Thursday, October 27, 2016

To my first on his 12th

Dear John,

Every year, my letter gets later and later because every year I have to consider more carefully to discern what is the best way to say happy birthday to someone who has very likely changed my life more than any other person on the planet. It is now October 27th, a full 5 weeks after your 12th birthday, and I’ve waited long enough, so, I guess I’ll keep it simple and just say, “Happy 12th birthday!” (I’ll leave off my new pet name for you in an effort to save your reputation.)

POOKY BEAR! (sorry.)

During and after my pregnancy with you, everybody around us said, “This is baby is special” or “It’s a boy, and he’s lucky; I feel it!” We thought perhaps people said this to all people starting families, but usually it wasn’t just passing chatter. These people knew that you were special and/or lucky, and they had specific reasons:
  • your name had special meaning
  • your birth date was lucky
  • it was fortunate that a bird had pooped on my head during my pregnancy because that’s considered extra special good luck in Africa
  • You would bring us out of our joblessness (and truly, your dad found a job in the delivery room of the hospital where you were born), etc. etc.

And even now you do seem to have some “lucky duck” super power. You have many times been randomly placed on sports teams that are highly successful, you got into the Spanish immersion school in Nashville even though we didn’t live in that neighborhood, and of course there is the “Parking Fairy” situation, wherein every time I’m with you, we get a parking spot that could rival even the motorcycles or differently abled.

But really John, you are the amazing parking spot we landed 12 years ago. We have moved numerous times since then, and you have had some moments of not seeming so amazing (haven’t we all?), but you still make us feel pretty lucky. Nevermind that you are in the throes of some weird 6th grade/ tween desire to seem idiotic and angry … I still think you’re clever, and I know that you’re happy even though you often seem full of angst. Some of that is age-related, but some of that is, unfortunately, inherited from me -- like our proclivity for agonizing over decision making and worrying too much about what other people think. But those are few and far between. Most of the time we have to tell you repeatedly to stop whistling or singing because you happily bop around the house clueless to other forms of human life, just in your own world -- and that world seems relatively peaceful and content. When it’s not, and you are disturbed, you are starting to recognize it more and be conscious of the disturbance. And that’s how I know that you are growing up. Because little kids are less aware … they just act in order to get their needs met (appropriately or not). But I am starting to see forethought before you act and analysis afterward, and that is simultaneously beautiful and terrifying.

Here are a few of the things that you find particularly disturbing at this stage of your life, and I think you’ll see that these truly run the gamut from childhood fears to grownup stressors:
  • Anything your brother says
  • Anything your brother does
  • Any way your brother looks at you
  • Any noise your brother makes (I won’t go on, I think you can see the pattern)
  • Mondays
  • Obligations
  • My calling you pet names POOKY BEAR
  • Puke
  • The idea that people puke
  • The idea that there are germs out there that cause people to puke
  • The fact that you have to live in a house with people who might be carrying germs that cause people to puke.
  • Band
  • Getting locked out of the house (sorry, bud!)
  • The closet door and what’s behind it
  • Ventriloquists’ dummies  
  • Your very own collection of Nutcrackers, which has now been removed from your room
  • Clowns, not surprisingly
  • The following questions:
    • “Do you have homework?”
    • “How was school?”
    • “Did you brush your teeth?”
    • “Have you washed your hands?”

And here are some things you LOVE, which tow the line between childhood and adolescence:
  • Video games
  • Reading the same books repeatedly:
    • Wimpy Kid
    • Big Nate
    • Sisters
    • Far Side comic compilations
    • Guinness Books (yes plural) of World Records
  • Anything Nike
  • Expensive socks
  • The idea of owning more electronics
  • Drones
  • Nerf guns
  • Your GoPro camera
  • Sleepovers
  • When your brother sleeps in
  • When your brother has a playdate
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Ham and salami sandwiches with jalapenos, purple onion, lettuce, tomato, and honey mustard
  • The idea of a pet dog, cat, bird, ferret, rat, or pot-bellied pig
  • Nanny’s pies
  • Packages from Macy
  • Breakfast at Panera (you always order a breakfast quiche/souffle and a scone)

So overall, I think that you are, as always, both exactly where you should be and, in our opinion at least, WAY beyond. We love you even when you have those drama fits, we are proud of you even when you whine about how running sprints at soccer is RUINING your life, we are happy for you even when we yell across the house for you to PLEASE PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF PETER PAUL AND MARY STOP WHISTLING MEGHAN TRAINOR SONGS ON REPEAT. We wouldn’t trade your lucky duckness for anything, and I can’t wait to see what it brings you next.

