Monday, December 16, 2013

Life: Too fast

I think it is the time of year or the fact that my baby turned five and will head to kindergarten in the fall, or the fact that the magic of Christmas won't last forever. But I have a heavy heart when I think about how fast it is all going. And this blog, with its unwritten posts, is also a reminder of all of the events I haven't captured. It isn't so much that I feel 'guilty' about it as I feel that if I don't write it down, it gets lost. As if I don't trust my memory anymore. And that these moments, all of them, the crappy, the ugly, the sweet, will be boxed up, unsorted and jumbled. The box will then simply be labeled with a black sharpie marker "Childhood."

I don't want that. I want the kids to know how much I love them. How much I remember about the day to day. The day to day struggles (over eating), the stubbornness of children ,and the many many lessons that we are trying to teach a long the way. And the good things we do with them. As well as the times we fail them.

But life is so busy, so messy, so full of physical and emotional clutter, that the messages aren't blogged about. And time does slip away.

Tonight I think about last year, when we mourned the Newtown community. How much my heart physically ached this time last year. I went to bed sobbing. Not because I knew any of the victims. Not because I was shocked. But because they were burying first graders. Seren was a first grader. And it was and is incomprehensible to me that a person would shoot innocent children. Of course it happens all of the time. Every night and every day around the world. But last year, thinking about those caskets, still can bring me to tears.

And I think about the year we just had. The amazing year of life with both Seren and Wyeth. Swimming lessons, piano lessons, soccer with Dad as the coach in the spring and the fall, running the CRIM as a family, running a 5k as a family, watching them try new things, time with friends, beach time, back yard time, leaf raking time, laughing, crying out in frustration, putting the house on the market, taking the house of off the market, watching Seren start a new school, sending my preschooler to school, Halloween insanity, my trip to California, Sam's trip to Colorado, Sam turning 40, my dad turning 70, our trip to Michigan, our romantic getaway to Chincoteague, our time at Hershey Park and now racing towards Christmas.

How does that all happen? And how does it happen every year? And am I doing enough, on a daily basis, to just sit down? To stop. And just say 'thank you'. Thank you for our health. Thank you for my parents. Thank you for my in-laws. Thank you for a home that is full of love. Imperfect love but love. Thank you for heat on a cold night. Thank you for meals every single day. Thank you for jobs. Thank you for our capacity to think and feel and learn. We are not 'owed' any of this. All of us just enter into what a New York times author called the 'ovarian lottery'. We are just born. Some of us are born into poverty. Others into riches.

And so I'm grateful. Grateful for this year. Grateful for my family- both my immediate family and my extended "chosen" family. 

There is so much to do. So many items that I need to plan for this week. I spent 10 minutes describing my to-do list to my colleague today. But in all of my 'busy-ness', may all of my actions have an undercurrent of gratitude.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Little Houses

During one of our two big road trips this summer, I purchased each kid a little wooden bird house from Michaels' craft store. It was under a dollar. They happily used their markers to color the bird houses. The 'craft' was complete in about ten minutes. And discarded in the mess that is our car. But just this past week, Wyeth resurrected the little tiny house from his beloved 'box of stuff' where it must have migrated post car trip. He looked at it and started to smile.

"Could I real bird live in here, mom? Like a tiny little one? How would it fly in? What would it do? What could it eat?"

And so our short lived, magical adventure of the birdhouse began. That night, he carefully placed a whole bunch of raw, shelled peanuts inside the bird house. "So that the bird can eat".  And he quickly put on his shoes. Wyeth isn't much for delayed gratification. We are working on this aspect of his personality. But sometimes I love to be swept away in the excitement and the pressing nature of it all. We needed to get this bird house in a tree now!

I pulled on my trusty danskos and off we went to find the perfect tree branch in which to place our peanut filled bird house.  We had to find the perfect branch. Not too tiny because we didn't want to harm the tree. But not on a big branch too close to the ground because we wanted to make sure the bird was safe.  Satisfied with the chosen branch, we tied up the tiny, one dollar magic marker bird house on the branch with a shoe lace. And we waited.

