New York State of Mind

When Billy Joel sang those words, I am well aware that he was referring to New York City, the concrete jungle of the United States.   For me and my family; however, a New York State of Mind applies to Western New York, where the land flows with farms and fields, liberalism isn’t quite as strong, and being referred to as Southern Canadian comes with the territory (well, maybe I’m the only one who uses that reference, and more specifically to annoy my husband).

As many of you are aware, my husband is from western New York, specifically from the village of Fairport within the confines of Rochester.   It’s located along the Erie Canal and boasts the status of Top 100 Best Places to live in America.  There are row houses, old Victorians, and those that give you the feel of New England, although my husband doesn’t like being referred to as New England.  There are festivals, parades, and a warm hometown feel.  It’s quaint, simple, and laid back.   Gosh, if it weren’t for the horrible winters and atrocious taxes, I’d consider living up here.  Fairport is my husband’s native home, and our home away from home for me and the boys.

We love to visit up here, usually making it 2-3 times a year, more specifically during the warmer months.   This time around, I decided to make it a two week visit for me and the boys, with my husband joining us for the final five days.   How is that going? you ask.  We have our good days and we have our bad days.

My boys are out of their element, so that can create some difficult times.   I stick to their normal day to day schedule as much as possible, but going for over a week without daddy, and staying in not normal surroundings, has caused for some hair pulling issues.   My hair, that is.   Fortunately, I have an awesome support group in my in-laws.  We’ve managed to find ways to keep the boys active, even on the rainy days, involving them in coloring binges, and games of Memory.

Davey’s learned how to bowl, we’ve had awesome Tom Wahl’s burgers, enjoyed ice cream sundaes, ridden bikes, visited Great Grandma, taken advantage of the cooler weather and lower humidity to play on the playground, and practiced our artwork on Gammy and Guh Guh’s driveway.   We’ve had exciting days, but days that are still trying.

We have a week left and fortunately for all parties involved, Daddy joins us tomorrow.   Our New York State of Mind is still going strong and today we’re going on an adventure to The Strong: National Museum of Play, a children’s museum known throughout the country as one of the best and greatest.  Davey’s been twice, although I’m sure his memory may be waning, but Henry has never been.

So, for now I sign off with the encouragement for all of you to check out Fairport, NY.

http://www.village.fairport.ny.us

As well as the The Strong.

http://www.museumofplay.org

And stay tuned for a recount of today’s adventures.

Come Fly With Me

Flying can be stressful.   Once upon a time, flying was a luxury, something people looked forward to.   Airplanes were more spacious, flight attendants (stewardesses) were a lot more friendly, and the overall demeanor of most of your fellow passengers was more mellow.   Back then, flying was exciting.  It wasn’t just a way to get from one place to another quicker, but to also do it with a twist of relaxation.   I wish I’d known those days.  Perhaps those days didn’t exist, but instead have been sketched upon my brain with the quick flick of my imagination.

These days, flying can be down right treacherous, exhausting, and if you’re flying solo with a 3 &1/2 year old and an 18 month old, both boys by the way, then it can test even the strongest of wills and turn you into a raging alcoholic.   Okay, so the raging alcoholic bit can be a little much.  I think drinking would have made my situation much worse as it would have only allowed me to be numb the pain, while forcing my fellow passengers to endure my screaming and fighting boys.

flying with the boys 2 - Copy

Neither child suffers from air pressure and popping ears.   Instead they suffer from containment and much like a caged animal who’s been taunted, teased, and can see “freedom” just on the other side of the seat, they’re ready to pounce and scream their way to said freedom.

