Some Things Are Worth Waiting For

•September 1, 2012 • 1 Comment

We all know the craziness of the daily grind can make us forget to stop and appreciate the things that are so important to us. I recently did that, well not actually but I didn’t acknowledge it here. That doesn’t mean the moment of celebration was lessened, but I didn’t get to share it with all of you.

That moment was the day I was married to Mad Dog. It was five years on August 11th. I know most people would end that sentence with: ” and they were the happiest of my life!” They were great years, but I know we have five better ones ahead of us and five more after that and so on. Because life doesn’t stop for a celebration, we didn’t go out for a huge romantic dinner, we didn’t drink the bottle of champagne that has been chilling in our wine fridge since our engagement and we didn’t go away on a fabulous trip or cruise. What we did do was spend a simple few hours together. I had no camera, so I can’t show you the silly shots from our lunch or the photos I would have taken of the people running from the rain outside.

I can however tell you that the man that sat across from me was and is the man that I love. He is the one that takes care of me. He is the one that rescues me when I need rescuing (which is saying a lot since I have self rescuing princess and zombie survival training). He is the father of my children and their best friend. He makes me laugh when I’m annoyed and he knows when I’m smiling on the inside when I’m trying to fake serious or angry.

I asked him what was his favorite memory of the past five years and he couldn’t answer since there were too many to choose from. He didn’t want to jip Loki by saying it was the day Lex was born or vice versa. He  did say that he loved me more at that moment then he did the day we were married. I laughed and asked if that was a compliment. I mean that’s impressive if he loves me more after all my horrible moments. I then asked him what was the worst moment. He said it was the day he was driving home and the ambulance was coming to get me after Loki was born. He didn’t know what was going to happen to me. I said I would have to say that was my worst moment too.

It took me a long time to find him. There are times when we’re together I feel I need my space, I need a moment to myself and then I think of those times like now when I’m waiting for him to come home and I think how much I miss him. How much I love him. He’s one of the good guys. The Browncoats. He’s my Mad Dog.

Run Forrest Run!

•August 28, 2012 • Leave a Comment

In a time where there are so many concerns with energy you would think that scientists would be working on a way to harness the energy of preschoolers. Seriously there is a major untapped source of energy here. Come on M.I.T. lets get going!

For us it’s not about harnessing the energy it’s about using as much of it as possible before meltdown so that bedtime goes much faster and smoother. Lex, our 5 year old has been described as the Tasmanian Devil, just a whirlwind of energy. To find a way to focus that force on something constructive can be a challenge.

Recently Lex has taken an interest in running. He is all running and racing. Because of this we let him watch several of the track & field events during the 2012 Olympic Games held in London this year. Thing is he doesn’t want to watch it, he wants to do it. This got me to thinking, why not let him? While on an errand one morning the kids and I drove by Auburn High School. I noticed many people running and walking the track that morning and thought why not Lex? So as part of our Sunday morning errands this past weekend we stopped off at the Auburn High School track.

Lex was a little more excited about the prospect of running the track than Loki, but she joined in for a half a lap and then a walk with Mad Dog. Mad Dog who ran track in high school used his phone to time one of Lex’s laps and a 100 meter dash. Both times were nothing amazing, mostly because our future Olympian’s focus falls short at time. He needed to be spurred on in the middle of his lap. Maybe if his cheer-leading little sister could have been heard across the track he might have done better.

After several laps and a dash we made our way over to the playground since the kids still had some pent up energy to let loose on the world. They climbed, they jumped, they hung and they even tried to make a few friends. The making friends part was easy, it’s the keeping up with the kids that can be hard. Lex who is a little timid about climbing gets intimidated by some of the play structures we visit. We encourage him the best we can and work hard to build up his confidence. It will take time and he’ll get there.

In the next few weeks we’ll visit the track. Lex will run, I will walk, Loki will cheer us on and Mad Dog might even start running (so he can play a little beach volleyball in the future), either way we will do it as a family. We’ll build our confidence and we’ll be happy because of it.

Charity Starts…At The Magic Kingdom?

•August 22, 2012 • Leave a Comment

We all hope we can raise our children right. To be good people. To know the difference between right and wrong. To stand up for what they believe in and most of all to love themselves enough to do just that. I think it’s a much harder thing to do nowadays. There are so many different variables, outside sources that leak in and affect them and us. But in the very end it’s all about what we give them as a base. They can only build a strong, stable building on solid ground.