With all my love,

p.s. I am amazed by your vocabulary. Just in the last week, I’ve heard you use: gullible, assemble, modify, sensitivity, and lag!

Friday, January 15, 2016

To My 2nd on his 6th (or, at least within two months of it)

Dear Sam,

Happy 6th, My Little! We are as proud as you are for surpassing the age of "babies." Yay you!

 Now, go back to your old self; you know, the one that was a baby and rode on my back and yanked at my hair and woke me up all night and stole my heart. Past tense. :-(

Actually, you still have my heart, I let you ride on my back when we're hiking, and even though you're not a hair-yanking baby anymore, I don't mind that you wake me up in the night (about once a month week). Moreover, you still have my heart, and I will not EVER ask for it back (*note future tense).

Not even if the emails from the principal continue. My favorite from-the-principal email subject lines have been, "a kissing incident" and simply, "behavior."

(I know that verb tenses are the last thing on your mind, but notice them anyway: regrets in the past; hopes/promises for now and always).

Sam, right now you are a study in contrast: Our most cuddly kid but also our most volatile. You struggle with impulse control, especially in high-emotion situations. Luckily, I am relatively understanding, and your dad has lots of experience managing high-needs kids and adults at work and at home

So, I want to make the rest of this positive and about YOU (which is hard for me, Love: I like to spin things with hyperbole and negativity by default). However, for you, I'm making an exception ...

The 6 year old Sam I know is confident, analytical, and curious. I think the confidence part is overriding the others at this point, but we know that it will eventually serve you well, and thus we make attempts to revere it. You love to play games -- chess with "Dadda," John, our kidsitter, Grampy; GO FISH and  OLD MAID with all of us, MEMORY with Macy, JENGA with Nanny and Grampy --  your scope of work is dizzying, truly!  The only advice I'll give you about improving this aspect of your free time is that you should probably consider alternatives to "You're cheating!" when competitors seem to be getting the best of you.

Your analysis of everything (complete with exemplary hand gestures) is something that I would be remiss to overlook, so I definitely want you to know that you are constantly considering every angle of every situation. This keeps us on our toes. Most obviously this character trait is presented in your eating habits, so that mostly demands our attention. I know that avoiding "the turkey with the crust" and the soy sauce with the red top is of utmost importance, and I don't take those jobs lightly. Luckily, your dad doesn't either ... especially since he's the grocery shopper. (I'm still working to figure out my superpower).

Finally, Sam, your curiosity is one of my favorite features of you. You want to know what everything means -- from vocabulary to major concepts like death. Recently, I was reading a parenting book called Why Can't You Catch Me Being Good and the author told about how each of her two sons, when they were five, asked her to marry him. I teared up because neither of my two sons had done that. I sat for a long time thinking about that and feeling sorry for myself because whatever I had done thus far in both of your lives had not made you consider me in that manner. And then the next day -- the VERY next day -- we were snuggling after playing a vicious game of air hockey (without the air), and you asked me the same. I nearly melted into the couch cushion. And so, like the writer of the book, I told you that I was already married to your dad and that unfortunately, you'd have to find another girl. You looked so sad and stared up at me with those squinched up eyebrows and said, "But WHY? Why can't you marry me too. I love you too! Not just dad loves you!" 

I know, sweet. I know it even when you scream that you hate me. Because that's how it works with us. We love each other no matter what -- another of your favorite sayings. (The hate thing still stings though, so maybe work on that a little?)

Dadda and I are so proud of how hard you work to be the kid that you want to be. The one who controls himself, uses words not hands, and apologizes, or better yet, doesn't have to. You have us wrapped around your little finger so much so that even when you bring that goshawful rancid blanket ("Sucky") into our bed at 2 a.m., we just scooch over and make way. Even when you then sleep like a Starfish on cocaine, we don't kick you out. The space in our bed and in our hearts has already been made for you, and even though you are not a baby, you'll always be our baby.

With all my love,

p.s.  Y.M.B.C.F.A. (don't tell!)

