Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Future President

In light of the impending presidential election, I thought I would add a little levity. Apparently in our image conscious society potential candidates have a better change of winning the presidency if they have a great head of hair (my husband claims it's true). If his current head of hair is any indication, my son is a "shoe in."

The one physical trait he got from me is curly hair. In comparison to my daughters, he has more body and curl, and it's grown rather evenly (both girls had mullets). However, he's getting to the point that he needs a hair cut (he's been called a girl too many times for this sensitive mommy.) The good news is that Daddy will be coming home for a visit a month from today and so I'm going to hold off until he's home. They can do some male-bonding over at the barber shop.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Mommy Guilt

Tonight I am battling a severe case of mommy guilt and quite possibly the flu (if my aching body, scratchy throat and insane tiredness are any indication). I'm sure I caught the flu from any number of places we have been recently, but the mommy guilt started when I opened my 4 year old's progress report from her Pre-K. Let me preface all of this by saying, I LOVE her teacher and think very highly of her school. The majority of her progress report was about how sweet a child she is, works great with peers, excels in Biblical principals and participates well in discussions (she is my child after all and could hold a conversation with a brick wall.)

However, what jumped out at me was the check-marks in the no column that show she has not "mastered" recognizing numbers, letters, patterns, etc. Immediately I began feeling like I had done her some sort of disservice, that I'm not spending enough time with her working on her letter and number recognition. I began rethinking our daily schedule, how I had to make more time to sit down with workbooks, puzzles, and other various learning activities to "catch her up to speed." Perhaps I should even run out and purchase one of those electronic toys that makes learning fun and noisy.

However, once the kids were in bed and I had a few quiet moments to think while loading the dishes in the dishwasher, I was able to somewhat clearly sort through the mommy guilt. I think what I'm fighting is expecting my kid to be "the best" at everything. It's a natural temptation to want to brag to the other parents that my kid already reads "sight words" at age 4, when in reality, there are very few children who can read that early and sometimes to push a child can cause them to regress. From my background in education, children really aren't ready to read until around the age of 5, boys even later. I recall in my childhood struggling with school in the early years because I started too young- I HATED working with the alphabet, but I did love books.

I know that her pre-K is not expecting her to read novels by the end of the year, just have a good familiarity of the letters and numbers. My daughter is a precious, unique child who excels in other areas. I'm thrilled that she has a wonderful imagination, loves to "read" books to her sister, and can play for hours without a TV or electronic device (ADHD toys as my husband refers to them)- not that those are bad either, all in moderation. It also made me think that perhaps I need to be a little more cautious about how I measure up my child to her peers. So often there is a "one-upmanship" going on in playgroups, that I avoid those things. Comparing my child to others can be a prime contributor to mommy guilt and makes me feel as though I'm a failure. Truth be told, by the grace of God my husband and I've done a pretty good job in fostering her imagination, giving her a love for books, and building her character qualities. Sure I may go out and purchase some flashcards or something else along that line, but I'm thankful for the unique little girl that she is, precocious and brilliant in her own special way.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

I've been hit with "the funk" for the last few days. We've all fought some sort of stomach bug (I had it the worst- go figure!) and the night-time coughing has started again. Thank goodness for humidifiers and buckwheat honey (since none of mine are older than 6, cough meds are out of the question but honey works like magic). My favorite teapot has been working overtime keeping my chamomile tea hot. To top it all off, the temperatures have been 10-15 degrees below normal (and the normal temps here aren't that great either) which has also forced us indoors. The sun has rarely peaked out, but even if we went outside to enjoy the rare rays we got a blast of freezing reality.

The silver lining to the icky weather and illnesses is that it has inspired/forced us to do things that we normally don't get much time to do during our normal busy routine. The girls and I made snowflakes out of coffee filters (they are easier for making round, six-branched flakes and have more of a lite feel to them) and I let them embellish with our new glitter glue pens. I then showed them how to make paper hearts, and once again, we decorated with glitter pens. There was LOTS of coloring and playing and reading going on. I made a few cards, and I was even able to finish up another project of mine, my "Faces of Christmas" album. I know this is almost a month past the Christmas holidays, but one of my favorite things about the season is sending and receiving Christmas cards. I especially love the ones with the family photo, but I hate throwing away the pictures. A friend introduced me to the idea of making an album of those pictures, so every year I add new pages. My designs are very simple, but it's fun to look back on the last few years at our family and friends.

Today a friend of mine blessed me more than she knows. She offered to watch my two girls so a little girl she was watching could have some playmates. My son and I went shopping, nothing fabulous, just so much easier with one rather than three. I came home refreshed and happy.

The house has seen cleaner days, but like Scarlett, I'll think about that tomorrow. In spite of the cold weather and sick bugs, these last few days have been a needed break.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oh Where Have All the LIttle Grey Cells Gone?

