Archive - June 2007

1
Catching Up
2
So I Didn’t Say Anything
3
Day at the Washington Monument
4
8 Things to Love About Me
5
Fun With Bip
6
Along the Dining Room Wall
7
Emotions
8
A New Resolution
9
Just a Little Tired

Catching Up

I’ve been absent for a few days because I’ve been so busy with, well, with life.

Our Scouting year is officially over now that Pumpkin Girl has bridged to Brownies. Boo graduated to Bears a couple of weeks ago, too. Little did we know that when we started this venture last Fall that Philip and I would both end up so involved this year and next. It’s ok, though. Even though sometimes it has us going different directions, at least we are busy with the children. That’s the good kind of busy. I’m so grateful that we both got involved. It’s been a great experience for all of us. I just wish my Daisy co-leader wasn’t moving and she could be one of the Brownie co-leaders, too. We made a good team because we both sweat the details just enough to make sure that things got done.

Bip had his VCUG on Wednesday. It was a traumatic experience for him. It’s so hard at his age, not knowing what’s going on, not understanding why Mama isn’t helping. He kept saying “up, up” the whole time. But we got through it and the medical staff at Walter Reed were kind, patient and understanding. I give them 2 thumbs up. I am so happy that we were able to have the test done there. Unfortunately he does still have reflux, though it seems to be better than last time. Hopefully he’ll outgrow it like Pumpkin Girl did. He’ll need another test in 18 months. Until then we can just forget about it. Right now, though, I’m the one still sore from the test! Spending an hour crouching over Bip, trying to hold him still has my back and arms aching today. He seems to have forgotten all about, lucky guy.

So I Didn’t Say Anything

Over the last couple of weeks I have had the chance to observe different parents in different environments all interacting with their children.  I could say that about any given two week period in my life, but what makes these observations different is that the children were not behaving in line with the parents’ expectations.

Not misbehaving, mind you.

The first was at Pumpkin’s dance recital rehearsal.  Those little 3 year olds had just finished their dance and the instructor had released them to go home.  It was the third complete run-through of each performance and those little girls had peaked.  That third time around less of them had danced and more of them just sort of went through the motions.  The parents of one of the littlest dancers was sitting near me and I overheard this exchange:

Mom: Why weren’t you dancing?
Daughter: I was dancing!
Mom: No you weren’t, you were just standing there.
Daughter:  No I wasn’t!
Mom:  You need to dance.  Don’t you want to be up there?
Daughter: I was dancing.

I wanted to tell the mom that it was ok, she was just a little girl, she looked cute up there and really, she was dancing as much as anyone else in her class.  I didn’t have the nerve to talk to her, though.  I’m not sure she would have appreciated the free advice. So I didn’t say anything.

Later in the week at the recital I saw another mom with her daughter.  All the girls were in costume and getting excited. They were squealing with delight at seeing each other.  Parents were scoping out the best vantage points for picture and video taking.  I didn’t see exactly what the little girl did, but it caused the mom to get out the Angry Face, grab her daughter by the arm, yank her close and tell her loud enough for me to hear her two rows back, that if she didn’t cut it out right now, she wasn’t going to let her be in the recital.

While I’m all for properly discipling your children, I thought that was a bit harsh.  Certainly giving the child a Look was fine, but removing her and speaking to her privately and quietly might have been more appropriate.  I wanted to tell the mom, don’t be so hard on her, she’s just a little girl and she’s excited and nervous, it’ll be ok.  But again I didn’t have the nerve, or maybe I was afraid of getting the Angry Face, too.  So I didn’t say anything.

At swimming lessons last weekend, one of the little boys just stood in the pool and cried.  Boo and Pumpkin Girl are in a very beginner’s swim class for children 6 and over.  This was the 4th and last class of this mini Spring session.  I felt so bad for the poor kid who just refused to do anything but cry.  I tried to send my kids telepathic messages so they would try to comfort and encourage the poor guy.  But either they don’t possess my telepathic skills or they were ignoring me as usual.  Then I saw the mom walk up to him.  I was kind of surprised to see that she also had the Angry Face on and as she talked she was pointing angrily at him, then to the teacher and to the water, then back at him.  I could easily imagine what she was saying: “Now I want you to stop that crying right now, start listening to your teacher and get your face into that water.  I didn’t spend all that money just to come here and watch you cry.”  I wanted to tell her that it was ok, he was just a little boy and that my own son was already 8 and is just now ready to learn to swim.  But I didn’t say anything.

In all fairness to the parents, I don’t know any of the family dynamics.  Each of these situations could only be one snippet of an ongoing situation and I was seeing the parents at less than their best.

