February 23, 2015

Birthday Bashes Begin...

I have no idea how someone with so little maternal wisdom can possibly have children approaching six and eight years of age.  I mean, I'm clueless when it comes to mothering.  There's no way I've had 8 years of on-the-job training.  If that were the case, I'd be much, much better at this.

Let's face it.  I make rookie mistakes daily.  But now the calendar says I'm no longer a rookie.  My babies have grown into school-age children with  minds of their own.  We fumble, stumble and mumble over each other as we do life in our tiny house.

Although I don't believe the math, the calendar says celebrate, so celebrate we will.  There are the actual birth date (school night) celebrations.  There are special restaurant lunches with singing waitstaff.  There are individually wrapped, classroom treats and goody bags from the dollar store. (Not to be confused with the previous week's Valentine treat bags.)  Lastly, there's the big weekend bash--rented party room, entertainer, two cakes and four pizzas.

February may be the shortest month, but around here it's really long on fun.

having lunch on the right side of the tracks

This week Henry will celebrate his actual birthday with his class and then see his friends on the weekend for his Silly Science party.  I still have some work to do to finish his classroom treat, order the cakes and pizza for the weekend and assemble the goody bags.  Tomorrow both boys have to return to school in the evening for their Knowledge Fair and they have choir practice on Wednesday night.   I'm not sure how I'm going to fit everything in.  Luckily, I've already wrapped Henry's presents.  Now if I can just remember where I hid them...

February 16, 2015

A Good Book for Not So Good Times

Last week I learned that Henry was being bullied at school.  My reaction was over the top.  I was so angry I could barely speak.  I assured him that I wasn't upset with him.  Then I gave the teachers and administration a piece of my mind.  I did this via email, not just because it was 10 pm but because I really wanted to measure my words carefully.  Sadly, there's been little response and I continue to worry about him from 8 to 3.  There was so much I liked about this school and then this occurred.  It's been happening more and more-- families are beginning to leave this parochial school in alarming numbers.

Then, as if kids being mean to kids wasn't bad enough, I overheard Henry telling his brother "You know, God doesn't like people who have babies when they are not married."  My heart fell as I listened to him.  I wonder if I've made a big mistake sending him to a church school that isn't affiliated with our church.  (The United Church of Christ believes that God likes all parents.)

I have A LOT to sort out.  It would be very tedious to read if I posted everything here tonight--the thought of changing schools pushes a lot of buttons for me.  Not only do I have to figure out what the realistic options are, I have to think of the long term effects.  I also have to separate what is my issue and what is something that truly affects the boys' day to day education.   I changed schools seven times before graduation.  I swore my own children would never experience that type of upheaval.

While all this is swirling around my mind, I started reading Masterminds and Wingmen.  It's by the same author as Queenbees and Wannabes, Rosalind Wiseman.  I knew this was exactly the book I needed right now when I read this,
...it's much easier for me to think through a problem that's not about my own children. When one of my boys is involved, my initial reaction is to get angry, disappointed, frustrated or anxious and to think of the worst possible outcomes.
and a few paragraphs later,
Sometimes our love and worry stops us from providing the help our boys need...parental anxiety can repel boys and come between them and their parents.
Now with seventy pages read and many post-its and highlighted lines, I'm still anxious.  But through the book's anecdotes I'm finding I'm not alone.  There may be some things I can change about the way we interact at home which will help my boys out "there" in the scary world.  It won't be easy though.  A lot of what is advised is not what an overprotective mama wants to hear.  For example, I don't think I'm supposed to call it a "scary world".  

Yeah, I've got a lot of reading to do.

February 9, 2015

Museum Monday

We are fortunate to live only fifty miles from this world-class museum and have a membership!  We LOVE it here.  It's hard to choose a favorite aspect (I'm a bit embarrassed to say that, as someone who used to live in this big city, the free indoor parking which comes with our member card is a strong contender).  No matter where we start upon our arrival, there's always something new--or old-- to see and explore.  Perfect for a bitterly cold winter day.

Being children of the 21st century, the boys are drawn to each and every touchscreen.

There are several ride simulators (and a coal mine) but these brothers are not quite ready for that much reality.

But this A-Mazing Room?  I couldn't get them to leave!  It's part of the "Numbers in Nature" exhibit.  As you can see, Henry was in his glory!

As a piece de resistance, there's yummy hot chocolate in the Member's Lounge, a large food court, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor and a Starbucks.  I doubt it will be very long before we're back to visit the Museum of Science and Industry.  Did I mention the indoor parking?

February 2, 2015

Super Bowl Monday

I'm not a sports person so by default we're not a sports family.  Of course I've signed the boys up for requisite ball teams in the community.  A little soccer here, a little t-ball there but nothing serious--I just ask that, each time, the boys keep a six week commitment to playing the sport.  

