Category: Parenting

We are ready for Halloween Part 1 – The Jedi

My Little Jedi in costume.As I’ve mentioned previously, Halloween is a big deal ’round these parts. This year Mim wanted to be a Luke Skywalker.  I looked at buying a costume, but $35 for a piece of crap that likely wouldn’t last the month just doesn’t work for me.  Fish helped him find a picture of which iteration of Master Skywalker he wanted to emulate and I plotted a way to create it out of items we have or could acquire at a relatively low cost. It is important to note here that I am in no way, no how crafty.  Basically, I can use tape and operate a stapler.  This had to be easy.

Black jeans and a slightly oversized black shirt would provide the base.  For accessories, we needed a cape, boots, a belt and a light saber. The light saber was solved by an $8 purchase at the fair.  Fish was tasked with creating the boots and the belt out of duck tape and brown, paper grocery bags and some velcro.  For the cape, I went to Goodwill and bought a brown, mens, extra-large, hooded sweatshirt. The plan was to slice it right up the middle and use double sided tape to finish the edges, but Grammy stepped in and stitched the seams.

Light Saber $8

Gorilla Tape (couldn’t find Duck tape in Black) $8

Hoodie $10

Black Shirt $5

Boys black jeans $14

Total Cost $45

So, I actually spent $10 more than the pre-made costume, BUT, the jeans aren’t modified in any way, so he can wear those to school.  He needs to wear the costume at least 3 times (maybe 4) and I’m confident even with his rough and tumble ways the clothing will hold up.  The light saber, is iffy, but for the month of October, the light saber is ONLY for use with the Halloween costume.

He was pleased with the outcome and in the end, that’s truly all that matters.

 

Real

Fish, her second halloween (as a bunny) with Blankie

“You were Real to the Boy,” the Fairy said, “because he loved you. Now, you shall be Real to every one.”

– Nursery Magic Fairy, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

When my daughter was an infant, my mother-in-law gave her Bear and my dear friend Jeanne gave her a purple Comfort Silkie Blankie. Fish took to them almost instantly and the two traveled everywhere with us. B&B were a team. I wasn’t able to locate another bear, but we bought several more Blankies and rotated them regularly so they wore relatively evenly. This way if one were lost, (GOD FORBID), Blankie would not be gone for good (and Mom & Dad could still sleep at night). For most of the first two years of her life, Fish thought there was only one Blankie. I’ll never forget the look on her face when she discovered the Blankie stash. It was like Christmas. She grabbed them all and snuggled them close.

After a while, Fish settled on one specific Blankie for comfort. Thankfully by then she was able to keep track of Blankie herself and the world did not come to a screeching halt if Blankie could not be immediately located. Blankie’s importance has definitely diminished over the years, but she remains part of Fish’s inner circle of confidants. We kept the others (down to two from a high of four) in a drawer “just in case”.

Lately, poor Blankie has been showing her age. Her flannel side is thread bear and has disintegrated in to long shreds. Her tag (probably her most important part) is literally hanging on by a thread*. She’s had to stay home a few times for fear of not surviving camping or air travel. Still she perseveres and provides much needed comfort. She’s a trooper!

Three pictures horizontally, Fish with "rag" and a less worn Blankie, The Real Blankie and Bear, and the tag litterally hanging on by a thread.

Bear too is showing her age, she’s lumpy and has required several nose jobs over the years (props to Grammy and her mad sewing skills), but she has been Blankie’s faithful nurse and companion and she too is a member of the inner circle. I’m grateful to them both for their service. Not many would tolerate being smooshed under a feverish child, being drenched in vomit or stuffed into a small backpack to travel on adventures. Still, they provide comfort and keep secrets and are to be lauded for their efforts.

Someday, they too will be Real.

*Right after I wrote this, the thread broke and Blankie and her tag were separated forever.

“I now sleep with one of the replacements.  I’ll never give up the old one until she’s a few threads held together by nothing but love.” – Fish

Pedal, Pedal, Pedal!

To: Jeff Elrick, It’s Ability Pediatric Physical Therapy Center

From: A Proud Mom

Dear Jeff:

A year ago, my son Mim, could not ride a two wheeler. He was afraid of falling and we were both very frustrated. His vision and some coordination issue weren’t helping either. He spent three mornings with you and your wonderful staff at Bike Camp and when we parted ways, he was wobbly, but he was on his way.

