about such things, but I find it interesting how something you may be "good at" can also be a burden. For although my mind found patterns and problems to work well in my brain, I didn't really LOVE math.  I do remember this problem though for as much as I was supposed to be "good at math" this problem stumped me at the time.  I was confused by it and wondered why my "good at math" label wasn't working for me here.

The other night our good friends were sharing their woes about a recent progress report their first grader brought home.  He was discouraged and feeling like he was not "good at math".  First grade and already feeling this way.  I have been thinking about him and my students at school and how we have SO many standards and a warp speed pacing. There is never quite time to slow down and help them build the stamina to grapple with how long that poor frog will be stuck. For if they don't "get it" that day the pace says, "we're moving on tomorrow", oh and by the way you need to have mastered yesterday to move on with us today, so if you were sick or needing more time, so sad for you.

I think we need to stop and remember that learning is a journey.  I was just sharing with my students the other day about things I have learned as an adult, like how to be a gardener, a rower, a singer, a public speaker, a writer.  It would be great if things could sometimes have a "quick fix" happy ending, but I feel as though some of my greatest accomplishments and successes are those that I worked the hardest to find, and in reflecting and relishing in the discovery I learned something about myself that surprised me, because I never knew that side of me existed.

At times, it is hard to be that frog stuck inside that well.  Yesterday at work I was scraping the bottom of that darn well.  I may even have been in the water, but today somehow I was back on the uphill climb.  Then after lunch I slipped again.  By the end of the day I was moving on up. You just never can tell where you'll end up.  I still can't seem to figure out that formula.

This year, this stage that education is in, challenges us as educators, parents, and life-long learners to seek out and practice ways to bring joy to "the art of the journey" to our students, our children. In the world of "Don't worry about the ones that seem hard, just do the best you can." A.K.A. if you have no clue there will always be something to mindlessly bubble in, we must seek and find ways to bring learning to a higher level.  For in life true success is not multiple guess. Someone, or many, may say you are "good at ______", but it is far greater to earn it with a little blood, sweat, and tears. To know, for true, what you are and what you know you can do.  To live up to yourself, not what others perceive you to be.

It is this that sent me to a complete high as I headed out to recess with my storytelling 4th graders this morning.  My heart soared as students that usually are busy finding ways to do everything, but engage in what we are doing, shared, "I thought it would be hard to be a storyteller, but now I see that it isn't and I am thinking next time I want to be inside that circle."
and "I noticed that people inside the circle took a risk even though they were nervous."
and "I was nervous, but I ended up having a lot of fun."
and "I like how you put a lot of excitement into the story."
and "I noticed that everyone was quiet in the audience so we could hear the story."
and "I liked how no one was trying to make a joke just so people would laugh, they were being serious about the story."
and "I like being a storyteller with more people around because it is way more fun than just telling your story to one person."
and "I noticed that even though we made some mistakes at times, we just kept going and it worked out okay."

Isn't this what it is all about? We make mistakes, but we just keep going and keep trying to work it out. That darn frog may still be stuck in that well, but he keeps looking for his next uphill climb. Next time you are faced with your challenge, your "I'm just not good at _______." Think about how you will bring it toward that escape at the top.  It is so sweet to escape those labels those "holes in our bucket" of life.  Never in my wildest dreams, 11 years ago, would I have predicted I would be leading our whole school Morning Sing assembly or dancing and singing with my class with utter joy, but I am. It is what surprises us most about ourselves that helps us soar.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

"Baby Isaiah is coming over to my house. That's what he said when I called him."

Thursday night we had the joy of meeting our new nephew and cousin, Baby Isaiah.  Welcome to the family little one.  We loved meeting you and can hardly wait to see you again.  Ellie talks about you all the time and tells us how you are coming over to play.  Three days old and already taking calls. You are amazing. 

In the parking lot before we went in Mason said, "His picture is so cute.  I wonder what he feels like." Everyone had a hard time sharing turns holding him.  He was so snuggly. 

Today in the car, Mason and Ellie were chatting about him in the backseat, and Ellie announced how she has a baby in her belly and it is wiggling all around.  They got to discussing babies and Mason said, "You know how babies come out? They come out of vachinas." 
Ellie screeched, "NO!"
Mason quickly replied, "No, that's just a joke everybody says."

I couldn't help but giggle. Yeah, because how could that even be possible?

"Where is that baby?"

"Look at my baby!"

(Recognize the sweatshirt Uncle Micah?)

So the other morning, Ellie woke up as I finished my post, "Flying Solo".  She saw the picture of herself on the screen and said, "Where is that baby?"  She has inherited two of those little Cabbage Patch babies from Ana and one was in her little toy car seat across the room.  I said, "Here she is."  Ellie is a master of knowing her babies and doggies and if you try to fool her, you are foolish indeed.  She will protest and scream at you something like, "No, not that baby the other tiny baby! Like that." (Pointing at her photo.) And so, the search was on...where the heck was that baby hanging out these days? Luckily, I found her relatively quickly, and then she had to have the baby stroller, which she calls a shopping cart.  Then the doggie hat.  It was all quite comical.  All the photos in that post are a year old as I didn't have recent photos to match my story and I loved reliving those moments.  So that morning on the way to work as the kids were dancing I took a recent pic. Don't worry I wasn't driving, Josh was.  Carpooling is awesome!

I love Ellie's spunky self and her love of her boots these past few days.  The girl's got style! Artist in the making.

"Do we have 'I Just Called To Say I Love You?' Go to the Mall."

