Oh, So You’re THAT Mom…

I didn’t hear those words last night, but I most certainly received the looks that conveyed that message.

Last night was Meet the Teacher at Davey’s School.   School is an exciting time for me.  I’m a nerd.  I love school.   I love to learn, and at times I love to teach my sons.   Unfortunately for me, and my sons, my personality has yet to equip me with the capacity to be a home school mom, which means I send them to a Christian school two days a week.

Davey will be four, one month from today, but he is starting into K3 thanks to the State of SC’s lovely cut off.  I have mixed emotions about this which I will address later.

So, Davey will be in a classroom with kids younger than him, some by almost a full year.   At this age, I shouldn’t be too terribly concerned about it, and that’s what I keep telling myself.

When meeting the teachers last night, I was thrilled to see that his TA (Teacher’s Assistant) will actually be the same one he had last year for K2.   It took a load off of me, allowing me to literally wipe the sweat that had started beading up on my forehead.   He loved Mrs. Whaling, and the fact that she knows him AND me, is making this process a little bit easier.   As for his new teacher, I need to warm up to her a bit.

She’s young.  She graduated college seven years after I did.   Her one advantage in my eyes is that she went to Bob Jones University here in Greenville.   It’s a great university, which instills a lot of love and faith in Christ in its students, something I know she’ll bring with her.   Even with that under her belt, her age still bothers me.   Yes, I’m discriminating.   I’m trying to stop, but as my husband says, she’s a little too bubbly for him, but maybe bubbly is what our kids need.

My biggest concern; however, was when I inquired as to what the curriculum would be like for K3.   When she explained it to me, my heart sank.  I nicely explained to her, with a compassionate smile, that Davey is already well ahead of the game.   He already writes his upper case letters.   He’s learning to write his lower case letters now.   He knows how to spell some words.  He can write his numbers, at least all the way up to 10, and he’s even started learning mathematics.   He knows sounds and has begun to sound out words.  He knows more than a lot of current K4 students know.

As I explained this to her, she looked at me and said, “well, I guess when Sue takes the kids to their centers, I could work one on one with Davey.”  That sentence rubbed me the wrong way.  I wanted to say, “you GUESS?”

I gave up my career four years ago.  I gave up a big portion of my dreams to be a stay at home mom.   I chose to stay at home so that I could be hands on with the boys, not so that I could have the cleanest house, or the prettiest yard, or more “me” time.   Those three things suffer A LOT, even with me being at home.   They are not my priorities.   My sons are my priorities.   Their continued growth, mentally, emotionally, intellectually, and physically, are my number one concern.   From my very first day of being home, I started working with Davey.   I took him to story time at the library, made flash cards with colors, bought puzzles, read him books, played music, all of this in an effort to make him better than me and his dad, to encourage him to be more, and at times I feel as if I’ve succeeded.

Five days a week, I find a way to incorporate a minimum of three hours a day of some sort of “schooling” for my boys.   I don’t follow a curriculum and it’s hard on all of us for me to try to create a school type atmosphere, but they learn.   They learn their manners, they learn about God and our creation, they learn their numbers and letters, they learn their shapes and colors.  They either build upon something they already knew or I add something new onto them.   So, maybe I am leading somewhat of a homeschool life after all.

As my husband and I climbed into bed last night, I told him that I had backtracked from my original statement earlier in the evening.   Today is student orientation and while Davey has that, I’m to attend a Sip and Sob with other parents.   My original intent during the Sip and Sob was to find a way to speak with the Headmaster of Davey’s school to convey my concerns about where he is academically and how he’s penalized because of his age.   By the time I’d gotten into bed; however,  I had changed my mind.