In those brief minutes, I remember how much I adore children. How much I cherish these small moments when there is a belief that a bird will actually come, and live, and eat peanuts in a tiny house.

And call it home.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Last quarter of 2013

What were your New Year's resolutions? How are you doing on them? I've met some of them but not others.

1) Go to California- DONE (October)
2) Go to Denver- DONE (May)
3) Run an 8k- DONE (August)
4) Run two 5ks- DONE (April, October)
5) Dress better/feel better about my body image- Hmm, hard to measure that one
6) Build community- NOPE
7) MOVE houses- Nope, on hold until 2014!

That leaves with 3 months to 'build community'. I know I can do it. It just requires MAKING the time, offering up my imperfect life and my imperfect family and inviting others to JOIN in.


Tonight Wyeth was in rare form.
Why is everyone called 'Ms'? Like Ms. Gale. Ms. Robin. Ms. Lisa? Why is everyone's first name "Ms"?

Well, it is a title.

No it is not! NO! People are NOT books.

I don't really like toy stores because I always have a fit. It never goes well for myself.

I'm going to like whatever it is Dad likes because I'm on Dad's team.
[enjoy it while it lasts, Dad!]

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Overscheduled Family?

For a while now, I feel as if I have been reading opinions or editorials on the disservice parents do to their kids when they over schedule them. While well intentioned, kids feel stressed out by all of the things they need to 'do'.  I read an article about the value of boredom. And I have to say that I'm partial to these articles. I'm partial to the idea that families are important and that spending time with our children is really important.  And that kids shouldn't have to be entertained all of the time. I want my children to know how to entertain themselves. To sit around and come up with an invention. To draw. To sing songs. And to do it on their own accord. As my kids age, particularly in the last six months, I've been surprised that my role as the entertainer is slowly waning. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I'm "needed" less. And part of me feels that is a measure of success, right? That is what we are tasked to do as parents: to teach them the skills and independence they need to grow up and make their own decisions.

And while teaching decision making skills and independence is a life long exercise and critical to success, some small part of the path to confident young folk, at least in my opinion,  is learning to just BE. To just be themselves. To figure out how to spend an hour when you are in your room and you need to entertain yourself. What do you decide to do?

Seren is excellent at this; she has more practice. That girl creates a ton of things: coasters to hold cold drinks, stories about her guinea pig, adventures in her mind that only she knows about. Wyeth is less strong at this as his time alone in his room has only just begun now that he is dropping his nap.

This is all a roundabout way of saying: how much extra-curricular is too much? How much is too little? We all want to provide our kids with all that we can and provide them with exposure to as many activities as we can. And we want to foster social friendships. Esp when there isn't an organic 'neighborhood' block. But there is a limit, right? Starting a new school has meant new opportunities for us. Afterschool clubs like Chess, and cooking and book writing. And Girl Scouts. And of course, we had her in piano. I feel like my radar is more sensitive and/or my tolerance is lower for the number of activities we need in our lives. And really, the only time I realize that we have overextended ourselves is when we have. And it is too late. And I'm bitter and the kids are exhausted. Our family can't "do" that many activities during a week. We just crumble and fall apart. Between school, work, homework, Girls Scouts, Piano, Soccer on Saturday and now an afterschool "American Girl Doll" club, I feel we are WAY done. And there is paperwork attached to everything! Patches to be sewn, snacks to be purchased, forms to be signed. I'm glad that our commitment to soccer as well as the Doll club are only 6 weeks. We can re-evaluate at that time.

Of course I'm not really asking this question in the hopes of an answer. My kids and my family really know the answer. But it is one of those elements of parenthood that I didn't really think about. "Family time", it feels to me, is really threatened. There is no day during the week that isn't full. My friends and I talk about birthday party invites, soccer games, T-ball, Girl Scouts, school obligations, fundraisers, Cub Scouts, playdate, Bounce parties, etc., etc. My friend Umy used to have what they called Family Day which was Sunday. They typically said no to invites during that day. I don't know if they still do this. But I like the idea of just doing things as a family all day, every day.

