Happy Birthday Dear Nana

For my entire life, at least, my nana was not known for her flexibility, her relaxed nature, or grace when she happened to be wrong. She was stubborn, liked things done a certain way, and didn’t mind letting you know. And she was fantastic. She didn’t smile her true smile easily; you had to earn it if you wanted more than her “I’m smiling, what more do you want, take the damn picture” smile. But when you did, it lit up her face, and the room. I’m still coming to terms with the fact that I won’t see it again in this life.

Today is her birthday. She would have turned 39 for the (hold on, let me do some math…) 46th time. And because the Little Man’s birthday was last month, and this is our family’s season for birthdays, when he heard about it, he had a request. In his four year old wisdom, birthdays don’t actually occur until there is some sort of sweet treat, topped with waxy pyrotechnics, a song, a wish, and blowing out of said pyrotechnics. Because my family is in town for Thanksgiving, and because I miss Nana, I obliged.

We sang a sweet version of “Happy Birthday,” while Little Man watched the flame dance on the frosted and sprinkled cupcake, for the Great Nana he was lucky enough to meet twice. And just as he inhaled and made a wish, presumably for Nana, the candle went out.

I hear you clearly Nana, it’s YOUR birthday, and you don’t need anyone blowing out candles on your behalf.

2013-11-29 20.23.37
Happy birthday Nana! I hope your wish comes true.

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What’s for Dinner?

It’s the all important dinner time. You know, when the three “AND A HALF!” year old gets to assert all kinds of independence when three seconds before he needed your help to find the pencil on the table sitting directly in front of him [or insert any act that you know he can do by himself without ANY issues normally].

Me: “Okay, what would you like for dinner?”

Little Man: “A pancake.”

Me: “Nope. You haven’t eaten them the last three times you have requested them. What ELSE would you like?”

LM: “….”

Me: “How about a sandwich?”

LM: “Oh yeah, an egg sandwich on regular bread please.”

Me: “I would love to do that, but we don’t have any eggs in the house right now.”

LM: “Can you make some?”

Me: “Um, no. Chickens make them.”

LM: “….” (complete with look of terror) “What?”

Me: “Chickens make them. We don’t have any chickens. Therefore, we can’t make any eggs.”

LM: “Oh, okay.” (Terror will resume another day when he is reminded that chickens make eggs, I am sure…) “I have a secret. Bend down and put your ear close to me.”

(I do.)

LM: “I want a chhhhhh…..awwwwww…..cklit chiiiiiiip sandwich.” [Said pretty much in the same way as Barney Stinson says “Legen…wait for it….dary!”

Me: “Um, no. [stifling laughter kind of] You cannot eat a chocolate chip sandwich for dinner…”

LM: (grasping at straws…) “With peanut butter? On regular bread? Pleeease? With chocolate chips…?”

Just like his Uncle. [Okay, okay…and like his Uncle’s sister-I will take some blame-especially since I am the one who makes them.]

**Oh, and for the record, when he got the sandwich, he whined, “But I wanted pancakes!” And then proceeded to eat 4/5s of it.
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Thrown Under the Bus

It’s happened to the best of us-something we have done comes back to bite us. (And I’m not talking about the five month old teething babe that we made that is now biting…that’s another story.) And when that happens, sometimes you get “thrown under the bus” when you get called on it. Like today.

After an amazing, unprecedented fifteen minutes of working on a Preschool Activity Workbook during quiet time, the Little Man (at the ripe old age of 3 1/2 years) looks at me and asks, “Mama, can I play that new game? The Lego game? The Lego game on the iPad that we just downloaded? Can I play it on the couch? Pleeease Mama?”

**Author’s Note-

We’ve been trying to curb the televisiondisney jr viewing time, because between giving up pirate and princessa nap, new Jake and Sofia episodes every other week on Disney Junior, a newfound love of the Octonauts (also Disney Junior), a baseball season in full swing, and some pretty great hockey games lately, I feel like the television is always on. (And yet my DVR is still 90% full…) In an attempt to counter the television-watching-semi-comatose state, we have found some apps on the iPad (and my non-Apple, Samsung smart phone) that are interactive, somewhat educational as well as age appropriate, and are even fun! The most recent addition has been a Lego Duplo app that is probably “too easy” for him, but it is novel, and he is enjoying it.