I’m going to let Davey go into K3.  I’m going to let him go back to school with some of his friends.   I’m going to let this play out.  If need be, I can have parent teacher conferences on a weekly basis (which I did last year).   I can, and will, continue to help Davey grow and learn every day.   My husband told me last night that truthfully the only reason either one of our boys are going to school right now is because I need a break from them.   He told me, I do more for them than any school could right now, but that their going was really just to give me a few hours a day, two days a week, to recharge.  I suppose he’s right.

So, this morning, I will drop Davey off for his student orientation.  I will begrudgingly sit in Sip and Sob with these other moms and play my role.  I will let him stay where he is because as my mother in law said to me, right now Davey is a big fish in a little pond.   Wouldn’t I rather like that for him than to be a little fish in a big pond?

Hunger Games

If someone had told me 20 years ago, I would have a problem with my weight, I’d have laughed them right out of the room.   I’d have slapped them in the face with a, “shut yo mouth”.   Alas, having two kids later in life and a horrible sense of will power means I’m fighting the dreaded weight gain that seems to hit so many other 40 somethingers.

When I graduated high school, I was 6 feet tall (same height I am now) and weighed 145 pounds.   I was considered underweight.   I ate like a horse, though, putting away large Pizza Hut pepperoni pizzas all by myself.   I drank good ole Southern sweet tea, ate fried foods, indulged in sodas and chips.  I ate like it was no one’s business and I didn’t gain an ounce.

When I started college, there was always that whole “Freshman 15” that most college students gained.  Uh uh, not me!  I still managed to stay around 145-150 pounds, at times looking emaciated.   I was made fun of for being a stick, with no boobs and no butt.  I had no hips, so men’s jeans and pants fit me superbly.   I was super self conscious back then, but for the complete opposite reason I am now.  These days, thanks to that stupid BMI, I’m actually considered overweight.

I’ve never in my life had to struggle with weight as badly as I have over the past year.   For some reason, after having Henry, I was unable to lose the weight and actually put it back on.   Being the vain individual I am, a serious character flaw I know, I’ve allowed myself to spiral down into levels of self deprecation I never really knew existed.   I found myself sobbing at the start of the year, literally trying to find a way to get myself to just either not eat or immediately purge the food I did consume.   I tore my husband apart, as he watched me.   I think my constant berating of myself genuinely caused him pain.

I went to my doctor, who tested my thyroids.   I prayed every night for the answer I wanted, for there to be an actual medical condition for what I was going through so that I could take some pill and “cure” myself.    I wanted hypothyroidism so badly, because if that’s what I had then I could be treated, then I would know what was wrong with me.   Of course the results came back negative, which sent me even further down the black hole of self hatred.  My doctor did tell me that I could be on the outer fringes of something known as postpartdum hypothyroidism which happens in women who’ve had children.   That didn’t exactly help me to feel better.

I found myself eager to try every diet fad possibly.   I wanted to have my jaw wired shut so that I wouldn’t eat my sons’ leftovers, which I’m sure that, along with my declining metabolism, was truly the sole cause of my weight gain.  I did my best to hide my self hatred from my boys.   They were, and still are, always eager to tell me I’m pretty, but as the days went by I became more and more thankful that I didn’t have a daughter.   And maybe that’s what started waking me up.

Girls are so difficult.  We’re hard on ourselves, we judge each other, we can just be all around unsupportive at times.   I’m sure a lot of my female readers want to argue this, but deep down it’s true.   At some point or another, you as a female, have either been judged, made to feel less than what you are, or have done it to another person or even to yourself.    I can only imagine if I had a daughter and she saw me tear myself apart over my physical appearance, how it could impact her.   Thankfully, my boys are completely oblivious to it.

It’s taken months, but I’ve finally gotten to a point where I’m happy with myself.   I don’t know if I’ve lost weight, but I can easily bike 20 miles, extreme hills included, in an hour.  I can run a 5k, possibly more depending upon who’s motivating me.   For the first time all summer, I have shorts that are actually loose on me.  It’s taken a lot of hard work, work that at times I’ve talked myself out of doing.   It’s taken a lot of will power, in that I can’t eat the little snacks that my boys eat and I can’t finish their dinners for them.   It’s taken a lot of support not just from my husband, but from my friends, and my work out partners.