And while I'm certainly thinking about it a lot lately, this isn't really an issue for us in that we still do spend plenty of time together as a young family. But is one of those things. We need to be intentional about it. We need to be conscious of it. "How much will this activity cost us- not just financially- but as a family? Does this fit into our vision of we spend our precious time with each other?" If yes, we go for it. If not, we should politely decline.

Parenthood is so complicated!


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

CRIM 2013

Over a month ago, we all participated in the second annual (to us) CRIM races! We had a total and utter blast this year as well. It is becoming one of my most favorite annual traditions. This year, in stead of arriving from a 12 hour road trip the day before the race, we spent a week relaxing, swimming, eating and just vegging. Then we ran the races.  This year they also had the professional mile on Friday night as opposed to on Saturday.  The professionals were amazing! Elite professionals from all over the country (and other countries) come to run this fast road race. Wow. Seeing their amazing bodies was inspiring for all of us.

The community organizations in Flint also hosted a pasta dinner which was a good idea. But not very well attended. It ended up being a bit of a waste of money but the intention was good.

After the professional mile, the not so professional milers lined up! This was Wyeth's race. Sam ran with him, hand in hand. Seren, Grandma, Grandad and I cheered. He was very excited!

He did his first mile in 12.26. The night was cool and we were all so excited for him!


The next morning, Sam woke up and left with Grandma for the BIG event! The ten mile race. People come from ALL over to run in this thing! There were 8,371 runners in the ten mile. He was in the second heat. We were all sound asleep while he made his way over there. He wanted to be rested and in good stretching before the race. We didn't see him off but he was out of there by about 8:00AM.

Meanwhile, back at home, I was nervously getting breakfast into all of us.  I woke up early and actually ate my normal two egg breakfast and had some coffee. Last year, during my race, I was so hungry that I felt awful! This year, I fueled up.  We grabbed our running shoes, did some stretches and were off in time to get our races on.

I was so excited and nervous! We had trained for 8 weeks as a family of four. Most of our runs (the parents' runs) were on our own but we had the kids at the local track. Around and around we would all go. We all followed a different program. My main goal was simply to be FASTER this year. I didn't follow my training as I should. I was faster and stronger than a novice but not an intermediate runner. So I kinda did a hybrid. I pretty much ran 3 miles three times a week for an 8k (five mile) race. Not quite enough cross training or weight lifting. But I ran during both family vacations. A good showing.

Anyway, at 9 am, I was off.

Sam was still running somewhere in Flint. He had to finish his ten miles in at least 1 hour and 30 minutes if he was to meet Seren at the start of HER first 5K! The plan was that she would start the race, even if he wasn't there, and keep on running to the right. Dad would find her. I was nervous about this decision. This isn't a small race and we run THROUGH Flint. But Sam knew he'd be back.

Seren cried a few tears as she stood waiting next to Grandma. But she did it. As she said during her training runs, "Mom. I'm not a quitter. I am really strong." And she is!

Sam finished super strong at 1 hour and 23 minutes- plenty of time to smile for the camera, grab a banana and find his daughter in 7 minutes so that he could run with her! 

I came in next, just a few minutes after they headed off. I was really pleased with my race. This year, there was no humidity and I had really trained. I shaved off 2 minutes off my previous race time. And instead of feeling faint and nauseated, I sprinted in and smiled!  I couldn't see my family as I finished; eyes on the prize. I heard my mother in law's strong voice but I couldn't identify them in the crowd. But I did it!

I was around to see Seren and Sam finish strong! She was ALL business coming through the finishline!