This isn’t the first time either one of my boys have flown.  Davey has flown three times a year since he was two months old.   If you calculate that with each trip we’ve made to Rochester, NY, he’s been on a total of 44 flights.   He’s more of a frequent flyer than I am.   This is Henry’s third trip up north so his frequent flyer status is still fairly new, equating to 12 flights.  These boys are accustomed to flying, but they’d prefer to have the entire plane to themselves, as I’m sure the rest of the passengers would to.

flying with henry - Copy

When I first flew with Davey, I prayed that the other passengers would have sympathy for me.   I hoped they would be understanding and that they wouldn’t be like me pre-baby.  I loathed flying on a plane when kids were on board.  I did everything in my power to get a seat as far away as possible.   I silently threw insults at the parents, cursed them for bringing their spawn(s) on board.  I wanted them to suffer.   Now, I suppose karma is coming back to bite me, as I’m now the one who suffers.

These days, Henry is more of my problem than Davey.  Davey will watch a movie on the iPad or look out the window.  Henry wants to scream, kick the seats in front of us, torture his brother, climb under the seats, and basically cause an all out war.  I want to knock him out, to force him to sleep.   I want to have enough money to buy the passengers a round of drinks, in the hopes that they won’t get too upset.   I suppose the best thing, though, is to not have the brilliant idea to fly solo with these two heathens.

flying with the boys - Copy

I’ve never prayed so much for a plane to land as I did on the flight to Rochester this time.  I tried to will it with my entire strength, my mind power, to fly at super sonic speed so that I could escape my confined hell.  Looking back on it now, almost a week later, I think, “what was I so worried about?”   But those 65 minutes of flight time felt like nonstop 65 days.   I could feel the hairs in my head starting to gray, but in the end I survived.   I just look forward to the day when I can put the two of them on a flight WITHOUT me.   In the meantime, Daddy will be on board for the next flights.   I think I may sit 20 rows away from him and the boys, pretend I don’t know them, and have a cocktail or two.

Summer Break, Give Me a Break!

We are only two weeks into summer vacation, and this mama is absolutely exhausted. It’s nearly mind-numbing to me, not to mention physically taxing to come up with ways to not only keep my boys entertained during summer, but to also keep those brain cells pumping. And of course, there’s also the normal day to day activities involved with the upkeep of our house.

I swore to myself, more so than to my children, that I would keep them going during the summer. The television tuning would be and has been limited, that the educational experiences would abound, and not once would I hear the dreaded words, “I’m bored.” Well, truth be told, I’m not too ashamed to say that I wish I hadn’t made that oath to myself. I’m not that mom who seems to be able to function at full speed on the half charged “d” cell battery. I’m not the crafty mom, either. Forget finding acorns and painting and stringing them together into a beautiful key chain. That’s not me. Pinterest is really not my friend.

In my nearly two weeks, I’ve found only a smidgen of things to do to keep the boys occupied that will not break the bank. One of which included an air show last week. The downside to the air show was that it was brutally hot, something I should be used to being a native South Carolinian, and the almost 45 minute drive to get to it. It didn’t cost me anything except for the gas, and if I’m going to be honest, my mom and dad came along and they drove, so it really cost them gas. This is what I’m looking for, free things that are fun and educational. I know they exist, we’ve done them before. I’m just tired of searching them out and planning our weeks based upon these.

Once the air show started, it became a success with both boys. I’ll gladly take them to another one of those this summer, of course within a reasonable driving distance. I’m grateful for my stay at home mom status so that I was able to take the boys to the show since it was going on during working hours of a Wednesday afternoon. However, if I were a working mom, I wouldn’t be fretting with ways to keep my boys entertained during the summer. Someone else could handle that for me. Oh the insanity of it all!

Another thing I’m grateful for is our current location, nestled witin the rolling hills of upstate South Carolina. There are a ton of options for us, some of which cost money, while others are free. The one exciting item for Davey that I plan to continue on a weekly basis, a few days a week, is to take advantage of our Swamp Rabbit Trail.