Here’s what I’ve learned as I’ve turned 40.   I made a decision to have children later in life, at a time when my metabolism starts slowing down.   I can’t easily drop the weight like I could 5 years ago.   I may not always feel beautiful, but I’ve started feeling good, and my husband thinks I’m beautiful.   My friends are going to love me regardless of what I look like.   They’re going to support me, encourage me, and accept me.   So, why shouldn’t I do that to myself?

I’m tired of playing the hunger games.   I’m tired of looking at those 20 something moms and comparing my overweight body to their fit and toned ones.   I’m just tired of being my own worst critic.   So, as of today, Thursday, August 27th, I have officially declared an end to the Hunger Games of my life.

Puzzle Me This

I love puzzles, more specifically jigsaw puzzles.   When I was a kid, I kept a cut piece of cardboard under my bed with some 1000 + piece puzzle in some sort of working fashion.  There was always something therapeutic for me when it came to working puzzles.  A couple of years ago, while visiting my husband’s grandmother in a nursing home, I found myself face to face with a puzzle sitting on a table.  I’m a bit ashamed to say, but while his grandmother napped, I sat there and started working the puzzle.   It was great.

My boys have begun to pick up this habit.   Like most every parent, I bought them some sort of wooden peg puzzle when they were babies.   I coaxed them both along just a bit, but they eventually got the hang of it.   These days, they are both puzzle working fiends.

Henry works his transportation puzzle.
Henry works his transportation puzzle.

Davey’s most favorite thing to do is work puzzles.   I have to keep one packed in his back pack every time we leave the house, should we get stuck somewhere and he needs some entertainment.  Last week at the beach, this kid reworked the same three 24 piece puzzles like a champ.   Henry didn’t pick up on it as quickly, but he’s moved along.   He is the second child, after all.

Henry is learning about animals of the jungle.
Henry is learning about animals of the jungle.

The downside to being a second child means that you don’t get the one on one attention that the oldest child received.  I’m painfully aware of this with Henry on a daily basis and I’m a bit perturbed with myself that I haven’t spent the time instilling my hobby into him.   Fortunately for me, he’s picked up on the puzzle working mania of this family and can work puzzles that Davey couldn’t when he was the same age.  Perhaps it’s from watching Davey, because I know I haven’t worked with him to that level.   Shame on me.

And more jungle animals.
And more jungle animals.

Either way, my boys love a good puzzle and this makes me so happy.   Yesterday, Davey worked 8 different puzzles, ranging in size from 12-48 pieces.   He did the hardest one in literally 5 minutes.  Yeah, I timed him.   But here’s the thing with Davey, he doesn’t look at a piece and then think about where it should go, he just seems to pick up a piece, runs it through his fingers while his eyes are simultaneously looking at the other pieces, and know exactly where it goes.  It’s almost as if he has a sixth sense working these things.

Working the pig portion of Melissa & Doug.
Working the pig portion of Melissa & Doug.

As the boys have progressed, I have begun purchasing puzzles that will actually teach them things.   For example, Davey’s favorite puzzle has become his Melissa & Doug puzzle of the United States.  He asks to work this at least once a day, and is learning where the states go and the names of them.  He knows more than I do with regards to the location of the states.

Davey likes to tell his daddy which state he has.
Davey likes to tell his daddy which state he has.

The great thing about the puzzles is that it keeps them busy while I’m doing chores.  On a rainy day, when they can’t go outside and I refuse to cave into the television as it beckons my name, puzzles have become my godsend.   I’m glad these two love working puzzles.   I’ve begun to find myself looking at some of the larger, harder puzzles for myself.   What a great way for Davey and I to do something together by setting up a puzzle on the dining room table and working a little bit every day.

