Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Eve, Motherhood Job Description

Five years into this career of motherhood and I'm just now stricken by my Christmas Eve assignment.

I stood in front of the tree, forest floor bursting with presents from us and other family.  All stocked carefully after the kids were asleep in bed.  Feeling so fulfilled for Santa Clause success.  This is my job now.  I'm a dream maker, imagination seeder.  I toil to bring smiles and joy to the lives of my little people.

Role:  The mother is responsible for making everyone in the family spend time together on Christmas Eve and deterring them from just playing video games by themselves in their rooms.  The mother is also responsible for initiating cookie baking.

* Meal planner
* Cookie maker
* Gift shopper
* Present wrapper
* Primary nagger
* Tidier
* Owner of the tradition
* Santa Claus

Knowledge Skills and Abilities:
* Knowledge of Christmas light locations and driving routes.
* Experience with reciting and singing carols
* Experience with gingerbread men and stories
* Ability to untangle light strings and the patience to find the damn burnt one
* Ability to stage cookies by the fire place with a bite out of them and just enough crumbs on the plate, next to a drunken glass of milk.

The tree packed with boxes hiding treasures.  A scene that still gives me glee in anticipation, but now also induces other parental emotions.  What's inside those boxes means less than what smiles my kids make.  Those smiles will be the real presents.
It's all about them now.
and when they have children, it will all be about them.

I really believe Santa Claus is out there, watching out for his kids, ensuring their Christmas wishes come true.  And here's why.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Launching! Into a New Career

Amidst the thicket of holiday anticipation, life strangly feels like it's coming together.  Can you tell I'm a little giddy?  Yesterday I put the down payment on an Oriental Medicine degree in Acupuncture and Herbology.  A four year long dream in the making - ain't big decisions more difficult with kiddos? - I'm just starting with two night classes.  So I'm easing into it and visualizing sprinting for the finish once I have more time...ha!  So the kids better like public school, "Sorry mommy can't homeschool you until she finishes school herself."

a pic from the summer

Yes I have been seriously considering homeschooling them.  But I'm going to wait and see how things go with our tax money funded education.  Mari's supportive of homeschooling and even unschooling.  I believe mostly because it is illegal in Brazil and so he wants to exercise his PARENTAL RIGHT here in the US and shove it to the socialists back home. lol.  He's so funny.  I just don't know if it is the right thing for our family but we would try it out if things go sour.  For now, Kaio's super excited to get to ride the school bus with his neighbor friend next year and I think he'd feel disappointed if I kept him home.   

I'm half way through yoga teacher training (already?!). This week we've been guided to turn it up a notch and add meditation, breath work, alternate nostril breathing, yoga toes and chanting on top of our daily asana/poses practice!   Then there is reading and homework.  We're supposed to keep a daily journal too, which I call this blog.  It counts.   

I'm falling behind ---- on  my x-mas shopping. lol.

I love doing the yoga work.  love it love it love it.  

I said, like a mother who knows what the heck she's doing

A particularly colorful lunch
Last Friday, Nala and I visited Kaio's school to make gingerbread houses.  Where they each ate a plateful of refined sugar candies and I about lost my cool over the thought of all that crud in their systems.  But I controlled myself in the name of tradition and not ostracizing kids from childhood joys.  At home I convinced them to save some of the candy 'for Santa' and we stuck it in the empty fireplace.  That lasted a night.  

During the mega sugar gram cracker house decorating, Kaio's assistant teacher made a comment that Kaio brings the healthiest lunches ever and they're always interested to see what he inside, "and he actually eats the vegetables.  How do you get him to do that?" 

"We've worked on it alot."  I said, like a mother who knows what the heck she's doing.

The truth is, I'm scared.
That I'm screwing up my kids.  That I'm too lenient and forgiving and this will teach them to be reckless.  Or scared that I'm too tough and dictatorial, and this dissolves their trust in me.  Scared that I'm not feeding them the right foods or that I've poisoned them with vaccines and by drinking too much beer when I breast fed.  Scared that I wont be able to provide them with as many opportunities and choices as I had growing up.

We all aim to give our children better than we had.  With the financial meltdown and high unemployment after college, I know many new professionals living with their parents and struggling to get the middle class footing.  I heard on the news yesterday that many believe they will be worse of than their parents generation.

I doubt I'll be able to send the kids to a private school of their choice.  I'm not sure I'll be able to fund summer schools around the globe.  But what I do think/hope I can give them is communication.  I hope I can explain the world to them.  So many things in life I had to figure out for myself or trust in one person's insight - that turned out wrong.

We learn to adapt and I've started to learn how to ask smart questions when I don't know something.  I never did that before.  So many things I didn't understand going into college.  Like, not knowing what all the majors were.  I had no idea that anthropology was different than paleontology.  Not knowing that you don't call your teachers 'teachers' in college, you call them 'professors.'  And bigger gaps; like not knowing there were different types of birth control pills; I thought there was only one 'pill.'