Davey has really taken to his bike lately, and I’ve used the opportunities to add in some additional cardio for me. He’s started biking three miles, while I run/walk alongside of him as I push Henry in the stroller. It’s great for some fresh air and we’ve even managed to turn the excursions into learning exercises as I’m pelted with questions like, “why is that tree trunk falling apart?” or “look at that lizard, what is it doing?” And then I also get the opportunity to tell the story of the trail and it’s origins making for some funny antics as Davey tells his own version of events. At the rate we appear to be going, he should be without training wheels before his 4th birthday. Guess that means a new bike is around the corner.

We plan to hike, since Paris Mountain is right in our backyard, and learn about the different trees, their leaves, and how they grow. I hope we encounter a few animals, minus the snakes, and even get the opportunity to swim in the lake.

We have a neighborhood pool and a playground in our backyard, along with the one at the Runway Cafe not too far down the road. There are waterparks, $1 movies, and trips to NY planned for the summer. My only problem in all of this is trying to find some way to fit everything into the 24 hours allotted to me each day. Why oh why couldn’t the Lord make us to NOT need sleep. It is a waste of my time.

As I write this blog, Davey and I have practiced writing his upper and lower case letters. He’s drawn pictures, and is working a 48 piece puzzle, something he seems to be a pro at. Henry? Well, he’s napping, thank God for that.

Perhaps I’m the only stay at home mom who focuses and frets over summer breaks. Maybe I’m putting too much focus into their days and I should just throw them out into the backyard every day, but I can’t seem to let go. While I may be complaining about what feels like the added work of summer vacation, I’m also eternally grateful to have the days where I can do all these wonderfully time consuming and exhausting trips.

The Dog Days of Summer Are Here!

Last Thursday marked the end of yet another school year for Davey. When I woke him on Thursday morning to dress him for his last day, I asked him what he thought about it.

“I’m not so sure about this, Mommy.”

“Why not?” I asked.

“I’m just not so sure I want to leave Mrs. Norwood and Mrs. Whaling,” he replied. Mrs. Norwood and Mrs. Whaling were his school teachers this year and what a wonderful blessing they’ve been not only to him but also to me. To say I was sad about his last day was a bit of an understatement.

Thoughts began to swirl around my head, bumping into and shoving each other. It’s his last day, one thought exclaimed, while another reminded me that I would now have the ability to attend that class at the Y I’ve always wanted. Of course that thought bumped into the one that said I should feel guilty about selfishly looking forward to said class. And there was yet another thought that crashed down hard on all the others that said, “he’s not going to be your baby for much longer.” Yeah, that thought pretty much obliterated all the others.

I dropped him off that morning, being sure to take the obligatory “last day of school” pictures so that I could do what all other moms in the social media age do…OVERSHARE. He smiled happily, even waving and telling me to have a great day. I drove off to take care of my errands since I would soon hightail it back to participate in his class party, and what a treat that was.

Davey's last day of school.
Davey’s last day of school.

My child is apparently loved by all. I’m sure every parent says that, but when his teacher informed me that her high school daughter would come in on her days out of school just to spend time with Davey, that warmed my heart. People genuinely love my child. Who couldn’t?

I suppose what conflicted me the most about his last day of school was to see how well he interacted with his classmates. I was impressed with his ability to share and play happily. I was in awe over the fact that his teachers didn’t need to tell him multiple times to sit down, criss cross apple sauce. No, they just did it once, and he would sit obediently during the entire story time on the mat. But all of this saddened me as well. He wouldn’t have these children to interact with again, at least not until next year. Would he be able to sit quietly for me? Would I be able to maintain some level of learning for him during the summer months? These teachers and children did so much for him, for me. I don’t want to fail any of them, least of all my son.

And so now, the dog days of summer are officially here. I’m in planning mode to make sure that Davey continues to learn, continues to be stimulated, and doesn’t get bored. My mind is already exhausted with all of the planning and all of the possibilities.

I’ve always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with change. In theory, I like the idea of it, but when confronted with it in reality, it’s a bit intimidating to me. My son; however, is either too young to understand the change, or he’s much more capable of going with the flow than I. We’ll see as the summer progresses. And truthfully, I’m already on a countdown for next school year!