Back to the story. So, because it was so nicely requested, and I am trying to avoid television, and I need to go get the newly moving (rolling and backwards scooting, but still) 5 month old to take a nap, I agree, “Okay, for a little bit of time.”

Little Man responds with, “But I want it a whole lot of time. A BIG bit.” And then it happens. During my pause, he can sense my decision making skills are hampered by lack of sleep combined with my desire for “true” quiet time in the house again. He goes in for the kill, and with his blue eyes opened wide, he looks into my eyes and says, “Please?” and then bats. his. eyelashes.

I am shocked. This is new for him. I quickly try to figure out if I have ever batted my eyelashes in front of him (or even not in front of him) recently and I cannot think of a single time…I ask him, “Where did you learn to do that? Who taught you?” figuring I would get the most common recent response of, “I taught it to myself.”

Nope. “Dada taught me.”



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Summer School (Who says you don’t learn during the summer?)

Summer to me is endless hours in an icy pool under the burning sun with either me or my brother yelling, “STOP MAKING WAVES!” (and consequently either my brother or me making waves), burning my feet on the concrete searching for a scrap of shade, and to end the day, the smell of marshmallows roasting over our fire pit with chlorine lingering in my damp hair. I have wanted a fire pit since moving away fifteen summers ago (wait, fifteen??), and because of a trip to the local hardware store to grab a bag of potting soil, and a rogue bronze fire pit marked down ridiculously, I now own one!

So of course we had to put it to use that first night, which meant I needed to build it first.marshmallow roasting After a quick call to my mom (for years she and I worked at my grandparents’ hardware store-she ran it, I tried to do everything else) to remember which side the washers go on, it was assembled! Then came the fire making part. My parents’ fire pit is awesome-it’s in the ground, covered in lava rock, and you use a key to turn on the gas. My fire pit is only a vessel-the rest was up to me. And because I was a girl scout for many years, I can build an amazing looking fire structure. However, I have learned that I am terrible at getting firewood to light. Awful. Horrendous. Especially when I get my husband to help. Then it is like the firewood actually gets colder, and lets off the absence of heat. So we did what anyone else would do in this situation-we blamed the wood. But because we already had our three year old set on the idea of roasting marshmallows, there was no backing out-my husband went on his way to go get new firewood, and I got the job of stalling the three year old.

I decided what better way to vamp, than to make the marshmallow toasting skewers (my family’s time honored way was using wire hangers) and get the s’mores fixings ready. Luke was thrilled when I pulled out the graham crackers, and giant marshmallows (he’s far more familiar with the mini marshmallows for his cocoa), and since we didn’t have the  traditional chocolate rectangles, I had to pull out a dark cocoa baking bar to use. I gave my son the job of setting up the cocoa pieces on top of each cracker while I rummaged through the garage for three hangers.

My husband had returned, so he reformed the fire structure and I grabbed both the goodies and Luke to roast his first marshmallow, but something was amiss…I had set out just enough big cocoa chunks for the crackers, but there weren’t as many extra pieces in the foil as I remembered. As I looked at my three year old closely, I had to ask, “Did you eat any of the chocolate?” He smiled, looked directly at me and answered, “no?” He stuck to his story for about three seconds as my eyes danced over the chocolate flecks on his lips and chin, and had to respond truthfully, “I mean, yes. But can I still make a what-do-you-call-it?”smore1

We never actually got the firewood to light, so we roasted marshmallows over the lit firestarting fatwood and kindling. I learned my son is the burn-it-’til-it’s-black type of marshmallow roaster, and prefers the marshmallow straight. I learned that my husband and I need to beg some scouts to teach us how to get the actual firewood to be on fire in our fire pit. And I learned that my new favorite summer activity is watching my son sitting in his new adirondack chair with his molded wire hanger roaster while his own marshmallow burns black. Oh, and the next project on my project list, turn my wood burning fire pit into a gas fire pit (thank you Pinterest.) Hello summer!silhouette boy roasting marshmallow

