One Thing I Did Right…

Parenting is full of pot holes.  If there is anything that shows hindsight is 20/20, it is being a parent.  So, if there is anything that I know I have done right, at least for our family, and that I have done right enough that Buds has commented and complimented me on it many times over the years, it is our children and sharing.

I am eternally grateful that I read Siblings Without Rivalry soon after the Buster was born.  There are tremendous treasures throughout the book, and the one that has come back to us time and again is children fighting over a toy or some object that both of them want.  Our standard has been to not make the children share.  If you’d like to share, that’s great.  If you aren’t ready to share that’s great, too.  If you used your allowance to buy this cool toy, and a brother or a sister wants to see it, you are welcome to say, “I’m not ready to share yet.”

It carries over to food for us, too.  If you leave food on your plate, the adults have to ask permission to eat that leftover item.  And if the child says, “No, I don’t want to share it,” the adult has to accept that.  Food will be thrown away rather than a child’s wishes be ignored.  (And don’t tell me about the children starving in Africa who could eat that food.  I’ll rip right through that argument with a few well-chosen words–starting with–“What factory farm do you get your meat from?!”)

Anyway, what we see in our home is children who are very willing to share–unless they aren’t.  And it is fascinating, with our young neighbor who HATES to share, the children don’t like to share with him.  Natural consequences follow very quickly from this approach.

I really hope this isn’t the only tally I’ll get to make in the “win” category.

Online Education

An interesting article, or possibly not, about online education, was in the Washington Post.

It reminds me of the battle by newspapers.  It is clear what is coming, and you either fight it tooth and nail and get run over, or you figure out how to keep from becoming obsolete.

And on another relatively related note:  Buds was having slight paroxysms over this commercial which came up on hulu .  His initial annoyance was with the rather prolonged laughter/joke the two seem to share over the formula for finding the area of a triangle.  My problem was with the answer given by the tutor.  It is a wonderful thing that this company is trying to get kids help and using the finest resources available to do it, but why couldn’t the tutor have said, “How do you think you could find the area of the triangle, Melissa?”

For the first time in my life, sitting there watching the commercial with Buds, I truly understood WHY the formula for finding the area of a triangle is 1/2 b x h.  I get it!  I know why it is.  I’ll be 40 years old this year, and now it makes sense.  What if I had not just focused on memorizing the formula all those many years ago.

Lockhart’s Lament makes more and more sense to me.

Cross-Fit

Buds and I are headed to Boulder for a Couples’ Retreat Week of our own making in a couple months.  In addition to the Celestial Seasonings Factory, I’m very excited to at least walk by the CrossFit Gym.

Want to be inspired?  Take a look at this:  (Watch the pushups at 3:18 if you are time crunched.) Crossfit

I can’t find the other video I was looking for which shows a woman completing her first-ever complete push-up on those swinging rings like you see in the Olympics.  She pushed herself up into a straight arm position, then jumped down and began to jump around with complete abandon and joy.  It was so moving and inspirational to see.

Now I want Brock to push even harder!

An Odd Movie Recommendation

I am one of those Moms who was NOT going to have Barbie dolls in her home.  My daughters were going to play
with trains and cars and dolls, and good, healthy toys.

Then Zoe learned to talk, and my opinion had to be balanced by hers.

So, I was pleasantly surprised to watch Barbie and The Three Musketeers with Zoe and Noa a couple days ago.

It is not a great movie, by any means, but, Barbie and the other female leads are strong women.  Yes, they still
have impossible body proportions and swing their hips like they are trying to shake off a bee attack, but they also
learn to fight and defeat opponents!

And, joy of joy, at the end, the Prince-turned-King, asks Barbie to take a balloon ride with him, and she tells him
she has to go off on Musketeer business, maybe some other time for the balloon ride.  It was enough to make
me cheer.

So, if you have kids who are Barbie lovers and you remember the days of the talking Barbie Doll that said, “Math
is tough.  Party dresses are fun.”
you can feel safer about this movie.

Fascinating Posts

Through my various groups, I end up with a large number of fascinating links.  I want to figure out a way to track them through this blog so I can retrieve them readily.  Until then, I may just end up doing a post about each one individually.

Here’s a link to what I hope is a fantastic series of articles about making math fascinating, beautiful, and enthralling.

I’ve only scanned the first one, but hope to read the whole thing some day.

And here’s a post about a Psychology Today article about how unschooled children learn to read:  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201002/children-teach-themselves-read.

A Magical Weekend

We truly had a weekend in a million, and I want to remember it 10 years from now, so here it is.

The weather, of course, was a huge factor.  It was in the upper 60’s and 70’s and sunny all weekend.  It was like living in L.A.

Friday night we had a fantastic Indian dinner at the home of our wonderful Pastor‘s house.  She and her husband, and the Board President and his wife, hosted Christine and I and our families as a thank you for our work on the auction.  (This auction just keeps on giving and giving.  And soon I’ll be starting it all over again.)  Mary Katherine had even hired a babysitter to be with our children so they would have someone to totally focus on them while Chris and I sat around and visited with the adults.  It took Noa about an hour to get comfortable with Lisa, but after that Buds and I sat around the table with the other adults and laughed and told stories.  The children would pop upstairs every once in awhile to get a drink or ask for help with something.  It was just wonderful.

