Category: Parenting

He Goes to 11

Mim holding a fish he caught at cub scout campDear Mim,

Eleven. Really? Wow!

It’s been quite a year of travel for you. We went to Anaheim and San Diego last summer and saw Disneyland and had a blast at the NOAH conference.  Later in the summer and into the fall, we played tourists in our own backyard and saw Attitash, Mount Washington, and the Kancamagus Highway.  In November you went to Williamsburg with Grammy, Grandpa and Vern and had the tie of your life. In January you, Trisha and I made our second trip to Smuggler’s Notch and skied while Dad was in Vegas. MAN was it cold, but the skiing was great. The icing on the cake was our family trip to Hawaii in February. You sure get around kid!

Your tenth year has been a year of growth and maturity. With help, your focus has improved, your impulsivity has calmed and your frustration threshold is much higher. You’ve had a great year in 5th grade with Miss L. Your Exhibition project on the impact of video games was excellent. You are excited about Middle School but at the same time you aren’t really looking forward to leaving elementary school behind. Can’t say I blame you on either front.

Mim 11 - 1

In November, you earned your junior black belt in karate. You took a little break to focus on ski club and then went back to it and are doing very well. You received your Arrow of Light award in Cub Scouts and have moved up to Boy Scouts. You are enjoying your new troop and all the outdoor activities they participate in. In April you rode 23 miles on your bike and you had a blast at the spring camporee. Minecraft is still your thing, and when I kick you off the iMac, you go upstairs to play Clash of Clans with your classmates. Your imaginative play offline is in depth and detailed. You also still really like to read.

Mim 11-2

Lately, you’ve been sleeping a little later and starting a little slower. You’re still a morning person, but not quite as quick to start as you once were. I’m endlessly grateful for all the “I love you mom” ’s and the hugs.

Eleven will be a year of change, but I’m sure you’ll meet it with your trademark grin and boundless energy.

Mim 11-3

Happy Birthday!

Love, Mom

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15

Dear Fish,
IMG_043815.
Wow.
FIFTEEN years.
That’s a long time!

It’s been quite a year. You are discovering so much about yourself, your strength and weaknesses and what you want out of life. It’s exhilarating and exhausting and I’m only WATCHING.

You completed 8th grade wrapping up what you described as some of the best years of your life and made the decision veer from the beaten path that the majority of your peers followed. Your choice to attend a science and technology focused charter school IMG_1110_2was a good one. The environment suits your independent mindset and your self-motivated learning style. By all accounts, you are keeping your teachers on their toes as they strive to challenge you. Your grades reflect your commitment to learning and being the best you can be. We still need to get you to ask for help sooner rather than later, but that’s a work in progress (I know pot meet kettle).

Thank you for talking to me, for sharing your fears, your concerns and you dreams. I know for sure I’ve been helpful in some cases. In others the jury is still out and I’ve definitely made mistakes, but I will continue to listen and try to answer your questions and address your concerns as best as I can, even when they make me squirm.

IMG_2619You’ve had some challenges this year, but you’ve faced them head on and are working to find your new normal in an ever-shifting landscape. You’ve also had some major successes. You managed food and sunscreen at 2 weeks of Girl Scout camp and you biked 102 miles! Here’s to another active summer! In November you were promoted to junior black belt in karate and you continue to develop your skills. As previously mentioned your grades are great, and you are getting a lot out of your regular volunteer work at the elementary school. You’ve had your bioptic for a few months and I think it has broadened your world, but I’m looking forward to seeing you use it more.

We’ve traveled in New Hampshire and afar to San Diego and Hawaii. You are truly a pleasure to travel with. You handle yourself well and you are curious about new places. I’m looking forward to new adventures!

IMG_1595You’ve entered the world of social media and while this is a tad bit unnerving for me, I truly enjoy your posts. Your passion and sense of humor come through. Your passions this year include all things Grey’s Anatomy (Team #MerDer FTW!), equality for all and music just to name a few.

I love your style, it’s all your own and it works for you. Keep on rockin’ it girl!

