Saturday, October 11, 2014

It's a jungle out there

As a college graduate in English Literature, an avid reader, and a writer who prides herself on not using spell-check, I never expected our language to be so tough to teach.

Then I had to explain it to a five year old. A smart, precocious, inquisitive five year old. 

Driving outside of town yesterday, we passed an outdoor plant store, one that specializes in palm trees. 

"Is that a jungle?! In our city? In Arizona?" Bjorn asked.

"No, that's not a jungle. That's a nursery." I replied.

"Nursery? What's a nursery?"

But just as I was opening my mouth to answer, he stopped me.

"OHHHHH. I know what a nursery is." he said excitedly. "It's like the doctor's office."

It took me a minute, but I finally got it. 
Do YOU see the connection? 

The English language sucks. I'm just sayin'.

Monday, September 15, 2014

All by herself.....

Peanut has been playing Connect Four by herself for close to an hour.

By 'playing Connect Four', I mean putting all the checkers in, dropping them from the bottom and yelling "It's pooping!"

Still, it's playing. By herself. For an HOUR.

I'm astounded by the differences in boys and girls, first and second kids, and children from the exact same parents who act completely different.

Bjorn recently began drawing and painting pictures alone, but besides that, I cannot recall a single time where he didn't want the attention or adulation of an adult at least once every five minutes. Mainly me. And usually it's not even five minutes, it is more like every two minutes.

I'm astounded with her ability to amuse herself. I'm not sure if it is a girl/boy thing, but I believe it might be a combination of nature and nurture working in her.  Bjorn was the only child for 2 years, so I spent more time guiding and leading and playing with him alone, while Peanut, until Bjorn went to school this year, has never known a world without him taking some of the time and attention from her.

Yesterday, she laid a kitchen towel on the living room floor, pulled the chairs from her toddler table over, and sat different stuffed animals in each chair. She then piled cups and teapots and food from her play kitchen on a tray and served each of them. Baby Belle's coffee was too hot so she had to blow on it, and Pepper the Cat had chocolate milk that he kept spilling.

Of course, when she asked me to join her picnic, I did.

It was the best, hottest coffee I've had all year.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Through a Child's Eyes

Ever since he was little, I've been teaching Bjorn the art of finding shapes in the clouds. Last week, he found the laughing elephant and turtle sitting on top of a rock before I did. He has an eye for it.

Today, he found another gem.

"Look, Mom! Those clouds look like a big butt coming through the clouds! A big giant butt because the giant fell and his butt broke through the clouds!"

He was right. It did.

Monday, August 11, 2014

One week.

It's been one week.

One week of 6 am alarms jolting me out of a deep sleep.

One week of waking up Bjorn because, for the first time in two years, he is actually sleeping past 6.

One week of making lunches the night before, checking folders when he comes home and wondering if he should join soccer or Spanish or Chess Club (all of which he said he is interested in).

Yes, school has begun.


My little Buckwheat. He HAD to have spiky hair

I didn't cry. He didn't cry. The Hubs didn't cry. Peanut....well, Peanut wailed a little when she realized she couldn't go with him, and stopped when she realized she had me all to herself for the day.

Around lunch time she did begin to whine that Bjorn was "Taking for-EVER" to come home from school. I agreed. That first day was looooong.

But he came home with a smile on his face, and, instead of taking a much-needed nap after 7 hours at school, asked if we could all go bowling. When I said no, he asked if we could go swimming. Or maybe go to the zoo.

My hopes that school would wear him out were quickly dashed.

Kindergarten isn't all that it is cracked up to be, according to Bjorn. Much to his dismay, they "don't even get to watch any movies!" and they "Don't get to go outside for recess". That is only because it is still 116 degrees outside, so recess is spent inside the classroom. I think he will enjoy it much more when they can actually head outside.

So far, his favorite parts of school are "music, art and gym". He says the rest of school is "boring". Ha. You think kindergarten is boring, wait until you get to the big grades, kid!

I had hopes that he would make a best friend on the first day, and that Mom would call me, and we would get together for the kids to play, and we would wind up best friends too. That stuff happens, right? Right?!  Not for us. Not yet, at least. It has only been one week.