One of the things Buds and I love about our church is how amazing the other members are, and how we have found all of them to be both interesting and kind people.  This night was another data point for that view.

One of many funny things that happened was Mary Katherine and John’s yellow lab, Stella, doing a Jaws attack on the piece of pizza that was sitting on the table between Buds and me.  Noa had left it there when she returned downstairs, and Stella just leapt up on the table and owned that slice.  Buds tried to get it back from her, but despite Stella supposedly being old, and having a bad hip, she easily evaded him.  We were all crying with laughter.

Then, Saturday morning, I had a really tough Saturday workout with TNT, then we all headed over to Z and A’s to play.  We hadn’t seen the Cousins for several weeks, and I especially was pining for them.  Again, the weather was so lovely, and the five children play together so great.  Well, actually the two boys tend to just disappear to play their battle, lego, Star Wars, imagination games together, and the girls just do whatever strikes their fancy on that visit.

At one point, we were out in the cul-de-sac, watching our children, and the neighborhood kids play.  The guys were throwing a football around.  I was pushing Noa in a stroller car with a cup of delicious coffee in my hand, and I realized, I was living my parenting dream!  When I thought of parenting before children–this day was exactly what I envisioned!  It was magical.

After we left there, the children were ssssttttaaaarrrrvvviiinnnngggg, so we went to Potbellies in Reston Town Center.  The children suggested we eat by the fountain, which we did, and it was great.   Then a less-than-fairy-tale-like, but still pleasant, stop at Home Depot, then home.

The afternoon brought Zoe’s first ever piano recital.  She wasn’t nervous, and played her duet with Ms. Marsha perfectly.  ( I hope to get a youtube video of the recital up at some point.)  She sang the words while she played the song, and it was so precious.  And, of course, as she walked up to the front of the room, there was that standard little whisper of “Oh, look at that hair,” “She’s so cute.”  It was like a light breeze of sound blowing through the room.

After she performed, she came back to snuggle on my lap and said, “I think I was the only one who sang while I played,” which was totally accurate.

But wait!  There’s more!

From the recital, we drove to Laura and Michael’s house for a CARD PARTY!  Buds and I absolutely adore playing cards, and we haven’t played for so long.  The children disappeared to play whatever games or dress ups they chose, and after lots of visiting, we adults settled in at whatever table best suited our personality and played Hearts.  Again, much laughter with comfortable friends, great food, and a cozy home.  It was the ideal wrap-up to the day.

One of the great things about our friends are their children.  The big girls not only let Noa play cards with them, they worked to teach her how to play!

And Zoe loves Mia’s dress up clothes:

Then, finally, Sunday.  I helped in Noa’s classroom, and the children were thrilled to finally get to use the playground again after our very snowy winter.

After church, we had lots of playtime with friends, and the wonderful, laughter-filled dinner discussed in another post.

Everything considered, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect weekend.

The Difficulties of Language

We had a fantastic dinner tonight with the Beloveds from two doors down.  The children had all been playing together all day, popping back and forth between the two houses while the adults worked on various projects.  Then, around 5, we gathered at our house for a cookout and fire in the fire pit.

The children were filling their plates, and Jenny was asking Zoe if she wanted some of the roasted potatoes with green beans and butter.

As Jenny had her hand on the spoon for the potatoes, she got distracted by another child, and even though Zoe had said, “I don’t want that.” Jenny hadn’t heard her.

Jenny asked again, “Zoe, do you want potatoes?”

Zoe said, “I said I didn’t want that.”

Jenny said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you.”

Zoe said, again, only louder, “I said I didn’t want that.”

Jenny said, more slowly and clearly, “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you.”

Zoe said, again, louder, “I DON’T WANT THAT!”

At this point, all the adults were looking at Zoe because she adores Jenny and has never spoken to her in an unkind or snotty way.  In truth, only her brother and sister ever get the harsh side of her tongue.  I intervened.

“Zoe,”  I said, rather sharply, “Ms. Jenny was just trying to help you.  She was telling you she hadn’t heard you.”

And Zoe, who hadn’t looked angry or upset during the entire exchange, looked at me in a completely blank way and said, “I was trying to talk louder so she could hear me.”

We adults burst into laughter as we realized what had happened to poor Zoe.  She must have thought Ms. Jenny was either crazy or going deaf because she hadn’t been able to hear Zoe despite Zoe continuing to repeat herself more and more loudly.

I was very glad I hadn’t tried to do something completely asinine like send Zoe to her room.  It was so obvious to all of us that this was totally out of character for Zoe’s actions toward Ms. Jenny, but we hadn’t realized how Zoe was seeing the conversation.

And, of course, it brought back fond memories for Buds and me to the “Why are you calling me ‘Oven’?” story.

Other than this verbal misstep, a grand time was had by all.  These balmy days of early Spring are so precious, as are our friends.

Happy Spring.

The Start of Something Interesting

A different picture of Zoe reading to the little ones.

