Last weekend I was in Las Vegas for work. Mason came with me and my friend Jess brought her 10-week-old baby girl. On Tuesday night after work we decided to go see the Hoover Dam. I have seen Hoover Dam but I was hanging out with a group of friends who never had. Someone said, "we are going to the Hoover Dam at night and we are taking two babies?"
You know we did. Sure the babies tag-team cried for about 20 miles and we all contemplated jumping out of a moving vehicle at some point of the trip. But by golly we were all "Hoover Dam or bust." All it took was getting out of the car when we arrived and the babies were happy as can be. On the way home, the babies slept. Had we given up and turned around when they first started to cry, we wouldn't have gotten this awesome picture.
I can't be the only person to have done something like this? Am I?
He was late again. Getting back into the school routine is hard for everybody but especially Jack. There were so many interesting things to distract him from the living room to the bathroom where he was going to brush his teeth. It might have been the lint on the floor that caught his eye. It's just hard to be focused on the task at hand when your mind takes you so many places.
This was driving me crazy. School was calling, the little box that lists the tardies on the report card has become my own report card of sorts. Truth be told, I failed miserably last year so I'm trying to not let the tardies get in the double digits this year. I sent Jack to get his socks on, it was my third attempt with no success, I was frustrated and went into drill sargeant mode. It was taking awhile so I went up stairs to lay into him, he started to explain but I wasn't having it. I went into a tirade about responsibility and schedules, he started to cry.
"Mom, I was upstairs thinking about how you weren't really listening to me, I really didn't hear you mom, I didn't know..." he cried in a sad whimper.
I stopped, this child has a way of exposing his heart and mine in the most thought provoking and tender way. He will tell me the truth in almost any circumstance, and I hear it, I see it, I will listen, even if I didn't before. We exchanged apologies and I got my first tardy of the year but it was worth it, I think I'm looking at a different report card now.
Derek: Yes, Ethan.
Ethan: Daddaddaddad. Did you know that sometimes I drink Mason's binkie?
Ethan: I do. Momomomomomomom.
Kristen: Yes, Ethan.
Ethan: Moms don't drink the binkie, do they (very matter-of-factly).
Kristen: No. No, they don't.
Ethan proceeds to pop the binkie into his mouth.
And then he pulled the binkie out of his mouth and popped it back into his brother's mouth. I instantly thought horrible things like "why didn't he wait until we got to the playland today and licked the door handle before sticking that binkie into his mouth and then giving it back to his brother."
I didn't have the heart to tell him he was confusing nursing with a pacifier. In his defense, he hadn't had his milk yet and it was early in the morning. We had a long and involved discussion regarding the importance of washing one's hands constantly, coughing into one's sleeve, and closed the trifecta with a strong encouragement to refrain from PICKING ONE'S NOSE (or anyone else's, for that matter). It's the beginning of the school season and flu season. This year we have the H1N1 to worry about too.
So what are you doing to avoid the great booger exchange this fall?
Last week I asked my good friend and Common Sense Media critic Sandie Angulo Chen to share her thoughts on the end of Reading Rainbow, one of the longest running shows in the history of PBS. Sandie shared her disappointment about the show ending, but more importantly her concern that in letting shows like this go, PBS (and other media outlets) are losing their focus on literacy and the love of reading.
Since then there's been a deluge of requests for the show to be brought back with hundreds of people writing letters, posting to fan pages on Facebook and otherwise demanding that PBS reverse their decision. PBS is standing firm, citing the fact that Reading Rainbow hasn't had a new episode in five years and that its current fan base has not been vast or strong enough to prop up even the most minimal ratings. Case closed, and with PBS's serious commitment to children's literacy in other venues (programming first and foremost), it makes perfect sense.
The conversation still on the table, however, is this notion that love of literacy is losing its foothold in today's culture and that the current media climate contributes to this potential deterioration. This, I suspect, as evidenced by the furor surrounding Reading Rainbow at the moment, speaks to our nostalgia for a simpler time, and while we lament our lost childhoods where the best way to learn to read was to tag along with your mother to the library, our children race through their paces, mastering (and adoring) their march to literacy with the likes of Super Why and Word Girl.
Let's face it. Times are changing. Books will always be our creature comforts when it comes to connecting to our children, but the real bonding time to be had over literacy today is to pull up a chair while your kids dazzle you with what they can read and understand while whizzing through this or that educational website. It's also, to be perfectly honest, being willing to sit and listen while they read through this or that incredibly intricate story unfolding on their favorite video game.
While my children still love books, they do so, not because of what this or that TV show or public service campaign says that they should. They love books because they love reading and the written word for them lives in all forms--online, on TV, even on the text messages Madeleine gets on her cell phone. Their love of story is driven, not exactly like mine was (from immersion in the full length novel) but from the open-ended narratives they encounter online, where they themselves are the producers of content, where the choices they make with a click of a button, give them the power to create a whole new world.
