Tags: Children, Creativity, Curiosity, Family, Fun, Growing Up, Kids, Perspectives, Photography, Summer
“For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
F is “for everything Thy goodness sends.” See more F’s at Jenny’s.
Tags: Children, Clutter, Collecting, Collections, Curiosity, Kids, Motherhood, Parenting, Trash, Treasure
We collect things. (And by “we,” I mean everyone in my house under age 6.)
It borders on obsession. (And by “obsession,” I mean, well, obsession.)
Rocks. Sticks. Seeds. Acorns. Leaves. Pamphlets from the doctor’s office. Bits of ribbon. Bits of bark. Paper scraps. Glue-sticks lids. Old keys. Lollipop wrappers. Junk mail. Junk-mail envelopes. Broken pencils. Barbie hairbrushes. Pony hairbrushes. Full Tic Tac boxes. Empty Tic Tac boxes. Full Tic Tac boxes that mysteriously become empty Tic Tac boxes. Bouncy balls. Straws. Take-out menus. Subscription cards from inside magazines. Flower petals. Yogurt lids (washed, of course … okay, mostly washed). Found coins. Business cards. Buttons. Toilet-paper rolls. Little circles from inside the hole punch.
The kiddos collect by day. And I discard by night.
With secrecy, stealth, nonchalance, and not a single ounce of Mommy guilt. Because, otherwise, I would be overrun by detritus, miscellany, and things that decay.
Occasionally, my ever-zealous Giggles will find one of his treasures that I thought I had tucked out of sight in the recycle bin — the cellophane address window from the weed service advertisement, for example.
“Mooooooooooooooooom! I was saaaaaaaaaaaaaving this. It’s important! Who. Threw. It. Away??” His words flick through the air like darts.
I do what any self-respecting mother who values clutter-free space and aims to minimize the time she spends vacuuming each day. I lie.
“I have no idea, sweetheart.”
And after he’s in bed, I sneak in and tuck his animal blankie up around his chin. I put his favorite stuffed mouse on his pillow next to him. I brush the soft blond tendrils from his forehead.
And with one deft, nearly invisible swipe, I take his treasure from wherever he’s re-hidden it. And I throw it away. Again.
Because there’s more treasure waiting to be discovered tomorrow. And the next day … and the next day … and the next day …
Do you expect to see your kids on Hoarders one day? How do you handle “treasure”? And what did you collect as a child?
Z is for my zealous hoarders. See more Zs at Jenny’s on Thursday.
Tags: Art, Books, Children, Creativity, Curiosity, Motherhood, Oscars, School, Teachers
Around this time of year, I practice my Academy Award speech in my head. You know, for when I win Best Adapted Screenplay. Which I will pen based on my future best-selling novel. Of course.
Always, always, when I practice this speech, I give thanks to the amazing English teachers I’ve been blessed with through the years. The ones who taught me to embrace my creativity — and not to be afraid of doing something differently. The ones who taught me that poetry didn’t have to rhyme. And that sentence fragments were perfectly okay. Ahem.
In third grade, I had a teacher named Ms. Matusiak. She was an ex-nun who played the ukulele and made us bookmarks with Suzy Zoo stickers. We wrote stories and plays and poems while her record player scratched out Miles Davis tunes or tracks from “Nature: Thunderstorms!”
Man, I loved her class.
When I was in college, she mailed a package to my mom that had a few things of mine that she’d saved. A Goldberg-esque inventions book. A report on West Germany. A few chapters from my “Oregon Trail” book, which I’d totally lifted from the computer game where everyone gets cholera and loses their oxen forging the river.
I was amazed that she’d saved these things and had thought to send them to my mom. For the first time — as I was nearing the end of my two decades of public education — I realized that students can touch teachers’ lives, too. That misspelled words in thick, black marker have a charm all their own. That manila paper, no matter how old, keeps the scent of the classroom it came from.
And now, with a child of my own in public school, these memories resurface nearly every day. Every morning, at 7:45 a.m. sharp, she sits in her little blue chair and creates. She cuts and pastes and sharpens crayons. She makes observations and tests hypotheses. She writes and illustrates her own stories.
Like this one:
Hie. Do you want to name sum made up planits with me?
Planit Bun is qiyite. [She’s mastered irony at age 6. Planit Bun is never quiet.]
Planit flowr is a flowr.
Planit Bunny olwis ses hipite hop.
Planit Line is a line.
Planit Potchan is havig a partty.
Planit Nuthing is tinee.
Planit Qweshtin is a Qweshtin?
