Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sometimes things just sneak up on you...

A few funny things have happened to us today - so naturally, I sat down to blog about them - thinking you all might appreciate them, being moms or soon to be moms yourselves.

It wouldn't come. Honestly, the words would. not. form.

I know why. I was just trying to ignore it.

I miss my friend today. She's been gone almost three years, so it's not like I talk to her regularly (at least not in person). I don't even live in the same house (or state) as I did when we were friends.

I can't say we were best friends or closest confidantes. In fact, we really got to be better friends due to insomnia. I was always awake feeding babies and she often couldn't sleep due to pain and/or effects of chemo. The deal was, we would each turn on our porchlights at night (or sometimes early in the morning) if we were awake. If one saw the other, it was safe to come over and turn on the coffee pot.

I was a new mom - she was more experienced. I was a cryer. She was not. She was cute, blond, and tiny. Me - not so much. Different in so many ways. At the time, I wondered what the connection was and why.

I don't wonder anymore. Because of her, I now have an "extended family" that includes some of the greatest people I have the privilege of knowing. Funny thing is - they are all on her husband's side. I have called on each and every one of them for something in my life. Her niece became our closest and most trusted babysitter. She is now in college and still providing a role model for my girls. Her two kids are as close to my heart as a niece and nephew. I pray daily for them and miss them like crazy. Her husband - well - I never had an older brother before- but if you were to roll up a big brother and a great friend - that's what you would come up with.

Big things are on the horizon for her family. I think that is why she has been in my heart and mind today. I know she's ready. I think I am too.

But boy, do I wish that porchlight would turn back on.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

At least I am bathing them...

After my last post, I think my readers may call Child Services and complain about neglect. As you can see, I am bathing them.... just all three at a time to be more efficient. All for the kingdom of mouse! If I am not surfing the net, how will I find out what the recommended restaurants are in all the Disney parks? What if we dare eat chicken fingers at the wrong place? Gasp!

I do hope you can read my jest. We are really being surprisingly low key and zen-like about all this. It is just that once you start reading, it is surprisingly hard to stop. After all, there is an ABUNDANCE of information out there. But, the way I figure out, the kids have never been there, so they will never know what we missed. So, if we are relaxed, there is a greater chance of having a BLAST as family and a lesser chance of angering the stomach flu gods.

This just can't be right.....

I admit - sometimes I take on more then I can chew (maybe I should say "complete"). I haven't even blogged about our trip to Vegas yet. There is just so much to say - I need more than mere moments to compose my thoughts. It is coming .....

Meanwhile, there is Emma's first entry in the Science Fair. I assume that will be blog-worthy when it is finished as the title is "Do My Favorite Foods Float?" She is currently testing her hypotheses and there have been some surprises. But - no spoilers here. You will just have to wait until February 13th (or sooner if she completes it by then).

There is also planning a Disney trip for our family in May. This, for me, is a fairly daunting task. After googling "Walt Disney World" and getting 3 million hits, I called two people who LOVE to plan - friend Nicole (who is a self-described "machine" on vacation and a Disney expert) and my mother (she and my brother are accompanying us). Between the two of them (with a little input from me and another Disney-savvy friend Marni), we have identified travel dates, airlines, accomodations, and food plan. Still up in the air are restaurant reservations and a character meal. All things considered, things are looking great from my perspective.

This is good news as my children had this for dinner due to my preoccupation with all things Disney: a bowl of fruit loops, apple slices, and a soft pretzel with cream cheese in the middle. Nope, not a vegetable. Does cream cheese count as a protein?

As Emma said when I put down her plate (she had served the three bowls of cereal herself because I kept saying " in a minute....") - "This is dinner? This just can't be right."

Friday, January 25, 2008

Growing Pains...

So - first grade is proving to be tough. Not academically so much, but all the "other stuff" we as parents come to believe is the hardest to navigate our way through. At this house (and at many of our friends' homes), we are starting to see the emergence of sarcasm (not from me this time), really POKEY morning routines, and the drama of the "BFF." (Best Friends Forever for you folks that are long past this stage - or just haven't gotten there yet).

The BFF saga plays out something like this. Each week (or other randomly determined day), girls (yes, mainly only girls because boys don't seem to need this sort of drama) decide on some arbitrary criteria and pair up to be BFF. Inevitably, some girls are not happy with the selections or are left out, etc. Of course, these pairings are short lived - which leads to a whole other sort of despair ("She isn't my BFF anymore - which translates into "She isn't my friend anymore." Ugh. This sort of thing is new to Emma - as she has always had a good selection of neighborhood kids to play with and even with the older kids, there just wasn't that sort of stuff. We are working through it but what I am learning is - even the small things can be painful to watch if it is your child being hurt (even if you are certain it is good for them). For me, it is a bit like reliving high school -but only having the tools of a six year old.

It is a bit of a cruel paradox. One moment, she is reading chapter books and working out math problems like this "At 7:00, Gina's mom told her she had 45 minutes to get ready. Draw on the clock the time that Gina has to be ready." So grown up and sophisticated. It is tough to remember she still wants someone to sit by her at lunch.