I have only been a parent for 8 years.  God, with his tremendous sense of humor, gave me the most non-conformist boy out there.  It’s not that he marches to the beat of a different drummer so much.  He’s marching to the same drummer as everyone else, he just doesn’t care about the beat.  There’s Boo…and then there’s everyone else.  It’s not really a bad thing and he does provide us some great laughs, but it’s been a challenge.

I’ve had my share of his behavior not being bad, but being unexpected.  I’ve had to redefine what I consider to be success and to change my expectations.  He’s a good kid and is well liked by both adults and other children; he’s bright, sensitive and happy.  And yet he defies explanation.  So I have been there, watching all the other children perform on cue while he does his own thing.  I have had to reign him in, probably harder than I do the other children, because he gets overexcited way too easily.  I’ve learned how to discipline him in public and still let him retain his dignity.  I’ve had to accept that he wasn’t ready to take swimming lessons until the ripe old age of 7 and that it’s ok if all his buddies are on the swim team and he still only dog paddles.

I wish I could impart some of that wisdom on to other parents that I see struggling.  Not that I’m Wonder Mom or anything.  Just that maybe letting someone know that I’ve been there too and it’s not just their kid would be helpful.  Most likely, though, they would have told me to mind my own business.  It’s too bad, though.  Parenting is tough and we need all the encouragement we can get.  Not someone telling us what to do or what we’re doing wrong, but a “been there, done that, you’ll both be ok” kind of thing.

What do you think?  Would you have tried to encourage the parents in these situations?  How would you feel if the situation was reversed and someone had offered you a kind word?

Day at the Washington Monument

Would you believe that we had two separate Scout events at the Washington Monument on Saturday?

Our day started off with a ride on the Metro. Any adventure that involves the Metro is a good one for our children. Not having to find parking in downtown DC is good thing for mom and dad. For our train obsessed toddler, seeing the Metro trains zoom in and out of the station was almost too good to be true. That we actually boarded one of these “choo-choos” was heavenly.

The Washington monument is about 3 blocks from the closest Metro station. Not bad for an adult or the one in the stroller, a little harder on the 6 year old who is prone to complaining anyway. Still, we made it to the base of the monument with 5 minutes to spare.

Our first event was a tour of the inside of the Washington Monument with Boo’s Cub Scout pack. They do have public tours, but it’s a hit or miss thing. You have to be inside the monument, looking through the windows and hear them announce a tour to get in on it. Or you can pre-arrange one for a group, like we did. Be warned though, this is not for the faint of knee. There are 897 steps inside, and we walked down every single one. So what’s the point of taking a tour down the stairs? Well for one, you can’t just walk down by yourself, you have to be escorted by a Park Ranger. Second, the inside is lined with memorial stones donated by all 50 states, many foreign countries and other private organizations. Some are very elaborate :

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(from the Sultan of Turkey)

and some are very simple.
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Actually, this one isn’t as simple as it appears. It is made of jade and is worth a 3 million dollars. It is the only memorial stone that you are allowed to touch. Because of vandalism like people carving their names into the stones or breaking off pieces of marble, you may not touch any of the other stones. Not even if you ask nicely.

My legs were getting a little quivery by the end of the tour, but I survived. This morning, though, my calves are quite sore.

logo.gifBy now the whole area was crawling with Girl Scouts arriving for the annual Sing-Along on the Mall. I was a little hesitant about attending this event. I don’t like crowds and I don’t like heat and humidity. I have about zero sense of adventure. But Pumpkin Girl wanted to go, plus this is Sing-Along was celebrating 95 years of Girl Scouts. And it was right here in Washington, DC. How could we pass up this opportunity? Plus, Pumpkin got a patch for her new Brownie uniform. And if you know any Girl Scouts, then you know it’s all about the patches!

We found ourselves a shady place to eat lunch. In the shade and with the wind, being outside was actually pleasant. Pumpkin got a chance to exchange swaps with the other Girl Scouts from around the country. I helped her choose a simple but cute little swap to make. I suspected that she would be hesitant to go up to girls and offer to swap, so we limited ourselves to making just 10 swaps. I thought that would be what she could handle and I didn’t want to end up with a whole bag of unused swaps. Turns out that other girls will happy to make the initial swap offer and we probably could have used another 10 or 20 more of our swaps. It was OK, though. Lots of the older girls offered her one of their swaps, even though she had run out of her own. I thought that really spoke well of the Girl Scouts as a group.

cimg2100.JPGWhen the festivities got started we couldn’t hear from where we were sitting, so we moved out of the shade to be closer to the stage. We ended up sitting directly in front of the White House. I heard that they were expecting over 100,000 people that day. Seeing all the girls moving in groups toward the stage reminded me a little of Moses and the Exodus, without the unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

Boo and Phil were still in their Boy Scoutcimg2106.JPG uniforms from the earlier tour. They got a lot of notice and waves from the Girl Scouts. Boo, being at that age where he’s not really sure about the whole girl thing, didn’t know what to do with all the attention. Once when he waved back, he set the whole gaggle of Girl Scouts giggling (say that three times fast). I overheard one of the moms say “He’s one in a million here today.”