One of my New Years Resolutions was to learn something new. This was fairly easy to say because I had made plans during the summer of 2007 to take some on-line courses in order to get re certified in elementary education. I have always been attracted to teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) and have some experience in that area. The program that my hubby found is completely on-line, fully accredited, and not only will certify me in that area (after I take 3 courses) but will also count towards a master's degree, something I would definitely consider. Once I am ready to go back into the professional world of teaching a certification in TESOL (or better yet, a masters) would open a lot of doors for me. My thinking was "Because I have prior experience in this area and did fairly well in college, this shouldn't be too stressful." Plus, while my hubby is away, what better time to "occupy" myself with "higher learning?"

My first class began this month, and I was all proud of myself because I helped some of the other students set up their web pages on Black Board. Last night I started reading the assigned books in order to respond to the discussion question. I have to say, I'm really out of practice. This is the basic course, and I haven't read books with this kind of language since college (which was a "few" years ago.) I finally consented to pulling out our dictionary and looking up practically every other word. Needing consoling I wrote a desperate e-mail to my hubby and went to bed. This morning he responded by saying, "Don't worry, babe. You'll do great. Those books were just written by a bunch of liberal, draft-dodging professors who want to show off how smart they are." Comforting, very comforting. He's been watching CNN too much, but he did make me laugh.

Nevertheless, if I'm not heard from for awhile it's only because I'm reading the dictionary trying to figure out what these people are really trying to say.

I must clarify one thing about this post. Those of you who know me personally probably know that I did not mean to insult any professors. My husband and I have total respect for those who teach higher education and are brilliant enough to write books at that level. Furthermore, my husband would probably shoot me (not literally since he does presently carry a gun everywhere he goes) if he knew I had quoted him on my blog saying that. We have many friends who are professors who we dearly love. SORRY Monica, Tad, Andrew, and the many other who I may have unintentionally insulted.
Also, after getting some sleep, I realized that my main problem was that I had tried reading my books after 10 p.m. I turn into a pumpkin at that hour. SIGH! I'm not as young as I wish I was.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Another Milestone

Tonight my three year old declared while getting dressed for bed that she would wear panties tonight and didn't want a pull-up. Just like that she took the final steps to being "completely" potty-trained. Thank goodness I didn't buy another box of pull-ups while at Costco today because my son surely won't wear princess ones.

I'm thrilled, but a little part of me is torn. My babies are growing up. Well, DUH!

Like a very wise woman once said, "These are the longest days but the shortest years."

Friday, January 11, 2008

Another Sign of Global Warming

I had another title for this posting, but I was afraid that it might offend some readers. It's not anything I really say either, but when my husband called me this morning it was the first thing that popped in my head after I thought, "I have to write about this..."
I could tell something was going on by the tone in his voice. That always puts me on edge because of where he is right now. Plus he doesn't always call first thing in the morning either.
He told me about how he was leaving his "hooch" and upon opening the door he was hit with...snow.
Yep, it was snowing in Iraq.
I live in the northeast, and we had rain and record high temps for January. My husband had snow, in the dessert, in Iraq. I wonder just how common that is...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Storms A Comin'

We had two glorious days of record highs. This "southern" girl doesn't venture outside too long in freezing weather, so this winter we haven't done much outdoor activity. The laundry was screaming my name and the Christmas decorations were begging to be put away, but I decided to take advantage of the fabulous weather and go where we have not ventured for months- the zoo.

The girls were ecstatic about seeing the polar bears and that's all they talked about during the drive there. Wouldn't you know, after I had loaded them up on the stroller and walked up the hill to the entrance a large sign stood there informing us that the polar bear exhibit was closed for the week due to maintenance. SIGH! Nevertheless, I told the kids that although the polar bears were on "vacation" there were still plenty more animals to see. They took the news relatively well.

The animals did not disappoint. Because of the unseasonable weather and a storm on the way, the animals were, well, wild. In light of recent events I was a little unnerved by the tiger exhibit, but my oldest daughter stared the big cat down. The lion roared for about 10 minutes straight. The wild dogs were always sleeping whenever we've visited in the past, but they were out and running around. Even the sea lions were very active. One kept on coming up to the viewing window. I think it was interested in some quarters a little boy was playing with.

Of course my kids found a fuzzy caterpillar very fascinating and spent more time looking at it than any of the other exhibits!

It was truly a day well spent. When we returned home the laundry was still screaming, but the Christmas decorations are now just about put away since the weather is returning to normal. So nice to have a little respite!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

I'm IT!

My dear friend Jerusalem tagged me to tell 5 weird things about myself. She knows me too well and limited me to only 5 because the list could go on and on and on...

1. I love to eat with chopsticks. Really, I do, and I usually limit it to oriental foods although I have been known to eat chopped fruit and spaghetti with them. What's even weirder is where I learned to eat chopsticks- McDonald's. It all started back when I was pretty young and we were in the States for a visit. McDonald's had some promotion with their chicken nuggets that had something to do with oriental sauce, and you got a pair of chopsticks with your meal. I figured out how to use them from the instructions on the paper sleeve that held the chopsticks, and the rest is history.

