Total Pageviews

Thursday, May 27, 2010

“The Birds and the Bees.” “Where do you babies come from?” I knew it was only a matter of time before we’d need to answer these questions. Preschool to early elementary school is often when these things get answered for kids. But that doesn’t mean that I’M ready!!

Matthew came home from school one day and announced, “I NEED to learn about the inside of the human body.”

“Um, OK,” I said, “Why?”

With growing urgency in his voice he responds, “Because I’m going to be a paramedic when I grow up and I NEED to learn how we work. Now!”

Woah. Since we have been having a bit of a hard time with Matthew enjoying school, I decided we better act on this excitement. Post-afterschool snack, we headed out to the library to pick up some books.

I’m not the only one facing these questions. Rebecca informed me on my birthday that their three-year-old, Noah, was also inquiring about human anatomy. He just learned that girls lack the same parts as boys. On the morning of my birthday, Rebecca told her boys that we were coming over to celebrate “Ms. Jenny’s Birthday.”

Noah got all excited and loudly announced, “Ms. Jenny doesn’t have a penis!!!” I’m a little concerned that at our next Engaged Encounter function, he will randomly proclaim this news unto the group. (Not that it’s a secret or anything, but still…)

So, Matthew’s known for a while that his mother is penis-less. He knows a very generic idea that babies grow in mommies’ tummies, but has never asked why or how they get there. (It’s always convenient to play the God card though. You know, “God gave you to us…God put you in my tummy.” Etc.). But I was definitely apprehensive as we flipped through the human anatomy book knowing full-well that the two page spread on the reproductive system was coming. Obviously, it’s a kids’ book (from the Eyewitness book series), so it’s done tastefully. All the pictures are diagrams or from models (like not the super model kind but the plastic-faux-human kind).

We were able to keep things mostly general, “Well, that’s the diagram of the inside of the mommy’s parts. ‘Cuz, you know, ladies have different parts than guys.” Then we come upon the picture that shows a (microscopic close-up) of a sperm fertilizing the egg. (I always wonder who signs up to be the model for that photo and how that all works, but anyway…). Matthew asks what the picture is. I kind of sit there stumped and then Mike says – ever so geniusly – “Well, babies are part their mom and part their dad. So, this is the part from the dad right here, and this is the mom part. And together, they’re making a baby. That will turn into a person.” And we left at that. Phew! So, he still doesn’t know HOW these things REALLY work at all. We still haven’t had to REALLY answer any major questions. And I’m REALLY fine with that for now.

Then we look at the illustration of the side-view of a baby in the womb. Matthew looks at it puzzled and said, “But, how does the baby get out again? Doesn’t the mom have to push it out her…privates?”

“Yep.” I respond.

“But where does it fit? How does it get out?”

“Well, see this little channel right here? The baby comes out of there.”

Matthew’s eyeballs get as big as saucers. He looks at me and says, “Um. Ow! That looks like it’d hurt!”

“You’re telling me!”

Monday, May 24, 2010

It’s my 30th birthday!! Today. Today I enter my 3rd decade. Dude. Time for a mini-midlife crisis?? Nah.
I am a birthday snob. For 30 years now (or at least ever since I can remember), I have felt that the entire world should stand still on May 24th in honor of me. Everything should go my way. It should be a perfect May 24th birthday experience every year. Like no hangnails. No cranky kids. No dishes. No laundry. No clutter. May 24th should always be devoted to honoring me with perfection. OK, while I’d be pumped about the lack of hangnail, cranky kids, laundry, etc. and I did just wake up the boys while singing Happy Birthday to ME, I feel I’ve reached a state of maturity this year. I don’t actually expect the entire day to be devoted to the worship of me (‘cuz that’d be bad)….I expect several WEEKS to be devoted to the worship of me.  And so far, things are looking good.