I'm proud of all of us. I'm proud of myself for doing it. As my best friend Andy said 'wow, you guys took this thing seriously'. We really did. But it feels so good! Next year, I hope to run with music on and with a watch! Running is mostly a mental sport. I had no idea of my pace. And since the race course literally has three races on it going at once, the clocks don't help. At one point, I thought I was way behind where I wanted to be and nearly just started to walk. Then I heard a fellow runner, right next to me, tell me the time and I thought to myself 'DAMN! I Got this! Go!" That was all I needed to kick it in.

Oh, running. You are so good to me!


Our stats:
Wyeth's first mile: 12.26 age 4

Seren's first 5k: 37.33, age 7. Pace: 11.44. She finished 407 out of 1379 'women'. And placed 784 out of 2107 5k runners!

Mom's time: second 8k: 46.27, age 36. Pace: 9.21. I finished 38 out of 930 women, 124 out of 1325 runners and 5th out of 107 in my age group!

Sam's time: fifth of sixth 10 miles: 1 hour 23 min and 5 seconds, age 39. Pace: 8:19 mile. He was 1083 out of 4025 and 1370 out of 8,371 runners!

New Knowledge

Seren's verbatim comment to me tonight:

"Mom! Did you know that some authors don't always follow the rules? It is called poetic license. They do it for effect".

Yay for school!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Another one

Another one from wy guy during our 1:15 pm calls

“What are you doing Mommy?”

I’m just writing.

“Ok. Like in a notebook?”

No, like on a computer.

“Hmm. That is funny!”

Monday, September 23, 2013

Daily Calls

Every day at 1:15 Wyeth calls me. He usually cracks me up.


Me: Hey there buddy! How was your day?

W: Good. I had a lot of fun with Daddy.

Me: great! What did you do?

W: I don’t know.

Me: Ok…did you go apple picking?

W: No.

Me: Did you go scuba diving?

W: I don’t think so. Maybe?

Me: ?

W: Daddy!! What did we do today? I can’t remember!!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

First Day of Second Grade

Seren woke up at 7:00 SO excited! "TODAY is my first day!" She requested braids, two of them, with pink hairbands up top and purple hairbands below. And she really wanted to get dressed in her new 'uniform' dress code dress and wear her monkey underwear. "Did you notice? The teacher had a theme with monkeys! I'm going to wear my monkey underwear!"

We all were nervous and anxious about the day. It was a rushed decision but we hoped a good one. We had her on the black top by 8:20. First pictures taken. She knew no one. And that feeling on being lonely and alone made me feel such anxiety FOR her. She said "Mom, I think I'm going to have to hold your hand."

But she was excited, poised and brave. And off she went!

And mom cried all of the way to work. Oh my heart. Away from me. My preemie child. Off to second grade.

I was on pins and needles all day. I got an email from the teacher reporting that she was having a great day at 2 pm. Relief.

And seeing her at night? She couldn't stop talking. About everything! How different it was! "When I held up my hand for silence and gave eveyone the zero, no one knew what I was doing!" (This refers to the 'voice' chart that they had at the other school. Zero meant silence.)

Seren had an amazing first day! She was thrilled and so were we. She talked about how cool art class was ("did you know there were two dimensions to art, mom? Positive and negative?"), how fun music was ("wanna hear my song about the Apple? ready?") and the new friends she made (" I made friends with Olivia on the way down to lunch.")

The principal emailed at 10 pm at night to check in with us about the first day.

She has BOOKs. And a planner! And structure! And Spanish! And music and art and SCIENCE! This is a breath of fresh air.

Point A to Point B: Plan C

I have too much to say. Too many stories to try to tell. Too many events un-blogged. And that is ok, these are the stories that will be in my heart. There are no promises that this blog entry hangs together but here it goes.

June: Sell the house: month 1. On June 7th we put our house on the market. That is such a simple statement. And a short sentence. It doesn't convey the hours spent painting, the drama of the carpet installation (short version: hairy men cursing and swearing in our house that did a crap job and left behind a half eaten sandwich in my daughter's bedroom), the many conversations with realtors, the anxiety. Oh the anxiety! Our realtor said "It will got in 7 days! You have to find a house to move to. Start looking stat!"  So our weekends and our weeknights were spent scouring communities and homes. We saw so many homes! Upwards of 30. We looked on line everynight. And we packed up about 1/3 of our home. The process of getting the house on the market started in earnest in January and culminated on June 7th. We were ready to sell our house to get out of our school district.

