On being grown

It’s nice to be a grown up. As I sit and listened to my coworker’s stories of the past weekend, this simple sentence was all I could think. They proudly admitted to large quantities of alcohol consumed, not remembering how many jello shots they did or many hours of the night. I thought of snuggling with my six year old in the dark of DAR Constitution Hall, listening to Tori and watching his eyes follow the intricate light show that accompanied the rich, living sound of her piano. I remembered being proud of my son for looking at me when Tori began to sing “Gold Dust Woman” and saying, “That’s someone else’s song.” Proud that he could decipher Tori Amos from Stevie Nicks.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against alcohol. Sitting in a 15th Century style restaurant with food, décor and staff made to bring you back to Medieval Europe, I happily taste tested the sample of mead placed before us. Last year at Disney, I got ridiculously excited over some fruity cocktail with a light up ice cube inside. I enjoy a well-crafted drink, and I enjoy savoring the flavor and the slight warmth and relax that just the right amount of drink can bring.

It just isn’t a prerequisite to having fun anymore. I was happy enough to stroll the streets of DC, pop into a museum and watch my son’s glee when he spied a Jackson Pollock painting, the artist we have been studying as of late. We were actually almost late due to fact that before leaving home to check into our DC hotel on Saturday, my son was experimenting with Pollock’s techniques with reckless abandon. Even the neighbor kid stopped by and decided to give it a try. I was unwilling to cut him off early and eventually, he used all of the paint and we had to call it quits.

And so I sit happily, knowing someday, when they are “grown” all of their stories will not revolve around how much they have had to drink and who did more shots. One day they will learn to slow down and appreciate how life feels sober. Those moments of clarity and full feeling cannot happen between drunkenness and hangovers. They think me a prude and I smile. I no longer have to escape and someday, they will be happy enough not to have to escape either.

Because you should read more… I should write more

It’s time.

I have done quite a bit of soul searching over the last few months, and I have come to the conclusion that it is time that I get back to writing– Something more and more meaningful than 121 characters of a tweet or facebook post. You can’t get better at writing unless you practice.
So, I intend to do just that. Not only will I make a whole hearted effort to keep my blog actually up to date, but I also intend to start a book. Yes, a book. I know, some of you are asking, “if she can’t keep up with a simple blog, how will she ever get to writing an entire book?” Well, the answer is simple. I have no idea.

I just intend to do it. Those of you who have known me for years know that when I get set in my mind to do something, do it I shall. But, there is no hard and fast rule for how long I expect it to take. Nor is there anything that says somewhere down the road I might not change my mind. But for now, I will write.
I have done a bit of soul searching in many arenas the last few months. My job, namely, has given me much to be introspective about. I love what I do and the interesting people I get to meet and work with. The politics, backstabbing and maliciousness, these are not things I enjoy. I have lived much of my life in a sort of optimism; Optimism that life had certain rules and that they would be followed. That injustices would be righted, eventually. Life taught me a very hard lesson about optimism before but clearly I did not learn it well enough. So man’s world has reached out again to remind me that power rules the world, not law or justice. A lesson that has sunk in deeper this time around, despite the stakes being decidedly lower and the injustice more to my pride than my person. I am at a crossroads, where optimism and pessimism meet naiveté and disillusionment. I am standing at the center, and have not yet decided which road is my path.

Second, my son. My child is six and a shining star in an otherwise darkened sky. His homeschooling is going swimmingly. We have been at odds, the volcanoes versus the raging sea; One spewing hot ash and smoke, the other beating the rocks in an attempt to smash them to sand. In the end, the magma is cooled by the sea and the sea is tamed by the rising earth. Together, we have created a landscape neither of us recognize as being completely our own. I have found patience, and a surrendering of will. He has found focus, and a love for bookwork. We spend fewer hours in our household classroom but we accomplish much more than we did before. He gets to pick the topics and the order of the day, and I arrange the lessons and the key points. And we discover together. Bach, Van Gogh, dinosaurs, an (odd) love of flashcards (his—not mine). He is reading now, full books with complicated words. Signs in stores, on streets and on videogames.

My child is unique. Sensitive and bold. And he is learning, not in my way- but in HIS way. Today, he delighted the folks on our Meals on Wheels route telling them that he loved the “haunting” music of Johann Sebastian Bach but his favorite was still “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Edvard Grieg (a song he learned last year while studying Norway prior to our Disney trip). And, he tickled and somewhat confounded his mama by turning down cupcakes, ice cream and candy from those folks but happily accepting freshly picked snap peas from the garden.