Happy Summer, y’all!

Waving "goodbye".
Waving “goodbye”.

Let Me Tell You Bout The Birds and The Bees

And the flowers and the trees and the moon up above and a thing called Love.

For a chance at pride not prize, who can tell me who sang that song? Anyone? Well, maybe I’m showing my age after all. The correct answer would be a gentleman by the name of Jewel Akens from 1964, a mere 11 years before this world was graced with my presence.

I’m not going to spend my time telling you the story of the birds and the bees, as I’m hoping you all should know how that story ends. No, what I’m more concerned with is when I should have a conversation with my son about the male and female anatomy, more so than the other parts.

Yeah, yeah, I know he’s 3 & 1/2. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s not a good idea to lie to him. And I’m well aware of whatever I tell him will be spread across the schoolyard playground like butter on toast. I suppose that’s my biggest conundrum at this point…how do I explain to him the differences between the male and female bodies while also keeping a certain level of innocence in tact?

Why am I even talking about this right now? Well, I made the drastic mistake this week of darting into the bathroom as we were walking in the door from school. I was already in mid zip with my shorts, as I yelled over my shoulder, “mommy has to potty really bad.” Unfortunately for me, I had a momentary mental lapse and didn’t lock the bathroom door when I bolted in. This left the door wide open, no pun intended, for Davey to walk in and “keep me company” as he likes to say.

As I sat on the toilet peeing, my 3 & 1/2 year old is hovering above and peppering me with questions like,
“Mommy, why do you sit down to pee pee? Mommy, does your pee pee come from your butt like your poopy? Mommy let me see if you a boy pee pee that it comes out of?” And upon trying to scrounge up to me and literally look in that general down south vicinity of my body, he hits me with the following, “Mommy, it looks like you don’t have a pee pee like I do, so what do you have?”

Honestly, I just stared at him and we both listened to the last little bit of dribble. Alarm bells began screaming in my head, shouting and blaring over and over, “you’re in trouble, this is too soon, you must be honest with him, don’t you wish you’d have had a daughter?” They continued to swirl over and over, round and round until I literally began feeling dizzy as I sat on the toilet.

“So, what is it, Mommy?” Davey asks me again as he takes a few steps backwards and plants his little tush on the stepping stool as if waiting for me to go into a deep story.

“Um, well,” I stammered. “Maybe you should ask your daddy.”

Yeah! That was it! After all, since I have two boys that means I’ve immediately been given a “get out of jail” free pass on the this part of parenting. Right? I mean, it should be my husband’s job to explain this. Wouldn’t you agree?

Well, that’s what I kept telling myself as Davey persisted on and on (dang you, Bruce genes, for giving my son this characteristic). Really I can’t force my husband to be the only one to deal with this part of the parenting. So, I did my best and told Davey that girls don’t have pee pees (we’re not into using the word “penis” yet since I’m not exactly desperate for a speech of “I have a penis” every time we walk into a store.) Basically, I just danced around the question and told him girls have something smaller. He seemed to accept that as he walked out the door before quickly turning around and saying, “good girl, mommy, on pee peeing in the potty.”

I skirted by that one, although I’m sure there’s another question just like it lurking on the horizon. What am I so afraid of, you ask? I’m not afraid, I just want to get it right without being too technical and without spoiling the opportunity for other parents to explain this to their kids. I’ve already begun to imagine the phone calls from the parents of some of Davey’s classmates if I had used the “v” word, or if I’d started explain the urethra or the workings of the bladder.

I was able to wipe my brow and pat myself on the back for managing to duck and dodge this question. I can’t wait until he starts asking me where do babies come from…no not really.

Good Bye, Little Baby. Hello, Little Man

“Is that a boy or a girl,” the man asked me. He sat perched atop his stool, behind his raffle tickets watching Henry has he ran back and forth. It took me a moment to respond and I was almost tempted to ask something about this man’s gender, considering his long gray and frizzing hair pulled back in a low ponytail.