I got to see my FAVORITE musical group – Straight No Chaser – with a few of my dear pals. (What was ironic is that when Mike and I saw SNC in November we were LITERALLY in the front row. This time, we were in the front row of the 2nd balcony where I’m fairly certain they handed out optional oxygen due to the altitude. Still a great show though!). I also got to see a funky funk band at a funky bar on Friday night. I get to have a playdate with our best friends (Rebecca and her boys) today (and a gourmet-feast of a birthday lunch I’m sure). I get to go for a run this afternoon with one of my closest high school friends – who I haven’t seen in two years! I’m doing happy hours with friends tomorrow. Next weekend, we’ll be heading to Port Ludlow with my fam for a weekend of lazy luxury and further birthday celebration. And the weekend after THAT, I get to fly to Monterey, CA to see my dear friend Katherine, her army-man hubby Dan and her pixie-cute baby Grace.

Oh, we think Zachary broke his toe. Youch! The monkey was hanging on the towel bar in the bathroom (how many times have we told him not to??? Guess he HAD to learn the hard way). The bar came out of the wall including the big, solid medal attachment-to-the-wall-ball-part-thingy and landed on his toe. It is now purple-colored (the toe, not the wall thing) and all puffy-chubby. He’s hobbling about. Maybe we should consider having it looked at but what could they even do about it? Maybe he should’ve listened to his wise parents in the first place. Yeah, maybe.

So, it may not be a day of absolute perfection – we’ve a broken toe, there’s laundry literally stacked at the end of the hall just awaiting its’ put-awayedness, dishes need to get put away. We’ve already had two kids throw fits. (I’ve tried – and failed – to use the line, “Nope. Sorry. There’s no crying on my birthday.” Even that didn’t work). Sigh.

Thanks to all my readers, family, and friends for the years and years of support. Here’s to 30 more…and then 30 more after that.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

If you know me, you know that I consider myself somewhat of a Guilt Expert. Look, not to brag, but I pride myself on my ability to feel guilt on most any aspect of my life. I’m a Guilt Connoisseur. (I currently have French Major’s guilt because I had to double-check the spelling of Connoisseur). I am a Specialist, Master, Guru, Virtuoso, Diva and general Professional on all things Guilt. (Do you need a list? Runner’s Guilt, Recycler’s Guilt, Vegan-ish Guilt, Catholic Guilt, Friend Guilt, Writer’s/Blogger’s Guilt, Gardener’s Guilt, House-cleaner’s Guilt, Floutist/Musician’s Guilt, Wifley Guilt…oh, I could go on and on and on….Verbose Speaker’s Guilt – aka MotorMouth Guilt…). But perhaps most prevalent in my life for the last 6 ¾ years is Mom Guilt. The Guilt of all Guilts. Mom Guilt laughs and points and jeers in the face of the other weeny Guilts. (Mom Guilt huddles in the corner and totally mocks the crap out of other so-called Guilts. “Oh, what? You think YOU can cause feelings of guilt? You call that guilt? Oh, I’ll show you guilt!”) I feel guilty over how many times I’ve typed the word guilt in the last three minutes.

So, the other moms know what I’m talking about, but let me attempt (while suffering Lame-Writer’s Guilt) to justly paint the picture for you…word-style. Word.

No matter what we do, it’s not enough. We’ll never spend enough time with our children. We’ll never know exactly what to do on every single occasion. We can wake up every morning wondering how many years of therapy our children will have to endure [mind you – I am a major proponent of therapy] to undo all the damage that we will inflict upon them that day. OK, well, maybe not ALL moms go through this every day, but I pretty much do. Nearly every day the thought crosses my mind: “Just how badly am I screwing up these children? God help me.” Look, it’s not a BAD thing to be humble about one’s skill. And yes, many would argue that this Mom Guilt thing (especially the way the Guilt and I roll) is a bit unhealthy and I need to have some confidence in my Mom Mo-Jo. But, when it comes down to it, I know my children are thriving and surviving and they are healthy and they are so loved but holy majoly I’m pretty much the best improv actor there is ‘cuz I’m wingin’ it every day and I know I could be doing better.