Oh the tricks life will throw your way. Some days, I feel like someone is studying me. Throwing odd tasks my way just to study how I will react. Perhaps as a story for a novel. The real question- am I the villain, or the heroine?

Innovention on the Horizon

After my revolutionary decision to home school my son through kindergarten, my life has gotten somewhat more hectic. I have spent hours reading books, searching through curriculum and looking at worksheets and workbooks. I have completely moved two rooms around in my home and changed the fundamental use of those rooms. My onetime idea that my son’s room would be a place of quiet reflection, having only small, quiet-play toys and books has been replaced with all of the toys that lack educational use. The once overcrowded and loud playroom has been replaced with a quiet area of books, educational movies, blocks, musical instruments and globes. I have one entire unit planned and ready to go, lots of notebooks, pens, paper and art supplies on standby and new lamps, bins and baskets.

Also in the same timeframe, we have finally made our third annual Walt Disney World Resort reservations for the fall. Our party of 8 will be traveling in style at the Caribbean Beach Resort and having wonderful dinners at Cinderella’s Castle, the Tusker House, the Garden Grille, Narcoossee’s, the Coral Reef, the Liberty Inn and the brand new Be Our Guest Restaurant. My family will be spending 9 lovely days at the resort and 7 days park hopping through the worlds. Extended family will be spending 7 days at the resort and 4 days park hopping as well as one day at universal Studios. It is sure to be a wonderful trip! I can’t wait for new experiences such as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and the Behind the Seeds Tour at Epcot. I honestly wish that we were leaving right away!

Since the trip will take place after homeschooling has begun, the trip will be prefaced by animal and cultural studies that will coincide with animals and countries we will come into contact with at Disney’s Epcot and Animal Kingdom. We will also be reading some of the classic literature (not just the Disney version) that is associated with some of the rides at Magic Kingdom. This way, the learning will help build excitement for the trip and the trip will help reinforce the learning. Win-Win! With stories like Tom Sawyer, Swiss Family Robinson, Through the Looking glass (the real version of Alice), Beauty and the Beast, Song of the South (the tale of Briar Rabbit [splash mountain]) and many other fairy tales, we should have plenty of literature to keep us busy. Not to mention Epcot’s many country representations, complete with cultural foods, videos, architecture, language and entertainment. Epcot also has the living seas and the land pavilions which teach about the environment and the animals and plants that live there. Innoventions East and West teach about weather, technology, engineering and other scientific topics in a fun way. Let’s not forget Spaceship earth which gives a great overview of the evolution of man. Animal Kingdom goes without saying. Life science is an easy find here. I can’t wait!

I have also managed to score tickets to an upcoming Heart concert complete with VIP package which includes a meet and greet with Ann and Nancy prior to the show. I will be giving one ticket to my partner in crime who really wanted to go but thought it was too expensive for her birthday. *shhhh*

With all this excitement, it is hard not to get started right away! But first, I have to finish building the bookshelves….

Full time Mom, Full time employee, Full time student, Full time teacher?

One of the hardest choices we have to make as parents is where to send our kids to school. That time is upon me. My first hope was to get my son into the local charter school. Unfortunately, when the lottery was drawn, we were not lucky enough to get selected. Sure, we are on the wait list and miracles can happen, but it is unlikely at best. My state is not eager or particularly willing to allow children to go to a school out of their zone, so that really isn’t on the table.

So I am in a bit of a predicament. Should I send my son to his zoned school or homesechool? Some background information, the school my son is zoned for is not a great school. It isn’t failing, but it does have a D-. 75% of the kids have free or reduced lunch (statistically proven to increase the chances of behavior problems) and all of the test scores are WAYYYY below average. But it’s just kindergarten. How bad can it really be, right? Well, it could be pretty bad if my son starts with bad classroom management and thinks that is the standard. Plus, my son already has accomplished half of the kindergarten goals for the year.

So, would it be better to homeschool him and keep him moving forward? I worry that he would miss out on that “school” experience. But he does play T-ball 3 days a week, we go to the library on a regular basis and attend storytime, he does gymnastics once a week, we go to the park regularly and other social experiences. He is very outgoing, very social. I am not sure he will be missing out on much.