He knows exactly where every state goes.
He knows exactly where every state goes.

I guess I’ll be making a stop to Wal-Mart tonight.

And another state is placed.
And another state is placed.

Myrtle Beach Days

We’ll have some fun in the waves.

And that’s exactly what my boys did.

This happiness makes me happy.
This happiness makes me happy.

This past week, we enjoyed our last summer vacation before BOTH of my boys start back to school.   As with every summer, we went to North Myrtle Beach, SC home to Vanna White and the beach I grew up going to.   My parents have a cute little condo and being the old retirees that they are, they forgo their summer week since it’s too hot and usually too crowded.  For as long as my husband and I have been married, we’ve taken their summer week.

The wave just crashed onto him.
The wave just crashed onto him.

Back in those days, we could really call it a vacation since my husband and I actually relaxed.   These days it’s consider more of a trip, but as my boys get older I’m honestly finding it more and more enjoyable.

This year we kept our agenda light.   There was to be no running around, no going to shows, no attractions.   This year we were going to save money and enjoy the beach, the ocean, and the pool.   In the future, this may not pose to be as exciting for the boys, but for now they had a blast.

Out running the waves.
Out running the waves.

It warmed my heart and my soul to hear their giggles as they both attempted to out run the waves before they crashed upon shore.  I felt content and blessed beyond measure at seeing the two of them so wrapped up in their daddy, a man who willing allowed them to splash him, cover him in sand, chase him, and cannonball him in the pool.   How fortunate we all are to have him.

We took the opportunity to learn about sea life each day.   Davey was fascinated with the shells, and their “feet” that would help them burrow into the sand after a crashing wave.   He never knew sea shells were alive.   We talked about the birds and the sea gulls.   Davey watched in awe as the gulls would dive bomb into the water, scooping up a fish or two in it’s beak.

My three boys.
My three boys.

We flew a kite, fed some fish and ducks, and enjoyed some of the best seafood around at Captain John’s in Calabash, NC.   We kept it light, and for the first time in a while I genuinely had fun.   We didn’t rush to stick to a schedule and for once I didn’t overthink things for the kids to do.   I just let them go.

At night, when the boys were tucked away in their beds, my husband and I hung out on the back porch, a bottle of wine, a deck of cards, and the sound of the waves crashing on the beach to entertain us.

Building a sand castle with daddy.
Building a sand castle with daddy.

Growing up, Myrtle Beach always held a level of excitement for me.   We spent some of our vacations with my dad’s family, camping at Lakewood Campground, other summers we rented condos, and then my parents bought into their current time share 25 years ago.   Back then, the Pavillion was still on the boardwalk at the beach.   We could sit up top and watch the teenagers “cruise”.   The amusement park flashed lights across the street, with giggles and screams abounding.   Pinballs would light up, skee ball signs blinked and ice cream was the treat of the night.   The Bowery was the place to go, to see where Alabama got their start.   I get nostalgic when I think about my summers as a kid at the beach, and I smile when I think about how my children are doing the same thing.   When I was a teenager, I never thought I would be coming back to Myrtle Beach, SC.   Truthfully, I can’t think of anyplace else I would want to take my boys.   Memories of my childhood mesh with newly created memories of theirs.   I love it.

Of course, the sad part is always leaving and even at 40 years old, I get sad when our car pulls out of the parking lot.  I look back over my shoulder to see the Atlantic Ocean, the sunlight glittering upon the waves, and a lump forms in my throat.   Today, Henry looked out the window and repeatedly said, “bye, bye, beach” as he waved until he could no longer see the ocean.   Davey, on the other hand, almost began to cry as he exclaimed he wanted to stay forever.   A good vacation will do that to you.

Sharing a shell with daddy.
Sharing a shell with daddy.

I wanted to stay in that vacation, in this past week, forever.

Our final night.
Our final night.

