Jun 26, 2008

Mid-Summer's Night

6/26/2008 — cori
We found yet another event to celebrate (like we needed an excuse) - Mid-Summer's Night, the longest day of the year. The kids must have been counting down the days till this, the summer solstice (which I just learned about, like, in college - how do they know this stuff already?). They kept asking me, "Mommy, how are we going to celebrate the summer solstice?" I prefer to refer to it as the rest of the commoners and say 'the longest day of the year' or 'mid-summer's night'. Either way, I couldn't explain the whole 'solstice' thing in a coherent manner if anyone happened to ask, so I tend to stick with vocabulary I know.

Gavin's smart idea was to make a cupcake for each of the hours of the day the sun was up. I like his train of thought - only problem with that is we're going to be eating cupcakes all night long making the trip to the pool the next day a little nerve racking if you plan on wearing any type of spandex covering.

Chuck's idea was to sleep on the trampoline and gaze at the stars until we fell asleep. Very romantic, but I don't think the kids care about romance. So, we opted to look thru the telescope before hopping over the dewy grass and jumping head long into the tent set up in the back yard. Since it was Chuck's idea, he got the pleasure of sleeping outside with the kiddos. Lesson learned: camping is much more fun done NOT in a suburban neighborhood backyard!

We thought a bug walk at dark with our flashlights would also be fun, but that didn't happen since Chloe fell asleep on my lap just as it started to get dark. Plus, if you think about it, what would we do if we actually found a bug in the dark with only a teensy-tiny flash light to illuminate the creepy-crawly creature. I don't know that we thought that idea out to it's fullest extent and am rather glad we had to skip it. I find it hard to look at bugs in the daylight, let alone the dark.

Of course, what would Mid-Summer's Night be without a Dress Up For Dinner Night with the wonderfully fun theme of 'bugs and flowers'. My friend Kim was in town visiting and seemed just as excited about our crazy dinner dress up party as we were. People started getting their costumes ready hours before dinner - I was impressed. Needless to say, we went through much glue, construction paper and research to pick just the right outfit to wear.

And here is the group picture! What a silly bunch. Gavin and I actually had to look through a book to come up with something creative. He chose a scorpion fly (thus, the ninja looking get-up). I am a Black-eyed Susan. Bennett is a fire-fly. Kim is a lady-bug. Chloe is a butterfly. And Chuck, my dear husband who is extremely secure in his man-hood, is a purple petunia. And there you have it. We had a blast celebrating the longest day of the year. If nothing else, it was definitely memorable!

Jun 25, 2008

Chloe Speaks

6/25/2008 — cori

These snippets of conversation occurred between Chloe and myself today. Nothing really prompted her to say any of this. These things have obviously been weighing heavily on her mind. Let's take a sneak peek into the mind of Chloe....

Chloe: Mommy. I like chicken bobs.
Mommy: Oh really? That's good to know.
Chloe: So, if you want to cook chicken bobs tonight, I'm okay with that.

In her world chicken bobs are equivalent to skewers or k-bobs on the grill. She typically doesn't eat meat (by her own choice). Thankfully, the chicken bobs we make pass the highly sensitive taste bud test of our very own 'in house' princess and food critic.

Chloe: Mommy, can I tell you somfin that's not good about be'in the littlest?
Mommy: You may.
Chloe: I don't like that I don't get to command anyone.

In her world, everyone gets to command her. So, I guess I can sympathize at the level of 'unfairness' she's already facing going into the world. She explained how Bennett always commands her and Gavin commands him and Mommy commands Gavin and Daddy commands Mommy. I'm so glad she's finally seen the light and recognizes chain of command. However, Chuck was quick to explain that her ever-loving brothers are not meant to command her, but love and play with her. Only Mommies and Daddies may command their kids. Your turn is coming Sweetie, just wait patiently. We also explained that 'commanding people' isn't all its cracked up to be because no listens to those with the (legitimate) 'power' to 'command'.

It always cracks us up when she speaks of 'commanding' someone. You'd think we are some super strict authoritarians who wield a whip and rod and walk around with grim faces all day forever pointing out all the rules that we are commanding our young subjects to live by. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Chloe just has control issues...at the ripe young age of 4. Her belief states that "the louder, whinier, higher pitched and more often I speak - the more everyone should listen to me and then I will finally be 'in command'. " I personally believe this is her life goal. Unfortunately, this does not fit in with our parenting philosophy. So, there's always a bit of tension when it comes to 'dethroning the princess'. We are making positive strides though.