So today we hit the mall. This was not our original plan, however, the "reputer" was under the weather and a trip to the Apple store was in order.  Josh booked the appointment and we were off. As we pulled into the parking lot we realized that we'd be lugging our huge box a bit (and when I say "we" I mean Josh) as there were no nearby spots on this grand re-opening weekend. Oh the horror!

Well, what we thought may be a bit of a crowded nightmare, was pleasantly surprising.  The kids were adorable and such, yet the crowds and noise in some places were a bit unnerving.  I don't understand how I used to love going to such places. I also don't understand the ear attire. Poor, big computer had to check in for an overnight stay, hopefully we'll be picking him up soon, but somehow I wish we could get him without having to return to the time-warping mall.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Flying Solo

There are some things that are hard to capture. Perhaps that is why they feel so magical. For if you could capture them, then you would simply have them and there would be no rush of feelings and the strong need for capture. This day began at 4:00. Waking after falling asleep with Ellie so early that when the early hour woke me, I didn't fight it. I crept out into our first rainy, fall morning in hopes of capturing a bit of the magic of a quiet, chilly house that could inspire my soul. Alone time, I was craving it.

I lit candles, brewed coffee, and set up my scene near my bouquet of fall flowers that Mason and Daddy bought me at the Farmer's Market last Saturday. The color is rich, the lighting is amazing, picturesque. I tried to take the photo...perhaps that will be a new learning adventure for me. How do you take such photos? The one I took doesn't include the warmth, the feeling I get when I know that fall is here. As the wind plays the the chimes hanging outside in my tree I will embrace this literal calm before the storm. Inside recess awaits and I will be ready. I will drink in the fall. For now, it will just be in my mind's eye and in my words.

Last night we visited the Whole Foods Hay Maze. After the long day it was another moment to capture. As with most things, it has improved. We try something and then we make it better. This year the maze has the usual hay bales and pumpkins with the added tunnel feature built with pallets, boxes, and lighting. It is the perfect example of nothing going to waste. The pumpkin boxes and pallets were the perfect height for Ellie to run through in her boots and dress, squealing with glee. She invited me in and after a moment of hesitation, I accepted. For after a long day what could be better than a trip through the tunnel? The perfect height for Ellie is a different story for me. I felt like I was filming a scene from Being John Malcovich, but I kept on. I made it the full length with Daddy and Ellie chugging on through behind me. I sat at the end watching Mason bring me tiny pumpkins laughing every time and Ellie running wild. Another moment to capture, but no camera on the scene.
I wish I could transport this maze to school. "Alright things are hitting their limit take a few laps in the maze and then be ready for class." Hmmm, this just might work.

After the maze we headed inside. It was Tuesday and I don't remember the last time we cooked at home on a Tuesday. I don't know what it is about Tuesday, but for us it's been "get out" night. We found our tasty treats and headed for a table. We ate and watched at the kids venture into the play area.

For those of you who have not been to this Whole Foods there is this "Mercado" for kids. In the beginning it was a mini supermarket with books, puzzles, aprons, fully stocked shelves of play foods, blocks, cashier and so on. Over the years many items have vanished as they realized the traffic through the area doesn't lend itself to sustainability. Over time they have replenished with new items, but the one thing that has been there since the beginning are the blocks. This is my favorite part to observe. I have never seen a time when the following was not the case. It is a perfect spot for observing child behavior. Last night it was no different. Ellie was playing in there first with another boy her age. And when I say "with" I mean near. Then Mason began to join them. Ellie had an apron on and was bringing us teacups and Mason was cooking up some soup. Then two older girls, about 7 or 8 years, cruised in and, oh the horror on their faces. "Look at this mess." They immediately began to organize and put away all the blocks, strategically. As they were putting them away the boys were all depleting their supply, removing them as quickly as they could stock the shelves. When the girls took a break for their dessert the shelves were quickly wiped clean. Upon their return the look of shock on their faces set them to work at high speed. They stocked the shelves immediately and Mason strategically set to work on how to sabotage this keen organization. As he came walking to us with a basket of blocks the younger of the two girls stood staring, jaw dropped. I couldn't help, but laugh. Oh honey, it's just the way of the world.

Five years ago I was pregnant, thinking I had at least a month before meeting my son. I was often up at these odd hours, but never blogging for it wasn't until his birth that this blog was born as well. Usually I was walking the house trying to rid my legs of the cramps they would have, reminding me of years of rowing. I imagined it was my body preparing me to take on pain and lack of sleep. I have been feeling the change in season and the excitement that builds as the temperatures drop and the wardrobe begins to change. This morning I searched through the dark for a scarf that would wrap me and keep me warm. As I reflect on these past 5 years, it seems like such a short time, yet so much has changed and grown that it feels like one of the biggest chunks of my story. I would not be who I am today without all those other times, but these years are ones I embrace. Five years ago, I new change was coming, but as Justin Roberts sings, "Oh we never really knew, how much we needed you, until you came into our lives..." I love my Mason. I love how he has changed me, helped me grow to become a mother.

As the seasons change and we take note of change, I fall in love with fall. For it is a time I reflect on this change. I was reading two blogs earlier asking me what it is I love about the fall. At first it is the pumpkins, the carmel apples, the warmth of the colors and cool of the breeze, the scarves, the sweaters, boots and more.

But when I really think about it, I love the fall for that is when I fell in love in a new way. It is rare that I am alone anymore, sometimes a little time flying solo is all you need to remind yourself how you can't imagine your life without everybody else.