Except for this week. This week I rock. I’m kind of the best mom on the planet…this week. OK, well, from like Tuesday-Saturday, I rock. Except for yesterday afternoon when I put on an educational cartoon and tried my darndest to ignore the kids. Aside from that, I’ve been Mom of the Year 2010. I’ll start working on my acceptance speech.

See, I know my boys. But this is specifically about one boy. My mushpot, my softy. My tender-hearted, little big boy. My eldest. My Matthew. I could go on and on and on about how much I love each of my boys but you already know that, so I shan’t bore you with the details. I know how great our kids are. I know how blessed we are. I know that millions of people have WAY more challenges than we do. With that said let ME now say, that this has been a VERY difficult year with Matthew. It’s obviously a year of major transition – starting full-day kindergarten, having twice the number of kids in his class than what he’s used to, riding the bus, being gone and on his own all day – yes, lots of change right there. And he did not seem to handle these changes real well.

Nearly every day, Matthew has come home from kindergarten and just completely fallen apart. He’s angry; he’s overwhelmed; he throws tantrums. And here I was looking forward to the boys being apart all day! I’d been told, “Oh, it’ll be SO good for them, they’ll be SO excited to see each other after school.” Well, if Zach even looks at Matthew wrong – look out! After spending most of the year trying to figure out how to best help Matthew and looking for resources, I’d finally found a book that perfectly summarized him: The Highly Sensitive Child. Taking the little quiz at the beginning of the book was startling and yet comforting – yes, this totally IS Matthew. He’s overwhelmed by the chaos in the classroom, he takes the general noise level of 22 six-year-olds in his class and internalizes it feeling like they’re all angry at him, he gets upset when things are hard and don’t go his way. He has the lowest self-esteem of any kindergartner I’ve ever met. He is so compassionate and so empathetic to those around him that the emotions bog him down and he just doesn’t know how to cope. So, he holds it together all day at school – too shy or scared to ask his teacher for help – and then he unloads the second he enters the safe walls of home.

Gradually through the year, Matthew has begun to dislike school more and more. For a while he would cry nearly every morning, begging me not to make him go. And with my heart breaking I would gently push him out the door. We found out that another boy in his class was bullying him. We found out that Matthew finds learning “too hard.” I feel like this has been the year of trying to slowly piece together the puzzle that is my son. How do I figure out what pieces are needed to help him feel whole? Why is he so very frustrated so very often? What can I do to help him? It’s literally been gnawing at me every day.

After researching and talking to friends (including one who is a psychologist), we’ve decided to have Matthew’s vision and hearing tested. We’re also going to have him tested for Dyslexia or another possible learning disability. IF he does have something that’s made learning extra difficult, I would imagine that it’s fairly mild. He has been learning to read and write and he’s doing ok. He definitely struggles though with some of the “benchmarks” for kindergarten. He’s in the lowest reading group in his class, he has a hard time counting to 100 (and counting by 5’s or 10’s hasn’t even been attempted) – which is fine, BUT I just feel like maybe there’s a way that we can better help him learn, maybe there’s something that’s making this whole school thing all the more difficult for him. Maybe there’s a way to help him enjoy school – maybe even love it. Maybe. And maybe not. I’m scared about finding something out or finding nothing out. Knowledge is power and I’m just trying to figure this kiddo out.

So why am I a good mom (specifically this week)? Because I’ve had to defend my choice – even to myself – on why it’s worth getting Matthew tested. I know my kid. I know that early intervention is a HUGE help when there are learning disabilities. I – like all moms – want what’s best for my child and I’m doing everything I can to figure out what that is. I rule.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Some numbers for you:

27 days of school left for Matthew (we’ve started a countdown calendar on which he colors in one box as soon as he gets home from school). This could be a LONG several weeks. That kiddo is more than ready to be done.