**I know it’s not technically summer yet, but it’s been pretty warm these last few weeks and I’m still out on extended maternity leave (so it feels like summer to this teacher).
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A Mama’s Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

I really appreciate everything you have done for me and given to me every Christmas holiday season. I have had some incredible Christmas morning surprises! The Strawberry Shortcake House~man I loved that thing-and I really appreciate all the time and effort it took to add ALL of those stickers-who knew you should start before 11PM on Christmas Eve? You gave me my second bike (the first one I got on April 15th, during the first year my parents instituted an end-of-tax-season-present) which I still have. And I think the most memorable was the NESbrother and sister shared present of our first gaming system even though neither of us had any idea about it before Christmas morning (was the Nintendo NES for us or our parents?) It came complete with Super Mario Brothers, Duck Hunt, World Class Track Meet (Olympic style games) and the Power Pad that the whole family could use while competing in events like the long jump, triple jump 100 M dash and hurdles.

Thank you also for making my Christmas mornings with my own family so memorable as well. Watching the morning through the eyes of my first son is like experiencing the overwhelming joy all over again! Thank you for sending Pistachio, our Elf, from the North Pole to listen to our wants and needs (yellow socks, black sweatshirt and a book) and keep an eye out for good behavior from his new perch every morning.

However, I do have a question for you…what in your toy and elf filled world over at the North Pole possessed you to send my three year old a fully functional trumpet? A fully functional trumpet mere days (2) before his baby brother was to be born? A fully functional trumpet that he could use to serenade his four month old brother during what should have been his afternoon nap on a Sunday in April? Clearly, you must have been overwhelmed knowing our family was about to have another son? Or maybe you felt a bit concerned that I might go into labor during Christmas Eve or Christmas and the presents would have to make up for my lack of presence? Or perhaps you were feeling a bit guilty that we were about to have another, and just maybe you thought that something big and flashy like a fully functional trumpet would help during our transition to a family of four? Whatever the reason (all of the above), I just want you to know, my three year old LOVES it, finds it no matter where it gets hidden misplaced, and I’m sure it will continue to fill with me frustration JOY for years to come!toy-trumpet



PS Maybe for this Christmas you could send a rain stick?

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One of Those Days

Have you ever had one of those days?

This question is normally quickly followed by a run down of everything that went wrong for the person asking. For example, “Have you ever had one of those days? You know, where you stub your toe getting out of bed to go to the bathroom that happens to be flooded. So you call the plumber and find out they can’t get there until tomorrow. Then you try to console yourself by eating a bowl of your favorite cereal, only to realize that someone put an EMPTY box back in the pantry so you have to eat dry toast instead. Then you spill coffee on yourself on your way to work, and proceed to do everything wrong at work according to your boss. So you look forward to dinner with the family, but when you get home your kids are dialed into the tv and your spouse is busy with work colleagues, so you eat alone. And then after your almost vinegared glass of wine, you head to bed, stubbing your toe after getting your socks wet in your still flooded bathroom. You know, one of those days?”

To be clear, not one of these things happened to me today. But I’m sure some combination will some day. And I’m sure I will complain to someone about it. But today, for me, I posed the question to mean something a bit different.

Have you ever had one of those days? You know, one of those days…

where you can’t stop thinking about a stranger’s family?

where you just want to hold your “babies” tightly, even if they’re grown, just because you can?

where you look forward to your toddler or infant waking up from their nap (instead of hoping it lasts ‘just a bit longer’)  because it means you get to see them smile again?

where you want to tell everyone in your life that you love them, because there is no guarantee you will get another chance?

Today was one of “those days” where I can’t stop thinking about how quickly life can change.  It was one of those days where I didn’t mind cleaning up the mess around the house because it meant that I have happy kids. It was one of those days where the bedtime routine went a bit long, and I was kind of glad. It was one of those days where I made more eye contact with strangers and smiled, because you never know when it will make a difference. It was one of those days where the tv was turned off and conversations were enjoyed. Today is one of those days that will remind me to hold close loved ones longer, tell long distance loved ones I love them, forgive, relax and enjoy the sunshine and later the moonbeams since I can.