Afternoon Blues

Surely my children are not the only ones.   Absolutely not.   I just can’t believe that they’re such an anomaly.   It’s almost irritating.

Every afternoon around 4 o’clock, my boys transform into creatures who resemble my children but are inhabited with little demons.   It never fails, like the a man changing into a werewolf at a full moon.   They become something other than my children at the stroke of 4 EVERY afternoon, regardless of the day of the week.  I mean EVERY AFTERNOON.

Please don’t tell me I’m stuck in this parallel universe alone, forced to suffer through the tortures of seeing children I love so much become such little monsters.

As stay at home moms, there are things we are forced to endure, there are scientific abnormalities we never knew existed.  One of these is the complete mutation of our little spawns.   I suppose I could blame my current viewpoint on binge watching episodes of Fringe over the weekend, but I can’t help but wonder if at 4 o’clock either I cross over into another universe or if my kids do.

Davey gave up naps about a year ago.  On occasion, we can get him to take a snoozer, but it’s rare.  Henry; however, is still forced to face the dreaded bed and a 2-3 hour nap every afternoon.   If he doesn’t nap, it’s like the Apocalypse has descended upon my house.  During Henry’s nap time is the only time I allow Davey to watch television and even then it’s only for about an hour or so, long enough for me to take care of some necessities.   So, one would think that if Henry is well-rested and Davey’s had some “down time” as well, their attitudes would be different, right?  WRONG!

Henry whines, he takes toys from his brother, he runs around like a screaming banshee and the entire time from when he awakes from what should be “restful slumber”, he’s yelling, “bites!”  which means he wants a snack.  My conundrum with this is that I’m trying to feed them dinner by 6 and I want them to be somewhat hungry so they may have a pleasant dining experience.  Unfortunately, most days I seem to be caving and like a broken seal that keeps leaking, once you’ve given Henry a snack, regardless of the size or what it is, he wants more.

When Henry whines, Davey becomes irritable.   He wants to slap his brother, I mean literally slap him, and on occasion I’ve caught him slapping Henry which leads to punishment for him and an even more horrible time for me.  I don’t know what to do.  I don’t know what occurs during the course of 2-3 hours in the afternoon that turns my children into raving lunatics.   At first, I thought they only did this with me, but no.  My husband experiences it first hand.  My parents have even suffered through this remaking of our children.

Yesterday afternoon was the same.   I love my boys.   I’m blessed to have them, I just wish they wouldn’t be little screaming leeches every afternoon.   I must remind myself on occasion that I’m stronger than them, that my mind has more power, but alas they literally break me down.   Perhaps I don’t possess the strength I thought I had or I’ve come to underestimate theirs.

A Change Will Do You Good.

I have a mixed relationship with change.  I’m always eager to have it, to break up what I feel has become the monotony of day to day life.   I dream about it, allow it to seep into every spare crevice of my brain.   I allow it to take control of my life, to affect me in ways that it shouldn’t.   Change is a good thing.   I’m a firm believer in that, it’s just the process of going through the change that wears on me.

My husband and I are very blessed.  We are fortunate for everything the Lord has given us.   We do our best to continuously thank Him for those blessings and not take them for granted.  Some days I feel that I should just be happy with what we have and not look for more, but I’m human.

For the past year or so, my husband and I have embarked on the adventure of looking for land with a potential new home site.  Over the years, we’ve both decided suburban life isn’t for us.  We have wonderful neighbors, but our neighborhood has grown and truthfully we feel almost suffocated.   The idea of land would give us the opportunity to explore with our boys in the comfort of our own backyard.  It would give my husband the opportunity to hunt in our own backyard, and it would give us the ability to do what we want with our property without seeking approval from our neighbors first.

Recently, the opportunity has presented itself for us to possibly purchase a significant amount of land along with a house already on the property.  The house is older than ours, as we custom built ours 8 years ago, but the place is beautiful with a lot of potential.  Unfortunately, there are some downsides.