The school year ended. Sam and I breathed a sigh of relief. Come what may, we weren't sending her back there. We were tired of the 2 pages of homework, the boring and monotonous  lessons, the lack of planning at the school level, the lack of awareness of her skills, the lack of thoughtfulness, the subs, the music class where they watched videos, the library classes where they watched videos, indoor recess where she watched videos, and the over emphasis on testing. We met some wonderful families. And some great kids. The breaking point was when Seren came home one day SO excited about a new song she learned. It was a cheer about the PSSA (the state testing). "Horray! Horrray! For the PSSA! Do your best on the test but please don't stress! You can do it! But your mind to it! Just do it! Just do it! Yay!" Or "SUPERTESTER" S is for Special, U is for Unique, P is for Perfection, you know you can't be beat! E is for Excellent..." I get it. I get standardized testing. I study standardized tests for a living. But children need so much more.

Anyway, for those of us who know us well, we had "issues" with the school. Seren, however, did NOT have issues with the school. She loved it! She was bored on most days but she loved it.  So we had to sell this house this summer and get her placed in the 'other district' by September.

July: Sell the house month 2. No bites. Lower the house price. More showings. No bites. But the house was clean. Hold on! It is going to happen! We went on vacation. We had some great times.

August: Sell the house month 3. No bites. No offers. Some showings but they slowed. This house wasn't going anywhere. And neither were we. Plan B: Homeschooling. We had looked into homeschooling. We had met with the homschool group in our area. It was all very organized. We liked the people. We considered homeschooling and decided that was what we'd do. Sam and the kids  were in Michigan for two weeks. I joined them the second week. We got mad at our realtors. Really mad. They don't communicate. At all. And when I gave them critical feedback, they flipped out. When I apologized, they didn't write back. So I had to remind them about the email that I wrote asking them to write us back. Disaster. They told us to get rid of our cat because the cat was preventing us from selling the house. 

While we had a blast on our second vacation, there was this looming deadline of September. What the hell were we going to do? Send her back to school? Maybe it wasn't that bad. She was safe. We were being overly critical. She qualified for special services this year which may help a bit towards enrichment. But we had vowed we wouldn't send her back. Could we really do homeschooling?

August 28th: Heart to heart about homeschooling. How would Wyeth fare? Would Seren be too distracted by Wyeth? Daddy is one of the most skilled 'educators' I know but would Seren thrive? Would our family? How could we pull together the curriculum?

August 29th: Plan C: Call two private schools. Arrange for 11th hour tours. One school we had visited several times before and applied for kindergarten schooling. The other was new to us. August 30th, visit one of the schools, a private Catholic school. This past weekend we shopped for BOTH schools. We got necessary clothes for the non catholic school, we got a uniform for the Catholic school, we bought school supplies for BOTH schools at Target.  RIDICULOUS. 

September 3rd: Visit the non Catholic School. Meet the teacher. Meet her entire class as part of the 'Meet your teacher day'. Leave at 10:30. Seren very quietly asks us on the way home, "Mom? Dad? Where am I going to school this week?". (Cue knife to heart). Sam and I put Seren in front of the TV for 15 minutes and talked. The non Catholic school won out.

September 4th. With contract and enrollment forms in hand, we sent her off to her first day of school.

I cried tears of joy and relief all of the way to work. I'm so so happy.