Now that the boys are in school full time, they hear lots of talk about professional teams.  This was the first year they were aware of the Super Bowl.  Although I couldn't care less, I feel responsible for enlightening them (at least somewhat) about this NFL event.  So began our football afternoon.

I started with this six minute scoring video then used the bingo cards to introduce they boys to some of the things they'd see later during the game.  I had them change into their pjs early, since I knew they'd be up long past their normal bedtimes.  Then we made chocolate cookies and settled in for the four hour show.

After Henry won two rounds of bingo in the first quarter, Liam was done playing.  Besides, he needed two hands to eat the nachos I had just taken out of the oven.

Henry enjoyed keeping score and really wanted to see a two point conversion so he could mark the special box on his card.  I was amazed at how much both boys understood of the live game given just a short tutorial.  They were soon noticing plays and moves that went right over my head.  It's like they were naturals at armchair quarterbacking.  I wouldn't have believed their passion for the game if I didn't see it with my own eyes!

My favorite part of the evening came at half time.  I marched the boys upstairs to brush their teeth and hear a bedtime story.  (It was very nice of Katy Perry to provide us with some quality reading time in the middle of the game.)  We were back downstairs in time to watch the players come back out on the field.  Liam stayed awake until mid-way through the fourth quarter.  Henry watched until the clock ran out.

I'm satisfied that I introduced the boys to an important part of their culture.   In fact since they were such quick studies, they might have even been Monday morning quarterbacks if school hadn't been closed due to a terrific storm Sunday night.

Well, there's always next year.

January 26, 2015

High School, Football, Parties...oh my!

No we haven't fast forwarded ten years since my last post.  I may not be prolific but I do try to update this blog more often than that.  In order to make sure I remembered the three topics I wanted to address in this post, I typed the title and then went about our usual busy day hoping to return in the quiet of the evening.  That was three days ago.

Around that time, the boys were left off the guest list of an event many of their friends (and their friends' parents) were invited to.  No one rubbed it in our faces, in fact, at least one child was told to be discreet about the party plans.  I found out anyway because well, it's almost impossible for a seven year old to be discreet.   I'm fairly certain that the reason the boys and I were not invited is because I don't have a husband.  It was definitely a couple 'n kids type of evening. The good news is that my sons had no idea their classmates were meeting up.

I'm not sure why I cared about being left out--I had other plans for the evening anyway.  I guess it's just human nature.  As soon as I realized what was going on, I sent a friend a "can you believe this?" text.  She commiserated with me and I felt instantly better having connected with someone who gets it.  Later I mused that this incident reminded me of high school and how those years would have been so much better with a smartphone and the ability to text a good friend.   One thought led to another and I found myself wishing I had the friends then that I have now.  High school would have been a lot more bearable.  If only one could merge time to get the right people in the right place,...one would always feel loved and supported instead of lonely and left out.

Then I realized that a) I'm no longer in high school and b) those wonderfully supportive friends I wish I had when I was 15?  I have them now and they're terrific!  I didn't know them in high school, but I know them today--I'm honored and blessed by their presence in my life*.

Who needs a bunch of party invitations anyway?  Even without a big Superbowl bash on our agenda I am excited to share this great game resource with my boys.  I found these football printables on the 3dinosaurs website.  I've never explained the game of football, at least not in any detail, to my sons.  I'm hoping to use some of the activities in the Extra Pack (download #4) as they are geared toward older children.

Speaking of older children, birthday plans are coming along.  I'm grateful for the comments on last week's party post.  Sometimes I get weary of being the only adult around here...constantly putting my foot down and the ensuing tantrums.  The unpleasantness isn't enough to make me give in to my children's every wish and demand, but it is enough to cause me to procrastinate with less than Disney-esque news.  After reading the comments, I felt truly supported.  It sounds funny, I know, but it seemed there were all these moms in cyberspace who "had my back".  I knew when I told my boys that big venue parties were off the table, I could survive the disappointment (as would they) because other moms were standing by expecting me to do the right thing (as was I).

If you posted a comment, thank you!

I've yet to send out the invitations but I did tell the boys that they could each have 5 boys for a special lunch at a fun "theme" restaurant.  No party rooms, no host or inflatables, just a table of friends and good food.  My heart sank when Henry asked, "and then we go to the real party, right?"  I explained that this would be the real party.  In fact, I had to explain that concept a lot over the weekend.  It's slowly sinking in and the boys seem like they'll survive.

*I'm also quite thankful for smartphones (something we never dreamed of in high school).  They make connecting with friends easy even though we are scattered far and wide with our children.