Thers an alein and it is … [lift-the-flap] YOU!
Maybe it’s the wobbly letters and the sounded-out words. Or the staples and masking tape arranged just so. Or the mixed-media magic of marker and pencil and highlighter. But it does my soul good to see that Lollipop has the same creative spirit that has nourished me all my life.
I can’t wait to hear her Academy Award speech.
How have teachers shaped your creative life? Have you ever visited Planit Potchan? And how does your Oscar acceptance speech go??
Tags: Birthday, Boys, Children, Curiosity, Growing Up, Motherhood, Poop, Relationships, Siblings
My Giggles is 5 this week.
He’s almost a kindergartner. With feet the size of a fourth-grader. And a cowlick that makes him taller than his sister.
He loves poop. Rather, he loves to talk about poop. When he forgets to listen, it’s because there was too much poop in his ears. When Lollipop irritates him, he threatens to dump poop in her room. When he and Bun are playing trains, one of the freight cars is more often than not hauling poop. (Thankfully, it’s the imaginary kind.)
He is strangely fascinated with batteries. (“How do they work? Why do they have chemicals? What kind of chemicals? Why can’t you see the chemicals? Why do they die? What do they get turned into when you recycle them? Why are they different sizes? Can I sleep with one under my pillow?”)
He will not touch broccoli. Or sweet potatoes. Or peas. Or green beans. Or spinach. Or smoothies. He will devour bananas. And cherry yogurt. And kolaches. And Tic Tacs.
He is in love with my blue electric pencil sharpener.
He helps his little brother put on his shoes. And feed the cat. And build a Lego tower. And get a bowl Cheerios. And sneak Tootsie Rolls.
He has an uncanny knack for finding money wherever he goes. In the dirt at the Y. On the curb at Schlotzsky’s. Under the Great Value soda machine at Wal-Mart.
He does not like me to clean his peanut-butter face with the time-tested spit-wash method.
He keeps his treasures in the tiny drawer next to his socks. Bits of leaves. Acorn tops. Starbucks sleeves. Bouncy balls. An empty toothpaste box. Chuck E. Cheese coins. A zebra magnet. A pizza-restaurant flyer. Two orange slinkies.
His entire day is an adventure just waiting to be narrated. Which he does. With plenty of “That was awesome!” thrown in.
He’s so big, and so little. When he heaves himself onto the pool ledge at swim lessons, I’m absolutely certain his lanky arms won’t support him. They bend and sway like a fawn teetering in the clover.
But those arms always hold. Even with that brick-red train track of a scar, they hold.
And because they hold, I do.
What’s in your child’s treasure drawer? Are vegetables his sworn enemy? Is there too much poop in your ears today??
Tags: Children, Curiosity, Growing Up, Kids, Kindergarten, Milestones, Motherhood, Poetry, School
Haiku Friday: School Daze
We survived week one.
Up with the sun, tangles combed,
Sparkly backpack on.
We bought lunches and
Brought lunches and imbibed the
Chocolate milk daily.
Morning circle, art,
PE, recess, math center,
And library time.
New friends named Hunter
and Lila and Kylie and
The girl with headbands.
She leads the way to
Her room, past bulletin boards
And water fountains.
The chairs are tiny,
And the cubbies are stuffed, just
Like her little mind.
How did your child’s week of school go? What was the cafeteria highlight (or lowlight) of the week? And does it ever get easier to get up before the sun?
Tags: Boys, Children, Curiosity, Expats, Perspectives, Play, Poetry, Prague, Travel
Haiku Friday: A Sewer Note
Prague, oh, lovely Prague!
Castles. Gardens. Kafka. Beer!
And don’t miss the sewers.
Do your children have their own vacation agenda? Does it involve castles … or dropping Cheerios down gold-plated sewer grates?
Tags: Babies, Challenges, Children, Curiosity, Expats, Milestones, Motherhood, Personal, Relationships, Romania
I made my bed today. I put laundry away. I carried a bowl of cereal to the kitchen table. And I held my baby.
I held my baby.
I stood on my own two legs, reached down to pick him up, and snuggled his sticky banana-cheek to mine. I felt his weight against my hip and the tickle of his curls on my temple. Two Cheerios that were stuck to the back of his flannel pajamas click-clacked to the floor when my hand brushed over them. He cackled as the dog came to scarf them up and then made happy motorboat noises in my ear, content to watch the world from my arms. From my arms.
