Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Do you believe in fairy dust and Santa's elves?

I know we haven't even made it through Thanksgiving yet, but with Christmas one month away I figured it's never too soon to start whipping the kids into shape spreading holiday joy.

Drum roll please...dddrrrrrrrrrrrr (sound like a drum?)....Welcome Back Starlight!!! (insert cymbal crashing):

My son could barely get the words "Daddy! Look! Abby! Look!" out of his throat when he saw her sitting on the kitchen shelf. My daughter LITERALLY fell to her knees in excitement with a grin from ear to ear. They both repeated, "She's back. She's back. I can't believe Starlight is back" 100 million times.

They believe. They believe in holiday magic and elves that fly to the North Pole every night to let Santa know they've been good. They believe everyone has a happy home, is loved and can be whatever they want when they grow up.

It's not time to introduce reality into their world. They'll have enough of that in the years to come - so for now, this Thanksgiving, I'm thankful they dream with their imagination and love without reservation.

Wishing you the magic of fairy dust and little elves this holiday season.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ying and Yang

I have no idea the full story about what Ying does or what Yang does but I know if I Google it then I'd get an answer. But for now, I'll go with the belief that one completes the other because of their differences. Good with that?

Good. Because that describes my children to a tee.

My daughter stayed home with a "really, really bad stomach ache" on Friday. I thought for sure she was coming down with my stomach flu so I let her stay home.

By 10:00 she was completely enthralled in some Saddle Club DVDs. She watched all of them, maybe twice, while I got some work done in my office. Then it was lunch time and there was no sign of a stomach ache, or a flu of any kind. So I asked what she wanted to do for lunch.

"Go out."

She's going to make some man poor with all the dinners, lunches and breakfasts out on the town. She would rather eat out than sit in and relax. In fact, if she had 105 fever she'd still want to go out to eat.

Flash forward to today. My son came down with a "really, really sore throat" late Saturday, only his came with a fever. And he spent most of Sunday sleeping, eating Jell-o and just hanging around the couch. He was happy as could be.

So as luck would have it, today was his sick day home with me, and a Dr. visit. (We're assuming strep even though the initial culture came back negative. The Dr. didn't fall for it and neither did I - it had to be strep or H1N1 and I'd take the strep since it comes with antibiotics.)

By 10:00 this morning he was completely NOT enthralled with DVDs. In fact, he felt the need to give me a status update on the movie every 15 mins. Up, down, up, down, up, down for 101 minutes (side note: if you don't want your 5 year old exposed to words like "shit" and "crap", don't let him watch The SandLot.)

Nothing really held his attention, so I ended up plugging in my laptop in the living room to work so at least we were in the same room. Plus, I could distract him with a variety of TV shows, games and "Uh Huh" over 100 times so he believed I was always listening. And his fever had broke and he was ready to play hockey in the house so I had to figure out how to divert that idea. Fabulous.

Then, it was lunch time. I envisioned a touching mother and son lunch at his favorite spot with some funny moments over french fries and grilled cheese. Nope, he wanted to stay home. He'd stay put on the same couch, in the same house, in the same pajamas for days if you let him. As long as someone is in the same house as him, he'd never leave.

So my little Ying and Yang keep me busy, and offer a great balance no matter whose sick day it is! And while one would sit mesmerized by horse DVDs and the other needs constant snuggling and attention, it's nice to have a little one-on-one time with each of them. Those days are really few and far between.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Our Family Secret Recipe

My aspiring chef, my almost-there-just-a-few-more-weeks-until-he-turns 5 year old son has shared our family secret recipe for the perfect turkey dinner at Thanksgiving.

You think you have to slave over an oven for HOURS and baste and re-baste the bird, right?


I'll translate below in case you can't read it:

How does Mom or Dad prepare and cook the turkey?

"My Mom cooks the turkey. She puts it in the oven for 3 minutes. Then my mom squeezes the juice out. Then my mom cuts the meat and takes the bones out. Then we eat it."

Hey, listen, he may not know about how long it takes to cook a turkey yet but he's finally starting to color inside the lines on his drawings. And that is an accomplishment, I tell you. We were going to start calling him "Scribble Master A".

And who knows, I may give his recipe a shot this year - and then promptly blog from the hospital bed with food poisoning...

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

It's the simple things

Like the smell of my son's breath when I crouch down to check on him each night before I go to bed.

Or the way my daughter's hair curls and is distinctively red. And how I can pull one curl down to have it spring right back into place.

The way my husband comes up behind me when I'm at the computer and just knows I could use my shoulders rubbed.

It's the way my dog curls up at the base of my chair each day while I work, and occasionally looks up to make sure I'm still there.

Or how my grandmother's voice is still strong and secure as she reaches the fabulous age of 83.