Instead, I offered up a fake smile and said, “he’s a boy.”

How hard is it to tell Henry’s gender when he’s wearing little boy clothing? I know what the older gentleman was thinking. He was basically trying his hand at small talk, chit-chat (a complete waste of time in my book), and didn’t want to offend me. I can hardly blame him because at times I’ve wondered myself about the gender of children especially when those children have long hair.

I suppose it was this little “talk” that pushed me to finally cave and cut Henry’s hair.

I’ve waited so long. I’ve pushed it off and pushed it off and I don’t know why. I’ve always been one of those people who doesn’t like little boys to have long hair, but for some odd reason with Henry I’ve let it keep going and going. Some tell me it’s because at some point I subconsciously hoped Henry would have been a little girl. Pish posh! I love having two little boys. So, why have I waited so long?

I think it’s because his curls have just helped to keep him as a little baby. When I looked at him, with the little “wings” of curls tipping up at the top of his ears, and the tendril ringlets flowing down his neck, I saw a sweet, innocent little baby. I saw something that needed me, that wanted me, that hugged me. They made him angelic.

When I would put a baseball cap on his head, and the little blond wisps would escape out through the sides and opening in the back, I thought he was my little redneck baby. He was my little Southern country boy and it made me smile.

Sitting tall and proud.
Sitting tall and proud.

But now as the weather is warming up and old men with their own long hair are questioning my son, I decided it was time to cut his hair. I think I handled it well. Not one tear fell down my cheek, but a knot did form in my throat. I’m so proud of him. He sat tall and proud in my lap, while his hair was combed and then the first little snippet was made. I gasped and he quickly looked around at me and then placed a hand on my cheek as if to say, “it’ll be alright, mommy.”

The first little snippets.
The first little snippets.

After some more snips and cuts, and then a few minutes more of combing his hair to one side, a little boy emerged. A handsome little boy, no longer a baby, but a little boy who no one should ever question again.

A new little boy.
A new little boy.

Last night, as I watched him play with his brother, I couldn’t help but smile. He is quite the handsome little devil and I swear, that one little haircut makes him look like he’s grown three inches.

A new little boy.
A new little boy.

Monsters Here, Monsters There, Monsters Everywhere

I don’t recall a lot of my childhood when I was Davey’s age. Based upon who I am now, I can assume that I was quite the imaginative and precocious little girl. I enjoyed playing “pretend” and creating fantasies and stories. I liked to think my life was different than what it was, not to say that my childhood was by any measure unsatisfactory.

Davey has a lot of my imagination in him. He loves to create stories, to play pretend with his cars and action figures. He loves to pretend that he may be living another life. This is all normal, as is what happened two nights ago.

His daddy always puts him to bed. Some nights they read stories, other nights my husband creates stories. And then there are some nights, when Davey creates his own story or perhaps alternate universe. This happened a couple of nights ago and I found myself sitting in his room eager to hear his ruminations and anecdotes.

For quite some time, Davey has displayed a concern about monsters. I use the word “concern” because it doesn’t seem to be a fear in that he’s crippled from being able to function for fear of monsters coming to get him. No, he seems to have an active inquiry about monsters, who they are, what they do, where they’re from. All of that jazz. We allow him to have a night light on and a flashlight in his room. I’m not sure if that stems from warding off the monsters, but it does help him sleep better.

His fascination with monsters has now morphed into something that really causes me to giggle. After his daddy put him to bed, I came into his room and laid down alongside of him. He asked me if Daddy had told me about the monsters in his room. I said his daddy had mentioned something along those lines, but I really wanted to hear from Davey about the monsters. With a gleam in his eyes and excitement in his voice, he burst from the covers of the bed and began pointing to his door where he stated that Johnny was standing there. Then he pointed to his tent and told me Lonny was in there, and then he pointed to the head of his bed and stated that Wonny was sitting there.