Last week he and I rode 6.2 miles, a circuitous route from our home to his school and back. His starts and stops are still a little rough, but he improves a little every time we ride. Most importantly, his confidence is through the roof.

This is all your fault!

Thanks so much!

Lee

 

Eight

Mim & His Sensei, Football from Fish, Drawing race tracks, Getting ready to bounce, Riding NHMS, Mater MaskDear Mim,

Today we celebrate your 8th birthday with your friends. On the day you actually turned eight (three weeks ago), we started off the day at karate where with cupcakes for you and Mr. H. Jr. Pretty cool that your sensei’s birthday is the same day as yours!! Later that day you chose the 99 Restaurant for your birthday dinner. This time of year is always crazy busy as we wrap up school and scouts. I didn’t get a chance to write a post for you on your birthday. That doesn’t mean your birthday isn’t one of the most important days of the year to me. Although the delay wasn’t intentional, I was secretly pleased when you asked if I was going to write a blog post for you.

Seven was a good year for you. You worked hard at karate, participating in a tournament and moving up 5 belt ranks. As we close out your first year, Mr. H. has decided you may be ready to move up to the Dragon Warrior level. He has challenged you to control your body and focus during classes and you have been making an good effort to meet that challenge.

Second grade was a good year for you. Mrs. C was supportive and we identified some issues around focus an attention that are impacting your writing and we have taken steps to address some of the challenges. You’ve grown socially too. Mrs. P. commented on how much your playground behavior has improved.

You had a great year with Boy Scouts. You completed all the requirements for the Wolves and have moved on to being a Bear. Your smile and energy was a huge asset while selling popcorn. You worked with Dad and created a Pinewood Derby car you could be proud of and soon you’ll be going to overnight camp with your pack!

This year you tested your wings a little. Mom and Dad were gone for a week celebrating their anniversary and you stay at home with Grammy & Grandpa and then five months later, you spent a week in Florida with Grammy and Grandpa. The story goes that you literally fell asleep in your dinner one night, but you most definitely had a great time and were on your best behavior.

Lightening McQueen is still a favorite, but all things sports (especially football) have held your attention as well. The Patriots made the SuperBowl we even stayed up to watch the first half (too bad they lost). If I can’t find you, I look for the iPad. If I can’t find the iPad, I know you are off in a corner reading. This happens frequently.

You are still a morning person. Some mornings, you wake up a little earlier and come down to snuggle with me on the couch. You read while I journal and then we get into the morning routine. You weren’t much of a snuggler as a baby, but you’ve come to it later in life and I LOVE it.

You are full of energy, exuberance and questions. You’ve made great strides socially. You are starting to understand that there are times when focus and sitting still are important. Those are not easy tasks for you, but you are rising to the challenge and making an effort.

I have a feeling 8 is going to be big year for you. I can’t wait to see what’s in store.

Happy Birthday!

Love,

Mommy

A Sad Moment for Me

Mim's Karate Belt rack, white, yellow, orange, and purple.Yesterday, two boys in Mim’s karate class moved up to the next level (Fish’s class). I had a moment of sadness as I watched two boys advance who were lower ranks than my son and younger (albeit only by a few months).

By the time we got in the car, I was over it. I have faith in the instructors. This is a family run program and I think they genuinely care about the children they teach. I also had time to recognize that my son, is who he is. He has issues beyond his vision. We’re working with the school and some specialists to determine the best course of action to help him overcome some of the challenges and manage those that can’t be overcome. He is immature, and unfocused. He is undisciplined and has the attention span of a gnat. When I really pondered on it, I realized that what made me sad was that his deficits are holding him back. As parents we want to see our children soar, but as humans, we all have strengths and weaknesses. His weaknesses happen to be focus and sitting still.

One the way home, he told me about how boys who were younger, and lower ranks than he had been moved up. I was glad I’d had a chance to gather my thoughts a little before we talked about it. With his sister’s help, we talked about how the next level up is less playful and more focused.{As an aside I was very proud of how she didn’t rub it in that he didn’t advance and instead offered constructive criticism for him} We discussed how there is even less tolerance for tom foolery at the higher level.