Days like these always remind of Mr. Rogers and his quote about scary times…and I thought this captured some of my feelings for today.

Mr. Rogers Boston

****I started to write a version of this post after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, but I just couldn’t (and still can’t) wrap my brain around it, probably because as a kindergarten teacher it is hard to separate myself and my classroom from the awful event. My heart goes out to the friends and family members of the victims of today’s and December’s senseless tragedies.****
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A Musing of a Three Year Old



Three Year Old: “Mama, I love chocolate.”

Mama: “I know babe, you get that from me.”

Three Year Old: “No, Mama. I get that from ME.”

And his quest for independence is continued. If only he would generalize the quest to when I need to use the bathroom…(related post to follow)


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Best Friend

Hello Friends,

So, I have to start this by saying I wrote this post down MONTHS ago. I have to apologize to the six people who read my posts for not posting since whenever I last posted. I have no reasons, only excuses-full time work, toddler, house on the market, house sold, searching for a house to move into, packing the house, moving the house, starting another school year, blah blah blah…anyway, this is from early July? Enjoy.

Last week, I heard some of the most beautiful words-“Mama, you are my best friend.” Now I’m sure soon enough my son will be saying this in order to get something from me, like food, money, forgiveness, etc. but right now I have to believe it is just simply because his heart smiles when he thinks of me, as mine does for him.

Then this week, while driving out of our garage, after realizing Dada’s car was missing (he had already left for work) Luke stated, “Mama, Dada is my best friend too.” I am thrilled!! Brian gets to join the club and not feel so left out of our Mama Son bonding session that is otherwise known as summer break (because while it is a break from paid work-I teach, and no I do NOT get paid for summer breaks, it is most definitely NOT a vacation.) So I share the news when Brian gets home, he’s thrilled, I’m thrilled and Luke has two best friends!

The following night during bedtime (which has been so awful during the past three weeks that I have realized I haven’t blogged yet this summer) our second cat Syrah (now known as Luke’s cat) jumps onto Luke’s bed, nuzzles his face and meows. Luke “awwwwwww”s, pets her, kisses her and says, “Mama, Syrah is my best friend.” I’m beginning to feel a little less special.

UPS_Truck_PackageYesterday, Luke sees a UPS truck drive by and says, “Mama? Remember that green guy in that green truck who said ‘Buddy!’ to me?” [Author’s note-I know the UPS truck is brown, along with their uniform, however I am 99.99% sure that Luke is color blind which was passed through me (on the x) and my brother, uncle, cousin and my maternal grandma are-lucky lineage, right? But at least we recognize it and are familiar with it. My brother sees the UPS truck as green too.] “Yes. I remember him.” I respond wondering where this is going. “Mama, that green guy who said ‘Buddy!’ to me, he’s my best friend.”

I’ll have to welcome him to the club.

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Potty Talk

So we’re in the beginning stages of potty training. I’m not going to lie. I’m already NOT loving this project. To make it a bit more palatable, we just started using m&ms as motivation bribes, one for pee, two for poop. Luke has been peeing in the toilet off and on for a few months now, but the poop has only been on accident (during naked time we throw him on the toilet just in time), so the bribe is really for that side.

We can tell he’s not totally ready, so we’re not pushing it, but this morning he said he had to poop. So we stuck him on the toilet, and he peed a little, and then asked Dada to read him a book. During the reading, he stood up a few times to grab some toilet paper (“paper towels” to him) and to check his progress. He asked for a couple rereads, and in the process peed a little more during the third reading of “Trucks.”

When we realized it was a false alarm, we told him “You peed in the toilet! We’re so proud of you!!! No big deal about no poop. Next time.” As he grabbed more paper towels to “wipe my bum,” he proudly announced, “Now I get two m&ms!” After he flushed, realizing that we had ignored that comment, he repeated, “Now I get two m&ms! Come on Mama! Come on Dada! Downstairs for the two m&ms!” So we break the news gently, terrified about how this could skew our great morning so far, just moments before needing to leave for works and day care ~ ”Babe, you get one m&m for pee, and maybe you can get two later if you poop in the toilet at day care!”