The sun was intense and we only lasted about an hour until we needed to go home.cimg2105.JPG Pumpkin was ok with that, being quite tired and hot herself. She got her patch, did the swap thing and sang for an hour – it was a good day. We only made it halfway back to the Metro station before we needed to buy some ice cold liquid refreshments. I was getting a headache and by the time we got home, I was also feeling nauseated. Doesn’t Philip know better than to let me go outside during the summer? No matter how much water I drink, I’m destined to become a heat casualty. If God had wanted me to be outside, he wouldn’t have provided me with all this indoor air conditioned goodness.

I’m doing better today, but my legs need motrin!

8 Things to Love About Me

No doubt you’ve seen the “8 Things About Me” meme that’s been going around. Margaret, AKA Minnesota Mom, tagged me for this one. I’ve been pondering this for a few days, because I just don’t like to talk about myself at all have told you all just about everything already. Surely there is some tidbit of information about me that I haven’t divulged. So here we go…

“For this meme, each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.”

1. I went to the same high school as Kathy Ireland and Anthony Edwards. They are both older than me, but I had the same English teacher as Anthony Edwards. Do you all remember the band Toad the Wet Sprocket? Most of the members of that band also went to my high school and I was pretty good friends with the lead singer.

2. I have a degree in Speech Communications and I’ve been trained by the Army as a small group instructor. My husband was a debater in high school and also started a speech degree. Put us together and you get children who Never. Stop. Talking. Ever. They even talk in their sleep.

3. I’m short. Well, not just short, but short short. If you read the sign in the petite section of the store it says ” 5’4″ and under”. Which still leaves me with 4″ to hem off my pants.

4. I have been to North Korea, spent the night north of the Arctic Circle, seen pandas in China and walked across the Bridge Over the River Kwai.

5. Pancho Villa is rumored to be in my family tree. My grandpa swears that PV is my grandmother’s uncle. Then again, I’ve also heard him say that his grandmother rode with PV. Maybe that’s how he met my grandma? I swear I don’t make this stuff up.

6. I don’t like to cook.

7. I need to have a cup of vanilla chai every morning. This is a non-negotiable. Just one cup, though, or the dairy it contains will give me a stomachache.

8. I am a list maker and writer-down of everything. I keep a Mead notebook with dividers and pockets to help me keep track of things. I start a new one every year, with a different color cover than the year before. I started this about 3 years ago when one of my main grief symptoms was short term memory loss. I’ve always been a list writer, though, and having all my lists and reminders and random thoughts in one place has been very helpful. Now if only I could remember where I  put the darn thing…

Now this is the part where I’m supposed to tag 8 more people.  The problem is, the blogs I read are all read by the same people and I can’t remember who’s been tagged already.  Plus, Some Other People that I’d love to tag don’t have blogs.  I’m talking to you, Carol and Jen(s).  So here’s the deal, if you’re reading this -Tag!, you’re it!  Now go out and start yerself a free blog and get busy.

Fun With Bip

Yesterday I had this conversation with Bip, age 21 months:

Bip:  Daddy?
Me:  Daddy’s at work.  He’ll be home later.
Bip:  Car-car?
Me:  Yes, he’ll drive his car.
Bip:  Mmeep-meep!
Me:
  Yes, his car goes beep beep.

Thus pleased with his knowledge of all things manly and his ability to communicate it, Bip went back to eating his French toast.

And since we’re talking about my favorite toddler, here is a picture of Bip wearing his sister’s new Brownie beanie.  Along with Bob, Thomas and Pooh Bear, Bip is also obsessed with hats.  He sat down just as I took the picture, but what resulted was so funny that I kept it.

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Along the Dining Room Wall

This little corner of my house has been giving me a lot of trouble. The dining room is directly off the front entrance and this wall is the first thing you see. We use these little shelves to corral our shoes, but it has become a collecting point for just about everything.

dining room before

Among the other things that don’t belong here are two magazine holders, school supplies and an accordion in that big brown case.