I reminded him that he has made excellent progress. In the last year he has advanced four ranks. Then we talked about whether the advanced level is something he’d be interested in. It is disrespectful in karate to ask your instructor when you will be advanced (either to a new rank or a new level). I have faith in the program and I don’t believe in advancement without merit. So, I coached him to talk about his own skill set and ask the instructors for suggestions on how he could improve to be considered for promotion to the next level.

He’s young to understand the implications of putting his destiny of his own hands, but I feel good about taking that tact. We’ll be working with him to help him manage and conquer his other issues and I believe he’s good at karate and so long as he enjoys it and rises to the challenge, we’ll keep going with it. He’ll complain again, I’m sure of it, but I’ll just remind him that in karate as in life, it is up to him how far he progresses.

 

He and I

Mim and his drawing Crazy Kids climbing structure, water break. Coooookieee!

It was just he and I. His sister was off at the American Girl Store with her grandparents. We were supposed to go to a hands-on museum with another mom and her son, but Son got sick. Boo. Fortunately, Mim took it in stride. I offered to take him to the museum, but that was AFTER I offered to take him to the indoor play space in town. Silly me.

The place space is clean and safe and teaming with noise and pre-pubescent energy. Clearly I’d need fortification to sustain myself so we went to lunch at the local dinerish place. He brought cars and proceeded to draw on his placemat. The tale that surrounds this house is quite involved, it involves a police officer, his wife the race car driver, and their free-to-them house with an arcade, a huge swimming pool and a football field. I’ll have to video tape him giving the tour.

After lunch we ventured in to Krazy Kids. I brought my kindle, but my intention was to play with him. We climbed through the oversized inflatable maze and he disappeared on me. So, I found some wall space and settled in with the Hunger Games. I heard a “Hi Mama!” several different times as he whizzed by chasing others. When he came over for a water break, he launched into a detailed discussion of the monstrous climbing structure so I asked him if he wanted to give me a guided tour. We climbed and crawled, but it soon became clear I was harshing his vibe and he was only doing this to placate me. I released him from his duty and he was off again. I knew it was time to go when the stops for water or a quick albeit sweaty, snuggle, became more frequent.

Normally I’d just head home, but this was a special day, so we ventured into town to find a snack. We ended up with HUGE cookies. We nibbled them on our way down the street to the toy store. The primary audience for this toy story is teachers, but since children are the primary audience for teachers, the store is a hit with the short and loud crowd too. Eventually, he chose a pump action soft rocket that was advertised to travel 150 feet, but he put it back in favor of two smaller rockets so he could give one to his sister. *MELT* .

We headed home with declarations of this being the best day ever.  I’d call that a win!

NYC

Fish exploring the enlisted berths on the Growler, Different sights on the Intrepid, enjoying a slice of Pizza and hugging and Angry pigDo you remember when your kids were babies and you wondered if you were going to be able to go anywhere of substance again? Would you ever be able to enjoy an activity that wasn’t brightly colored or littered with oversized characters? I’m here to tell you that yes, you can.

Fish and I took a day trip to New city York recently and had a blast! We were part of a larger group, that split up, so it was just the two of us loose in The Big Apple for nine hours. She originally wanted to go to Ripley’s Believe it Or Not Odditorium. I said fine but also made some suggestions including Madam Tussauds Wax Museum, A boat tour, 30 Rock, the Empire State Building, The Sony Wonder Technology Lab, and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Ultimately, it came down to a choice between the Intrepid and The Wonderlab. We didn’t jump on the WonderLab earlier enough to guarantee tickets. Fish was actually relieved because she’d had a hard time making up her mind.

I really wanted to use public transportation where possible. We live in an area with ZERO public transportation. It is possible my children will have enough vision to drive, but driving for the visually impaired varies by individual, by the state they live in and by road conditions. My kids might choose a field or land a job that requires them to live in a state where they won’t qualify for a license. I’d hate for them to turn down an amazing opportunity simply because they can’t drive. I want them to understand that especially in a major city, public transit is viable option.

Half the Adventure is in the getting there

The bus departed at 6am and arrived in New York at 11. I had a little trouble getting my bearings, but we were never more than a block or two off course. Turns out despite my heartfelt appreciate of public transportation, my skills are a bit rusty.

