Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bedtime Stories

As a reader, there is nothing more exciting than your son learning how to read. Seeing his face when he correctly reads a sentence in his book aloud. Discovering new words and ideas together through books. Reading. 

It's so exciting to see his vocabulary grow, to see sentences formed by his own hand, to hear chapters read out loud.

But as a tired mother, there is nothing more exhausting than the bedtime routine of a new reader. The wanting to read a book all by himself, but needing me there to guide him. Through all ridiculously loooooong 15 pages. Discovering new words that take 5 minutes to sound out, and he must read, and re-read and re-read again in a silly voice just to show that he does actually know it.

So while I am so incredibly thrilled that he is learning to love to read.......I really just want to go to bed.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fantastic Five

Parents of toddlers, rejoice. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

If you can get past the Terrible Twos, if you can manage to withstand your Three-nager, if you can make it through the F*&king Fours.....there is hope.

When your son is five, he will say things like "Please, Mommy, can I have a grilled cheese?" and when you make him that grilled cheese, he will sigh with contentment. "Thank you, Mommy, for making me a great dinner."

Seriously. That happened.

He will put on his own jammies so you can have three minutes to load the dishwasher before bedtime routine begins and when he is done putting on jammies, he will help you with the dirty dishes. He will remember to brush his teeth in the morning and at night without your nagging. He will still want to snuggle on the couch on Sunday morning.

You will have a child who, when you tell him no TV tonight says, "Ok, Mommy. Can we play a game instead? I'll go get Yahtzee." There is no tantrum. A boy who loves homework and school because words are "tricky" and tricky things are fun. You have a boy who can read street signs and sight words but still doesn't know what you're saying when you spell D-I-S-N-E-Y-L-A-N-D.

He can wipe his own butt, but he still wants to hold your hand when he crosses the street. It truly is the best of both worlds. A little big boy. Or a big little boy.

So hang in there, Parents of Toddlers. Stay strong. If you can get past the ages where you wonder why on Earth you ever thought having kids was a good idea, you will see. Five is a magical number.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Thankful Tree

This year I wanted to try making the holiday season more meaningful to Bjorn and Peanut. They are, as the cliche goes, such little sponges. I don't want them to soak up the all the commercialism and Christmas songs 24 hours-7-days-a-week without also realizing that there is a lot more to Thanksgiving than turkey and Christmas than reindeer.

I decided to start a "Thankful Tree", which is exactly as it sounds -a place to hold all the things we are thankful for.

The acorns were actually in another decor setup, but Bjorn keeps moving them onto the tree. Because that's where acorns go. He's so logical.

I happened to have an extra tree jewelry holder. Yes, an extra one, don't ask me why I have so much stuff. And, yes, that is the same tree we draped in spiderwebs and hung bats from to decorate for Halloween! Reduce, Reuse.....

Throw in some fake acorns and a few decor leaves, and you have yourself this year's Thankful Tree.

I explained it to Bjorn as a place for us to write down all we are thankful for, a new one each day. We would write the word on a leave, put it on the tree and watch the tree grow thick with leaves.  I hope for them to realize just how much we already have in our lives to be thankful for, little bit by little bit. 

Day One. I meant to do this every day during November, but as it usually happens, time got away from me, so today was Day One. And only because Bjorn grabbed a leaf and reminded me. "Hey Mom, can we start our Thankful Tree now?" Ummmm, yes. Yes, we can.

I expected one of them to say their favorite vice, TV. Or on the heels of Halloween weekend, their second favorite: candy. Instead, I got this.

My son is thankful for the Marines. Yesterday, at dinner, he prayed for the military. Each branch* got its own little prayer, as he stated "Thank you God for the Army and the Marines and the Air Force and...what's the name of the ones who are in the water? Oh yeah, the Navy. Thank you for all the military."  Thankful for the Marines. I can't write much more about it, for I feel it says it all....that, and I'm tearing up as I write. He makes me so proud.

Peanut is thankful for our dog. Our 13 year old, slightly insane, always hungry dog that steals string cheese from her hand as it is en route to her mouth, breathes so loudly the TV volume has to be turned up to 40 so we can hear it over her, and hasn't played a game or fetched in at least five years. She is still thankful for her. She does not see a curmudgeon of an old dog, breaking doors and stealing stuff from the trash. She sees a soft doggie that lets her hug her, and dress her in tiaras and necklaces, holding a Tinkerbell wand in her paws. She sees an animal that is scared of thunderstorms, so comes to sleep in her room. She sees love.

I thought maybe this Thankful Tree would teach my kids to not be motivated for more possessions, but to love what they have. It has already, on day one, taught me so much more.

I am thankful for my kids.

*I just looked up military branches because it felt like one was missing. The Coast Guard. I'll have to show him pictures of the Coast Guard. I honestly didn't know that they weren't a subdivision of a different branch. I feel ashamed that I don't know my own country's military better, but I guess that's the first step? Feeling a little ashamed and then learning? 

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.