It's the simple things like knowing I can call my Mom at any moment when I don't feel well and she'll let me ramble on and on and on and on...and on and on and on...

And how my Dad always remembers to ask how am I? How are the kids? How is my husband? Even if we speak briefly on the phone.

It's the emptiness I often feel with my brother and his family so far away in miles, but the joy I get from his laugh on the phone when we speak.

It's a house that smells like warm, fall foods cooking in the oven.

A gentle rain cleaning things off outside.


The Holiday Season.


How lucky am I to have those simple things?


Friday, November 13, 2009

She really tries

Report Card day was yesterday!

Nothing like dragging your stomach-churning, back-aching body to meet with the first grade teacher for the first official report card meeting. Good times.

Actually, it went very well. Grades were a little all over the place - but as I recall my first grade world consisted of 1, 2, 3 in which case I was usually 1's across the board because that encompassed A through B- pretty much. But without a D or F on her card, I was pretty happy.

Plus, it's FIRST GRADE. I need to shout that to remind myself. She won't be denied college entrance because of her first grade grades --- right?

I learned some great things about my daughter. She likes structure and plans. If she's not clear on what the expectations are or what is happening next she gets a little off track. NO IDEA where that comes from. *cough*

She tries. She really tries. Which means more to me than anything. However, and there is always a however, she is a very social girl.

Hmm. Really? Like social as in polite-to-everyone-and-a-bit-outgoing or dancing-on- the-desktop-happy-hour social? The teacher said it's a good thing, so I won't worry, yet.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

When Momma gets sick...

Ain't nobody happy.

I remember being sick before having children - how I would curl up in my PJ's in an empty house, with an empty brain, some fluids, painkillers and maybe bad soap operas on in the background simply to remind me it was still mid-day and not mid-night. How I could just think "it'll get done tomorrow" as I rolled over in my little sickness fog to fall back asleep.

Now, getting sick means having all the time in the world to revisit the endless lists in my head of all the things I'm not getting accomplished because I'm sick. Such as:

--Taking that exact day off as a "floating holiday" to complete Christmas and birthday shopping for the kids, only to come down with some debilitating stomach virus that has me trapped in my hot, dark bedroom furious that I'm not out shopping and enjoying the day by myself! *Note to self: change that day from "floating holiday" to "sick day" so I can try it again another day this month.

--Panicking every 20 minutes about what I'm going to do as an activity for the kids birthday party which is only 18 days away. And since I'm not a fan of goody bags, last year I had the kids color their own ornaments to take home with them, but all they asked on the way out was "Where's the goody bags?". Do I succumb to goody bag pressure?

--What color is Thursday at Alex's school? Does he need to find something purple to wear? And does Abby have gym if it's a 1/2 day?

--Can I eat something, yet? The thought makes me nauseous so I guess the answer is no. Plus what would I eat? I haven't got a can of soup in my house because I was supposed to go food shopping today and I'm sick!

--I need a hair cut before Thanksgiving. When am I going to squeeze that in now that I just lost a day and 1/2 to illness!

--I wonder what the weather is like outside. I hate not knowing the weather forecast. Humph.

That's right. When Momma gets sick nobody is happy - well at least Momma ain't happy. Maybe the rest of them did just fine.

Maybe Daddy made them scrambled eggs the first night, and took them out to eat the next. Maybe he made them laugh, gave them showers and got them ready for school no problem.

Maybe they poked their little heads in my room to say I Love You Mommy, before bed time and actually meant it. Maybe they made little special gifts out of scraps of paper and left them on the bureau and my son named one of them the "Get Better Blue Ant" because he wasn't sure what he made but knew it was blue and knew I was sick.

Go figure. They were pretty happy when Momma was sick...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"My Bad"

My daughter's latest catch phrase when she makes a mistake on her homework, kicks her brother, spills a drink, forgets to tell me something, says something inappropriate, or puts too much shampoo in her hair is, "My bad".

S'quze me? My bad. I know what it means. I use it on occasion. Rare occasions. But to hear it spewing out of her mouth every other minute is getting a little annoying. No, a lot annoying.

I've asked her to replace it with new phrases. Like, "my mistake" or "I'm sorry" or "whoops". She tries, but still, "my bad" is what we hear.

And I know it's not the worst thing that can come out of her mouth. Hell, when I do something wrong it's usually "shit" or "crap" so I count my blessings when that isn't repeated.

But it got me thinking to a conversation I had with a neighbor who threw out a swear word in front of the kids recently (and to his defense he's usually very good about not swearing) when he said, "they hear worse on the school bus".

And he's right. In fact, this generation of kids seem to use much worse words on Facebook. Or when texting. Or on Twitter. Or walking around the mall.