We missed the first bus because we were on the wrong side of the intersection. We missed the second bus because while I had the exact fare, they don’t accept paper money on busses, only Metro cards or coins. We acquired the necessary metro cards, but when we asked the driver of the third bus to announce the 12th Avenue stop, he smirked and said we were headed the wrong way. Ooops! Stupid ordinal directions! The fourth bus was the charm. We laughed our way through the entire adventure. “You’re never going to live this down, you know that right?” my daughter smiled an evil grin at me.

The Intrepid was fun. This kid LOVES museums. She is endlessly curious and museums provide a buffet for her brain. We prowled through the Growler a cold war submarine and then explored the aircraft carrier Intrepid from stem to stern. She got a kick out of the sleeping quarters for the enlisted men and loved looking at all the planes on the flight deck.

With only minimal confusion, we made our way back to Times Square and grabbed an early, quick dinner. After which she announced that she wanted to ride the subway and we should find a destination that would require a subway ride. We decided Rockefeller Center met the criteria. When we got there, the line to the Top of the Rock was too long for the allotted time we had left. She rolled with it. We stopped at Starbucks and headed back to the subway for a return trip to Times Square.

This was our first day trip to a new destination that was just she and I. I have no desire to be my daughter’s BFF, but this trip felt more like two friends exploring rather than Mom chaperoning a field trip. I don’t want to brag, but this is my blog, so I guess I can. I was so pleased that she shunned the shopping frenzy that gripped some of the girls. We had a few minutes before our final meeting, so we ducked into Toys R Us and she appreciated the display of Annoying Orange merchandise, and the ginormous Pig from Angry Birds, her only observation was to marvel at the bloated prices. “I bet that’s cheaper at home or even on Amazon.” Times Square was markedly more crowded in the early evening but Fish was a good sport about staying near me and my occasional need to hold her arm or steer her by the shoulders. It was a long day (almost 22 hours door to door), but she kept it together and we made some awesome memories.

There are so many places I’ve seen and want to share with my kids and new places I want to explore with them. I’m super excited that my daughter is growing up to be a delightful travel companion.

 

 

 

12

Dear Squishy Fish,

You are twelve.

You are at that stage where you are balancing maturity with childhood and you are doing it fantastically well. Me? Meh, not so much. Your transition from elementary school to middle school was very smooth. You are finding out what friendship is really about and choosing friends with good character.

In the fall, you texted me asking if you could join the math team. Has a parent (especially one as math impaired as I am) EVER refused to let a child join the math team? I texted back saying we’d talk when you got home. One of my funnier memories is our exchange about this.

You: Mom can I join the math team?

Me: Hmm, I don’t know, it sounds kind of dangerous to me.

You: Huh?

Me: I mean what if someone messes up their quadric equation and it explodes? Ugh, what a mess. Variables everywhere. You could get hurt.

You: Mommmmmm!

Fish as a yellow belt demonstrating a kickI held you off a few months, but you followed your brother’s footsteps, and took up karate. Your poise and precision is amazing. Your instructors all comment positively and frequently cite you as an example. Skiing continues to be one of your favorite activities and you enjoy skiing with the Hs and helping them heard their cats as the seven of you traverse the slopes. You’ve worn contact lenses for about a year and handled the responsibility with ease.

As mature as you are, you don’t hesitate to grab my hand and make me skip through a parking lot with you. Nicki, Jess and Emily are frequent companions as you while away the hours in your room, figuring out how this world works and what exactly you want your place in it to be. Thankfully you still seek me out for some snuggle time before bed

Your little brother can drive you absolutely mad, but you make time to play the Wii with him or the two of you venture into the land of make believe. He still worships the ground you walk on and you are one of his biggest fans.

Mim & Fish at the Pinewood Derby District competitionThe year hasn’t been without conflict. You made mistakes, but so have I. I’m not sure that will ever change. I want the best for you. I joke that you, must, stop, growing, and some days, I wish it was true. I feel like I need another twelve years just to catch up with you. Yet, I know that’s not how it works. It is your job to grow and move into your own life. It is mine to remember you are not me and support you as you find out who you are and what you want.

Happy Last-year-before-being-a-teenager. Make it a good one!

Love,

Mom

 

Auntie bought sticky bubbles for your birthday