Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mother's Day

I know that Mother's Day can be a sensitive time for some people. Women who want to be mothers but can't be. Children, no matter their age, who have lost their mother or whose mothers are not part of their life for whatever reason. Mothers who feel guilty for not being as good a mother as they wanted to be.

Not everyone who wants to be a mother can be. And not everyone has the kind of relationship they want to have with their mother. But I do believe that Mother's Day can be a celebration of all women. A mother is someone who loves, cares for, and nurtures. And though my own mother takes the top spot, many other women have loved, cared for, and nurtured me through the years.

My mother bore me, raised me, taught me, and has always loved me no matter what.

Many of my aunts have given me that extra long hug when I needed it and been there for me to talk to through my childhood and my adulthood.

My sisters have listened to me and helped me through the experience of being a mother myself. I can't imagine that journey without them.

My good friends have been listened to me, laughed and cried with me, and watched out for me for many years.

My husband's mother and grandmothers have been amazing grandmothers to my children.

And for that mom guilt, this is my favorite quote about motherhood.

"There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. ... What matters is that a mother loves her children deeply." - M. Russell Ballard

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Week

Next week is Teacher Appreciation Week. And I don't really appreciate my child's teacher. Nothing so bad has ever happened that I've considered having her changed to another class (mostly because I think that would be harder on my child than just staying in the class she's in).

There's been nothing really big--just lots of little things that have frustrated me. The teacher is not great at communicating with me. I ask direct questions and get responses that don't even acknowledge the questions. When my daughter pretends to read to a class of kids, she yells at her fake audience to calm down and that everyone will get a chance to see the picture and if you don't sit down you're going to have to move your color! (Their color is the system of showing their behavior that day.) Last week my daughter came home without a homework packet. I e-mailed the teacher to tell her and asked her to put one in my daughter's folder the next day. The teacher e-mailed back that she most definitely put a homework packet in the folder. Ummm... So mistakes happen, things get overlooked, I wasn't the least bit upset about it being forgotten. Until I felt we were being accused of losing it. How about a simple, "I'm sorry. I wonder what happened to it? I'll be sure to give her a new one tomorrow."

Anyway. Just lots of little things over the course of a school year.

Now regardless of my feelings about them personally, teachers have a hard job. They do something I would never attempt. They don't get paid enough. But whatever happened to a reminder about Teacher Appreciation Week and letting each parent/child decide how they want to celebrate their teacher? Why isn't a homemade card from my child enough? And even if you make some suggestions, having a certain thing we're supposed to do each day creates anxiety in a Kindergartener if she's not doing the same thing as everyone else. Is this a way to help us feel better about the fact that teacher's don't get paid enough?

I'm not buying a plant or flower for her teacher. And honestly, does she want 18 plants on her desk on Thursday?

My daughter will fill out the My Teacher is a Star Because... paper. She can wear blue on Friday. And I'll do her teacher another favor by waiting until after Teacher Appreciation Week to send back my honest teacher evaluation that she asked for. (Which she claims is anonymous but how can it be if my options are sending it in my child's folder or e-mailing it back?)

I look at this list as Mother's Day approaches and I'm thinking we need to change it to Mother's Week. Because let's be honest, teacher's are great, even the so-so ones like my daughter's do a lot of work. But mothers do a lot more.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Spring Break at Home

My daughter asked me what season came next and I  told her summer. It's already so hot here in Florida that I completely forgot about spring. It's still happening on the calendar and spring break is coming up. As usual, we're staying home for spring break. But I want to try to make it fun for the kids and to keep my sanity (and the TV off). So I have a flexible plan for outings and fun things we'll do over the break. The students get this Friday off plus all of next week, so I have six days to fill with something besides our normal daily schedule (which the Kindergartener declares is "boring!" every time she hears what we did while she was at school).

Day One: Summer clothes shopping!
Okay, the exclamation point might be a bit much. The kids will kind of like doing it because they get to look at all the toys at the consignment shop while I find clothes for them. And I'll have fun up until the point that the baby is no longer happy in the stroller. So after a morning spent shopping, we'll all be good for some downtime in the afternoon.

Day Two: Library, Read-a-Thon, and Movie Night
In the morning we'll go to the library and fill up on new books and movies. In the afternoon we'll throw out all the pillows and blankets on the family room floor and read our new books. Do they have read-a-thons in school anymore? I think some Twizzlers will be necessary. Since we'll all be lounging around anyway, that will be a good night for a movie.

Day Three: Splash Pad Day
We'll tell friends that we're going to be there, but with or without them, we'll be there. When we come home, Mom will be exhausted even if no one else is, so we'll relax in the afternoon.