Monday, October 19, 2015

To My First On His Eleventh

Dear John,

Happy birthday!  I am glad to say that your first personal celebration in Ames, Iowa has followed your very-smooth transition to our new home.  I don't think there any 11-year olds out there that are happier than you (except maybe those without little brothers).  Recently you told me that you feel as if we never even lived in Nashville, and I'm choosing to take that as a sign that you're adjusting quite well.

This birthday was preceded by a summer/fall like no other.  We uprooted from all that you've ever known and attempted to start making a home in a new state.  You seem to like it here, and given that there are about 3.75 boys per block of our neighborhood, I think you're justified in that regard.

If we had stayed in Nashville, you would've been the newbie at a huge middle school ... as it stands now, you're in the senior-most class at your (and Sam's, to your chagrin) elementary school, where there is no Spanish, no homework, a brand new building with a huge gymnasium, and a 5th grade band, in which you are one of the alto saxophone players.  You gave up soccer (hopefully just for this season!) to try your hand at ice skating, which you hope will lead to hockey.  I really would rather you just play soccer, but here I am sitting at the rink watching you and writing this in three layers of clothes.  As with everything, I will always support you, even if it's cold and I worry that my orthodontic investment may not have been so sound.  But I do like to watch you work so diligently to stop, turn, and glide, front and back, with a teacher who looks like an older version of Tonya Harding.  Dad and I have been jokingly calling you "Nancy Kerrigan," but the funny is lost on you.

Though you are happy most of the time, you do have a great deal of angst connected to your relationship with Sam, ever the typical "little brother."  Yesterday morning while waiting on the carpool pickup, you and he we're arguing about who should "get to" water my fall-front-porch mums.  He was adamant that there were two mums and two kids, but you were adamant that the original chore was yours.  Fair enough: We settled on an agreement wherein both children "got to" water the mums (reader, I know: I'm brilliant ... I also get them to eat pancakes with all kinds of hidden gems like ground flax and hemp seeds, but that's another post for another time when it's nobody's birthday).  During Sam's turn to water the mums, you called me over for a "conversation in private" (your words).  Here's how it went:

You:  I'm like furious.
Me:  Why are you so mad? 
You: Sam.
Me:  Can you say more about it?
You:  I feel like I want to yank off his head and punt it to Mars.

Wow.  So, OK, I didn't exactly like the violence, but what amazing descriptive language!

This is not normal though:  Most of the time, you are quite a content kiddo, and this pleases us entirely.  Throughout this last year, I've seen you develop into a truly "big kid."  I can see the shadow edges of adolescence creeping in to darken the door, but right now, you're pretty much just delightful.

Here's a profile of newly 11 year-old JEB:
  • You still love Legos.  For your birthday, Macy and Glendaddy got you a Star Wars set with over 400 pieces, and upon opening you said, "Hmmm, 421 pieces.  That should take approximately an hour and a half to knock out."
  • You also love electronics.  Nanny and Grampy got you a "quadcopter" drone with a camera, with which you spend hours recording our neighborhood.  This has led to some interesting discussions about privacy.
  • Your adoration of wheels continues.  You seem to live on your bike during daylight non-school hours, and you love to build elaborate Hot Wheels race tracks for your brother (elaborate meaning, for example, a track that cascades down the stairs into the basement, through a loop, and catapults the cars into the recycle bin).
  • Your reading skills are fine, but your teacher, Dad, and I wish that you expand your repertoire a bit (which means, anything except Diary of a Wimpy Kid).
  • You have friends galore.  Just on our street, there are Caleb, Max, Ellio, Nico, and just a couple blocks away are Jonathan, Caden, and Elias.  We've been allowing you to bike to their homes as long as it's before 6 p.m.
John, there are so many fascinating qualities of your 11-year-old self, but quite possibly the one that takes the cake is your new ability to see other people (and their feelings/emotions) as separate from your own.  This is such an important life skill buddy, and as I navigate our "everyday" with you, I see that you're developing into a caring individual who considers others even when it's inconvenient.  THAT is WJWD!

To illustrate, I'll conclude with this final anecdote:  Recently we downloaded Minecraft for your to play on my tablet computer.  It's something you've wanted for awhile.  It's perfect for you and your engineering mind.  But I started to notice that after you had played it and transitioned to another activity, you were agitated.  So after one particularly extreme incident (involving your brother, no surprise), I sent you up to your room to quietly reflect on what had happened.  After about 15 minutes, you came down, calm and even-keeled.  You proceeded to inform me that the problem is this:  After playing Minecraft (or other involved games), your brain continues to think about strategy.  And so basically anything that anyone says to you immediately post-game is an interruption of that strategizing, and it is met with agitated response.