On top of everything else I do, am I ready to be a full-time teacher too?

Boys

Because sometimes, the only thing you can do is take your kids out and let them play.

Today, we went to our local Naval Aviation museum. My son loves checking out the airplanes. He is able to get up close and personal with them. He can touch, feel, climb in (some) and really learn to love the airplanes.

 

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I think these moments are important. We of course go to the park, we go to the beach and we play in the backyard. But I love to see the look on my son’s face when he gets to slide into the cockpit of a jet airplane and grab the stick. Sure, he isn’t going anywhere, but I can see those wheels turning.

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Of course, those trips to the park are not to be taken lightly. The ability to run, scream, jump and climb without tearing down Mom’s drapes are important.

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Oh spring. I can’t wait for you to come. Who else loves to take their kids and get them out of the house? Any place that your little one loves especially?

Blue Frosting

When I woke up, I was filled with anticipation. This day would be my son’s very first birthday party. The list of things to do was long. I needed to get the cake, feed my kid, get everything into the truck, meet up with my parents, get the room set up and greet the guests. I was hoping that everything would go off well. I imagined my poor 5 year old, sitting at his birthday table surrounded by his family and disappointed because there were no children in attendance. I couldn’t let his happen. So I worked hard, chasing down any child I knew between the ages of 3 and 6.

In the end, it paid off. My son sat in at the end of his birthday table looking at 7 other children. He shared cake and popcorn and got presents and lots of laughs. His party was held at an indoor facility which houses half a dozen bounce houses.

So the kids came. We sat in a tiny little room barely big enough for our group. The kids played with their goodie bags stuffed with small toys and stickers. They shouted—oh boy, were they loud. They sang. And they jumped until my son came, collapsed on the floor in front of me and declared that he was too exhausted to continue on.

1. Never get 8 children under 5 in a small room all at the same time.
2. Bounce houses are great prerequisites to naps.
3. Kids under 5 are AMAZINGLY loud.
4. No matter how hard you try, you’ll never get those stupid little pieces out of the box before they hand you a different toy to get out.
5. Blue frosting does not “wash right off.”
6. No matter what your 4 year old tells you, he does not acually want a cake without frosting.

My life, Unplugged…

Fun Time

Life is busy. There is always too much to do and too little time in which to get it done. That is just the life of being a mother, especially when you have a small child. With that in mind, I spent this last weekend completely unplugged. No, I don’t mean that I ignored the computer for a couple of days. I mean I took my son, drove to the mountains of Tennessee and spent the weekend in my parent’s cabin in the Smokies. The cabin has no phone, no internet and no TV. When I say we were unplugged, I mean we were UNPLUGGED!!

It was nice to be out of the hustle and bustle of the world I am used to living in. When my son randomly decided to walk out the front door, I didn’t worry. My parent’s cabin sits in valley, on a private hill which is actually the highest point in the valley. In the warmer months, there are black bear and coyote to worry about.  In the middle of a snowstorm, the only thing I had to watch for is my son’s insistence that he play outside without his hat and coat.

We spent time cooking together, reading, coloring, talking about the world and his concerns for turning five on Thursday. We watched as a HUGE snowstorm came across the mountain tops, up the hill and up and over the other mountains. We went into town, had lunch, played games at an arcade, ate fudge and wandered through town. We found pinecones, cool flat rocks and ladybugs (oddly enough).

We also were able to meet my sister’s daughter. My son was able to hold his 3 week old cousin, showed her how to use a bow and arrow, and offered to take her to the toilet. He was very helpful.

I’d forgotten how distracting and loud the T.V. is (which seems to always be on, whether we are watching it or not). I’d forgotten how much time I waste perusing the internet, whether there is anything to look out or not. I’d forgotten how bland store bought eggs taste in comparison to fresh eggs.

I think unplugging is the way to go. Having that child-focused weekend, where you are either asleep or being a family is very important to staying in touch with your child. And while you can always turn off the TV at home, it is usually just too tempting to finish the laundry or check your email for that important thing you are waiting on.

My goal: Try to make time every month to unplug—completely! Even if I have to rent a small cabin out at Point Lookout or camp in the backyard. A day or two for just me and my boy, where I can forget those million and one things that HAVE to be done and worry about the one important thing that NEEDS to be done—being a mom to my precious boy.