Jun 14, 2008

Word Problems

6/14/2008 — cori

Math was never my strong suit in school. I enjoyed it, but wasn't especially skilled at it. I don't think in math terms. I'm too right brained for that. Plus, I grew up with a Dad who was a genius when it came to all things math, electronics, flow-charts and computers. So, being the caring and loving parent that he was, he always tried to find ways to encourage me in my math woes. His encouragement came in the form of word problems during dinner. What started as an encouraging little challenge to push my brain to think in mathematical terms (that were so foreign to me) so I could get dessert once I got the correct answer, inevitably turned into my melting into my chair in tears because I just 'didn't get it'. And the problem always seemed to involved someone going on a train at a certain speed - I so don't relate to trains. This was 'normal' to me. It even grew into a joke once I became an adult and my Dad would still pull a word problem out of his hat whenever we sat down at the dinner table together.

Now that I'm 'all grown up' with kids of my own, you'd think I would enjoy the occasional 'word problem at dinnertime' parental privilege. Like I said, I don't even think like that. Obviously, I'm more along the lines of seeing what type of cool costume we can all come up with and wear to the dinner table (notice this does not take one ounce of mathematical skill). So, you would understand my utter shock when Gavin comes at me with a random word problem today. My first thought was "Did Grandpa tell you to do this?"

We're all outside enjoying the beauty of the day. The boys are bouncing basketballs, Chloe's riding her bike and Chuck and I are working in the garden. When out of the blue, Gavin throws a word problem at me. Hello. It's not time for math. Just go bounce your ball and quit thinking. However, this is fun to him. This is who he is. He's always thinking and he's always thinking in word problems.

This is the 'problem' I'm supposed to solve right there on the spot (without paper, pencil or a calculator). "Mom. Say I bounce this ball 1 time every second and I do that for 2 and a quarter minutes...how many times would I bounce the ball?" Uh.....do I have to answer that? Hmmm. Let me quickly turn on the left side of my brain and I'll get back to you. Thankfully, we're only talking 4th grade math here, so my intimidation factor is not quite at it's peak yet. I think I can do this. I was thrilled to give him the answer of '135 times' in just under 5 minutes. "That's right. Good job, Mom." Thanks, Gav.

But what's so funny is, just this week, Gavin was having a rough time doing some math problems and was very frustrated. But he still came to me after completing them and said, "Mom, I really like math. I just don't like how hard it is for me." What a neat way to look at it. He doesn't want to quit and give up like I did. He doesn't see it as defining how 'smart' or 'un-smart' he is. He just sees it as something harder than most things, but sill something he enjoys. I wish I could have seen it that way as a kid. Then maybe I wouldn't have been so intimidated by it. Maybe if I could have gone at my own pace or seen it around me in real examples in areas of my daily life (which I'm sure is what my Dad was trying to accomplish) .

I've always held to the opinion that learning happens 24/7. It isn't something that's only done in the confines of a building during the hours of 8 - 3. It's happening all the time...sometimes, we're just not paying attention or listening to our children to see how they're assimilating what they're learning into their little worlds. Today, Gavin just had a huge breakthrough in math. He enjoyed it. He did it on his own terms. He incorporated several different functions. And last but not least, he 'taught' me...the one way you can always tell if someone has learned something, they're able to explain it to someone else. That's confidence. Now maybe that I'm a 'grown-up' I finally have a little more confidence in my math too.

Jun 9, 2008


6/09/2008 — cori

My children just love Jeff Corwin...you know, the cool guy on Animal Planet who traverses the globe to bring us awesome views of animals in their natural habitat. Bennett aspires to be Jeff. He can't get enough Jeff Corwin. He can't read enough books about animals. Bennett is Animal Planet. So, it was of little surprise that he would copy certain phrases he would hear from Jeff. He is especially fond of the word 'scat'. This is the word Jeff uses on air to politely refer to animal dung. He has been known to rummage through it a time or two (Jeff, not Bennett) in order to find out what an animal has eaten (that right there is one of the biggest reasons I'm not a biologist or world traveling animal hunter/ecologist). Gross. None-the-less - this brings huge grins to my children's faces and what can I say? They're learning! They're enjoying the process and I don't have to personally touch any scat...so it's a win/win situation for all involved: me, the kids, the animals and the educational process.

This is all leading to an important story, trust me. Recollect with me, if you will, about the one child who has always had 'poopie' issues. There are a plethora of blogs devoted to this undesirable topic. Do I like to just write about gross things? I think not. My life is surrounded by many gross things....most of them just happen to come out of Bennett.

So...we're just all hanging out yesterday. Chuck and I were downstairs reading, the boys in their room playing and Chloe napping. When all of the sudden, Bennett rushes out of his room, stands over the banister with Gavin beside him (smiling) and announces, "Mom. Dad. There seems to be some scat in our room and I have no idea how it got there. It didn't come from me or Gavin." After asking him to repeat it a second and third time, just to make sure we heard correctly, we look at each other like 'who's going to take this one?' Chuck knew he didn't have an out. He has the stomach of steel - not me. One look at my gaging self and he headed up stairs trying to look serious.