BINGO.  Even I, with my hyper-analytical mind, had not come up with such a specific and ideal explanation of what was happening.  I had told you that I thought you were having trouble "transitioning from the screen world into the real world" but that I didn't know how to fully explain it.  That kind of self awareness is something that I've rarely, if ever, seen from you in 10+ years.  It's clearly a reflective skill marking a developmental milestone, and I'm so proud!  It feels similar to when you grew those amazing bottom teeth in your first year of life, and I documented them here as well, proudly. 

John-John:  Every year I think that you have become a cooler kid.  By the time you are 18 and ready to leave for college (OH GOSH: that's only 7 years away!!!), you'll be off the charts.  You came out of the womb a 9.5/10 (APGAR), and you're doing a bang-up job of maintaining your excellence in all of the important categories. 

We cannot WAIT to see what you do with all of your energy, ingenuity, self-awareness, and passion (as long as it does NOT involve punting your brother -- or any of his main body parts -- to Mars).  My daddy used to tell me that I was his "pride and joy," and I probably rolled my eyes ... but you, Buddy, are definitely my current definition of pride and joy, and I love watching you discover who you are becoming (and announce it to us) because it inspires me to be the kind of mom that can best support your efforts.

With all my love, hugs, and meat-finding fingers (I LOVE our inside joke!),

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Current Subtopics of My Life (DRAFT VERSION)

I started this post MONTHS ago and never finished it.  Now I can't remember the parts that I've left unfinished, but for purposes of posterity, I'm posting what I had started:


I am always trying to get my students to notice the subtopics in their reading.  Very often, noticing a good heading (subtitle/topic, etc.) is a quite effective reading strategy for complex material.  So with that in mind, tonight I shall try to update you on the Subtopics of Our Lives (runner up title for the "Day of Our Lives" soap opera, I'm sure).

Soccer Season
One of the predominant aspects of fall for me is now soccer.  I grew up associating it with football, but soccer is so much healthier, methinks.  Most crashing into one another leads to penalty, and no helmets are involved.  I do still worry about the effects of headers, but then again ... there's always something, right?  Do NOT google "headers and concussions" in an effort to educate me, please.  I would like to remain blissfully ignorant for the next two weekends that I must endure this.

Sam and John are both high scorers on their teams.  At Sam's age, this is mostly coincidence (he's one of the biggest and oldest in a league with a wide range of ages), but at John's age -- it's nothing short of completely spellbinding.  I truly cannot believe that I birthed such athletes.

Efforts toward the Education of Our Children
Sam started a new school this fall, mostly out of convenience for his parents.  He seems to be thriving there.  We almost pulled him out because it was so much more expensive than his previous preschool, but then they offered him a "scholarship," and so we acquiesced.  We're so impressionable.  He comes home most days with happy tales of his exploits, and sometimes we get the ever precious morsel about what he has tried at lunch (which is provided by the school and included in tuition/scholarship).  The school is literally across the street from the school where Brian teaches, so Sam spends much less time at a "school" now.  His most favorite days of the week are "S" days, when he knows he'll be with us instead (Saturday/Sunday = Samdays).

John's 4th grade year has been challenging.  His teachers are pushing the kids to be responsible and independent, which is hit or miss with our 10-year old.  He is working hard through this last year of Glendale.  He truly has to muscle his way through science class in Spanish, but luckily is fine with the math that is presented in Spanish.

Halloween approaches.  I love Halloween for its arbiter of cooler weather, but I hate the expectation of costume wrangling.

Home Life

Other Extracurriculars (piano)

Allergy shots

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Spring Break 2015

We did separate yet fun things for Spring Break this year because my break is never the same as the boys.  Sam and I stayed home and did fun Mom/Son things like drive to and from school (my school is 40 minutes from his, so there was a lot of driving), eat macaroni  cheese straight out of the pot, watch movies every night, etc.  Staycation, one might say.  

The Bigs went on an adventure out west to the San Juan River in Utah, where they met some friends and spent a week rafting, camping, hiking, and eating the most amazing camp food you have ever heard of.  Brian suspended his vegetarianism in order to eat the delicious food that was prepared for them three times a day, whenever the urge struck.  I would've liked that part of it.  I may have even enjoyed the mudbaths ... you know, for my skin.  