I want to give my kids open communication.  I hope we can talk about life without the level of embarrassment instilled by my family.  Nine years old and watching a movie on the couch with my dad, a word came up I didn't understand, "what's PMS?"  They sent me from one parent to another and neither would explain.  This happened during a Thanksgiving dinner with extended family.  So maybe it just wasn't the right place to discuss.

But seeing Mari's family completely open with each other and functional inspires me to follow and just say things to the kids.  Just blurt out that "taboo" stuff.  They're like my roll models on a functional communicative family.

When we visited his family shortly after Kaio was born, I hadn't received my period in a couple months and took a pregnancy test.  I gently emerged out of the bathroom and his family was chatting in the other room.  I discreetly shook my head, 'No' at Mari.

A little later he announced to the room that I'd just taken a pregnancy test.  I flushed red, mortified he would discuss this with his parents.  They looked at me, "Is that true?"

My face folded at the lips, showing I felt foolish for taking a test that obviously was in my mind.

But they carried on unphased, like it was normal dinner conversation.  And his mom talked about how she had Mari and his sister back to back like Irish twins even though she breastfed during that time.

So I might not be able to send the kids to the school they want, or I want.  But I hope I can provide them with the elements that link books and life together, explaining how the world works (that means I'll have to figure it out first!).  Debating with them through ideas and politics.  Guiding them to walk their path without some of the stupid and avoidable mistakes I made.

That's a pretty lofty goal though.  we all make stupid mistakes, no matter how great our parents were.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Colvin Run Mill

Yesterday we tried to visit Colvin Run Mill and the holiday train exhibit.  But we arrived a week early.  So we just checked out the water wheel.

Kaio found it fascinating for a whole minute. Then he proceeded to climb the fence.

I explained that the water turns the wheel to generate power to press apples into cider.  But I might have just made that up.  They like apple cider so it caught the attention better than 'grinding flour' or what ever it really does.  I don't know because we didn't pay for the tour.

Nala found some digging spots.

She likes mud and dirt.  She also noticed lots of shapes.

And while she was into checking out the circles, diamonds and squares; Kaio wanted to climb on them.

A flower, confused by the 60 degree weather last week.

Cold but Pretty

That afternoon we picked up a Christmas tree and took it home to decorate.  Mari had an event and didn't come home till 9pm.  A night yoga session, meditation, alternate nostril breathing; cleansed me for the evening.  Followed by some delicious love.  Overall a very full day!

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Evil Thoughts About His Teacher

I wish I was one of those accepting people who recognizes the divinity of everyone no matter their attitude.  But I'm just not.  Yet.  Can I vent for a sec?  I never do this.  But my rancid thoughts need to be dumped.  Thanks for being the dumping ground.

So Kaio's been in Special Ed preschool for a year now because he tested behind on a language test.  Since enrolling him I've wrestled with dueling emotions of gratuity and resentment.   It's great that he gets to attend a structured preschool for free with education specialists who work on enhancing skills he'll need in kindergarten. But it's not so great that I'm placing him in a classroom with other 'special' peers and subjecting him to observation and structure, which isn't really his cup of tea.

Most days he seems to like it and returns happy.  He learns songs and finger play games, does craft activities, etc.  So I haven't seriously considered taking him out.  But I still get this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I'm giving him a complex, making him feel different, calling him imperfect, and stuff like that.

It's not a huge deal though.  What's really bugging me is my evil thoughts about his teacher.

I know I should be infinitely grateful that she's nice and is choosing to spend her life caring for and helping children like my son with early intervention.

She has a son almost the same age as Kaio.  And it seems when we talk she always ends up slipping him into the conversation in some kind of comparison fashion, intending to show 'normal' behavior.   It feels like nails on a chalk board and I just want to freak out on her.

Like at his IEP meeting last year, the team asked me about my concerns and goals.

I said, "I'm not seeing him grasping the concept of time: like yesterday, tomorrow, today."

Teacher, "Well my son is the same age and he doesn't know those yet either."

ok.  That made me feel a little better.  But did you have to rub it in my face that you've got a son who does that and that must mean it is right.

It happened again, and again.

Me, "Kaio didn't want to go to school yesterday, I'm just wondering how things are going and if he is making friends with the other kids."

Teacher, "Oh yes he's doing great so far.  Even my son doesn't want to go to school some days."

And I'm thinking, even your normal son does that.  Well why don't you and your normal son go get married then.  Ok I know that your son is normal, but I don't appreciate you using him as the frame of reference.  I would prefer general comparisons rather than anecdotal.

And now the thing that really blew me was finding out her son would be one of the classroom community peers.  So Fridays he participates in the class, supposedly modeling appropriate behavior to the Special Kids.

Dude really?  When I heard that I first felt like being gagged with a spoon. And then I felt like snickering cause I cannot imagine it working.  Of course he's not going to follow mom's directions perfectly.  And  a mother/son dynamic distracting from my kid's special ed experience did not sound like a good plan.