Yesterday, I called my friend for advice on the BFF issue and I just wanted to rush through this little "phase" that is certainly not unique to us. Then before bed, a discussion on names came up (a few new kids in the class have "cool names"), and she said - "Well, you know Mom - Savage is only temporary. It is only my maiden name." Yep. Lots of things are only temporary. Let's enjoy all those fleeting moments. Even if we have to lean on our BFFs for help...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Great Link for Family Movie Night

Family Movie Nights are becoming pretty popular around this house but often, I am not fond of what is available on TV or "new releases" from the video store. My friend sent me this link. She and her family use it regularly to purchase movies for birthdays, etc. I am intrigued. What I particularly like is the "search" feature. You can search by "value," i.e., honesty, character, faith, etc. and by age. It also gives you a synopsis of the movie. They are only available for purchase - but at least you can find titles then check your library, Netflix or movie store. Check it out - I think you will find it worthwhile. I spent (shamefully) almost an hour reading many movie summaries.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Please watch this video clip....

Those who know me well know that autism and its larger umbrella of Pervasive Developmental Disorder has been on my professional radar for many years. In the past seven years, this has become more personal to me as I have fallen in love with many children and their families impacted by this. These past several weeks at work has renewed my resolve to keep abreast of the research and find more ways to contribute.

This is pandemic. If the recent statistics bear out even for the next few years, if you don't know someone impacted by PDD/autism spectrum disorder right now - you soon will. Our children, our nieces, nephews, grandchildren - all at risk if we can't find something to give us a way to get at this thing.

The band, Five for Fighting, is generously donating $0.40 to Autism Speaks
for *each time* this video is viewed. The funding goes toward research
studies to help find a cure. When you have a moment, please visit the link
below to watch the video and pass it along to your friends and family.
They are aiming for 10,000 hits, but hopefully we can help them to surpass
this goal.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Thoughts on Martin Luther King Day and First Grade Equality

Watching the Democratic debates on TV tonight, it was apparent to me how far this nation has come since Dr. King's infamous speech. It was equally apparent how far we have to go.

All of the kids's schools touched on Dr. King and his invaluable contributions to society. When Emma brought her report home, we touched on the content. She can't quite wrap her head around the injustice Rosa Parks endured. As we discussed it, I vividly recalled feeling exactly the same way.

This is her version of Dr. King's biography. I hope you can read it. She told me she mentions Rosa Parks because "anybody should be able to sit anywhere they want on the school bus - and nobody should have to sit next to a boy if they don't want to."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The V Word...

I am wondering what went through your collective minds when you saw the title....

Whatever it was (and I have some creative possibilities), it probably wasn't what I was pondering. Actually, it has to do with Emma - and it has been brewing a while now....

Still stumped? I'll give you one hint. Last night's meatloaf.

Enough with the suspense. It is probably killing you. Many of you know my eldest daughter's aversion to meat. I think it started as a texture thing - then when her class did the "Where do foods come from?" unit - that was the final straw. By the way - I think this is an instance of our kids being TOO EDUCATED. She lived blissfully for a while thinking hamburgers came simply from the fresh-faced cashier at MacDonalds. I digress.

So - we have had a deal for a while regarding her consumption of meat at meals. I am the MOM. She is the CHILD. You know the rest. Because my children have recently threatened to unionize, we struck an agreement. You eat the number of bites of the noxious substance that correlates to your age. Worked well until our lawyer to be realized she would ALWAYS have to eat more bites than her sibs because well - she is ALWAYS going to be older. Hmmm.

Last night - after watching her grimace, gag, pale, and drink copious amounts of milk to wash down the 6 dastardly pieces of meatloaf (made unrecognizable by the ridiculous amount of barbecue sauce) I calmly asked what the big issue was.

Her reply - "I think I want to be a vegetarian. They don't eat animal meat."

My mind veered off into the myriad of possibilities this conversion could lead to. Brilliantly, I came up with "They also don't eat chicken nuggets." This indeed stumped her. Apparently, her official stance is "chicken with crust on it doesn't count as meat." She may not be far off.

I couldn't argue. I was a vegetarian too for a while. What can it hurt? We then followed up the discussion with differences between vegan and vegatarian. That conversation continued this morning. She assured me she will NOT be giving up her milk, eggs, or cottage cheese because it "doesn't have to be dipped in something to taste good." Aha! I was afraid she was basing this on principle.

Anyway - it was kind of cool actually. I am just getting glimpses of the kind of arguments she will make, the kind of rationale she can use, and when she asked me again this morning if she could still "Be a vegetarian." I reminded her that my job was to keep her safe. Her job was to make the best decisions for her. Gulp. It looks like these decisions may be coming faster than I thought.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Things That Do Go Together....

There are some things that just seem to go well together in this house... and in life. Here are a few from this week...