I look at my two children and I see two very different people. Can I say they grew up with the same solid base? It’s not the same, but it is solid. With Loki we had an additional influence, her big brother Lex. Lex being as he is, is a very sensitive and caring child who worries about everyone but himself. Though our methods of parenting didn’t change with the addition of Loki, Lex would intercede where he felt we were lacking. An example of this was last night at bedtime. Loki, our independent 3 year old, wanted nothing to do with the men of the house. Mad Dog and Lex were in the dog house for something as simple as satisfaction or attention she was looking for and then came Lex. He doesn’t like to see his little sister sad, in fact we think he honestly believes he was put on this planet first to pave the way for her, to make everything sunshine and puppy dogs (or kittens in our case) and never, ever allow a frown to cross her brow. Part of the problem is, someone forgot to mention this to Loki when he sent her to us.  Her independent nature can make her completely irrational at times and she needs to take the time on her own to work things out. Last night Lex’s attempts to fix the situation for his darling screaming banshee only made things worse for him, for her and for us. We have been attempting to teach Lex that he has to worry about Lex. In a few weeks he will be starting school and I am worried this will be a big issue for him. I guess I can hope that it’s a Loki/Lex thing and he won’t be this way with other kids, but I don’t think that is the case. To hopefully set him on the right path I have given him a “job”.  If I ask him his job he will say, “Worry about me! Get strong and be healthy!” (sometime he adds on his own “Protect my sister!”).

Along with teaching Lex how to keep to himself we are looking at teaching the kids charity. Not that we haven’t made attempts to teach this to them before, but recently it came up in regards to vacation bible school. The church which the kids are attending VBS at is currently focusing on assisting children in the Congo (I can’t give much more detail than that). The VBS kids are asked if they wish to give donations for the children in the Congo, for each donation the children will track what their offerings will help with such as food, water and medicine. After having this explained to me by Miss Kim (our daycare provider) I thought it was the perfect chance to talk to the two of them about charity. On our ride home the other night, I asked them about their days and we talked about giving. I inquired if they would like to give some money to help the children.  Lex was quick to answer yes, he then went on to explain that  it would help them buy “cookies and lemonade”. Loki on the other hand was a little more difficult.

Me: How about you Loki? Would you like to give some money to help the kids? 

Loki: No.

Me: Why not? 

Loki: I want to go to Disney! That money is for Disney.

Well I guess for each lesson we teach we have to reteach priority. We had been working to explain to them that going to Disney (something they have been asking to do for sometime) would cost a lot of money. Of our two children, Loki has taken this to heart the most. Though she asks for “things” she would never think to give up the money in her jar for anything that didn’t have to do with going to the Magic Kingdom. I had to explain to her that whatever she gave would mean more to those kids than it would mean to us going to Disney. It would mean food, clothes and medicine if they were sick. Wanting her to give and not worry about jeopardizing her dreams of seeing Tinker Bell live, I told her I would make sure that I put the same amount of money she gave into our Disney trip “fund”. Lex not knowing to worry about himself piped up at that point, “It should be two times!” Thank you Lex! I honestly don’t know what I would do without your input.

In the end Loki was far more generous than Lex. She reached into her own jar and gave a dollar. I’m proud of her. She’s still young and we have time to help her see that she has a lot to give and she will still be able to find her way to her dreams.

Cue the Pulse to Begin

•August 14, 2012 • 3 Comments

There are thousands (probably more like millions) of parents about to send their first born off into the world. I’m not talking about after college or anything. Lets think something a little earlier – kindergarten. In a few weeks we will be sending our son Lex into the mind forming, enlightening, dream inspiring, frustrating, passive aggressive and sometimes ignorant public school system.

Please don’t take my comments the wrong way (I do think I was fairly even there), Mad Dog and I were both products of public schools. We fell on two different ends of the spectrum. He was left behind because he was too smart and wasn’t challenged by his educators and I had learning disabilities and was given what passed for “help” when possible. My experience causes me to worry about Lex (and Loki) being left behind, while Mad Dog is confident that we have nothing to be concerned about. Until we get into the thick of things we won’t know who is right and who is overcompensating for their past.