This whole experience has taught me a lot about middle class education in America. I study education policy. My parents are teachers. But this was real life experience. And a big part of me feels that by sending her to private, we gave up on our current local school. And there is lot to be learned about how that feels and what we can learn from it.  It is an underfunded school. They ran out of paper in April so had to come up with creative solutions like sending us notices on legal paper. The community doesn't support the school. The emphasis was on 'attendance' because it was an issue for the students, and in, some cases, the teachers. The second year was better than the first year and our teacher was skilled. But what are we emphasizing in school? If schools teach to the test, when do students LEARN to think? Teachers are becoming people they didn't set out to be:  creativity isn't encouraged. Teachers are being asked to just teach to the test. It is startling. And so disappointing. I know that this post may make me sound like just another person bashing public schools and public teachers. And that our family is part of the problem. I'm going to have to let that fear go because those readers who know me know that isn't true. But I'm sensitive to this perception. We have a big problem to fix!

That is the long winded story of how we got from Point A to Point B. This is a short term solution. The house is still on the market (for now).  Big decisions still loom.

But happy? Oh yes. And blessed that we can make this happen? Oh very much yes.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sleepless in Levittown

Wyeth: Mom, can we just skip going to bed tonight?
Me: Not tonight, no. You have to wait until you go to college for that.
Wyeth: I don't have to sleep in college? Do I even have to lie down?
Me: Nope, not if you don't want to.
Wyeth: When can I go to college?

Growing up

Wyeth to me at age 4.5

"Mom, now that I'm growing up, I don't really think having gas is that funny anymore."

Ok. I guess that is good...

"But I do think poop, pee and my penis are still really funny."

Oh, maturity.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Piano Recital

Seren started taking piano lessons this academic year, in fall of first grade. She has really taken to it! It is a no pressure thing for us; the teacher is simply lovely. If she practices, awesome. If not, we don't get too stressed out. We encourage it and about two months ago she started playing...just because! We love to see that!

In May they had what they called a Play A Thon. Local piano teachers were able to sign up for time slots and their students could play. It took place in the middle of a mall.  Seren was excited and a bit nervous. The entire event took about 30 minutes as we just came, played and left.  She enjoyed her time on stage but needed to practice bowing. In the end, she just ran off the stage.  Her teacher performed the duet with her. Super sweet.

Wyeth's First Field Trip

May was a busy month!

I was able to join Wyeth and his entire class on a trip to the Garden State Discovery Museum in NJ. This is the same trip that the preschool class typically takes. It is super fun for the kids but the highlight by FAR is the bus! They got to be BIG kids and take the bus to the museum! It is quite the schlep.

Wyeth looked super small on the big school bus.

He enjoyed playing with the science stuff and being with his friends. It was a total trip and I was exhausted by the end of the day. I was so glad that I could do this with him, though and really enjoy our time as preschool class together.

Big stuff little man!

Goodbyes and Hellos

At the end of April we went to visit our friends at the Jersey shore. I posted all about it.  The day we left, I noticed that Seren's BELOVED guinea pig, "Gin-Gin" was looking...fluffy. That is the only way to explain it. He didn't look right.  But we really wanted to go to the shore and there was no way I was going to stay home from a beautiful weekend with friends for a fluffy rodent.  We were also going to be gone for less than 24 hours.

The day we left Seren cried hysterically as we got into the car; would Gin Gin be ok?? (She didn't know he even looked odd- she was just very worried about leaving him alone!). We assured her that of course he would be fine; we had left him before for one night. We'd be back super soon and that we should quickly leave, dry our tears and get to the BEACH!

Fast forward 24 hours...

We all walked into Seren's room. We were tired from the sun, the beach and the drive. But Gin-Gin didn't "jump" in response. Guinea pigs have strong startle reflexes! That freaked me out. I walked over to his cage. Still no movement.

Sam walked into the room at that time and I made my eyes as bigger as saucers. Sam lipped "Is he dead?" to me.  I nodded ever so slightly. We quickly moved places with Sam getting closer to the cage and me taking his spot. Seren and Wyeth were oblivious to this entire thing. Sam took one look at poor Gin-Gin and we both knew.

Sam bent down, took Seren by the shoulders and told her we had bad news; that Gin-Gin had died.

The sobbing and heartache that followed was too much for this momma. I joined in on the sobbing. To see your child grieve for something like that? Oh my.