As much as I tried to not go to work this week, airplanes are still flying and people still need help buckling their seat belt, so off I went. The first day I worried the entire day how Bjorn would do at Extended Day, an after care program that lasts for 3 hours. That would put him at school for 10 1/2-11 hours. A long day for anyone, but especially for a brand new kindergartener.

He told The Hubs that it was "the best day of school"!. Why? In extended day, they rotate through different activities, including computer lab, gym games and music. He was in heaven. I guess I underestimated my little man. He was ready, willing and able.

Now I just have to be. Ready to let my kid make his own mistakes and accomplishments away from me at school. Willing to help in any way that I can. Able to be the Mom he needs for me to be.

So I signed up the PTSA. Ready, willing and able to make this the start of the best years of the rest of his life. Happy Kindergarten year, Bjorn. It's going to be a great one.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Happy Birthday, baby.

I never wanted to be one of those moms who throw parties at expensive indoor places for their little kids.

Then I had kids who both have summer birthdays. In the desert. It's 106 degrees at 9 am....and by noon, it's 116. Parks are ridiculously hot. (Why didn't they make swings white instead of black? And why do slides have to be metal!?!)  Splash pads are a joke, like spitting on a wildfire. In general, leaving the home is out of the question. We all melt over 112.

I also can barely keep my home clean for five minutes before a smoothie is spilled on the floor, or a baggie of cheezits is poured between the couch cushions or the dog has grabbed a container of crayons, leaving half eaten crayons and paper in her wake. Not to mention we are bursting at the seams here, and don't have a lot of space for friends to come over and celebrate.

So what's a mom to do?

Yes, that's right.  Indoor parties. Lots of money. And not one single thing for me to cook or clean or prepare or set up. So there is that.

With this face, I can't help but think that every dollar is worth it.

Peanut's Third birthday party was at an indoor bouncy house place. They closed off the rooms completely for her and her friends and for two fun-filled hours, they bounced and jumped and ran and spun.

She climbed over everyone so that she could sit right next to her brother

Then came the overpriced princess cupcake cake (as requested by the birthday girl),  requisite slice of pizza with lemonade, and present opening.

Happy Birthday, Queen Birthday Girl!

Bjorn's birthday was a month ago, but his, too, was at an indoor play place. This one was a pizza parlor with skeeball and car races and basketball and games.

The boys kicking the ball around

While the girls go cruisin'

He really wanted a themed party - Spiderman AND Flash Gordon. I got a little creative with his decorations, making glitter glue spiderwebs and felt lightning bolts for the table, and homemade Flash Gordon masks. (A party store had Spiderman ones, so those were pre-bought. But apparently, no one has Flash Gordon parties, so there were no decor options anywhere. Not at party stores, not on Amazon. So they had to be homemade.)

He refuses to look for pictures. Stinker.

I love Costco. Awesome cake. Perfect decorations.

Happy Birthday my wonderful little five year old.

 His friends had all the coins they wanted for playing games, more pizza than they could handle and a fabulous cake. I'm actually a little ashamed that I made goody bags for his party, though. I knew they were "expected" so I did it.....and half the kids forgot them and a few asked why there wasn't stickers/play dough/candy/insert other item they wanted here.

I did boycott the goody bags for Peanut's party, though. So I haven't completely bought into the high-priced world of kids birthday parties.....yet.**

**At Peanut's party, one little girl (who I'm not saying was, but I'm not saying wasn't one of the ones who asked why she didn't get candy in her goody bag at Bjorn's party) kept asking "Where's my goody bag? Where is it?! How come there are no goody bags?" Because I just paid a crap ton of money to have you jump in bouncy houses, eat 1/2 a slice of pizza and spill a cup of lemonade on the floor. There's your freaking goody bag, kid.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Looking for a Bad Guy

Want to hear my one big beef with Frozen?

(Of course you do. You're dying to know. I just know it.)
**Also - there will be spoiler alerts below. As if there is anyone left that hasn't actually seen Frozen.**

I don't like when I can't tell the bad guy is a bad guy.