It is more land, so there is more work.   There wouldn’t be a fence, so what would we do with our dog?   There are some changes and renovations to be done to the house, something I’m eagerly looking forward to should we get the house, but again it’s work.   My husband and I managed to get our current house the way we wanted it BEFORE having kids, thereby granting us the ability to really just do maintenance and spend time with our boys.   We wouldn’t be able to do that as much if we get this new house.

There’s also the moving.  I would have to pack up our ENTIRE house amidst the chaos of two boys.   I would uproot them from their home base and move them almost 45 minutes away.   On the plus side, moving would give me the opportunity to really declutter and clean out.  We would still be close to my family, but there wouldn’t be daily visits to the Y, there wouldn’t be a neighborhood pool during the summer, there wouldn’t be easy access to a biking trail.   A lot of things would change and it makes me sad, but the possibilities for our new adventures also excite me.

My husband and I aren’t new at house hunting.   We’ve done it before, but this time we have to take in so many other factors.   I find myself researching schools in my spare time, looking at FBI crime statistics for what could be our new area, trying to explore what could be our new surroundings.   I want to get it pinpointed where our closest grocery store would be, and fast food joint.   And all of this could be for naught if we can’t sell our house and get this one.   My sleepless nights of worry and excitement could be nothing more than a colossal waste of my time.

I’ll still plug forward, working towards the common goal of possibly purchasing this house with the land.   If it doesn’t work out, then something else may come along.  I just have to continue to reconcile myself with the fact that change is inevitable and it’s what you make out of it that really impacts your life.

Now, I must go and pray for guidance.  Sometimes I just really wish the Lord would tell me “yay” or “nay” when I attempt life altering changes.   It would make life easier.

Highlights Of His Life

When I was a kid, one of the most exciting parts of the day for me was when the mail would arrive.   I loved going out to meet the mailman, to get the mail directly from his hands, and to come running inside with our treasure trove of bills, mail outs, magazines and cards.   It became much more exciting for me when I started receiving my own personal mail.

There’s something about seeing your name on an envelope or on a label on the back of a magazine.  It seemed like everyone knew my mom and dad, and didn’t just know them but also knew their entire names, even names they didn’t go by in normal day to day conversations.  I thought they were famous because of all the mail they would receive and when I finally received my very own first piece, I genuinely thought I had joined the ranks of the rich and famous!

This month's issue
This month’s issue

My first piece of mail came in the form of a magazine for children, Highlights.  I’m sure many of you have heard of it and if you’re from my generation, then you likely received the magazine on a monthly basis.   Back then it was only one magazine bursting full of games, riddles, stories, and stickers.   By the time I started receiving my first subscription, I was old enough to actually read the words.

Reading the stories.
Reading the stories.

I used to sit on our couch at home, cross my legs one over the other, and put on my fake plastic glasses as I read through my magazine.  I usually had a cup of chocolate milk alongside me that I liked to pretend was my own cup of coffee, just like my dad’s, and read through the “news” of the world, or at least the news of a kid’s world.   Hidden pictures were my favorite.   I would never actually circle the pictures when I would find them because I wanted to make sure I could reuse the magazine.

Finding the pictures.
Finding the pictures.

These days, Highlights has progressed.   They now offer three different levels of the magazine, starting with “Hello”, which is geared towards the 0-2 age set, “High Five” for the 2-6, and “Highlights” for the 6-12.  We started a subscription for Davey before he turned one.  At that age, he didn’t really understand the excitement of getting mail, but I was looking for additional ways to boost his brain power.   Once he became two, we graduated to the “High Five” subscription and it’s been a tremendous success.

Hello
Hello

He loves his Highlights magazine.  He’s come to expect it, to actually ask for it on a regular basis.   Sometimes, when he’s getting the mail from our postman, he inquires, “do you have my magazine for me?”   It’s sweet actually and I love that when he does receive it, he points out his name on the back and then immediately wants to drop everything so that we can read it and do the puzzles.   And just like his mommy, hidden pictures are his favorite.