It was horrible. Gin Gin arrived Christmas day and had become quite the best friend to Seren. She read books about Gin Gin, told him stories in her lap, read to him and generally loved this furry little rodent. He was a good pet and a serious OBSESSION for her. To find him dead so shortly after he arrived?

So Seren was inconsolable, I was crying, Wyeth was crying and Sam was all about business; finding a box. Figuring out our next steps. Wyeth said "Daddy isn't even sad! He isn't even crying!"

I told him that all of us grief in different ways.

Seren and Wyeth talked to Gin-Gin and prepared for his burial. The more humorous part of the day was when we told them we'd have a "ceremony" for Gin-Gin. Wyeth stops in his tracks, looks up at us and asks us incredibly "Wait! One of us gets to WIN Gin-Gin?"

It took us both a moment to figure out what he was talking about. His only experience with 'ceremonies' was a gymnastics end of season 'ceremony' where the children get medals. He thought that wed be given out dead guinea pigs!

 We found a Kleenex box and identified the best 'love notes'. Seren had written him a love note/fortune cookie for each day in February. She found 4-5 good messages and lined his little casket with the notes. Oh, it was a sad day.

Without any warning, we called up my mother in law who is perfect for such occasions. So my poor mother in law picks up the phone and Seren is BAWLING. They talk for a few minutes with Seren crying on her end and barely getting words out.  When I got the phone handed back to me at the end of the conversation, my mother in law was crying too.

Wyeth tried to be helpful. "I know Seren, I know what to do. We will just write Santa and tell him what happened and he'll make us a new one! Ok?"

(Gin-Gin, if you don't recall, came from Santa)

So we buried our dear friend under a brand new tree that we received for Earth day. And he went where Guinea pigs go. 

Seren continued to mourn and Wyeth continued to be well...Wyeth. We cleaned out the cage and he would say "Well, we don't need that anymore! Our pig is dead."  Or  "I was having a good day today until our guinea pig got dead-ed."  Or "Geez! That guinea pig didn't last long! My fish, Molly, is still alive!" He continued to make comments like this all night. And every time he would, Seren would burst into sad tears all over again.

Good grief!

So that was on Sunday. By Thursday, we had replaced dear Gin-Gin with Hector. A 'rescue' from the Guinea pig adoption agency, Hector has quickly become a part of our family. She was thrilled to get   a new buddy right before her birthday. He is not as jumpy as Gin-Gin but squeaks when he is hungry.  I was a skeptic of this whole thing but Seren has taken to mothering these guinea pigs in big big ways.

Welcome Hector!

Seren Turns Seven

On May 4th, our daughter turned seven. We are in big kid territory now; there is no looking back! She was excited for her big day and all of the traditions it brings. Which in our house means a birthday muffin in the morning of your birthday and balloons at the breakfast table.  Our celebrations were not grand this year. We neither had the energy, the cash or the community to throw a big party. So we did what felt right.  We celebrated her birthday in several small ways. The night before her day we went out to dinner with my parents and opened gifts. 

The day of her birthday, we celebrated in Doylestown, PA at a community  park who was hosting a touch a truck event as well as a concert.  There was even a free dance lesson.

The next day her friend from preschool, A, came over for hat making and doll playing. The girls each have an American girl doll and they had 'tea' together.

And that was it! We sent muffins in for her birthday at school. She had a blast and so did we. Sometimes the simple things in life are really the best things.

She continues to amaze me; her memory, imagination and enthusiasm is remarkable! Since last May, she has rocked first grade, continued her gymnastics, did basketball, soccer and began to play the piano! And of course she became a mother to a guinea pig and took on all of the responsibilities that comes with owning an animal. She continues to be shy around children and adults when she meets them. She also is really sensitive but don't those of us who know her well know that she is a thinker, a good friend, an amazing sister who is pretty selfless when it comes down to it and a giant love. Seren lives and loves large. Happy happy birthday, Seren. We are so proud of who you are!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Body Aware

Last night Wyeth had the following to share with me:

"Oh boy! My belly is about to do a burp!"

