He’s Six

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The birds are singing a joyful song, welcoming Spring on the first day of April. Trees laden with robins flaunting their red breasts busily pecking and twittering like girl friends over coffee.

Daffodils blooming, grass greening, trees budding.

SPRING.

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And behind the cacophony of birds is another chime, equally rhythmic, melodious and persistent.

Chim Chim, Chim Chim, Chim Chim.

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Our boy racing back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.  I watch him and see the delight of this new, fresh, delightful season etched upon his face.

I wonder where he is, who he is, where his imagination will take him on this new and perfect day.

I wonder how it is possible that my small baby is riding a new bike with wheels stretching 20 inches from the ground.

“Mom?! Can we go to see the Nile?”

“Not today sweetheart, but maybe some day.”

“I just really want to see Ancient Egypt.”

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Back to the bike.  Chim Chim, Chim Chim, Chim rings his bell, heralding the adventures awaiting him in the alley behind our house.

Mud Splatters.

Birds Singing.

Our Boy is six.

Life is Good.

Forty Days…

sony 003Today is the first day of Lent and I am once again embarking on my spring pilgrimage of No Carbs.

Ugh. No Carbs.

Forty Days. No Carbs.  Double Ugh.

No chocolate, waffles, bread, ice cream, bagels, scones, muffins…

Sorry, I need to stop writing that list because I’m getting hungry.

When I was younger I thought the idea of a Lenten Discipline where you “give up” something was a little bit strange and seemed very legalistic.  Now that I’ve been married to Nature Boy and observing Lent in our church, I get it.

Kinda.

No, I get it.  Really.

For forty days I sacrifice something I want (carbs) in order to focus my attentions on something I need (self control).

This is the third year I’ve done the No Carb route and so I know how the pattern will play out.  

The first week I’m ravenous and the mere thought of a food will make me squirm (not to mention listing them out on a darn blog post.)

After the first ten days the sugar cravings will subside and I’ll start seeing nice changes.  My afternoons won’t be so cranky.  My clothes will fit a little bit better. My love for veggies will surge.

After three weeks I realize that the discipline related to my appetite will start to spill over into other areas – exercise, reading, prayer life – all benefit from my new found confidence of self-control.

By the end of Lent, I’m ready to conquer the world.

Sadly, I haven’t figured out a way to maintain those disciplines through the entire year (hence my need to come back to Lent repeating the No Carb pilgrimage for the third time!) but it’s worth it for at least a short season to see the benefits of self control and how it makes me better.

Lent —  No Carbs — Forty Days  –  I’m in.

 

One important disclaimer:  We have designated Sunday as our Feast Day, so we indulge in Pizza on Sunday nights. Amazing how good that slice tastes when it’s part of a Feast! Turkish Delight has nothing on it.

 

When I was Rich

middle schoolIn the summer between my seventh and eighth grade year I had my first “real” job. Three times a week my mom would drop me off at neighbor’s house and for the next eight hours I was the caregiver for two preschool aged children.

Today, as a mom myself, I can’t imagine trusting my children to the care of a thirteen year old with no practical experience outside of the church nursery, but I guess we were all more innocent in the eighties… certainly more naive.

For each of those three days I would be responsible for nap times, lunches, diaper changes and entertainment. I’m sure I was at least competent, but I don’t remember much about the experience.  For some reason, I have linked Disney’s version of Robin Hood and lots of Masterpiece Theater to that job, so I suspect that we watched an awful lot of videos. Other than the VHS invasion, the only other thing I remember about that summer is how RICH I thought I was.  You see, I was earning $3 an hour and I sincerely thought, “Why is there an unemployment problem?!  People should just BABYSIT.”

$72 a week. White denim jacket. Robin Hood.  That was the good life baby.

Beautiful

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adorable, angelic, appealing, beauteous

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bewitching, captivating, charming, cute

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dazzling, delightful, enthralling, exquisite

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fascinating, fetching, graceful, grand

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lovely, magnificent, marvelous, pleasing, pretty

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resplendent, splendid, stunning, sublime, superb, winning, wonderful.

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There just aren’t enough words in the thesaurus to describe this girl.

 

Learning to Read

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I never expected it. In fact, six months ago I would have said the exact opposite.  Yet now I realize — absolutely, hands down, nothing comes close — that the best hour of my day is when I’m teaching our Oldest Boy to read.

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Our lesson has evolved quite a bit over the last eighteen months. When we first started, I made the “rookie” mistake of thinking that age and reading readiness were correlated.  So if the curriculm I bought said that it was appropriate for a four year old then, gosh darn it, my four year old would read.

All the experienced teachers, parents and homeschoolers can stop laughing at me now.

It seems silly in retrospect, but at the time I was really concerned about “the discipline of a classroom” and in my head that meant making (forcing) my four year old to complete the lesson. I had heard all of my school teacher friends talk about creating strict discipline in order to establish the routine and order that allowed the schoolroom to function. That made perfect sense to me, so I thought that I needed to do the same thing with our home “school.” Forget the fact that my little guy was not one of twenty-five students in a classroom. Forget the fact that he was throwing a temper tantrum because he couldn’t sit still for 15 minutes.  Forget the fact that I was asking him to rhyme when he had no idea what ending sounds were.

Instead I fell into the mindset:  He is FOUR.  Time to read!

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Needless to say after a week of force feeding my very-much-not-ready reader, I put the book away. And just to make sure I learned my lesson every time he saw it on the shelf he would say “I don’t like that book.”  I got it buddy, I got it.  In this homeschooling adventure the teacher is learning as much as the student.

