Monthly Archives: September 2007

Tonight at the Dinner Table…

Matt (overly cheerful): “Honey, Baxter asked a really good question today!”

Me (warily looking from him to Baxter): “What was that?”

Matt: “Well, I thought it was something he should ask you. He was wondering who invented place mats, and it seemed like you would know since it must have been someone in your family!”

My anal-retentive neat freak family members just said a collective, “Ouch.”

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Bumper Love

My husband reported on seeing this bumper sticker yesterday. I love it, and hope he figured out how to get one for our car.

I saw one that I loved as well just yesterday. It read:

“We’re making enemies faster than we can kill them.”

Sobering, no?

Not All that Well, Apparently…

Today, I raced over to Trader Joe’s while Lyle was in school – a rare opportunity to go without the kids. I got back home, unloaded the perishables and some of the dry goods, and then realized that if I wanted to check in online I’d better get to it before Lyle would need to be picked up.

You see, I’d been without my trusty laptop for 16 whole hours (imagine!) because I left it behind at Burley’s Curriculum Night last night (I’d been without the car all day and so took 3 trains, a bus, and a taxi yesterday to get everywhere I needed to go, lugging my laptop – and three other bags – everywhere I went) after I’d worked at the PTA table for fifteen minutes and then had run up to hear Baxter’s teacher speak. The president of the PTA (thank goodness) found it and brought it home with her, and I drove out to meet her where she was playing tennis with a friend to get it before I could even go to Trader Joe’s this morning – so I had some email to read and – dear God! – at least, like, 3 important posts to read on Google Reader before any more time passed!

Suddenly I looked up and realized that it was time to get Lyle immediately. I dashed through the kitchen on my way to the car and out of the corner of my eye noticed something rather horrifying. Check out how I’d left my kitchen (annotated version here):


I groaned out loud and then had to giggle as I asked myself (in my best Dr. Phil voice), “So, that whole ‘Down with Multitasking‘ thing…how’s that working for you?”

On Freedom

Baxter, who has been learning about American symbols at school: “If we have freedom …well, then why do we have to go to school and do homework?!”

Good question, that.

Natural Beauty in the City

We recently discovered the gorgeous North Park Village Nature Center here on the north side of Chicago. Here are my personal photos from our last excursion there, and here is a post I wrote for Chicago Moms Blog all about it!

Have I mentioned that I love this city?

Yeah, yeah, I know. I have.

It’s My Time Now

Ever since Lyle was born, Tuesdays and Thursdays have been our days. I’ve always felt extremely lucky that Baxter was old enough to be in preschool part-time right from our earliest days with Lyle. It has given Lyle and me a lot of special time together, the kind of time his older brother had with me, but many younger siblings never really get. Therefore, when I realized last winter that one of the best nursery school options for Lyle might require me to give him up on our Tuesday and Thursday mornings, I felt a sense of loss. I would have loved for him to go to preschool on the days when I work, but it just didn’t work out that way.

And so, here I sit on a Tuesday morning without a child at my side for the first time in about three years. It wasn’t my fantasy morning because in the end I had to take the car to the mechanic after dropping Lyle off, and needed to walk home from there, but I made sure that I stopped at a great coffee shop for a latte and a few quiet minutes of reading before I walked the rest of the way home through the warm, humid day.

Lyle marched excitedly into nursery school, just desperate to see what his teachers had in store for him today. With a little CARS vehicle tucked safely into one of his shorts pockets, he played with construction trucks in the sand table and smiled when I gave him a kiss. He was looking forward to staying longer today and getting to have snack and playground time for the first time. He is ready, and this is truly more important for him at this stage than the mornings at home with me.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an excellent Paul Auster book to get back to.

Map It!

One of the best things I’ve learned in my profession for dealing with challenging social behaviors is something called behavior mapping. It’s a wonderful strategy that we can all implement, whether our children have social-cognitive difficulties or are neurotypical.

Come on over to The Family Room, where I confess that I’ve had to use it at home…you know, just once or twice…

Remember Recess?

Kids at Baxter’s (otherwise wonderful) school receive the least amount of physical activity I’ve ever heard of.

Come read my rant about it over at Chicago Moms Blog!

Over-attached?