1. Grayson and his light saber.

2. Grayson and his Scooby Doo pajamas. It was pj day at preschool today and you could take one toy. Hmmm... can you imagine what he took? This is his "jedi" stance.

3. Emma and her Leapster, CD player, or any other electronic device.

4. Claire and her princess tutu.

5. Freshly brewed coffee and flavored creamer.

6. Pancakes and eggs (at least once or twice a week served at various mealtimes).

7. Email + friends (New friends and experienced ones).

8. Baby powder and freshly bathed children.

9. January and 60 degree weather - woohoo!

10. Sleeping in + breakfast in bed (well, a girl can dream...)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Things That Just Don't Go Together....

A few things I have learned this week about things that just shouldn't co-exist...

1. Britney Spears and procreation.
2. Most of the the 2008 hopefuls and the word "Commander in Chief".
3. The general "aromas" of the nursing home co-mingling with the odor of the "freshly made" salmon patties for lunch.
4. Chicken nuggets and ketchup - need I say more?
5. My kids and TWO WEEKS OFF from preschool and "the big time" as Emma calls first grade. (They all go back tomorrow - Praise God!)

Yes, tomorrow Emma goes back to reading chapter books, writing her "non-fiction," and her new math lesson - learning to tell time. Tonight she asked me if we had an analog clock. Hmmm... is that different than digital? I honestly didn't know and told her we had to wait until Daddy got home to ask (or until Grayson got off the computer so I could look up the word "analog" on the computer). I don't even know if I spelled the word correctly. Am I supposed to be stumped by my first grader? Oh well, the little smarty pants goes back to school tomorrow.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

To See or Not to See...

We just returned home from our Saturday night out with the kids. I just may win the award for most frugal (Nicole and Whitney and Jennifer might say "cheap") night out for a family of five. Drum roll please..... a movie and dinner for under $20.00! Ta da!!!!!!

Now, the movie WAS at the dollar show. Yep - one dollar per ticket. Unless you go anytime on Tuesdays - then it is 50 cents. Dinner WAS at Burger King - but that did include free entertainment (some would merely call it a playland ... some folks have no imagination).

Anyway - it got me thinking about the last few movies I have seen and how I would rate them. In case you are interested...

1. The Bee Movie should have been called the Boo Movie. Yuck. Way too long and Renee Zellweger's voice was a total mismatch to her character. Distracting. It got an OK from Grayson and an unenthusiastic thumbs up from Emma. Monte fell asleep. Coincidentally, a friend of ours was there with her two kids. She too napped.
2. Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. We saw this last week at the dollar movie. Much better than the Boo movie. I think Claire may have dozed off during this one though.
3. PS I Love You. No kids - just a date night movie. Well worth ticket price. Ladies - this is a YUMMY movie. Hillary Swank and the leading man were both awesome - but - I went because of Jeffrey Dean Morgan!!!!!!! Think Denny from Grey's Anatomy!!! Did I mention his backside has a cameo appearance?!?!?!?!!? I think I may just go purchase this DVD when it comes out. It is that good. I say it again - YUMMY! Here is the link.

Sadly, those are the latest cinematic creations I have seen. Move over Ebert and Roeper.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Jingle Bells (as you have never seen it before)...

Santa Claus brought quite a few musical instruments to our house on Christmas Eve and the kids have really gotten into the act. Here is Emma's soprano version of Jingle Bells. Of special note is the new drummer, Teddy (a gift purchased with money from Grandma Savage) and the great air guitar solo by Grayson. Hilarious.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Things to Remember in 2008

Here it is - another year and another chance to do things just a little differently (if there is room for improvement). We are two days into 2008 and I feel I am already slipping! So - I figure if I type these things out - I will convert these messages to "muscle memory" -thereby securing space in my long term memory. Here it goes...

1. God is in control. For me, definitely the hardest one. I tend to only "let Him attempt" to control things when things are not going "as planned." I guess, when things are going well, I am the one who wants to take the credit. Oh boy. I'll bet He thinks I may never learn. I'm trying.

2. Celebrate the differences - in our friends, family, and complete strangers. Because of our interest in international adoption, I have met so many great people and read such inspiring stories. Not everyone makes the same choices in this life - but isn't that what makes it so beautiful?

3. Change is the new black - At least for us. Change is not easy for me - but I am learning to roll with it. See #1. See #2. This year, I may even learn to embrace it. Hey, anything can happen!

4. It just doesn't get any better than this. We are happy, healthy, and together. We are living the life intended for us. It is the mantra I intend to pass to my children this year.

5. Take a chance! For this particular control freak, taking a chance (risk), is right up there with change. Ironically, this is what I most want for my children. So, I must learn to live it a bit more. I figure, if I really believe in #1-4, #5 is a given.

It won't "come naturally" or be second nature, but these are so ultimately more important than losing ten pounds or going to bed earlier. By the way, if I haven't succeeded in doing these for the past five years, it probably isn't going to happen anyway. OK 2008 - I'm ready for you!