Thursday, October 28, 2010

And that's BEFORE Shipping.

So last night I asked the girls to start thinking about their lists for Santa, mostly because Santa wants to be a bit more organized than in previous years and get the ol' ball rolling on gathering presents. The girls eagerly agreed and asked where the latest American Girl doll catalog was.
They found it on their own and took markers and circled their requests, complete with their initial next to the item. Jenna also patiently explained for me the complex system of looking for the letter near the object you like, then looking down at the writing for the same letter so you can circle it.
I glanced through the catalog and was a bit startled by the sheer frequency of circles I saw. To prove a point, after they went to bed, I took the catalog and a calculator to see how much it would be if Santa purchased every item.

Grand total: $1,795.00.

I told them this morning, and though they only have a passing understanding of money and how much things cost, both grew wide-eyed and giggled. "Let's to to pare it down to your few favorite things," I suggested.

Never a dull- or inexpensive- moment around here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bedtime Confessions.

Like most kids, Jenna waits until bedtime- just as you are about to turn off the light and close the door- to say, "Wait! I have to tell you something."
Her poor little head is just swimming with things to think about: starting school, making friends, eating in the cafeteria, pleasing her teacher, learning how to read and write, going to art and gym and music, and managing the social stuff on the playground. It's alot for a five year old to process.
Last week we had two Bedtime Confessions.

The first one she got all tucked in, I came downstairs and a few minutes later we head stirring upstairs. Dan and I now make bets about what the statement is going to be: will it be the famous and a bit overused 'I'm not tired'? How about 'There's a spider in my room'? Or 'I can't sleep' or 'My teeth/legs/ankle/stomach hurts' or 'Can I have one more drink before I go to sleep?'
We were quietly placing our bets when Jenna comes downstairs and says, "I have something to tell you."
"Go ahead," I say.
"Weeelllll... in school today during lunch, the lunch lady told us to clean up our area where we were eating, and there was a straw wrapper on the floor, and I picked it up and I didn't know where to put it and then as we were walking back to the classroom I just dropped it in the hall and now I'm afraid the principal is going to know I did that and that I'm going to get in trouble."
"Hmmm.." I said as I glanced at Dan. "I think the janitors who clean the school picked it up and it will be just fine. But next time put it in the garbage, okay?"
An obviously relieved Jenna nodded, smiled and headed back up to bed.

A few days later, I was tucking her in to bed.
"Mommy... I have something to tell you."
"Go ahead," I tell her.
"Weeeeellll, you know GuHong in my class?" (He is a little Chinese boy who sits next to her and she, of course, calls him DoHond.)
"Well... I was playing with my friends on the playground at recess and he came running over and wanted to swing with me. But my friends all ran away and I kinda wanted to go with them so I ran away from him and now I think I hurt his feelings because I didn't play with him."

So I launch into a whole spiel about playing with friends and including other people, and how hard it is to manage all that stuff. I give her a few suggestions about what she can say to GuHong when she sees him the next day. "Why don't you say to him, I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings yesterday, GuHong. Let's play on the swings today!"

Jenna looks very seriously at me and says, sort of condescendingly, "Mom. I am very shy. I can't say all THAT to him."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Birthday Bonanza.

On her birthday morning, eating cinnamon rolls and wearing her "Happy Birthday to Me" t-shirt

My big girl Michaela turned nine.
It seems impossible that so much time has gone by since she came into the world fifteen days late nine years ago, but who can imagine life before her?
Michaela is my go-to gal, my buddy, my spirited, funny, cool, friendly, energetic daughter. She is growing up before our very eyes: getting taller, longer, more mature looking, and losing all signs of kid-dom as she careens towards becoming a teenager.
Michaela has been my lifesaver with Alec and he just adores her.
We all adore her.

She had a great birthday party on 10/10/10, where we celebrated Michaela turning 9 and Alec turning 1, which conveniently adds up to 10. Our friends and family were there and ate two delicious, beautiful cakes made by my cousins Eric and Tammie. Michaela received many thoughtful gifts, including super skinny jeans and clothes and DVDs and Wii games and Liv dolls and craft projects.
The Super Skinnies
Alec also had a great time, playing with all the kids, being his usual happy, pleasant self. You could obviously tell he was the third-born child because he handled all the 1st birthday hoopla of a house full of guests so well. He took a good nap in the middle of the party and never really cried. We offered him a big piece of cake but he chose not to have any, probably because he had stuffed himself silly with Twisted Cheese Puffs all afternoon.