The children and I were sitting on the couch, reading books together.  This is not unusual, and it brings me a great deal of pleasure.

Then, something new happened, Zoe said, “I want to read this book to all of you.”  So she did.  It was this book:  Stephen Cartwright’s ABC’s.  It works its way through the alphabet with mini-rhymes like, “X is for Xerxes and Xanthe, it’s true.  Who played a xylophone, shiny and new.”  As you can imagine, the names were the difficult part of reading this book, but besides help with the names, she zipped through this book, with a great deal of pleasure and laughter for all of us.

Zoe insists on seeing/speaking of herself as a non-reader, even though we know this isn’t true.  Still, I am very glad that I haven’t ever pushed her to “try” to read something.  She loves to look at books, she loves to be read to, and she loves to listen to books on CD.  All of this has lead to a very literate, interesting to talk with, interested in understanding language, little girl.  For that I am thankful.

This happens to be one of very few areas on which Chris and I disagree.  He prefers to insist that Zoe practice her reading when they are reading together.  Though this probably has value, I recognize too much of my own personality in Zoe to feel comfortable with this approach myself.  Chris, being of a more complacent, pleasant personality than me, has trouble understanding this persnickety personality trait.

Still and all, it will work out in the end, and Zoe will have control of the situation, no matter what either of her parents do. In addition, the homeschool world provides ample stories of children who have started reading at a much later date than what is typical in schools, and when they begin, it is with ease and joy and huge gains.  I look forward to Zoe finding the joy that comes from reading to herself, and if that day doesn’t come for awhile, I’m very comfortable with that.  (And Buds will just have to deal with it however he chooses.)

The End of An Era

Warning:  Nummers and Nursing are mentioned!  If you have low-squirm threshold, or are uncomfortable with the thought of extended nursing, DO NOT READ THIS!  😉

My life as a nursing mother seems to be over.  Yes, it is all about me.  Noa didn’t seem too bothered by the ending of the relationship, so obviously I’m the one who needs to process through it all.

It seemed the perfect time to make the break, if Noa was willing.  I had 4 nights of meetings in a row.  Everyone was relatively well.  Noa wasn’t facing any major thresholds or stress factors.  So, we did it.

Buds and Noa and I talked and Tuesday night, March 2, we decided that Noa was officially a big girl, and there would be no more nummers.  Then, on the weekend we would have a “Noa Is A Big Girl” Party.  She nursed to sleep one last night that night.  The next two nights, when she awoke during the night, she cried for a little bit, as she generally does when she awakens during the night, but she didn’t ask for nummers, and I didn’t offer.  Buds took care of bedtime for the following nights, and when I would go into her during the night if she awakened, she didn’t ask.

She had a fever and was restless during the night last night, but once she was snuggled in with us, she slept fine, and didn’t ask to nurse.  She wants to be touching me as she falls asleep, and we both like snuggling with our backs together.  That feels safe and cozy, and no one has a mouthful of hair to contend with.

This will seem crazy to many, but she seems so young to me.  Monkey was 3 y., 10 mo., and she only stopped because I was pregnant with Noa, and my body just couldn’t do it.  The Buster was, gasp, 5 y.o., and Noa is only 3 y. 4 mo.  See why she seems young?

It has now been 13 days, and Noa has made the transition as smoothly as I could ever have hoped/dreamed/feared.  We did have one funny discussion a couple nights ago.

Noa says, in her way, which means I’m filling in some of the words, “So, Mom, I know I had my party with a cake, but…why can’t I have nummers?”

I said, “Well, it’s just part of the transition to being a big kid…”

I would have gone on, but she said, “Otay,” and rolled over and went to sleep.

There have been no indications that she’s distressed about the end of nummers in any way.  Today, in fact, she got hurt when all the kids were wrestling with Dad, and once the crying started she normally would have woven her sobbing way to me with a cry of, “I want nummers.”  Instead, today, she pushed all the other kids off Buds and said, “I want Daddy.”

My sadness is slowly wearing away, but I suspect I will continue to fill melancholy about this change for awhile.  It was the one thing only I could do.  It was a very special link between each child and me…just me.

The Big Girl Cake:

The Dentist

No cavities today!  None for anyone.  What a huge blessing.  After the months and months of working on the Buster’s teeth,  Dr. Neda said his teeth look great.  His “metal tooth” looks good.

They all did so well.  Yessa wouldn’t let the dental tech. clean her teeth.  After the first few swishes with the electric brush, she was done.  And that was fine.  She did allow Dr. Neda to “count her teeth” and they looked good.

It helps that my own mother loves to tell the story of my first trip to the dentist as a five-year-old.  She spent much time preparing me for the visit by reading to me from my “A Visit To The Dentist” book, which we might still have somewhere.  And then, at the dentist, I refused to open my mouth.  I refused to even sit in the chair.  I have a vivid memory of sitting hunkered in a corner of the dentist’s room, sitting on a little ledge that went around the room, at just my butt height, shaking my head vigorously at the person trying to see into my mouth.

I survived it, my teeth are fine, and someday, Noa will allow the dentist to have a good look.

I was proud of all of them, including Noa, for being true to herself.