Best case scenario, we had a wild critter loose in the house. Worse case scenario...Bennett was at it again. Oh ya, and guess who sat in it as well as kneeled in it? The same person who first explained the 'case of the mysterious scat', that's who. Let's just say that Chuck is a genius detective and was able to trace the scat back to it's original owner and no, we didn't end up finding any uninvited house guests.

Poor Bennett...he's such an awesome, funny, helpful, kind-hearted kid. I feel bad about his 'scat legacy'. I'm sure it'll make great material for his own stand-up routine at The Improv one day. He's a good sport...scat issues and all.

Jun 8, 2008

Mini Me

6/08/2008 — cori
What greater compliment is there than to be mimicked by your little ones? It was super cute when the boys did it. But for some reason, when Chloe mimicks me, it touches my heart a little deeper. Maybe because she's seriously trying to learn how to be a mommy/grown-up lady - what she wants more than anything in this world.

Just the other day, we were out running errands together and she used her own money to buy some extremely important princess lip gloss. On the way home she giddily explained, "Mommy, I know exactly what I'm going to do when I get home: play mommy and make-up." She asks me why I do everything as well as how to do everything and then I hear her repeat it to her babies.

Just yesterday we went somewhere where there was live music playing and since it was hot out and I was sweating, I decided to stand up and just move to the beat of the music, guess who followed suit - exactly...because obviously, that's the right and only way to do things - mommy's way. I didn't invite her to join me...she just HAD to because she HAD to do 'the mommy thing' if she is to be perceived as a real mommy. She was highly disappointed that I wasn't wearing a dress and clacky shoes though.

As hard as she tries, it just blesses my heart to hear her serious little girl voice saying things like, "Mommy, look at all those shamleaves" while pointing to a patch of clover in the grass. Or seriously asking me, "Mommy, may you please give me some chocklick milk, please. Thanks you." Or when she tells me a story about something her and the boys did 'yestermorning' or 'yesternight'. All things reminding me of how very 4 she is.

Just tonight she begged me to swiffer the kitchen floors. How could I say 'no'? This was her expression of love for me today and her way of legitimizing her 'bigness'. While she was doing it, she asked me, "Mom, could you please turn some music on? Don't you always listen to music when you clean?" Of course I do - I jam out. Her last words before bedtime tonight were asking me if she could swiffer more of the house in the morning.

Although the endless hanging on me sometimes bristles against my skin and I sometimes want to shake her off, how can I when every so often she reaches over and rubs my arm, caresses my hand, kisses my shoulder or pushes my hair behind my ears - all things I do to her through-out the day.

My reactions to her now are setting her 'default buttons' for when she actually does grow up. If I respond in frustration and impatience every time she asks a question, she'll eventually stop asking questions and in turn react the same way to those around her when in the same situation. What a beautiful, all-be-it sometimes daunting, opportunity to practice living out love through-out the mundane tasks of the day. Afterall, I AM under her microscope right now. If I hope for her to act patient, I must act patient first. If I hope she shows respect to others, I must show her respect now. If I want her to have a servant's heart, she needs to see me being a servant to my family now. My words don't have as much affect as my actions do in her little world right now.

How thankful I am that God's mercies are new every morning because I certainly need them. Most of all, she sees me fail daily and we both learn from my mistakes. I have no pretense about being a 'perfect mother', I don't even want to try. I don't want to raise 'perfect children'. I want the ups and downs of life to teach them. My only hope is that they learn to live loved and love others. And out of that love flows forgiveness, patience and kindness when they, others and I fail. What a beautiful circle of life!

Jun 4, 2008

Showing My Age

6/04/2008 — cori

At some point in time we must each come to terms with the fact that we are indeed 'stuck in an era'. I openly admit mine is the much beloved era of the 90's. I'm even proud to say the era in which Michael Jordan dominated the sport of basketball. And it wouldn't be too far fetched to say that I idolized the man. I loved basketball - because of him. I loved all things Chicago Bulls - because of him. I followed the NBA and NCAA as closely as any male fan out there - because of him. He kinda defined my era.

Despite the fact that I was still a bow head well into my 20's (and no, I'm not including any pictures that can one day be used against me) and despite the fact that I had big, poofy hair well past it's 'hey day' and despite the fact that I was a girly-girl...I loved Michael Jordan. This infatuation went well into the beginnings of our marriage in 96. Can you believe I even sent him a wedding invitation?

Well...I feel better now getting this off my chest. My kids can understand me a little bit better knowing this part of me. I was 19 when my favorite commercial came out...I still find myself humming it every now and then. Oh how I wished I could have been in it! I definitely wanted to "be like Mike".

If there's ever a 90's Party - you'll find me dressed in all my Bulls' gear, black and red, with a big obnoxious bull on my big hat on top of my big hair with a bow in the back. I'll also probably be wearing a big, oversized Bull's shirt over leggings with my white socks and Keds. I'm proud to admit I'm stuck in 'The Michael Jordan Era'.

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