I keep all of the magazines, as I’m eager to recycle them for Henry’s use.   We’ve started reading the “Hello” issues to Henry.  He loves the size, as they are perfect for fitting into his hands.   He’s learning the various words and can even find a few of the hidden pictures in those.

Puzzle Book
Puzzle Book

Highlights has also progressed to a level of offering up puzzle books and other little ways of learning and encouraging our children.  We subscribe to the puzzle books as well, another exciting anticipation for Davey.   The puzzle books offer up stickers that you can use to complete a picture, as well as word finds, rhymes and riddles.

High Five
High Five

I love that things I adored as a child are still around for my children.   As with most anything, they’ve progressed with the times, but they are still around.   Occasionally, Davey will ask, “is this what yours looked like, mommy?” when he starts reading one of his new Highlights.  I tell him it’s close and then I remind him that I had just as much fun with mine as he does with his.

The Lost Art of Penmanship

Writing a letter is a lost form of art.   Once upon a time, letter writing was the only way to communicate.  At that time, the prose was more romantic, the wording more lyrical, and the grammar nearly flawless.   Of course that was before the days of the internet, back with the Post Office didn’t bleed you dry just to mail a letter, and when someone wrote “I love u”, it meant you loved the letter “u”.   These days, there are comma splices every where, slang and lingo have taken over the way people communicate, and confusion over how to actually start writing a letter abounds.

I wrote my first letter when I was seven.  It was my first summer away from my parents.  I didn’t actually spend the entire summer away from them, more like two weeks, but for someone who’d yet to stray from her parent’s grasp, two weeks seemed like an eternity.   My aunt and uncle from Baton Rouge, La had come to visit us and I flew back down with them.   At first, I believe there was a bit of trepidation on my part, but then reality sank in and it became clear to me that I would finally have something that was all mine.  The birth of my younger brother less than a year before was sucking all of my parent’s attention away from me and to know that I would be free from him seemed like paradise.

While down in Baton Rouge, my aunt encouraged me to write a letter home, a sort of summer camp letter, minus the whole “Hello, Mutha.  Hello, Fatha.”  She bought me my first stationary, a beautiful red pen and even made a snack for me.  We sat down at her kitchen table that afternoon and I pounded out my first letter.

I wasn’t new to writing at that point.  I could write quite well and spelling was my forte, as I was already winning spelling bees by the time I hit first grade.  I found writing the letter to be exhilarating.  It was fun and intoxicating.  I wanted to write a letter every day, each time I embarked on some new adventure.   Fortunately for me, stamps were super cheap back then and my aunt was patient.   I wrote quite a few letters that summer, and even wrote my first story.

I’m not so naïve to believe that the art of putting pen to paper will ever be revived, but that doesn’t mean my boys will not understand how to write a letter and the importance of it.

I started working with Davey a few months ago on learning how to write.  We’d spent months prior to that with workbooks where he could trace letters, but I decided that it was high time we progress past that and start writing his ABC’s on his own.  I didn’t know he would take to it so quickly and happily.

Dear Mimi
Dear Mimi

Last week, I encouraged him to write his first letter, which was to his Grammy in NY.   I put Henry down for a nap, thereby allowing me all sorts of time to devote to Davey.   I spelled the words for him and he wrote the letter.   It was simple and basic, getting his point across.  It went like this:  Dear Grammy I love you.  There was no complimentary closing, as Davey informed me that he’d written enough and was tired.   Those five words took up three sheets of paper.

and Pop
and Pop

At that point, I didn’t realize how happy he would be about writing.  I always thought he would see it as a chore, something I was forcing him to do, but he’s completely blown my mind.   He genuinely wants to write.  He eagerly asks for it every day.  Last night, as I was kissing him good night, he asked me if he could write a letter to Mimi and Pop after this sleep.  Of course I said “yes”.