I promised myself I would remember every single sensation of that first deceptively simple hug. Because there was nothing simple about it. I worked my muscles and my psyche into exhaustion for three long months to get here. To be able to stand, to bend, to balance, to scoop up my baby and pull him to me. To feel and do something that was once so natural. So easy.
When he started to fidget and demand to get down so that he could dig around in the utensil drawer, I looked for a distraction. There it was, right on the kitchen table: a bottle I had stuffed with shiny, colorful things, then filled with water and glued closed. He took it, shook it, and watched the tornado of primary colors churn under his tiny fingers.
As the last specks of glitter settled, he tossed the bottle on the floor and reached down for it. I pressed him to me for two more sweet seconds and finally, finally, let him go.
The morning unfolded into a series of battles over removing the remote-control batteries. Over undecorating the Christmas tree. Over poking the dog in the eye. Over stuffing trains under the couch. We never slowed down, never went back to the bottle on the floor, to those first quiet moments of the morning.
The moments when he discovered density and gravity and refraction. When I discovered I had the physical strength to do what my arms and legs had craved for so long. When I rediscovered the weight of his diapered bottom on my forearm, the way my fingers fit under his squishy thigh, the grip of his fist on my shirt sleeve.
And the feel of him. In my arms.
Have you ever memorized a moment? Rediscovered a simple joy? Savored your baby for as long as he would let you?
Tags: Boys, Challenges, Children, Curiosity, Fun, Halloween, Kids, Motherhood, Play, Romania
There’s a brief, brief period each day when I’m alone with Bun. After the nanny leaves for her evening college class. Before my husband gets home with Giggles and Lollipop.
It’s never more than an hour. But let me tell you, it’s the longest hour ever.
It usually goes like this: Bun runs from one end of the apartment to the other. He makes mischief. I hop along behind him on my crutches, knowing I can’t possibly prevent his shenanigans and attempting merely to keep him from doing bodily harm. To himself. And to me, what with all the blocks, trains, and breath mints he tosses in his wake.
I sweat and pant. He cackles. We do it all again.
Last week’s tomfoolery included the following:
1. Dumping cinnamon Listerine all over the bathroom floor.
2. Emptying the potato bin and distributing the spuds around the apartment.
3. Running down the hall wielding a pizza slicer.
4. Lobbing handfuls of dog food in the foyer.
5. Digging petrified Cheerios out from under the couch. And eating them.
6. Rearranging the icons on my task bar.
7. Stealing my crutch and leaving me stranded at the kitchen sink.
8. Poking the dog in the eye.
9. Dismantling my nesting measuring cups.
10. Removing his brother’s socks from their drawer. Then removing the drawer from its hinges.
11. Rearranging the dining room chairs.
12. Poking the dog in the other eye.
13. Putting two green Legos in the freezer.
Tell me there’s been a full moon. There was, right? Last week was for tricks; this week is for treats? Right??
Do your kids have a witching hour? Does the phase of the moon affect them? Care to share some of their shenanigans?
Tags: Babies, Children, Curiosity, Expats, Fun, Hands, Motherhood, Photography, Play, Romania
“A child is a curly dimpled lunatic.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
I love the way my youngest looks at the world. Theories are meant to be tested, particularly those involving gravity and displacement. Fun is everywhere, including the trash can and the dog bowl. Toys and snacks are for sharing … unless they are a certain blue truck or a handful of M&Ms. And flaunting your footed pajamas, golden curls, and four-toothed smile will get you exactly what you want. He’s a smart kid. And he’s cuter than a basket of puppies. No wonder I fall for him over and over again every day.
What rules do your children live by? How do you resist their cuteness? And are you a sucker for footed jammies, too?
See more babies and other cute stuff at Beth’s on Thursday.
Tags: Children, Curiosity, Expats, Growing Up, Kids, Outdoors, Photography, Play, Romania, School
“While we teach, we learn.” — Seneca
Preschool started again last week for Lollipop and Giggles. It’s been a welcome change to have them back on a daytime routine that does not include hours-long stretches of enforced silence while the baby naps in our teeny-tiny European apartment (as if enforced silence actually works with the pint-sized crowd). While the fixed schedule, international friends, and abundant opportunities to exercise their vocal chords have been wonderful, we’ve found that the kiddos don’t actually need their Romanian preschool to learn. Every day in this temporary home country of ours, we’re trying out new words or new parks or new foods. We’re stuffing our pockets with pretty new weeds or wrinkly new seeds. And we’re finding adventure in everyday outings like trips to the bakery, the hardware store, and, um, the orthopedic surgeon. The best part? The grown-ups learn, too.
See more back-to-school at Beth’s on Thursday.