It was a birthday bonanza and lots of fun.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Super Soccer Players.


Alec watches the game

Soccer Stars!

There's Michaela: second girl in in the group of four.

Jenna's super soccer kick.

Watching from the sidelines during a break.
Both girls chose to play in our town's recreational soccer league this fall. The season starts in September and lasts through October, with one practice per week and a game on Saturday morning. It is lots of fun and filled with friends and people you know from school and church and preschool and Girls Scouts so not only do the kids have fun, but the moms get to chit chat as well. Michaela and Jenna have loyal fans in my parents and our aunt and uncle, who come to every windy game to cheer them on.
Michaela has requested the same coach every season since she was four and loves him. Jenna's coach is Dan, who started the season on crutches from his knee surgery and as of today (hooray!) is brace-free and walking around without any limp. Both girls have had great seasons and Jenna only asked once to quit, which is a real improvement from last time she played. Alec seems to enjoy getting out and watching the games and getting attention from the other players' older and younger siblings.

We have a few weeks left, and every parent I know can't wait for it to be over. Getting out of the house by 8:45am every Saturday, with the cleats and socks and warm clothes and soccer ball and water bottle- and Popsicles or oranges, if it's your week- gets a little tiring. But then we're just as excited to start again when the signup comes around for the next season.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Annual Post in which I Describe the Ritual of Pumpkin Purchasing.

We, like every other suburban family in our town, hit the Red Horse Farm a few weeks ago to get our pumpkin fix. It is so beautiful there, and homey, and the farmer is about 300 years old. He encouraged the girls to "grab a wagon for your pumpkins!" and the girls took that literally, each grasping the handle of a little red wagon, pulling it over to where the pumpkins are arranged on pallets, and enthusiastically piling pumpkins into their wagons as fast as their little arms could lift them.

"Whoa!-whoa!-whoa!," Mommy The Pumpkin Grinch had to yell. "How many pumpkins are you putting in that wagon??"

(Because while I LOVE pumpkins, being a former Pilgrim and all, I don't need $147 worth of pumpkins.)

And The Pumpkin Grinch made the girls put all but three pumpkins each and some gourds back.

But it was a gorgeous day and a gorgeous farm and we got some great pictures from the visit.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Watch out- I'm on the Soapbox Again.

I am here on a noble, but unpopular, mission to defend the latest, coolest things to bash: Facebook and Jersey Shore.

I reluctantly became a member of the Facebook phenomenon about a year or two ago, dragged by my friend Gina, who is much more up on these things than I am. At first I was horrified to see all the people that I went to high school with, struggled with my posts and pictures, and generally disliked the idea of trying to make my life seem like something it's not.
But then over time, a strange thing happened: I grew to love Facebook.
I caught up with people I went to college with and loved. I saw pictures of their kids and read little bits of their everyday lives and got a sense of their routines. I became friends again with people I went to high school with. I friended people I knew from church and was able to read what they are up to during the week. I pushed the like button on various stores that I shop at. I friended my real-world friends and was able to see more pictures, hear more cute kid stories, and know what were up to today without having to pick up a phone. I have heard about struggles that I never would have known about; I have prayed for people; I have thanked people for their prayers for me. I friended two ex-boyfriends and got to see how their lives turned out.
On the days that are long, or boring, or bad, here with a one year old as my main source of company, I can go check and feel connected to a bunch of people I care about. It's an escape.
People love to bash Facebook for it's superficiality and it's ability to destroy lives or ruin reputations. And I guess those things are true: I know it's a big deal to have lots of friends, so people friend people they barely know. I know that people publish photos that in a few years they will regret. They rant or curse or are in some way inappropriate.
But for me, in my demographic (36 year old stay at home mom of three kids under 9), Facebook is a lifeline to others and a reminder that everyone else has triumphs and struggles just the same. It is an easy, fast and convenient way to keep tabs on the people I see and don't see in real life.
So please don't bash on Facebook. I'd be very sad without it.