Sam and I did not document the Staycation very well, but Brian and John made up for us in spades.  Below are my favorite shots from their trip:

This is Steve, Boatman, Chef, Medic

This is their toilet.

The whole crew!  

This is called Mexican Top Hat (or something like that)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

To My Sweet Sam on his Fifth

Dear Sam,

Happy very late 5th birthday, buddy (11/23/14)! In case it helps, I also have neglected to take you to get your well-child check up, and here we are 34 days post-birthday.  The latter is more understandable than this late birthday letter, I'll admit: Your ear tubes have come out and thus you have not been well enough to get vaccinations, and because we've been to the pediatrician three times since your birthday, I already know officially how much you weigh -- 40 pounds.  Moreover, I don't need anyone to tell me that you're tall.  I can see that for myself though I do love a good percentile now and then to confirm my notions.  I also know that you are big enough for 10 ml of amoxicillin or 7 ml of Augmentin twice a day for 10 days, discard the rest.  Bubble gum flavor.  And while we're talking numbers, don't worry about all those milliliters of fake bubble gum because hopefully we'll have your third set of ear tubes put in before you turn six!  Yay! 

As I lay in your bed tonight rubbing your back and trying to figure out what smelled like barf, it occurred to me to consider the length of the arc of my adjustment to motherhood.  I figure I'm not anywhere near the apex, but I've been hanging on long enough to be about a quarter of the way up perhaps -- which means I'm decently discerning about things that matter, I guess.  One of which is that the ER is a very unnecessary place as long as everybody's bones are intact, there is no unstoppable bleeding, and all are capable of breathing on their own.  Another important aspect of ascending the arc is gaining the ability not to worry about the faint smell of vomit unless there is a reason more important than olfactory unpleasantness.  Especially not at 8:30 p.m. when everything is otherwise quiet and you're not sure if the extra sheets are clean.  But perhaps one of the most important aspects of traversing the arc is learning not to cling to comfort.  Motherhood is a lot of things, but it is most certainly not always comfortable -- physically, mentally, or emotionally. 

You see, Sam, after John was born, I said for years that I couldn't handle anymore children ... didn't want more babies hanging on my hip.  And then one day I imagined a bald little Thanksgiving baby, and 41 weeks later, there was you.  Moreover, if I thought that I was overwhelmed with one child, two has just about done me in is only slightly more of a work of love.  You ask me all the time if we're going to have another baby, and I cheerfully explain that that is impossible for our family because we have just enough kiddos in our house!  The truth is that it is both in spite of and because of the fact that motherhood consistently and constantly pushes me out of my comfort zone that it is the greatest work of my life.

Over this last year, Sam, I have struggled to maintain even the slightest glimpse of balancing motherhood with the other parts of my life.  I fear that it has many times been to your detriment.  But I promise you that I will always keep trying to do better at being more present with you, listening to you, and seeing you in all your Sammishness. 

Tonight, for example, while I was fiendishly sniffing for the barf-smell source, you were showing off your new addition skills -- holding up fingers and modeling your abilities, then asking me to do much more difficult mathematical equations such as [insert your incredulous giggle here]: twenty plus twenty!  Followed by ceaseless iterations of "Do you know what it is, Mom?  What is it?  20+20!  Oh my gosh!  Mom!  What is it?!?!?"  I waited just to see if you might be able to get it, but, exhausted with impatience, you finally said, "Well?"

I answered, "It's forty!  Can you believe it?!?"  To which you replied, "Wow! I really didn't know!  That's awesome if you're telling the truth, young lady." 

It really is 40, love.  I've been studying for the GRE, so I'm relative sure.

Despite my lack of work-life balance, this year has been a good one for you as a student Sam.  You switched schools and are at a much more progressive preschool where they espouse child-led learning (emergent is the keyword if anyone wants to google it).  Your teachers let you choose what you'd like to learn and then guide you in a direction that helps you develop that particular skill through play.  They also make you taste everything at lunch (which is prepared at the center) before you can have more bread or crackers, your staples.  You have told me more than once that the school is fine other than the tasting.  Once you told me that you tried chicken -- "real chicken!"  But that you "definitely didn't eat the bones."  Sam, I relish that little detail of your random October day even now -- your pride, bravado, and storytelling skills all capture me. 