I'm always stunned and appalled how frequently the "n" word is dropped by youngsters no older than some of my family members. We're talking under 16.

Should we blame an era of technology where spoken words are replaced by typed words so perhaps they don't seem as bad? Is it okay because they are abridging words in texting like FOAD (F#@K off and die) or GTFOH (Get the F#@k outta here) so they are implied but not written?

Will they regret some of their comments (I say YES) when they get older and their digital footprint follows them from place to place, job to job, and uncovers their ignorance and potential prejudices?

I just don't want my kids swearing before their time. Even though I'm not sure when that time is. 13? 16? 18? Never would be nice. I'm sure it will happen. But in our house, phrases like shut up, stupid and crap aren't tolerated. Unless of course you're Mommy. But then she can be stupid and often needs to learn to shut up...crap.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pull the damn tooth out


My daughter has had a loose bottom tooth for 6 months. No 10 months. No since birth, it seems!

It is all black, covered in plaque because she won't brush it, and hanging by a thread. Or half a thread.

I want to yank it in the middle of the night but I don't know if that's possible? My fear? That she'll clamp down on me like a pit bull and I'll lose a finger.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Tactics?

It's not like she hasn't lost any up til now. Proof in point:

Oh, and there is this one that has NOTHING to do with her teeth, but I just think it's so damn cute:

Monday, November 2, 2009

Eggs over easy and Air Force One

"Hey Marketing Lady!"

"Who me?"

"Ya, you...why can't you ever put that Blackberry down? What's with all this tweeting and facebooking?"

No one actually called me "Marketing Lady" or asked those questions, but sometimes I hear those voices in my head as I whip out my Blackberry while waiting for a sandwich at the Deli. Or when we are with the kids at swim lessons and I can sneak a peek at some recent Tweets. Or sitting in traffic NOT MOVING (key phrase is highlighted in case you miss it).

But Sunday morning, in a drowsy, hazy, sugar hangover from all the Halloween fun, we took the kids to a local diner for some eggs and pancakes. We saddled up to the counter where there is a view of the Sunday morning shows on TV, complete with pictures of Barack Obama. My daughter sees it and blurts out how she's learning about Air Force One and Marine One in school.

Then it clicked. Twitter. Air Force One. I follow someone who works for NBC News and he recently shared a picture of him and his crew rushing onto that big ole plane. I'll show it to her...

Maybe not. My Twitter time line didn't go back that far. So I took a chance and tweeted him. He had just tweeted something which meant he might see mine and respond. I mean, he's only in DC and works for NBC News. He'll want to write to some lady in Boston, right?

Well, he responded. In one minute he was searching for pictures for us. Below is our conversation stream and boy did the kids LOVE getting pictures of the President's plane over eggs and chocolate milk. They believed in their heart those pictures were just for them. In fact, when we got home they asked me to print them up for them for their photo books.

*That* is why I tweet. The conversations. The cool people you meet. The idea that a busy cameraman from NBC News would take time out on a Sunday morning to send me links of his pics of Air Force One for my kids. A man I've never met, but who I follow because I find him to be interesting. There has never been anything like Twitter for me. I love to learn, engage and meet people from around the globe in 140 characters at a time.

So if you ever ask the Marketing Lady, I'll tell you social networking is about the instantaneous push and pull of information between people within a community, at any hour of the day, about any subject. Professionally, that is amazing for me and makes my job so incredible. But personally, watching my kids ooh and ahhh over my blackberry to "Mommy's friend who flies with the President"; that can't be measured in fun or cool or incredible because it surpasses that. I guess that's why it always seems like I'm on that little phone - and why I don't think I'll be putting it down anytime soon. And why the kids got a kick out typing their own "thank you" on the little keyboard. Manners first, no matter the technology!

Time line of our conversation:

From me to Jim: @newmediajim: Good morning - you don't have that AF1 pic link handy do u? Want to show my daughter but bberry won't go back that far :( thx!! 9:06 a.m. Nov 1

From Jim to me: @christinelexa hang on, lemme find you a good one 9:07 a.m. Nov 1

From me to Jim: @newmediajim thanks! We're at breakfast and she is so excited. This will make her morning :) 9:11 a.m. Nov 1

From Jim to me: @christinelexa this is AF1 in Tanzania i believe this is Bahrain 9:13 a.m. Nov 1

From us to Jim: @newmediajim thank you, abby (7yo on a blackberry for the first time) thank you, alex (4yo on a blackberry for the first time). So kind, thx 9:20 a.m. Nov 1

From Jim to me: @christinelexa aww tell them both hi for me! and tell them not to eat all of their halloween candy for breakfast ;) 9:22 a.m. Nov 1