With us still presently living in Worcester we registered Lex for kindergarten earlier this year. The Worcester Public School system welcomed us into it’s folds with an orientation day at the school he was assigned to. Perfect! A chance to reassure ourselves that we are making the right decision by staying put. Our visit as a family with the teachers and staff of this school left Mad Dog and I confident that everything would be alright. Sadly things didn’t stay that way once the 2012 school year ended.

Yes, I know schools close for the summer keeping a small skeleton staff on to answer the phones and take care of any upcoming issues. Of course being a parent of a new student makes me a little nervous, I want to make sure things are going to go smoothly. This is not me being a control freak – I’m not one, but if I can get my ducks in a row, I don’t feel I have to worry about things. The issue here is that the Worcester School System is more like cats than ducks and we all know how “easy” it is to herd cats?

From my last post (see Bento-ing Back) you know that we’re preparing for school. This weekend I went to Old Navy and picked up some jeans and cargo pants for Lex and my Mom called me to tell me she had purchased him the traditional back-to-school new underwear and socks (oh, and a few shirts) grandparents gift. With the exception of sneakers we were good to go! Today I found out I was very wrong.

This morning we started our day out with taking some family photos at Green Hill Park in Worcester. Since we didn’t get a chance to take them a few weeks ago when we did portraits with the rest of my family (I forgot to charge my battery – my bad), I thought I would take a few of the four of us on my day off. This was only part of my plan. I had also wanted to take some photographs of the kids in more urban settings, using old warehouses as back drops. This was made easier having both Mad Dog and I around. I didn’t have to stress about keeping an eye on Loki while shooting Lex. Our final location was Lex’s school.

My idea was to take photos of him without all the craziness of the first day. No, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to take pictures to document the day, but I knew I couldn’t get the type of photographs I wanted without taking out a few other mothers. This worked out perfectly. In fact while we were there, Mad Dog ran into the Building Superintendent. Lex and I continued with our snapshots and Mad Dog found out a very important detail. Lex is going to be wearing a school uniform come September.

Excuse me – what? Yes, you heard me. A uniform. This small detail, never came up when Mad Dog was at the Worcester School Parent Information Center. It never came up the day we went to the school for orientation and it was not documented anywhere on the Worcester Public School website, in their Policies Handbook (which I read to make sure I wasn’t missing anything). I am not annoyed by the fact that my child has to wear a uniform. I am fine with that. I’m annoyed that they didn’t feel the need to inform us of this. We have not received a letter, confirmation or anything else from the school system of what will be happening. All the information (or lack thereof) has come from their website. Until today I didn’t even know that he actually started school after Labor Day, when the school calendar states school starts Wednesday, August 29th. Both Mad Dog and I are not disengaged parents, we want to be apart of Lex’s education – in fact we are part of his education. This little bit of information sent me into a tailspin wanting to know what else we didn’t know about. After I ran to Old Navy and exchanged the jeans for uniform khakis, I had Mad Dog call the school to ask a few additional questions.

1) School Supplies: Is there a list of things we need to purchase? No. Which is what I expected, but we know  how that worked out with the uniform thing.

2) Lunches: Are there any foods that he is “NOT” allowed to bring to school? (This came from horror stories from co-worker mom friends of mine. I understand no peanut butter – but some of the stuff is just ridiculous.) No, but we could play it safe and just not send anything with peanut butter, however it is not banned from school. Mad Dog was then informed that most kids buy their lunch (or get them free), but we could make his if we wanted to. 

I am going to take a moment here for this one – I can’t believe this was the response we were given. I get that school lunches are getting better, in fact Worcester Public School’s lunch menu lists locally grown vegetables as part of their selection. Great! I’m all for that, but there has to be a study somewhere that states that homemade healthy lunches product not only healthy children, but show children they are loved and supported by their families and therefore product stronger students. Regardless of the fact that my alter-ego is “Cute Fan Girl Goes Local” I am going to be making my childs lunches. I’m going to take the time to show him I care that much (at the very least).

Okay –  Deep breath! This is after all only the start of his school career. I have a long way to go.

Leave the Binky. Take the Cannoli.

•August 10, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Wisdom and a guiding light is something every child needs. For most they can simply find this in their Mother or Father, but sometimes parents just don’t have all the answers. No parent is perfect and we all need a little help from time to time. That is why children have other sources of inspiration, knowledge and support. In some families that person is the child’s Godfather (or Godmother).