As a brother, you are still learning that you are the little one.  This means that for the time being, John will be able to beat you at pretty much anything you try.  This also means that the arc of my adjustment to motherhood must bend quite uncomfortably in the direction of patience because the two of you are pretty relentless in all aspects of your interactions.  One thing that I love about you, Sam, is that you never give up the idea that you can beat John in cards or football, spaghetti eating or chicken chasing.  You hold out an endless hope of one day succeeding.  This everlasting optimism is part of why we love you so much, and part of what makes us worry constantly that you'll crack your head open.

Right now, Sam, your brother is all the directions you want to go in.  You often seem lost when he's not in the house.  You also like your individual time with me and your dad, but I don't think there's any other playmate you prefer more than your brother, even if he's holding your head under the pool of water that forms at the end of the slip-n-slide.

So, Sam, since this is closer to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday than to your own, I think I will end by taking the liberty to examine one of his most famous sayings.  I love this quote because it inspires us to think about the bigger picture rather than focusing on all the small details which may or may not be pleasant to consider.  It asks us to ponder not what tiny battles we have won or lost, but to envision the greater cause.  He said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."  I think of this often when I'm getting mired down in the everyday conundrums of how to be a good mom.  I tell myself that the moments may seem long (especially the ones involving sibling rivalry and/or unidentifiable barf smells), but the years seem short. 

One of your own more morbid yet sweet aphorisms is that you'll always love me, and I'll always be your mom, even when we're all dead.  This is very true, sweet.  It doesn't matter what happens in any moment -- for better or worse -- in the long run all that matters is that I'm your mom.  My sweet Sam, it is my fervent prayer that the arc of my motherhood will not get bent out of shape by impatience, selfishness, or misguided values.  Rather, I'll do my best to keep my arc bending in the direction of you, sweet, which is most certainly toward love.

With my biggest ever hug,

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Where Did These Athletes Come From?

It must be my mad cheerleading skills that contributed to the creation of these little athletes.  I watch them with sheer joy, amazement, and jealousy.  How I wish I could rock that footwork.  How I longed to enjoy something and be so good at it that I would run until sweat beads formed on my upper lip.  I seriously wanted some sweat beads in elementary school.  I coveted Erin Craven's sweat beads.  But anyway, God (and Brian, I guess) gave me these two little soccer gems so that I might live vicariously through them.  And for that, I am grateful.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

To My 1st on (actually one day after) Your 10th

Dear John,

Yesterday you crossed over into double digits.  I'm still 28 of course, but somehow you are ten.  Never again after this year can you count your age on your hands.  Toes will need to be involved, and I have seen your toes, and this is not a good thing.

This is my 10th letter to you.  The first one included a minute count of how long I had known you (525,600 minutes) and a Broadway tune.  I fear this one may not hold a candle.

We have been celebrating your birthday over the last two weekends -- one fun day with friends at Nashville Shores and another weekend with The Paternals, one of whom made an apple pie (your request), which you scarfed almost singlehandedly in a matter of two days.

I really don't have a plan for this letter.  I want to write down some things that you're doing these days and might let that be my overarching theme, lame as it is.  You love that word lame, by the way.

Right now you are obsessed with Legos, soccer, and your "Clan" that lives in my phone.  I get automatic messages all day to update how your clan is doing while you're away.  "Xiangyong1988 has just raided your village!"  or "The troops are ready to attack!" or "Our arsenal of supplies is almost empty, chief, WHERE ARE YOU?"  I'm quite sure this sucks my battery down, but I can't bring myself to delete the app because you enjoy it so much.  (And also, I can get you to do basically anything if I threaten to delete it.)

You waxed political yesterday, comparing America's wars in other countries to youth travel sports teams -- they never fight it out on their home turf.  I thought that was pretty brilliant, but on the other hand you've been bringing home Ds and Fs in social studies, so who knows?  (Side note:  I secretly like that you're getting bad grades because it forces me to practice Spanish in order to help you get better.  I am so proud of my new knowledge of 4th grade geological terms en Espanol -- suela, meteorizacion, formas de rocas, etc.).  I will enjoy it much less when the homework is in English, so please do try to improve and/or consistently attend a Spanish immersion school.