And then in our last conference she brought him up again.

Me: "Does Kaio actually sit at circle time there?  Because he does not like to sit for circle at home if I try."

Teacher:  "Oh yes he does.  But you know that kids usually behave better when they are with others than at home.  Like with my son, daycare says he's a perfect angel and I'm like, 'Really?  Cause he does not act like that at home.'  And then you know  he's the community peer on Fridays now.  I actually had to have a talk with him after the first class because he was acting out and not providing a good example for the other kids."

umm hmm.  I saw that one coming.

So please stop these mean thoughts I have for my son's teacher.  My jealousy that she's got a kids who's the model child of building construction paper turkeys and gingerbread man, who shares all his toys without crying.  While mine needs special intervention.

Please let this be the end of it so I can just like her without evil thoughts now.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

BC Friends Make life Worth Living

Oxytocin, called the 'love hormone' because it is released after female orgasm and when breastfeeding.  It is also released when hanging out among female friends.

Friendships make life worth living.

I invited some good BC (Before Children) girl friends to Nala's birthday party.

They sat on the sofa, just chatting about boys and work.  Not dividing their attention between the conversation and the mischief of a child. Not having to keep an eye on any little rug rat or munchkin.  Not having to break mid-thought to grab a toddler from sticking little fingers in the birthday cake.

Not even knowing what to do with a little drooling creature.

It was like Sex and the City.  Four girls, long time friends forever shimmying and rocking through life.  It's fabulous that we're living in the same area right now.  Could it be possible that we'll grow into grumpy old bags together?  Could it be possible that I'll babysit their kids (when they decide to have some)?  ahhh who cares.  So sweet that they came out for my little girl's special day.

Today Nala Discovered Her Elbow

Today Nala discovered her elbow.  I watched the fascination climb over her face as she contemplated the solid roundness.
She pointed to my bulging elbow, "This is a big el-bow....."
Then she rubbed the joint on her wrist, "and this is a little el-bow."
I had to giggle that something as negligible as an elbow grabbed her attention and amazement.

Then Kaio turned into a propeller airplane

Lately I've been submerged in the mire of Finding a Preschool.  Basically, I just really want her to paint, make the mess elsewhere.

Finding a preschool, midyear, for a 2yr old born after September 30th bears limited selection.
We visited six different schools.  A school that looked perfect ended up being a dud of an experience.  A teacher ordered kids to draw in the lines with three designated colors. The administrator yelled at kids in the hall as they shuffled from class to class, and kicked their jackets out of the way as she walked the halls.  That was all I needed to see.

Yesterday Nala and I found one we liked, an in-home play based pre-preschool.  Kids her age, lots of toys, circle time and art activities (without being wedded to the final product).

Speaking of activities.  This is what the kids talked me into picking up at TJ's this evening:

To my surprise, Kaio designed the gingerbread man by looking at and copying the image on the box.  Which now makes me wonder, is school teaching him to emulate?  He always comes home with these really perfect looking art projects.  Personally I value creativity over conformity and feel that cleverness will get you farther in life.  Now I'm getting a little worried this could be a symptom of programs asphyxiating his originality.

Nala's acting like a recording artist.  Where she get's it from, I have no idea.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Applied Physics

We've been having a good time over here.

I realize I suck at planning craft activities, but rock at make shift learning.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Pretty Holiday Magic

I think this will be the first year the kids remember the magic and get truly exited for the Christmas holiday.  The funny thing - I'm starting to get excited as well.

Krissee's Christmas Almanac
Teenage years : cynicism
College years : transition
Adult years : stress
Mommy years: starting to feel a bit like a little kid too!  

This year I'm not letting Christmas become stressful, at all.  We're going to enjoy it!  We've begun to establish some traditions.  Like, visiting the gas station on the corner of Rt50 and Jermantown Rd to see the collection of x-mas inflatables and Thomas the Tank Engine with a Santa Claus hat.  

Zoo Lights
This year we went to Zoo Lights.  Most Friday to Sunday night weekends between Thanksgiving and New Years Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) opens up the Zoo from 7-10pm or 5-9pm decorated with lights and concessions, including a mini ice-skating rink.

 My little tree huggers.

Botanical Gardens
My favorite time to visit the Botanical Gardens is after Thanksgiving.  Each year they create a holiday exhibit of buildings made out of plant materials. It's amazing, inspiring, enchanting.  Kaio loves the toy trains chugging through.

 This must be where the fairies live

Zebra and giraffe houses of course

The US Capital Building 

A working fountain 

National Museum of the American Indian in DC 

An energetic volunteer explained for us the process of creating the buildings.

The kids found this captivating.

Although they enjoyed crawling on the ground almost as much.

 And stomping on rainbows

Not surprisingly, this was the state of affairs on the ride home.


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