Only 4 days of preschool left for Zachary! (And yet, he’s the one who’d rather have 27 left).

9 – the number of miles in my long run last week (in which I almost lost my running shoe down a cliff and I got fairly lost…aside from that, it was a great one)! 106 – the approximate number of training miles I will be running between now and June 26th when I run my 13.1 mile Half Marathon.

3ish – the number of days until I get to go see Straight No Chaser ( ) in concert (for part of my early birthday celebration)! Mike and I saw them in November. This time, I get to take Mom and a couple of friends.

10 days until I turn 30. 15 approximate gray hairs I’ve pulled off my head in the last several weeks. $7 the average cost of a box of hair dye…I might be spending this sooner than I’d like.

21 days until I fly/travel approximately 900 miles to visit my friend Katherine in Monterey, CA!! I’m SO excited! Our birthdays are two days apart and for the last 7 years, we’ve often celebrated together – especially when Katherine’s Special Force’s husband, Dan was in Iraq. Last year, not only was he in Iraq but she was pregnant on her birthday, so I just HAD to see her (and I got to visit family in the Windy City too). Now, Dan is back and along with their beautiful baby girl Grace they live in sunny Monterey. Mike’s been kind enough to agree to “release” me for the first weekend of June so that I can fly down for a brief (post-birthday-celebratory) trip.

Zero – the amount of magic that teachers have according to Zachary. He told me one day after school that he “painted something.”

I said, “Ooh! What is it?”

He responded, “I don’t know. Mrs. Mac will turn it into something.”

“Does she have magic?!” I ask. “Will she turn it into something with teacher magic?!”

Zach studies me like a.) he’s appalled at my stupidity and b.) he’s disappointed that I’m the one assigned to be his mother. He shakes his head and sighs, “No, mom with scissors. She’ll turn it into something with teacher scissors.”

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Zach is officially a four-year-old, bicycle-riding machine. He had a great birthday celebration last week and – as always in this household – we made sure to stretch out the festivities over several days.

On Tuesday, Matthew, Zachary and I went to a Storybook Theater production of the Princess and the Pea. Zach leaned over during the stage musical and whispered (in a bit of a stage whisper), “I’m SO happy right now,” and proceeded to plant a wet kiss on my arm. I guess he liked it the show!

We then had a mini-birthday party with best friends Joshua and Noah. They played, ate yummy lunch, watched a movie, played some more, had cupcakes and an all-around good time. As always, Rebecca and I had a great time with a glass of wine to celebrate (not that we ever need a birthday as an excuse for a glass ‘o wine).

Wednesday (April 28th – the actual big day), we went to my parentals’ for the big birthday dinner. Zachary got all sorts of fun stuff there including a Playmobil “Pet Clinic” from us. He later said – talking about some of the little, tiny animals, “These guinea pigs are just so cute. I just can’t stop looking at them.”

Then, this past weekend, my brother Tim came up (aunt Rebecca was out of town for the weekend) along with Go-Go the Wonder Pug! The boys were super excited to see him (and their uncle too). Tim and Rebecca were kind enough to go in on a bike with us for Zachary. The boys are now a little biker gang ripping up and down our street. Matthew – no training wheels – is doing awesome and Zach hopped on his bike for the first time (WITH training wheels) and rode around like a champ!

Lastly, I’ve created a new little laptop spot for my dear Kara. I now use an on-line calendar (as you can see on my screen, actually) and Mike and I installed a new picture window so that – while writing – I can look out at our French vineyard and countryside (it’s in Provence, you see). It’s a beautiful view. Now, if you’ll excuse me I need to go hang the laundry out in the warm, lavender-scented sun. I will then sip my cafĂ© au lait before starting in on preparations for our mid-day meal of Poulet aux Senteurs de Provence avec Haricots Verts et finalement, une Tarte Tatin. (Or maybe I’ll just do PBJ).