You're still taking piano lessons although this will probably be the last year.  I told you last year that you could quit when you get to middle school because you would be playing a band instrument at that time.  You have your heart set on the saxophone.  I guess I have to be OK with that.  It's just that you're good, JB.  You have an ear for it.  I think your foot for soccer and arm for baseball are great too, but those have nothing to do with me, and son, here's the deal: Soon you will learn that it all has to do with me, unfortunately.  I want to see you shine BOTH in activities that I pursued AND in things that I could never fathom.  I want to live vicariously through you.  I want you to do all of the things I did, and out-perform me.  It's not even a lot to ask, love.  It's just you at your best.

Too bad there's that whole HOMEWORK thing.  It is really holding us you back.

Let's discuss our time in the car, JB.  What is this calling cars thing?  You and your brother do it both individually and collectively while I drive you all to various extracurriculars.  "Oooooh!  Call that mustang!"  or "Oh yeah, call that monster truck."  or "OOoh yeah baby -- that motorcycle is mine." (An important unnoticed fact here is that we live in a city where we see sports cars, motorcycles, and monster trucks driving around daily -- how many other cities can brag about that?)  My most important question is this: Why is it important to call cars/trucks when you're the only one who sees/wants them (e.g., when it's just me and you in the car and Sam is with your dad? --  I drive and wonder about these things.)

John-John -- you know that we love you by now.  But do you also know that we like you most of the time too?  You have matured into a lovable, hard-working, funny kiddo about whom we are more than proud.

I am especially interested in your athletic talents (but would also love it if you tried, say, theater or ballet), but all of you is pretty cool at this point, JB. You seem to be learning yourself and applying that knowledge to good decision making about the choices that you/we make.  I feel proud to be part of Team John, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for you.

You are loved, liked, respected, (catered to, not that it matters), and honored ...

With all my hugs and love,

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thursday Night Special

I used to always blog on Thursday nights.  Because I only had one kiddo. Because I wasn't working full time.  Because Brian was always at work until late.  Because I had finished mopping for the, um, week.

Now I have two kiddos, am working full time, have a husband who no longer works late, and a cleaning service that mops, um -- don't judge -- once a month.  (We have a small house.)

Tonight I worked until 8 p.m., had dinner with a colleague until 9ish, and got home at 9:30 p.m. after a long day of dealing with what I like to refer to as triple I's: Important Immigrant Irritations.  Who amongst us doesn't love alliteration?  Let him cast the first stone.  (Short aside:  I once joined a book club that was just forming.  We were all having a discussion about when we should meet, and "First Fridays" was my suggestion.  However, some important member was always busy on that day, so I came up with the following to satiate my alliterative drive:  Book Club will meet the Friday Following the First Friday of each month (FFFF).)  

And when I got home at 9:30 p.m., all the house was quiet and completely dark.  I chose not to take this personally, and felt Thursday calling.  So, here I am.

The following is on my mind ...

  • It's not possible, but still, I will soon have a child whose age is in double digits.
  • I don't record enough of the hilarity of the everyday, which I used to do ad nauseum.
  • I can't possibly be taking enough photos of poor, sweet Sam.
Note that they're all negative.  I noted that, and my well-trained, self-aware mind said, "Write 3 positives to counteract negative thinking."  So, here:

  • I feel that I make a consistent & concerted effort to be a better parent mostly daily.
  • I go to bed earlier on average these days than in the last few years.
  • I try to live a balanced life that is focused on neither me nor my family, but us as a whole.
And now for the love of all that is good in the world ... on to just some photos... no more psychobabble.

It is soccer season, and I'm reminiscing about John-John's first year on a team.  He was three and serious, but as fate would have it, he got on the pink team.  It was appropriately named the Pink Panthers, and not to worry because John -- as fate would have it -- was in a pink phase.  

Not such a pink phase that he didn't insist upon orange socks. 
 Then there came the in-between year where one was playing and one was watching.  There were moments like this, which are simply magnanimous mama music (MMM), as far as I'm concerned.
John scored a goal.

John's team won the game.

And then came Sam's first year, which was marked with utter adherence to the rules.  NOT.  I once ran into a college friend at the fields (his kid was playing on an opposing team) and during our catch-up-on-the-last-almost-20-years conversation, Sam pulled down his pants and mooned the referees. TRUE STORY.

Obviously, we don't have a pic of him engaged in the act of mooning, but we do have proof that he played soccer for the Black Bears because of black uniform top, of course.

And those are all the pictures I have.  Hopefully I can do better this year in terms of sports memories.  

But until then..