This area took longer to fix than I thought it would. I think the main problem is that all this stuff landed up here because it had no other place to be. Recently there was a discussion on the Sonlight Forums about organizing. One of the members is a professional organizer and she listed some of her key things to work on. The first one was that everything in your house should have a place to live. Every single thing. This is not a new concept, of course. But for some reason it really sunk in this time. Looking around me, especially at our dining room table and this little space, I realized that we have too many things that don’t have a place to live. So they end up at the nearest horizontal surface. So for this space, I really needed to find a place for all this stuff to live. Not just anywhere, either! It needed to be somewhere that made sense and that wouldn’t add to the clutter somewhere else.

To help accomplish that, we brought down an under-used Longaberger baker’s rack from the guest room. I have matching magazine baskets for it that I designated for mail, one for Philip, one for me. The bottom shelf holds Boo and Pumpkin Girl’s school binders and a box of math manipulatives. We do all of our school seatwork at the dining room table, so this is the best place for those things. I put the bakers rack into a corner of the dining room that I’ve already cleaned up. Not the most attractive, but our home is tragically small and we have to consider function over form most of the time.
dining room after 1

I found an unused space in the back of my nifty walk-in pantry for the accordion. I’m still working on all the papers that were just stuck into the blue container, but it’s getting there. The 2 cardboard boxes have been emptied and their contents discarded or distributed around the house. So this is what we have now:
dining room after 2

I found a Longaberger basket that wasn’t doing anything (gasp!) and put it on top of the shoe shelves. It holds our library books which never had a home and tended to get moved from place to place around the house. Having the basket on top of the shelves also helps to keep the shelves clutter free.

I think the next Corner of My Home that I will work on will also be in the dining room. I know you’re probably thinking,” Dang girl, how much stuff can one tiny room hold?!” I’m here to tell you, more than you think. The dining room used to be one of my favorite rooms in the house and I would like very much to reclaim it.

Emotions

I hadn’t expected to cry. At least not then.

Sitting at Pumpkin Girl’s dance recital, minding my own business, patiently waiting for her class to perform is not a place where I would expect tears. But grief has a way of sneaking up on you, reminding you of what once was and what could have been.

The youngest class was being led on stage, decked out in their poofy pink costumes and tiny tap shoes to perform to “Animal Crackers.” The music started and they did their thing, some of them dancing, some of them not, but each and every three year old just as cute as can be. That’s when it hit me- Becca would be three years old. Becca could have been up there, big brown eyes, chubby cheeks and two big dimples. That’s when I started to cry.

A few minutes later, the tears turned to smiles and laughter when Pumpkin’s class performed. She hit every pose and remembered each step, all while continuing to smile. I thought back to her first day of dance class.  There were tears that day, too.  Pumpkin wanted so much to be a dancer, but she was afraid to leave me behind and join the rest of class.  Her eyes welled up with tears as she struggled with her own emotions.  Her teacher knelt down to talk to her and reassure her, then gently led her off.  Pumpkin Girl grew up so much that day and now here she was, performing on stage as if she’d done it every day of her life.

Three hours later, we walked into a church in Pennsylvania.  The oldest daughter of our good friends was getting married.  She made a beautiful bride,  young and radiant and beaming in her gown.  She and her husband rarely left each other’s side during the reception.  Her mother was a little less radiant.  She was happy, but tired.  The stresses of the previous weeks had been building up.  And now, not only was her daughter  married, but the rest of family is going to be packing up and moving away in just two short weeks.  That happens in the Army.  We learn to love and then leave.  Pumpkin Girl perceptively pointed out that it was both a happy day and a sad day for our friends.   Emotions are funny that way.

I hadn’t expected to cry then either.  We knew we’d miss the ceremony because of Pumpkin’s recital, so I thought I’d be in the clear.  Surely I could get through the reception!  But then the father and the bride danced.  He held her close and she rested her head on his shoulder.  It was a wonderfully touching moment and then I heard the song.

I Loved Her First

Look at the two of you dancing that way
Lost in the moment and each others face
So much in love, you’re alone in this place
Like there’s nobody else in the world
I was enough for her not long ago
I was her number one
She told me so
And she still means the world to me
Just so you know
So be careful when you hold my girl
Time changes everything
Life must go on
And I’m not gonna stand in your way

But I loved her first and I held her first
And a place in my heart will always be hers
From the first breath she breathed
When she first smiled at me
I knew the love of a father runs deep
And I prayed that she’d find you someday
But it still hard to give her away
I loved her first

How could that beautiful women with you
Be the same freckle face kid that I knew
The one that I read all those fairy tales to
And tucked into bed all those nights
And I knew the first time I saw you with her
It was only a matter of time