I can’t wait to see what fifteen has in store for you.

Happy birthday!

Love,

Mom

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10

A collection of closeups from Mim's 9th yearDear Mim,

Did you know that today you turn 10? We did. You may have reminded us a time or two over the last few days. A decade. Double digits. Wow!

This has been another year of growth and maturity for you. You are much more in control of your energy levels and you are more aware of what is going on around you. You’re almost done with Swing for the Stars (OT). We’ll miss Ms. Meghan, but she’s given you lots of tips and exercises to keep building your fine motor skills and your core strength.

In karate, you went from green belt all the way to first degree brown belt (3 promotions). You completed another year of Cub Scouts and are officially a Webelos 2. You’ve had a great year at school and every day we see behavior that shows you are able to handle more responsibility. It’s a wonderful thing.

By far, the highlight of your 9th year was the Disney Cruise we surprised you and your sister with last August. You will happily recount your adventures with anyone who is willing to listen. It was a wonderful trip. We also went to Ohio and you reconnected with cousins we don’t see that often. For you it was as if time hadn’t passed at all.

This year you spread your wings a little and tried chorus at school. Despite your extremely outgoing personality, you ultimately decided you didn’t like performing in front of people. You’ve expressed interest in possibly trying an instrument next year, but we’re still talking about that.

You’re still a bundle of energy but you are much better at managing it. You’ve discovered the outdoors is a really fun place to engage your imagination and work out the wiggles. You are still a morning person although lately you’ve been splitting your time between imaginative play and reading on the love seat with me.

This year as been full of experiences around making and keeping friends. I see in you many of the same struggles I faced. It’s hard when you feel things so strongly, but you have a good heart.

Your first decade has been full of joy and boundless energy I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you!

Happy 10th to my baby boy!

Love,
Mom

Remarkable Days – September 10th and 11th

The beginning of September is always chaos, back-to-school end-of-summer followed by September 10th and 11th. Both days hold significance for me.

September 10th.

A close up of my grandparents grave maker with my mother's information addedIt is remarkable to me because it was my mother’s birthday. She would have been 74 this year. Her birthday has passed without us talking before but this time there wasn’t even an answering machine on which to leave a message.

Instead, I spent the day filing to be named voluntary administrator of her “estate”. It wasn’t supposed to be this way, but circumstances change and the most reasonable path is for me to take over. There are no assets to speak of. She had no house and lived month to month on social security. I’m hoping to gain access to what little money was left in her checking account to offset some of the costs of her burial. If I haven’t already said it, death is expensive! We didn’t even go the gold and champagne route. The burial and service was respectful, but um, budget friendly and it was still pricey.

After my visit to the courthouse, I went to visit her grave. Per her request, she was cremated and buried with her parents. I received notification from the stone company that her information had been added to the headstone and I wanted to see it.

It was a drab day. I stopped and purchased a pot of mums some food for a picnic lunch and a cup of tea. It took me two tries to actually find the grave. I was in the right section, but as you might imagine, a Boston cemetery is literally teeming with headstones with Irish surnames. It’s enough to make you say OY! By the time I found the grave, it was raining, so I had to have my picnic in my car.

The day we buried the urn, I really felt her presence. I felt, loved, cared for and supported. Much of that is attributable to being surrounded by family and close friends, but there was more. I just had this sense that she was there.

When I went back this time, there was no such feeling. It was just a stone in the ground. In an odd way, that’s good. I’ve long thought that that graves were an odd tradition. I would much rather be remembered at the places where people shared happy experiences with me. I’m glad we were able to fulfill her wishes and that it looks nice (that would have mattered to her), but I don’t feel the need to go back. I’ll stop by again as I can, but more importantly, I’ll remember her when share a happy memory from my childhood with my kids or I eat fried clams.

 

September 11th

Close up of the some of the names at the South Tower at the 9-11 memorial. Twelve years out, the solemnity of the day seems to be waning. As documented by this blog post and this one, businesses are using it as an opportunity to promote their brands. I don’t mind brands like Chik-fila and Huggies tweeting remembrances, but AT&T kind of puts me off (and I am an AT&T customer), it only goes down hill the farther you scroll down in that second post.