“Who are all of these?” I asked him.

“These are the good monsters, Mommy. They are my friends. They beat up the mean monsters and protect me,” he said with a smile.

So, I sat in the bed and looked around the room, saying the names of the good monsters while pointing in their directions. When I made it to Lonny, who was to be perched at the top of the bed, Davey laughed at me because Lonny had moved and was playing a trick on me. Then he became all serious and said to me, “Mommy, can’t you see him?”

No, I couldn’t see Lonny. He was not a part of my imagination. Did I tell Davey that? No. I just played along with him.

The whole scenario made me smile. I’ve heard stories about children creating imaginary friends and protectors. Davey had one briefly over the summer, but the monsters just fascinated me even more. My child’s mind had developed these monsters. Listening to him, he had given them all personalities and appearances. It was phenomenal and it made me think back to my childhood.

I was never really afraid of the dark, but I could never go to sleep without my closet being closed. At almost 40, I’m still the same way with a closet door being open in the middle of the night. In my mind, it just invites in all the unsavories.

What I do recall, is that on the nights when I awoke from my nightmares as a child, I always thought my daddy was sitting at my window, looking out into the night world, keeping watch and protecting me over the evil nasties.

As I got older, I would think back to those nights when I was convinced my daddy was watching over me. In reality, it was nothing more than the side of a toy chest, with its curves, round and long. Set against the backdrop of the streetlight from outside, it always gave me the vision of a man’s profile…my daddy’s profile and I always knew he was protecting me.

Funny what a mind can do, especially that of a child’s.

Songbird

I sat in the pew of the sanctuary, much further back than I wanted, but I needed an aisle seat so I could discreetly film the concert. I watched anxiously as other parents shuffled in and I beamed with excitement when my mom and dad entered. They were here to see their first grandchild perform in his first ever school concert. I imagined what it must have been like for them when they were my age, experiencing all the firsts. I smiled at my mother as she frantically looked over heads to try to find Davey.

After a few moments, his grade filtered in. We sat quietly, unlike the obnoxious parents in front of us who were feverishly waving at their little one, thereby preventing us from being able to see Davey. For a moment, I said a prayer that my mother’s claws wouldn’t come out as she began complaining, not so quietly, about not being able to see. Finally, the rude parents took their seat and we were able to see Davey as he stepped on stage and climbed onto the risers. He didn’t see us, which was our purpose since we preferred to have him focus on his concert.

The children were quickly and strategically placed prompting the pianist to begin playing. At that moment, I watched my son, my baby, my first born, in a whole new light. He was on stage, singing, clapping, and going through all of the motions of the songs he was taught. I felt a lump form in my throat, and the tears begin to develop in my eyes. Why was I crying? What was wrong with me? Was I the only parent who was crying? Perhaps, but I’m really ok with that.

With each song and each motion, my heart swelled with pride, but my stomach suffered through the knots of sadness, a sadness from how quickly he’s grown. I was in awe over his ability to flow along with the song and the fact that he would stand on that stage and stay focused. I can’t get him to do that! But really as I continued to watch him, I saw no one else on that stage. There were other bodies around him, but they were blurred out, like droning little bees flitting around him. I never knew it was possible to be so proud of someone in my life.

I wanted to stand up and shout, “the little boy in the yellow oxford shirt? yeah, the one who’s singing perfectly and going through the motions flawlessly, well that’s my boy! I am his mother!” I wanted to shout it from the rooftops so everyone could here.

I sit here now and re-watch the videos I took and I can’t seem to dam up the tears. This child is my child, he is a part of me and my husband. Every day I’m amazed at what the two of us created, but today I have such reverence for this small little being. He is beyond great, he is beyond awesome. He is the most perfect thing God could ever create.

So, I think I’ll sit here and watch him sing and fall in love all over again.