But I loved her first and I held her first
And a place in my heart will always be hers
From the first breath she breathed
When she first smiled at me
I knew the love of a father runs deep
And I prayed that she’d find you someday
But its still hard to give her away
I loved her first

From the first breath she breathed
When she first smiled at me
I knew the love of a father runs deep
Someday you might know what I’m going through
When a miracle smiles up at you
I loved her first

As their dance ended, the bride wiped the tears from her eyes, and her father, a big Army colonel in his uniform turned away, clearly overcome with emotion.   Those of us watching had to swallow hard and dab the tears, too.  But again, emotions are a funny thing, and we laughed as dad grabbed his next oldest daughter in a bear hug and pretended to shake with sobs.

I thought of Pumpkin Girl and her first day of dance class and her performance on stage. Some day, God willing, she will be the radiant bride, dancing with her father.   I thought of Boo, perhaps a groom with Bip giving the toast as his best man.  I thought of Becca, who will not get to be her sister’s maid of honor.

It was a happy day and a sad day for everyone.  A day to remember the past and look forward to the future.  A day for tears of joy and tears of sadness.   A day not to be forgotten.

A New Resolution

Michelle at Rosetta Stone has a cool idea about resolutions. She makes a new resolution every month, something small and manageable that she can work on for 30 days. I like that idea. I can do anything for a short amount of time. And depending on what you’re working on, it could easily become a habit.

That’s how I started making my bed everyday. In my whole life, I’ve never made my bed. Just didn’t feel the need, I guess. But last year I was faithfully following Flylady and her new habit for the month was to make your bed. So I did. Amazing how much better the bedroom looks and feels.

So I’ve been reading Michelle’s blog for a couple of months now and it struck me that in my never-ending battle against my house, I could make monthly resolutions that would help me to develop better habits. For the record, I went to “no email” on the Flylady list when we left for vacation. Seeing as how we returned to near disaster, moved into a new house on Thanksgiving Day, went right into the holidays and never quite recovered, I haven’t gone back to getting her emails. I’m having great success cleaning up the corners of my house right now, so I’ll stick with that plan. I’ll be ready to restart Flying again soon.

So anyway, with the start of a new month already, I have decided to join Michelle in a monthly resolution. For June, I am going to keep our dining room table cleared off! This is a Major Issue here. The dining room is the closest room to the front door and the table becomes the landing zone for whatever we have in our hands at the moment. We also do all our seatwork at the table and of course, eat three meals a day there. All sorts of stuff ends up there and never wants to leave. I’m tired of shifting it around from one place to another and back. I think it’s a task that is small enough to conquer in a month, but it will make a huge difference in our lives.

It’s time we learned to do better.

Just a Little Tired

We are in the middle of a very, very busy week.

Pumpkin Girl had her hula performance on Wednesday at the Asian Pacific American Heritage expo on base. This hula thing ended up being much more involved than we had anticipated. She had practices every single weekend, and twice over the Memorial Day holiday, which meant we couldn’t go anywhere, not even the zoo, last weekend. The rehearsals were a bit disorganized and never started on time, which is a pet peeve of mine.

The performance ended up being in the middle of the day – lunch time, to be exact. The little girls were supposed to be there early to be able to participate in the fashion show, too. I arrived at the specified time, which I learned was 45 minutes early for the fashion show and 1 1/2 hours before the actual performance. With my boys in tow, of course and only 3 little snack bags of goldfish crackers for nourishment. Sigh. If were to do this again, I would leave the boys home with Philip, who took a long lunch for this anyway, and have them join us for the food and performances.

But it wasn’t all frustrations. I was expecting an audience of oh, 10 people, because after all, it is right in the middle of the day. But no, they filled the whole community center and had Asian foods to eat and many other performances. Tinikling Dance, Korean fan dance and martial arts demonstrations were among the performances. But the hula dancers got the biggest applause by far!
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The grand finale was a Lion Dancer from Chinatown. Volunteers from the crowd got to feed the Lion a piece of lettuce, which the Lion would chew up and “spit” back out at you. The more pieces hit you, the luckier you will be in the upcoming year. Bip was excited to see the “yi-yun” and wanted to feed him, too. I took him up there and sure enough, he fed that lion his lettuce. He’ll happily tell you all about it, too. “Yi-yun! <insert loud biting noises>!”
liondancer.jpg

We ended up enjoying the whole experience.

We’ve also been over-run by rehearsals for Pumpkin’s dance recital on Saturday. From the recital, we’ll leave for a wedding in PA. We’ll miss the ceremony, but be there for the reception. Back home the same night and swimming lessons the next day. Whew.

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