Do you ever wonder what life with all these attachment parented children will be like as they grow older? You know, the ones whose parents spend every waking moment with them (often “wearing” them all day), maintain a family bed, allow for very little crying, and respond to every peep?

Well, actually, I can’t speak for those kids for sure, because that’s not really the way it went down over here. Sure, we used the sling and Baby Bjorn a lot, each of the boys slept in our bed for 4-6 weeks, I breastfed them both until they were a year old (but also supplemented with formula because I was working part-time and couldn’t keep up with them using the pump) and, absolutely, we were extremely interactive with our kids from birth on.

So, okay, we weren’t reading poetry or playing Mozart for them in the womb – or even afterwards, for that matter – but they have been in a very social and nurturing environment. We have been sitting on the floor playing with them as long as they’ve been able to do so. I think we’ve done attachment parenting “lite”, but the Drs. Sears would definitely have taken exception at times. [Especially when we let them each cry for hours (yes, hours is what it took, I’m sorry to say) in the middle of the night, feeling unloved and alone in the world, so that we could get some damn sleep (eventually). But I stand by that particular decision; I’d do it all again.]

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, even kids like ours who have not been raised with strict attachment parenting techniques and were left crying in their cribs have been in an extraordinarily nurturing environment and are, well, extremely attached to us.

Okay, truth be told, what I really want to say is this: if they were more attached to me, I’d jump out a 4th story window. Because, could someone PLEASE tell me how, when your children get to be 3 and 6, you might get them to play on their own for a while? Together, without the adult? In. A. Different. Room.

We have a huge play room for the kids. It’s full of great, imaginative toys, games and books. They love it! Well, that is, they love it when one of us is down there actively playing with them. This afternoon, I needed time to do some typical household chores. I feel that my kids are at an age where they should be able to go play in another room when I need them to. The boys, apparently, had a different opinion. They actually needed to be right under my feet, wherever I was, playing an extremely loud crash-’em-up game with their cars. There was absolutely no way I could make the phone calls that I needed to make and I felt really and truly stuck. I am grateful that they play together so well these days, and maybe it’s because they’ve gone downstairs without me once in a while recently that I’m so desperate for more – they’ve proven themselves capable of it. And in fact, when they have a friend over, they go down there and I literally don’t hear from them in over an hour. It’s just that – the rest of the time – they only want to be with ME.

I tried simply telling them it wasn’t a choice: go downstairs now and play while I make dinner. You would not believe the scene – it was atrocious. In the end, they were driving me so freaking nuts that I allowed them to stay near me if they read quietly to themselves so that I could think straight. In other words, I LOST.

I really do know that someday the boys will be downstairs in that room for hours at a time, and it will no longer resemble this playroom in any way; it will probably have a TV, video games, and pool table in it, and reek of teenage boy feet. They will likely grumble when I ask them to come upstairs at all, and I will be cooking five times this amount of food for dinner, just wishing for them to be little and running around the kitchen again.

So maybe it’s not worth the battle at all, and I should just embrace the insanity of these years, revel in their attachment to me, and know that soon enough they’ll be far too busy to want to play Lightnin’ McQueen with their Mommy (beautiful guy that I am).

I do still wonder, though, if we didn’t do them a bit of a disservice by being at their sides quite so much in their infancy and toddlerhood, and by not challenging them just a little more to play independently in those years.

Actually, I don’t wonder at all. For my kids, I am sure of it.

A Beautiful Guy

When you have only sons, you may be lucky enough to have one of them approach you and lovingly stroke your cheek with his hand, staring into your eyes as if you’re the most amazing creature he’s ever seen. And then, because he’s heard no other words for what he wants to say, he might breathe, “What a beautiful guy.”

***

Today over at Chicago Moms Blog it’s “Testosterone Day“, the annual “hand the keyboard over to the Dads day”. Matt was kind enough to acquiesce, and you can read his post here.

Many of you don’t know that Matt – a linguistics and philosophy double-major back in college, and a writer and namer (how cool is that?) by trade – is an excellent writer. Not only does he prove that with today’s post, but he also took the opportunity to be kind to me, rather than complain about the evenings I spend blogging rather than watching “Arrested Development” and eating popcorn.

He truly deserves the title “beautiful guy”.

(And I’m not just saying that because he took the boys to the Ice Cream Social at school and let me stay home tonight.)