“Italians have a little joke, that the world is so hard a man must have two fathers to look after him, and that’s why they have godfathers.” ― Mario Puzo, The Godfather

Recently Mad Dog was made Godfather for my brother’s son, John (aka “W”). How cool is that, not many kids can say they have Mad Dog for their Godfather or even better yet their Geekfather. Early on Mad Dog and I saw it as our duty to make “W” a well rounded person and to do that we needed to round out his Geek side. We figured that his parents have the basic stuff under control like where to put the bottle and don’t get caught picking your nose, but who is going to teach him the important stuff? Before he was even born we started by purchasing him just about every superhero shirt or toy we can find, but it’s not about the “stuff” – it’s about the lore.

Since we live in Massachusetts and they live in Florida we needed to find a way to help from afar or better yet like from a galaxy far, far away (a reference from Star Wars for those of you non-geeks). Mad Dog came up with an amazing idea. He would start a blog for “W” to help supply him with all the geek knowledge he would need.  The blog he named perfectly “Advice from the Geekfather“.

While helping his young padawan, it is possible he will be helping many others out there. He might remind some of us Mothers and Fathers of those important things we forget to pass on to our children as the years go by during the day to day grind. For those out there without their own well of Geek knowledge, this should act as a great source for you because when Pop Culture and Geek Culture collide you don’t want your little ones left behind (wearing a red shirt). It might not be the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but it will sure as hell remind you how important it is.

Check out: John the BaptizedAdvice from the GeekFather 

Bento-ing Back

•August 5, 2012 • 1 Comment

It’s been a while, old friends. I’m sorry, but life has gotten in the way of me sitting down to catch-up with you. I guess in someways that is what should be happening. I should be living and not stuck sitting behind a computer telling about things that I would like to be doing or would rather not have happened to me. Either way I have been gone far too long for even me.

What’s new? What is isn’t. I know what is not an answer. It’s early August and we have still not seen the arrival of Gigi. We don’t know if she will be coming or not, though she tells us she is. This summer saw a visit from my brother Sean and his family. Yes, I can say family now with the addition of “W”. While they were here we did some family photos, which allowed me to stretch my legs as a photographer. I had my good moments and bad moments, but at least we have the memories.

What I’m currently dealing with is the fact that my oldest, Lex, will be starting Kindergarten shortly. He’ll be attending full day Kindergarten, which means packing lunches. This is what got me really excited. I wanted to make it fun for him. To help him get used to unpacking and repacking his lunch box we have started trial runs early. Making sure he can open the containers and be somewhat self sufficient during lunch period. To start with I went out and purchased a bunch of fun things through Bento USA .

If you’re not familiar the term bento, it refers to a single-portion takeout or home packed meal commonly associated with Japanese cuisine. Traditional bento boxes can be very simple consisting of rice, fish or meat and one or two pickled or cooked vegetables. In recent year an elaborate style has surfaced called Kyaraben. Kyaraben bento meals are usually decorated to look like popular anime, comic book and video game characters.

Am I going to go completely overboard? No, at least I hopefully won’t. Mad Dog will tell you that he is betting that he will be doing this come the fall, but I am attempting to assure him that will not be the case. Though Lex is the only one going to school this year we still have two lunches to make each day. Right now on the two days they attend daycare we make them snacks for the hour ride home. Usually these are homemade “lunchables”. Since I’ll be making lunch for Lex each night, I plan on making another box for Loki. On Monday and Wednesday these boxes will be simple ride home snacks, but the rest of the week they will act as her full lunches.

Lex and Loki are very different eaters. Loki loves fruits and veggies, while Lex could completely do without any which means two different versions of the same type of lunch. My first attempt of Lex’s lunch (complete with multiple snacks) started out with a clementine, an angry bird cheese and crackers (Lex wasn’t a fan of the Babybel cheese). The Oreos were for after lunch was done. In the larger lunch box he had a cut up hamburger with a little container of ketchup and a half of a potato roll. This was accompanied with salsa and chips. Mad Dog found that Lex had a little trouble opening the little blue container of ketchup, but otherwise he rocked the rest of it. Loki’s version replaced the clementine with her favorite thing in the world strawberries and Nilla wafers for the Oreo cookies. Loki unlike Lex loved the Angry Bird Cheese. If you’re wondering what the little pink and orange grass that is between our bird and crackers it’s just to separate the food. It’s silicon and can be washed and reused.