Luke looks at both of us like we have lost our minds, and clearly states, so there is NO confusion, “Mama, Dada, I get two m&ms, because two pees.” We respond with “Two Ps?” And he says, “Two pees. Two m&ms.” Points at the toilet, “TWO. PEES. TWO. M&Ms!”

When we realize our error in homonyms, we look at each other and I say to Brian, “It’s hard to argue with that logic.” Brian agreed.

So, Luke got two m&ms before eight this morning. Is anyone really surprised?

I mean, how do we say “no” to this face? No, really, we’re asking! How? 😉

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Breaking News: Caillou is off the 40 Man Roster

For those of you that don’t know, my husband and I were born and bred Dodger fans. (So it’s no surprise that Luke was a Dodger at heart during his first year.)Our love of baseball was renewed every spring with the crack of the bat, the strains of Vin Scully on the radio or the television, and the crowd going wild. (Or not, clearly it depended on the season.) My love for baseball was further ignited while scorekeeping for my brother’s baseball teams. Scorekeeping kept me awake, kept me warm inside the scorekeepers’ booth and kept me close to the high school boys who were umpires for his games. Ah, young love! My husband played little league and then baseball in junior high and was a high school baseball player when I met him. Coincidence? (Um, no.) And he went on to umpire in college. (Beat still, my heart.) My husband then worked for a few college baseball teams, where I became a groupie fan, often one of the few in the rainy stands waiting for the seemingly elusive complete game.

He now has his dream job (minus the Dodger blue) for the Oakland A’s. The biggest challenge for us has been adjusting to his schedule, which includes night games, early morning departures for day games, and a six to seven week stint in Arizona for Spring Training (he arrives before the first players in order to prepare). This Spring Training (of which most is conducted during the winter-go figure) was particular heart wrenching for me, because Luke grew from a toddler into (gasp!) a boy (a little one, but still.) He is “reading” books, having full conversations, and after our first visit out to see Dad, had developed an all-consuming desire to turn any object into a bat-a block, a remote, a flashlight, a musical instrument, a medicine dispenser, you name it. So while I tried for weeks to avoid it, I realized I finally had to bring out the bat that I had hidden away over a year ago, as it was a hazard to anyone in the near vicinity of Luke-the-one-year-old-with-a-bat.

I did my best to teach Luke the basics-grip, stance, knees bent (courtesy of my Dad-that and “Whatever you do, don’t cry if you strike out.”) and eyes on the ball. My plan was to not mention this to Brian until he arrived at home and could see it, but one evening, during a Skype date, Luke started talking about it. When I couldn’t take the confusion anymore, I finally explained to my visibly disappointed husband, that I had unearthed the bat. After the initial shock was over, he asked Luke to show him. So Luke got his first real lesson through the magic of Skype. As I expected, on Brian’s first day off after arriving home, he bought Luke his first “real” bat (whiffle) and we went to the park. Luke pitched to both of us, we each pitched to him (he is still working on his grip), and then he played manager for a bit and directed us (“Go get that ball. Throw it. Hit it.”)

Tonight, after realizing that Dada was not home because he was at the game, Luke said he wanted to go. When I finally got through to him that it was about to start, and we couldn’t get there in time, he asked to watch it on tv. Let me pause to revel in the moment-My two year old asked to watch the baseball game on television. Since it was still the pregame, I offered his favorites instead, “Blue’s Clues,” “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” and then, my pièce de résistance, “Caillou.” His answer-“No. The baseball game.”

I feel like it was only yesterday that the theme song to Caillou would begin and he would literally drop whatever he was doing and run to the room yelling, “Caillou! Caillou!” (It WAS yesterday.) But today, my (gulp) little man has fully embraced the love of America’s favorite pastime, and I couldn’t be more excited about what’s to come.

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