I want my bad guys to look like bad guys - long mustache, weird name (Weaseltown, anyone?!), leering creepy looks. I don't want my bad guy wrapped up in a handsome face, with a strong voice.

In The Lion King, the antagonist can be seem from the very beginning. The name. Scar.  The voice, the sly sarcasm, the disrespect. It is very clearly shown. The same can be said for The Little Mermaid, with the scary eels skulking around an ugly octopus, or Finding Nemo, with Darla - the screaming child with a knack for killing sea animals. Even Toy Story 3, with its sweet little stuffed bear, doesn't take long to show that that sweet face is covering a little stuffed evil heart.

The looks Hans gives Anna are loving. Caring. Devoted. Not one.single.time does he look at her connivingly. Not one single time does he give the impression that he is anything less than completely in love with Anna.

Until that moment that Anna comes back to Hans, hoping for true love's kiss, we have no indication that Hans' intentions are anything but honorable. Even in private he doesn't show anything that would make the audience think differently.

I feel like Disney wrote half the screenplay and then realized, hey, Prince Hans is not the best choice for Anna - Kristoff is! So they decided to make Prince Hans the bad guy, but only after they had already drawn and created half the movie. Oh well, they thought, no one will notice, I'm sure.

I noticed.

I know that this is how life is. Bad people don't always look like stereotypical bad people. Bad people can look like you and me and Bobby Jo next door. But I don't want my kids to know it yet. I don't want her to see that the man she is in love with, who openly says and shows that he is in love with her, is lying. I want him to know that when he gets lost, a policeman is the person to ask for help. I want them to trust that people are who they say they are, that you can read a bad person by the way they talk and act.

Even Peanut, at two years old, can watch a movie and point out the "bad guys" and the "mean witches". They are stereotypical roles, with easily found similarities across most kids movies. Black garb, mean eyebrows, disrespectful talk, scratchy deep voice. Frozen has none of these. I thought the bad guy was the guy from Weaseltown, but still -after my 452nd time watching it - don't understand why he was ousted from Arrendale when all was said and done. What did he do that was so wrong?

My kids haven't picked up on it yet. Neither has mentioned anything about the guy who sings "Love is an Open Door" with Anna being the one who leaves her alone to die barely an hour later. I see it, though, and every time I do, it bugs me. Why can't his colors at least be black and dark blue? Why can't he give at least one menacing laugh and mean glare into the distance?

Is it too much to ask that the bad guys look like bad guys?!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The second time around

I didn't want to say anything until it was official.....

But she is wiping her own butt now, so I think it's time.
Completely and totally.

We don't ask her when she needs to go to the potty. We don't remind her to go (Except before long car rides, but that's normal for The Hubs and I too!)

Remember this? It worked. The very next day.

Once I told Peanut that it was time, and took away her pullups and her diapers and her backup plans, it was done. Almost three months has passed, and in those three months, my amazing, beautiful little girl has had one accident at night, and none during the day. She has gone from a toddler in thick little diapers, to a big girl in real princess covered un.dies. She has to go to the bathroom, and she goes. No fuss, no muss (although she does still ask for the occasional ice cream reward, which I am happy to oblige).

I'm not sure if it is because she is a girl, or the second child, or scored a Perfect 10 on the APGAR. But potty training was a million times easier than it was with Bjorn.

Speaking of Bjorn, he has moved on to the next part of potty-training; he wants to go to the bathroom (a public bathroom!) by himself. He has begun balking when I take him into the Women's room. "I'm a boy, Mommy! I go into the Mens room!" Not when you're with me, buddy! Five is still too little for that. Having led a fairly h appy and sheltered life, he trusts most everyone, and -thankfully!- doesn't understand the evil that can hide in perfectly normal situations. I won't tip him off on this either.

The only concession I have made is if there is no line in the women's bathroom, and multiple stalls, I will let him go into his own stall. He locks the door, does his thing, and always always always washes his hands. He's good like that. Mainly because he likes making a huge mess of water all over counters and using the hand dryer that makes his "hands look funny".