Day Four: Orlando Science Museum
We have a year pass so it's free--minus the stress of the drive of downtown and parking our van in the parking garage. The girl's could spend all day there, so we'll stay as long as the baby will let us.

Day Five: Cooking Day
The girls want to make homemade peanut butter. I want to try lemonade slushies. It will be good to have a day at home after a day at the museum.

Day Six: Picnic at the Park
We have a park close by. I hardly ever take the kids alone (it's too hot and crowded by the time school gets out). A simple picnic will make this outing seem extra fun--especially if juice boxes are involved.

Ideas for the rest of the time:
Play games
Play with toys (what a crazy idea)
Color or paint
Water table outside (and invite new neighbor girl)
Sidewalk chalk
Make new playdough
Mosaic art

Am I the only one who has to plan out school breaks or risk turning my kids into TV zombies?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Outfits and Independence

I was recently part of a conversation with other mothers about whether or not to let your children choose their own outfits. Most people agreed that if they saw a child wearing a strange outfit they just assumed they chose it themselves and thought it was cute. But when it came to letting their own kids go around like that, they worried about people judging them as a mother. One brought up a good point that her son has no sense of what goes together and frankly doesn't care, but she guides what he wears to avoid one more reason for kids in his class to make fun of him.

My three-year-old loves picking her own outfits. Her whole life is a game of dress up. I think her philosophy is that if she likes it, it goes with anything else she likes. And an outfit like the one below draws smiles now, but I probably would discourage something like this in a few years when she's going to school.

The conversation made me think about how little my daughters know about fashion because of how little I know. I thought they weren't influenced by me because I had no fashion to influence on them. And then my Kindergartener chose her tie dye school shirt and wanted to tie it up with a hair elastic. All she's missing is stirrup pants. (And to be super cool, she should be wearing two different socks on each foot.) I've heard the 80s are happening again (or happened, am I too late?).

Monday, February 23, 2015

Tiny Monsters

What do you see in this picture? Beauty or terror?

For my three-year-old, walking through a butterfly rainforest was terrifying. Anything that moved scared her. Instead of being awed by the colors, she screamed at every butterfly she saw, certain that it was going to hurt her. No amount of reasoning or soothing could convince her otherwise. She finished our brief time in the exhibit in Daddy's arms, squeezing her eyes closed and hiding her face in his shoulder. Which was probably good because we passed a small dog on the lap of an old man in a motorized wheelchair at the end. And we all know how terrifying lap dogs are.

Wait, you didn't know that? In her world, they are. She ran away from a stone turtle on someone's lawn till she realized it was "just pretend." The huge T-Rex skeleton? Cool. Butterflies? Terrifying. She's also very afraid of monsters and wakes up screaming some nights because of monsters (aka shadows on the wall). I've tried telling her that there are no such thing as monsters.

Then one morning she told me that the night before she found tiny monsters on her pillow--so she smashed them! It's made me think. Should I stop trying to convince her that monsters aren't real? Because to her they absolutely are. That strange shadow on the wall at night is without a doubt a monster. And in a different guise, there are monsters that she will face in the world. Maybe it would work better to help her believe that she can beat the monsters in her life. If you see a monster, you face it, you smash it, because you are brave and you are stronger than the monsters you will face, both real and imagined.

Friday, February 6, 2015


Dear Storytime Librarian,

It is possible to read a story and carry your voice so a group of kids can hear you without using a high-pitched nasally half scream that terrifies my baby. I'd love to keep bringing my kids to storytime, but I don't want to scare my baby every week.

Thank you,
Concerned Mom

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Some Favorite Picture Books

To get kids excited about reading, it helps to have books they love. Here's a list of some favorites around our house.

Anything by Mo Willems. If you don't know who Knuffle Bunny is, if you're not friends with Elephant and Piggie, and if you've never had to stop the Pigeon from driving the bus, you're missing out. We love everything by Mo Willems. We always stop at his spot on the library shelf to see if there's anything new by him--or old favorites. A less known Mo Willems that my girls love is Leonardo the Terrible Monster.

King Jack and the Dragon by Peter Bently is a charming story about a boy who fights off dragons with his brother and friend. One of my girls has chosen this book every single night since we got it from the library.

Press Here by Herve Tullet was another favorite library find. Press the button and fun things happen with the dots on the page. I was surprised at how much my five year old loved reading and playing with this book. In an age where she's familiar with tablets and things really do change with the touch of a button, she had fun imagining along with this book.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen. This book is best read by daddy with lots of enthusiasm. When she was only two, my daughter could recite this book along with him.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak is my favorite picture book ever. My boy will be Max for Halloween some year.

Other books my kids love:

Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
The Snowy Day by Ezra Zack Keats
Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin
No, David! by David Shannon
Robert Munsch books
Look and Find books

What are some of your family's favorite picture books?