I have quite a few pairs of them in our silverware drawer. My mom recently brought me this beautiful set from her trip to Thailand. They're almost too pretty to use. My kids seem to eat better when they use chopsticks, perhaps it's the novelty of them, and I just ordered some that are geared toward children. My 14 month old wouldn't eat his food the other day. He wouldn't eat it with a fork or a spoon, but when I offered it to him with chopsticks he devoured the meal. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

2. My husband would say this is the weirdest thing about me, I can eat frozen items, such as ice cream, slushes, milkshakes, etc very quickly with no "brain freeze." I don't know when that started because I never thought it odd, but my husband swears that if I was to enter an ice cream eating contest I would win.

One of my favorite places for frozen confections is Sonic. The one "commonality" between all 3 of my pregnancies was my deep craving for Sonic slushes (orange slush floats to be exact with the girls.) I didn't care if if was well below freezing outside, I WANTED a slush. Tragically, where we live now doesn't have a Sonic, but fortunately I'm not pregnant.

3. Whenever we move something big comes to the area that we left. For example, when we left Germany, they were just opening up a 24 hour Shoppette (like a 7 Eleven), and anything that was open 24 hours in Germany was a BIG deal. When we left Atlanta, they had just opened a Super Wal-Mart 5 minutes from our house. Before that I had to drive 20-30 min to the closest Super Wat-Mart (I also went into labor in that store- craziest 20 min drive of my life). Shortly after we moved from Colorado the base where we lived got a mega-Commissary (military grocery store). The one they had was horribly cramped and left a lot to be desired. Who knows what will open up here by the time we move, probably a Sonic.

4. I can fly 8 + hours on a plane without batting and eyelash, but put me in an elevator and my palms go sweaty. I used to calm myself by biting on my dad's shoulder. Can't do that now, and because I use a stroller I HAVE to take the elevators in malls. I put on a brave face for the kids, but should we ever get stuck...

5. Finally, I'm directionally challenged. Seriously, I could get lost in my own backyard. That doesn't bode so well with frequent moves, but I eventually get the hang of it just in time to move again. Before he deployed my husband bought me a Garmin, which I have lovingly nick-named "Jill" (that's the voice that "talks to me). The area we live in is very confusing for those who have a normal sense of direction, but I fell apart at the first 5-way stop sign, and roads change names at least three times in a mile. Jill was well-worth the investment.

Now it's my turn to tag some people. Julie, Stephanie, Becky, Leslie, and Jeanetta, YOU'RE IT!!!

Friday, January 4, 2008

New Addition

In my reflection time I recalled one of my biggest blessings of 2007. I officially became an aunt. My husband is an only child, and I have one sister so imagine my glee when shortly after I had my son, my sister called me and informed me she was pregnant. On July 10th Natalia Jordyn arrived with a head full of auburn hair. She was a true answer to prayer because my sister has some health complications, but both she and Natalia were very healthy- a miracle.

The one downside of all of this is that my sister, brother-in-law and adorable niece live very far away (as in overseas and in a remote location). I haven't even been able to hold her yet. HOWEVER, this year they are coming back for an extended stay. I cannot wait. I've already begun to send her books and hold onto my girls' "good" outfits. From the pictures and video clips they send me, she's full of bubbly personality and has the most adorable chuckle. Of course, I'm not biased in any way.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Hello 2008!

Well, the year is off to a wonderful start. The last two days have been very restful, something I have needed for a long time. We haven't gone anywhere except to our neighbors' house for supper on New Years day, and although I've gotten some things done, it's been a perfect time of rest, relaxation, and reflection.

Today was a bit of a gift. As all good things must come to an end, we did have some commitments today, BUT it snowed last night, waking up to pristine, clean white, and, hallelujah, canceled meetings. I stayed in my PJ's all day and loved every minute of it. No make-up, no "stressers", just breathing and doing things that I have very little time for during our regular routine.

Which led me to make a decision. For a long time, I haven't made any New Year's resolutions, at least not that I have written down. However, this peaceful day did such wonders for my spirit that I came up with a list of a few things I will do this next year.

1. I will wear my PJ's all day at least one day each month. It does me a world of good to step out of the routine once in awhile and just let my hair down.

2. I will become a better learner. This past year I felt like I was running to catch up with myself- unpacking and settling a new home, potty training a wonderfully strong-willed child, commitments after commitments, etc. I've already registered for an on-line TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) course- something I hope to teach again one of these years, but I've also decided to hire a babysitter and sign up for a Saturday class or two at my favorite quilting store. I must exercise those little grey cells.

3. And speaking of commitments, I will commit to less "things" this year. I felt I had to keep myself busy while hubby was away, but when he comes home, I will use that as an excuse to step down from some of the "unnecessary" obligations and focus on being a wife again. AND I won't feel guilty for saying NO.

4. I will read for myself and to my children each day. I LOVE books, and thankfully so do my kids. There are days, though, that it feels like we don't sit and read together, just caught up in the busyness of life. I can let the dishes sit till evening or even the next day, and I will read for my personal pleasure and my children's enjoyment.