Now, on to Jersey Shore.
I am proud to say that I am a fan of Jersey Shore, the pop culture phenomenon on MTV about a group of people living and partying on the Jersey Shore for a summer (or Miami Beach in the winter). They don't have jobs, they fall in love with each other, they try to hook up with members of the opposite sex, and they drink all the time. And they love their hot tub. People LOVE to bash Jersey Shore as the Certain Sign of the Apocalypse, the last stop before Sodom, a tribute to all that is wrong with America. And I say hogwash.
Jersey Shore is a soap opera, just as lewd and depraved and shallow as the soaps that have been on television for 50 years or more. The characters look different, but the plot line is the same.
And yes, there is a plot line. Don't think that these people aren't playing a part: the first and only REAL reality tv show was the first season of MTV's Real World, back in the 1990's, and some of the people on that show were a little, well, boring. (No romance? No addiction problems? No physical altercations? That guy Kevin was barely even FILMED.) So the producers started punching things up a bit. The characters on Jersey Shore know exactly what they are doing.
Basically, the way I see it, the cast of Jersey Shore is getting paid $30,000 PER EPISODE to hang out, go out partying, not work, and be on television, and we call THEM stupid. Yeah. They're laughing all the way to the bank.

So no, my positions are not popular. They may be very different from people of other generations. And I accept that. But to paint it all with such a broad brush and say it's all destructive... I disagree. It's escapism, pure and simple. And that's been around for a long, long time.

The defense rests.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Catching Up.

The Rundown...
Michaela... is adjusting beautifully to 4th grade... started her viola lessons at school and will have a concert in January... is still brimming with energy but is pretty pooped by the end of the day... shocked us by scoring higher on her math standardized tests than language arts... is super excited for her birthday on Friday... is adored by her brother and sister... started back with her girl scout troop and is happy to be with her old friends... had an impromptu movie night here with three girls from our street last weekend... is learning, through trial and error, the unwritten rules of sitting in the back of the bus... was called a "fashionista" by her teacher on Open House night... loves playing offense on her soccer team... is learning alot about time management, organization, and homework this year... still tries to work us over whenever she can... is just as sweet and good natured and Tiggerific as ever.

Jenna... has fully embraced going to school after a few weeks of crying in the morning... loves her teacher Mrs. Crawley... is starting to correct herself- Hurray!- when she replaces a "k" with a "t"... is back playing soccer and has only asked me once to quit... sings the same "days of the week" song that Michaela learned in Kindergarten... came home with optional homework yesterday and took it very seriously... loves going to art, music, library and PE at school... is totally wiped out by about 8:15pm, a full hour earlier than she went to bed over the summer... has made new friends at school: Skye, Hallie and Elle... has a Gianna, a Jenna, a Gemma and two Emmas in her class- that poor teacher!... enjoys riding the bus and sitting with friends... was nervous about going to Sunday School, because she has a husband and wife teaching team, and the man has a mustache and she told me quite earnestly that " mustaches are tind of treepy"... is just as loving and gentle as ever.

Alec... has now popped his fourth tooth... almost didn't live to see his fourth tooth come in- he was so miserable!... is standing up and creeping around furniture... got his first pair of big boy shoes yesterday... is not enjoying wearing long sleeves and socks... gets into a LOT of things around the house, but is never destructive... is tired of hearing me say, "Your sisters never DID that!"... knocked himself backwards in a chair, pulled down a dresser, and climbed on top of our sofa table... is getting more adventurous in his eating... is done with formula and loves his milk... still hates his bath... loves throwing balls and hearing music... clicks his tongue to get the cat's attention... loves to point and laugh... is easily manipulated by the offer of cheese puffs... is as sweet and handsome as ever.

Dan... is almost done wearing the brace on his knee... goes to PT a few times a week for a few more weeks... has had a great recovery from his surgery... is planning an all-guy road trip to see a Penn State game with some friends... is happy at work... is excited to watch the Yankees playoff series... is back to taking care of Alec at night for me on Fridays. Amen.

Cheryl... is totally overwhelmed by the schedule of two kids playing soccer, church choir, Girl Scouts, church, a teething infant, an injured husband and life... is trying, with limited success, to instill a fairly structured schedule after school... is attending a Wednesday morning Bible study at church and loves it... is thrilled that she no longer has any children under 1 year old- and never will again... keeps going down to the basement to grab warm clothes and has yet to put the summer stuff in her closet away... dropped out of the library Storytime on Tuesdays because the leader irritated her and it was right in the middle of Alec's morning nap... is planning a long weekend ALONE in Chicago with her brother and his family in November- the first time away from the kids except when birthing more kids... looks forward to Sundays because of Mad Men... (and, of course, church)... is so tired from waking up all hours of the night with Alec that when he sleeps until 4am, she actually wakes up feeling refreshed... is totally useless after 9pm. Totally.