I’ll be honest, I’m disappointed with my own remembrances of 9/11. I paused briefly. I watched a touching video and on Facebook, I read a few accounts of where people were when all hell broke loose. Even twelve years later, the events of that morning still haunt me but yesterday, was more or less a regular day for me. This was as much by necessity as a lack of any organized activity to attend. I have a friend who watched the ceremony online. I couldn’t. I knew it would wreck me for the day. I don’t want to forget, but remembering is hard.

The new tower on the former site of the Twin TowersFor each generation there is a touchstone, for those before me, it was December 7, 1941. For me and so many others it is September 11, 2001. I don’t ever want the horror to fade. I don’t ever want us to become complacent. Too many lives were lost that day and in the years that have followed. I don’t ever want to forget, but remembering the agony is often too much for many people, myself included. There has to be a middle ground a way to remember what happened, and to celebrate our progress towards recovery. I need a way to share this with my kids so it stands out in their minds. I want to protect them from the pain, but remind them of what happened. I want to remind them of all that was lost, remind them of our collective strength and encourage them to contribute to the greater good.

I don’t have a solution, I just know I don’t want to forget. I marked my calendar for July 11, 2014 to begin the process of planning some kind of remembrance that I can personally live with for September 11, 2014.

Did you do anything to mark the passing of another September 11th?

 

Summer 2013 Summary

Well, I guess by now, it’s tradition that this blog is ignored during the months of July and August. 2013 was no different. Now that summer is “over” here’s a quick look back at what was going on when I wasn’t here.

June

On the left Mim & his tent mate at Cub Scout Camp on the right the San Diego Sky Line

As the school year wrapped up, Mim headed off to his second year at Cub Scout camp.  Once again he had a blast and this year, he even tried a few new foods. Whoo Hooo! At the end of the month, I headed out to San Diego for a whirlwind trip as part of the leadership team for the 2014 NOAH conference. I am coordinating social activities, so basically, I got to play tourist. San Diego is a lovely city and I’m looking forward to getting back there!

July

July 2013

The highlight of July was Sarah & Bob’s wedding. They’ve been together since high school and she is the first of the next generation of cousins to get married. It was a lovely wedding held on Cape Cod and afforded me the opportunity to laugh and visit with family and long-time friends. This is my mom’s side, so it was even more meaningful for me to reconnect with everyone.

Both kids attended NOAH family camp, and had a blast, while we were at the wedding. Special thanks to Grammy for keeping an eye on them while she also ran the camp! Mim did a Lego camp over what was possibly THE hottest week of the summer. Fish did a half day video production camp and later in the month they both did a three day Apple Video camp (bonus it was FREE!).  While there, she made her first personally funded major purchase, an iPad Mini. She baby sat and saved enough for the Mini, AppleCare, a screen protector and case. They’ve been inseparable ever since.  We squeezed in showings of Monsters University and Despicable Me 2 as well. At the end of the month, Mim tested for his 3rd degree black belt.

August

August 2013

August was a magical month.  We kicked it off by surprising the kids with a trip to Florida. We blew the trip off the surprise chart when we announced that we were going on a Disney Cruise. The vacation requires at least a post or two of explanation, but suffice to say it was an AMAZING experience. We rounded out the trip with stops at The Kennedy Space Center and SeaWorld, more info to follow.

Sprinkled in between were a few trips to the lake, our annual weekend with our friends the L’s (I didn’t take ONE picture!), the occasional play date, and several trips to the water park (we bought season’s passes).  We also celebrated Kristen and Ed’s marriage and celebrated Nicole as she prepares to marry my nephew Jeff. We ended the month with our 4th annual Back-to-School breakfast the day before school started. Then, it was time for the real thing!

Fish and Mim on their first day of school.

Now that I read back on all we did, it’s no wonder we had a laid back Labor Day weekend.  We all needed it!