This will be bad news to those of you with preschoolers or those of you who like me once wished that they'd read quietly in their rooms, musing on the classics for hours. But it's very good news for those of us who want to be part of the new wave of literacy (and parental bonding about literacy) with our children. Because of the changing landscape in programming and digital media, we have the opportunity right now to be connected to our kids in a brand new way. By asking questions, being curious and modeling our own passion for literacy in the chair right next to them, we make ourselves a part of not only the stories they read wherever they read them right now, but also the story of their lives that digital media helps them to create.
Alas, summer is almost over. We have been having some cooler weather around here but I fear the 80's are coming back a few more times before the chilly nights settle in. Even so, there are lots of things to help your kids to start making the transition to fall.
1. Let them prune the shrubs. Oh, don't look at me like that. Everyone likes to wield a large pair of scissors. Give them the thrill of the week by letting them cut back those azaleas.
2. Make an apple pie. Sure we are still getting our apples from the big box store, courtesy of last year's harvest because the apples aren't quite ready yet here, but the only thing more fun than pruning is using a marble rolling pin. And bonus points for the mom who has a rolling pin for each boy.
3. Wax the car. I have no idea why this is a good idea but it seems to be a fav in our house. I'll admit the kids are determined to hose each other down at every opportunity so preserving the paint on the car makes this a win-win.
4. Give the kids the camera and let them capture their fancy. I find that Ethan has a fantastic eye for the unexpected. Sure you can have 760 pictures of a leaf but it's digital!!
What special fall activities do you have planned?
Photo courtesy of Kimberly.
Money, money, money. I thought it wasn't polite to talk about money but somehow the subject has found it's way into many a conversation at our house. My husband had an unexpected job change last year, a month before we had our fourth child. This mixed with some other factors sent our family into a very difficult financial time that we are still recovering from.
Days we had to decline outings for lack of cash.
Moments when I questioned if I really needed to take the sick toddler to the doctor quite yet.
Hours spent wondering if our kids were feeling our stress.
Sleepless nights due to the unknown future.
Months of constantly calculating to try to figure out how we could make it work.
It seems almost once a day, I talk to someone who has lost their job or knows of someone in that position. This leaves lots of people trying to navigate a really difficult situation with their families, especially kids, wondering what will come next. How do we answer their questions? How can we come together as a family?
Al Roker and Deborah Roberts along with the Sesame Street crew will host a special primetime show called Familes Stand Together which chronicles four families coping with difficult financial circumstances.
With lots of help and expert advice, these families have found a way to strengthen their family bonds, even in tough times.
Familes Stand Together will air tonight in many places but you can check your local listings here.
We made it through another first morning of the first day of school.
New clothes were laid out ready for this morning, hair brushed, hot breakfast, lunches made the night before, and somehow we were still late. I'm blaming it on the pouring rain and not my perpetual problem of tardiness. Jack did ask if they could NOT be the last kids to be picked up from the car pool this year. I told him I would do my best.
I'm pretty sure this will also be the longest week of my life as preschool does not start until next week. This fact is near impossible for Lucy to understand as she had her snack and tote bag ready by the door this morning. I've never seen her get ready so fast and be so cheery. I've explained, clarified and drawn charts but there is no convincing her. She's sure it is a conspiracy against her.
So here we are, hoping all is well. Holding hope and space even from the house, saying little prayers for lunchtime friends and kind teachers.
If your crew started school today, how was your morning?
Today is the last day of summer. For those of you reading this with children who have been in school for the last three weeks, I don't know what to tell you. Your school district is crazy. Or awesome. Yes, awesome. But for the rest of the kids, tomorrow is the big day.
My neighbor tried in vain to contain her glee that her youngest was going to all-day kindergarten tomorrow for the very first time. "She's really ready to go!" I contained my laughter as I saw in mom's eyes that she was ready for her baby girl to grow up, if only to have her days back to herself. I nodded in agreement that her big girl was ready and I did an invisible high-five to her mother when the kids weren't looking.
My kids know it's the last day of summer because the local pool closes today. We only went once this year (on Saturday) but they know that summer is over when the pool closes. Thank heavens for all of our dear friends who have pools and are willing to put up with the pirates and the screaming and are willing to dig the kids out when they inadvertently fall in fully-clothed. And have pools that won't close for at least another month. I don't think we are quite ready for summer to end yet.
Join us tonight for Guerrilla Goodness, 1st day of school style.
Photo by the greatest playdate yenta (and dear friend) Kimberly.
You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives. ~Clay P. Bedford
May your last weekend of summer with your kids be labor free and full of the happiest sorts of curiosity.