My second attempt was a little weak, since I found that we didn’t have much in the way of snacks in the house. Lex has cheese with crackers, clementine and this time Nilla wafer. I included a little yogurt as well. This was actually a Gogurt squeezed into a container. For lunch I made little open faced sandwiches-bologna and cheese cut into little animals and salsa and chips which Lex loves. His lunch included a “Love U” from Mom. No matter how much I try Loki is not a chips and salsa fan, so I changed hers out with “Bunny Cereal” for a little fun. With her clementine I left it whole at her request, but added a kitty-cat face with edible marker.

As part of Lex’s practice for school we did give him a time limit to eat lunch, since anyone who knows my children knows they take forever to eat. They are usually  more about being a social butterfly than eating. All this is just a guess since we don’t know how long he has to eat, if they have a morning snack and if he would have an afternoon snack after school the days that he stays late for after school care. We have a few more weeks of summer and still need more information from the school itself.

With all this on your plate now, I promise to be back shortly with something new and maybe even something old to catch up on.

Pooh & Piglet

•May 20, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I have two brothers. My youngest brother, Kevin turns 29 today. It’s not a big birthday by most people standards, but I guess it should be since it’s the last year he will be in his twenties. I’m not here to get into the philosophy of age I’m here to talk about him. A while back I wrote a tear jerking post on my brother Sean’s birthday and though I have attempted to do this for Kevin (several times) I can’t bring myself to finish it. This is not because I’m closer to Sean, in fact if anyone has been closer over the years it’s Kevin and I – I think it’s because I want it to be so perfect. I struggle so much with it – to the point where Mad Dog and I got into a huge fight last year when I was making an attempt at it.

My brother Kevin is eight years younger than me. This age gap would lead you to believe that we would have nothing in common. This is not even close to the truth. Kevin and I speak the same language so much so that we don’t even have to talk at times. I know when to walk away when he is being difficult and I know when he needs an extra push. I don’t remember much of his time as a baby, which is odd since I should. I was eight, but it would seem that I was more worried about first or second grade and what was going on in our neighborhood to care. The novelty of a little brother had been smashed by Sean three years earlier.

It’s not until I got much older, high school and college that I have strong memories of him. In February of 1992 I told him I would take him to the movies to see Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. He was 9. We got there an hour earlier than we should and I wasn’t going to wait around, so I took him to his first PG-13 film, Sean Connery’s Medicine Man. From there a few years later he would visit me in college and then take a road trip with friends and I to Florida to Disney where he would insist on not eating red meat for a month after he came back. He was a quiet kid and if there was trouble it was usually at the urging of someone else.

The thing about Kevin very few people know about is his strength. He can do things that I think he doesn’t even realize he can do at first. When our Father became ill, it was Kevin who at 17 helped care for him in California with the support of my Uncle Jerry and Cousin Stephen. He was 17. He had just announced to his family he was gay and had lost his way in school – dropping out. Regardless to how bad he felt, how unsure he was of his future this 17 year boy stepped up. He cared for his ailing father. In the end my father was most worried about his sons, especially Kevin who he knew was struggling to find himself. It was my and my Mother’s job to reassure him that both boys would be okay – a promise we didn’t have to keep on our own. Kevin found the strength inside of him to get his G.E.D. and build his life.

Now years later we are both married (thank you Massachusetts) and don’t see each other as often as we would like. However we are there for one another at the important moments. He was there (down the hall) for the birth of my son Lex. He stood beside me at my wedding. I witnessed his wedding at 9 months pregnant with my second child, Loki.

It’s been a long road together and apart and though this blog post isn’t perfect – it isn’t all I would want it to be, because there is so much more to tell about this amazing person in my life – I’ve gotten through it without trashing it.

One last thing – last week for Mother’s Day a gift was left for me at my Mom’s. This gift had the expectation of making me cry – sadly I opened it at a bad time in my week. It was a small plaque with a small drawing of classic Winnie the Pooh and Piglet on it. The words read:

“We’ll be friends forever, Won’t we, Pooh?” asked Piglet. 

“Even longer,” Pooh answered. 

Reading it today brought tears to my eyes. Happy Birthday Little Brother. I love you.