Reading took a big back seat over the next year… Instead we watched Sesame Street and LeapFrog videos. We joined a Classical Conversations Co-Op and learned to give presentations and sing our memory work.  And most importantly, I controlled my competitive spirit when I saw lots of younger kids gravitating to reading like fish to water. Yes, it’s true four year olds can learn to read, but not my four year old. Instead, Mama had to take a big step back and let her boy grow up.

Fast forward eighteen months…  we have a big brother who is closer to six than five.  He loves to draw, he likes to sing, and he recognizes the name from his HESS trucks when we pull into the station.  This time when we returned to that bad book he was ready.  In fact, at the end of the first (repeated) lesson he cheered “Yipppeee! Mom, I can READ!” and we High-Fived together in exultation.

{And yes, of course, I cried.}

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Fifty lessons later we have hit our stride.  Four times a week he climbs into my lap with his green blanket and baby doll (who offer the most faithful moral support) and we do our lessons. Snuggled together we read new words and learn new sounds. We answer questions and giggle about how silly a story can be when it only uses phonic words. We show off to Daddy at the end of the day on how many new sounds we’ve mastered.  And  I marvel at the gift it is to help my boy learn to read.  It is truly an indescribable thrill to be part of this adventure.

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Learning to read?

No doubt about it.  The best hour of my day.

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Notes to Self

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  • When you accidentally make a pot of coffee using decaf it doesn’t have quite the same “seize the day” effect as the good stuff.
  • When you are collecting the dirty laundry be sure to check that you haven’t picked up a diaper too.  Those little diaper crystals are a pain in the arse to clean out of the washing machine.
  • In order to avoid a panicked call to Poison Control be sure to secure the cover on the children’s Tylenol extra well.  It would be very scary to see your two year old chugging that bottle of pink stuff as you are getting the kids ready for nap time.
  • If you are going to visit your parents during the week of the three biggest snow storms, you may want to bring your coat. And socks.  And mittens certainly wouldn’t hurt.
  • PhotoShop does not have the power to undo your bad fashion choices of 1982. Improve lighting?  Yes.  Remove plaid flannel beret?  No.

Darn it.

 

Farewell Old Friend

Leymus

Before me, there was him.

In fact, he shared the very first photo I ever saw of my husband at the start of our cross country romance.

He was a faithful friend, a gentleman of the highest caliber.

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He persevered through lots of changes in the last fifteen years – a Northern California ranch dog who was asked to adjust to the arctic tundra of Upstate New York.

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A passionate bird dog who had to tolerate the squirrel invasions of our yard in tiny town Virginia.

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A prized companion who showed unrelenting dignity as new family additions arrived to displace him.

A stoic and faithful friend who loved nothing more than going for a run with His Guy.

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Rest in Peace sweet friend, We’re going to miss you.

 

It’s Greek to me

GaBaChaOne of the biggest challenges we faced when our youngest kids first came home was the language barrier.

Despite having anticipated their arrival for almost two years, I had absolutely NO IDEA how challenging it would be parent a three year old fluent in Haitian Creole who didn’t speak English.  I know, I know.  DUH. Double DUH. I naively thought “he’ll just understand me and I’ll figure him out.” La di da da da.

In my defense, that is eventually what happened…  after about two months of stress, crying, stress, and exhaustion.  Did I mention stress?

The truth of the matter is that all five of us took a crash-course-language-immersion-pull-your-boot-straps-on and figured it out.  It wasn’t pretty.

There was one afternoon when we sat down for a late lunch when Young Sir just lost it.  He was so tired, and frustrated, and upset, screaming and crying and absolutely furious.  At the top of his lungs he was yelling

GaaaaBaaaaCaaaa!

GAAA!  BAAAA!  CAAA!!!!!

GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!  BAAAAAAAAAAAAA!  CAAAAAAAAAA!

I was frantically thumbing through my Creole cheat sheets, checking Google Translate, installing Apps on my phone, and calling Creole speaking friends desperate to figure out what he was saying.

Please, please, please tell me what does GaaaBaaaChaaa mean?  Anyone?  Anyone?  BEULLER?!

The emergency passed, naps were taken, bribes (in the form of lollipops) were offered and consumed, and life moved on. We cleared many hurdles in those first few months; the paralyzing fear of our dog subsided, parental bond grew stronger, and ketchup was no longer the only “food”consumed for breakfast. English words started popping out of Young Sir’s mouth with amazing regularity, while Big Brother mastered lots of new Creole phrases (Boundah being a favorite).  I found my self saying Oui instead of Yes to the check out clerk at our grocery store. Our two language family became normal, even delightful.

A few weeks later I was cleaning up after lunch and I handed Our Boy a paper towel to dry his hands.  He wiped them up, looked up at me with his beautiful brown eyes and stated clear as day “GaaBaaCaaa.”  Then walked right over to the garbage can to throw the towel away.

GaaaaBaaaaCaaaa

Garbage Can.

All that time I was trying to figure out what he was saying in Creole while he was speaking ENGLISH.  I can only imagine what must have been going through his young mind, but I suspect it was something like “This new white lady is just a little bit slooooow.”

Good News:  Young Sir is now fluent with English but has retained just enough of an accent to keep me on my toes.  I can figure it out 99% of the time.  I posted a video on Facebook on the remaining one percent.  Might give you a chuckle, or at the very least you can check out some beautiful, brown eyes.

 

Boys

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One part Stomp Rocket

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One part Daddy

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Two parts brothers

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A few good Jumps.

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Lost of giggles.

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Boys.

I guess you could say I’m a fan.