Time Passages – Congratulations Ed & Kristen

Ed and Kristen sitting on the alter at there wedding ceremonyMy mom talked to their moms when they were both just tots. I’ve watched them grow up and then grow together. We share a genetic condition that identifies us, but doesn’t define us. They are a decade *cough* or two behind me.

We’ve been to many of the same events and share some fantastic memories. As they grew and matured, they became leaders in the albinism community. The people that parents sought out for information and reassurance. She’s an pediatric oncology nurse and he’s a tech guru with mad video skillz.

They met as teens. Her mom pulled me aside and asked what I knew “about this Ed kid”. I told her something to the effect of “relax, he’s good people.” Six years later when the finally “clicked”. He tried to introduce her to me. Like I hadn’t been following both of their trajectories for eons. Not meddling, but not really surprised when they became a couple either. I laugh and still bust him about it to this day.

The bride and groom entering the receptionI get a strange feeling when people who are on the periphery of my life comment or congratulate me on a life event. Though now that I’m the one watching time pass, I have a better understanding of why it happens. It’s a small sense of pride. Do not get me wrong, I am not trying to take credit for the awesome adults they are today, no that lies squarely with four parents who loved, challenged and set expectations. I was just part of the so-called village. I stood on the sidelines and cheered. Occasionally offered advice when it was requested (sometimes when it wasn’t). Mostly, I watched in awe as two kids grew and matured into two amazing, successful adults. Taking notes all the while so that my kids can benefit from their experiences. I hold them up to my kids as examples of what you can become with hard work and dedication.

I was truly honored to be invited to their wedding. The celebration of their marriage, the joining of two amazing human beings and two wonderful families. Congratulations Ed & Kristen. Thanks for letting me be part of your village and thanks for being part of the village that supports my kids.

eandk_group

 

9

Dear Mim,

Mim in front of a forsythia plantAnd now you are nine. Wow, it was a great year for you. It was a year of learning and growing both physically and emotionally. Together we learned about engine speeds and we now have the words we need to talk about energy levels and how to manage them. You are working on strengthening your fine motor skills (writing) and your core strength and continue to improve. You are still the happiest kid I know. You meet the world with a big smile and a hearty laugh. You bring joy everywhere you go and frequently have memorable quips.

Sadly, you lost a grandmother this year. We weren’t able to ease you into exposure to the emotions and rituals of death like we were with Fish. Still, you handled it all like a champ. You had some questions, and tears, but mostly, you just went along with the flow and provided some bright spots in the bleakness.

You dabbled in Star Wars this year, but your interests moved to Hot Wheels and Battle Force Five (a.k.a. BF5). Not too long before she died, you were talking on the phone with Muzzie. She asked you about your interest in Star Wars and you replied “Actually, I’m more of a Hot Wheels kind of guy.” I could hear her laughing from across the room.

Mim jumping on a rockYou and your sister still get along. There is the expected grousing once in a while, but overall you’re good to each other. You share a game on the iPad called Virtual Families. You two have these in-depth conversations about who is sick, who needs more vitamins, who got a job, who is going to college and who died. They are very funny to listen to and occasionally very random. For example, “I accidentally sold the couch.”

You have very distinct ideas about how things should be done and who is responsible for what. Sometimes I wish you’d set those classifications aside and just do what needs to be done with out thought to whose turn it is, but hopefully that will come with time.

Mim and his karate instructor with Mim's Red/white/blue beltYou are now a green belt in karate and just celebrated two years of perfect attendance. You’ve signed up for six more months and I’m hopeful you continue beyond that. This summer promises to be an exciting one with stints at Cub Scout camp, Lego camp, and NOAH Camp and knowing you, LOTS of reading.

You are still my early bird although lately, you’re beside me with the iPad building your empire on Minecraft. I’ll take snuggles however they come.

You are a bundle of energy and life with you is never dull. Thanks for always being a ray of joy. Looking forward to all the coming year has in store for you.

Happy Birthday!

Love,

Mom