And then later, "I want to go to McDonalds!"
Me: Why?
Wyeth" Because my body needs french fries.

Wyeth is always still not convinced that his shoes are on the right feet and asks every time he puts them on himself if they are. "Are these on the right feet?"

When we told Seren that we wouldn't be doing gymnastics this summer she said "What am I going to do with my body parts!?"

So aware of thier bodies!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Icy pops

Wyeth had Olympic day today! Big stuff! I was able to take off work to attend the festivities! it was a bit cold but the kids were still offered Popsicles.

He walked in the front door and announced to his dad, "Dad! I had an icicle!"


I am not a very sarcastic person. But it does come out now and then again.  Seren is a hoarder. She keeps EVERYTHING.

She said to me, "Mom! I'm going to keep this."

To which I replied. "Shocking. That is so shocking!"

"Huh!? What? Why is it shocking?"

And I just smiled.

She said, "Oh mom, I get it. You are just being spectactular". 

(aka sarcastic)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Racing again

So I love to run. But not really. I love the experience of joy and fitness that comes from running but I have to get into the groove to really enjoy running.

My office asked if any of us would like to sign up for a 5K that would benefit abused kids. No brainer! I am there! So I trained a little bit, but not a ton.

Two days before the race, we get an email from HR that we are to supposed to be in super hero costumes. The race's slogan was "Every kid needs a hero; an abused kid needs a superhero."

I borrowed Wyeth's cape, laced up my sneakers and ran a 5K! It was still slow at 29:18 but hey, my cape was dragging me down.


The other funny part of the morning? I put the face paint on and neither one of my kids said a thing. It was as if I usually run around with cape and facepaint!

Beach weekend

In late April, my dear high school friend generously invited my family of four to her beach house in LBI, NJ. This is a special place for me; the location of our after prom celebration, the place of a few weekends of high school shenanigans and most recently, a retreat space for Jess and I where we escape from the relentless needs of adulthood and motherhood.

When she said she would be visiting for a week and would we come, we jumped at the opportunity. And the weekend was GORGEOUS! Oh my! Nothing like one of those first amazing weather weekends. Blue, blue sky, warm air. Just an amazing weekend.  She was there with her daughter, Elle and her father, Bill. And the time together as a group was really wonderful. We just played on the beach Saturday afternoon, coming up in time to eat too many pre-dinner snacks, make a huge pasta dinner, and drink too much wine. The three kids had a blast playing on the beach, talking and playing in the house. They seemed to relax and just enjoy! Little Elle, who is 2, invited our guys for their first ever sleepover.

What a trip! So we had a 6 year old, a four year old and a 2 year old. There was ample place to sleep in the room's two twin beds. But did they want to sleep in the beds? Nope. Party time on the floor. All three of them in sleeping bags tucked themselves in. Jessica read them a story and sang to them as they all snuggled down.  Seren and Wyeth haven't even had a sleep over at our house, much less with friends in a new house! Seren, as predicted, fell asleep in about 2 minutes. But we kept hearing voices from Wyeth, who usually takes a good 30-40 minutes to unwind. And this time, he had someone to keep him company! Elle talked back!

Around 9:00, I went in there for one last time and rubbed both of their sleepy heads until they fell asleep.

The next morning, before we went to the bay and the beach, Jessica surprised us by throwing a little birthday party for Seren. Party hats, gifts, lollipops and even a chocolate cake were all produced, seemingly out of the air! It was awesome! Seren loved it! It was so magical to celebrate with our extended family, at the beach, under sunny blue skies. So many wonderful simple things.

I always return from my visits with Jessica with a renewed energy. She has a love of life which is quite contagious. I also am so deeply grateful for long time friends; there is simply nothing better than spending quality time with someone who 'knew you when'. The fact that she and her father included my entire family and made it an amazing celebration weekend was just over the top goodness.

Thank you, Jessica, for the amazing hospitality. We are so lucky to have you and your family in our lives!