I love you
I love you

So, following suit with the other days, Henry went down for a nap and Davey began writing his letter.   He has a few stumbling blocks, mostly with the letters “R” and “Y”,  but he’s quite the pro at the others, namely “D”, “E”, and “M”.  Today’s letter actually included a closing and it was four pages long.

Love Davey
Love Davey

I love his excitement over writing.   I’m glad that he wants to continue doing it and I’m aware that at some point this enthusiasm may change.   I know the days are long gone of slipping notes under desks and swapping them in the hall between classes.   I’m also well aware that everyone these days is in a hurry and taking the time to actually write counters that need for urgency.   For now, my boys will hand write letters.  My boys will learn they need a signature and how to write in cursive.   For now, my boys will at least enjoy something that is “mine”, something I’ve always loved…writing.

 

Dinner Party Conversations

This past Saturday, my husband and I waded into waters that we thought had long since dried up for us.  Since having kids, there’s been a bit of a drought of sorts with our entertaining schedule and our ability to have adult conversations with others.  A couple of weeks ago, we decided we would host a small, intimate dinner party at our house.  We planned it for 7:30, so that our boys could meet some of our adult friends, but they would then go to bed at 8:00, thereby leaving my husband and I with the opportunity to discuss things other than the color of snot, the size of poops, the dribble drabble of baby talk, and the words that spring forward from our kids’ mouths.

Last week, with each approaching day, I became more and more giddy at the thought of seeing some of our old friends, but I also became nervous.   Why was I nervous?  Because I feared that I may be incapable of contributing to the conversations if they didn’t swirl around my children’s bathroom habits or their pickiness with food, or that they are learning so much.   Once upon a time, I was able to have intellectual conversations about politics, the woes of society, even the Theory of Evolution.  Ok, so perhaps I exaggerate about discussing the Theory of Evolution.  My point is that I used to have good, stimulating conversations.   Would I be able to do that again?

Saturday arrived and honesty I began to wonder about what I would talk about with these people.  One couple has children, but they’re in high school.  The other two couples don’t have kids so highly unlikely they’d want to hear my anecdote of how Henry tightrope walked down the bannisters and then doing a triple somersault, landed on his feet and began reciting the periodic table of elements.  Ha!  My kid’s not that good!

Would I be able to add to a conversation?   Would my input be taken like it used to be, as one spoken by a well read female with a Master’s Degree?   Would I sit there and smile, staring at the speaker like a deer caught in the headlights?   Maybe I should be a good hostess and just shuffle around, refilling drinks and passing our hors d’ouevres?  That last thought continued to swirl through my brain when I was stumped by a question from one of my girlfriends.   Oh, these children!  That was my first thought.  Why, oh why, must you suck out any brain cells I have left?

Thankfully for me, the conversations were light, our friends’ anecdotes were hilarious, and I was able to have a conversation outside of poop, puke, boogers, and “woe is me” sighs.   I found out on Saturday night how wonderful adult dinners with friends who either don’t have kids or whose kids are much older, can be.  Please don’t get me wrong.  I love our friends with kids.  I really do.   I still need that adult interaction where we do compare war stories from the battlefields of mommyhood.  My boys still need the kids of those friends as their own friends.  I still need and value my mommy friends with kids, but sometimes it’s just nice to occasionally step out of that world.   And for me, to know that I can do that and still walk back down Mommyhood Lane, really makes me feel fortunate.

It’s taken me a while to get to this point in life.   When I first left work and became a stay at home mom, my entire world revolved around Davey.  I never made time for myself, my husband, or for us as a couple.  I didn’t think it was possible to balance it all and if I tried to, I felt guilty for selfishly wanting time other than that as “mommy”.   It’s a great feeling to know that I can balance it all, that I can have the best of all worlds, and that I do still have the ability for “dinner party conversations”.