Thursday, February 26, 2015

the good news, and the bad news

In the winter, I usually have my finger on the pulse of all things weather-related, because I've got the heart of a child when it comes to snow.  This week, however, I haven't been closely following the weather since my appetite had been temporarily appeased with the big storm over the weekend.


Imagine my surprise - and delight - when I learned last night that we were in the path of Remus (or is it Quantum?) and would be receiving an additional 2-4 inches of snow today.

That's the good news.  


At 4:15 AM, we received the e-mail that school would be delayed by two hours ... and an hour and a half later, we received the e-mail that school would be canceled due to conditions.  My response was to fly out of bed, throw on my snow pants, snow boots, jacket, hat, mittens ... and urge Charlie to do the same. We would go for a long walk in this wonderful snow, while our children were sleeping.

So we did and it was peaceful and serene and perfect, walking in a winter-wonderland with my husband while the snow continued to gently fall. When we came home, I wanted to go sledding - just once or twice, down our back hill, before we woke up our still sleeping children, gave them the good news about an unexpected SNOW DAY! and made breakfast.


Keep in mind, if I'd known earlier that this storm was coming, I would have made sure all of our sleds were accounted for, and our gear was at the ready. But when I went looking for our sleds today, they were no where to be found.  That's because they were abandoned on the hill by children who had been sledding earlier in the week, and are now totally buried.


That's the bad news.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

growth spurt

I could have sworn these pajamas fit him just last week. 


Or maybe it was last month.  Whatever the case, it wasn't that long ago.  If I remember correctly, they were too big and I had to roll them over at the waist so that they wouldn't fall down. And even then, they were so long that they dragged on the ground.

Watch ... in another month, he'll be 6'2".

Sunday, February 22, 2015

yesterday and today (alternate title(s): my man from Canada, a mid-altantic winter, or this is why snow skiing on the east coast is so icy)

Yesterday, the temperature was below freezing and it snowed all day.  This was the scene from our couch, where we laid beneath blankets, watching Sabrina. It was beautiful.


We took a break to go sledding for a few hours, and the conditions were so awesome, we had to dig our heels in to the snow before we flew down the embankment in to the creek.


There was a twilight snowball fight (Charlie and I totally dominated)...


And a lot of snowman building, including the construction of this hood ornament (by Elizabeth), which I think every vehicle needs in winter...


After a week of freezing, single digit temperatures, with wind chills of below zero - today, the temperature is in the high 40s. It feels like spring and Charlie's out shoveling our driveway in shorts and sandals.


You can take the boy out of California, but you can't take California out of the boy.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

the best kind of day

Charlie and the boys were supposed to drive to Maryland today, and spend the night at the Science Museum with the Cub Scouts.  And I was supposed to be home with the girls and several of our friends, and have a Jane Austen movie marathon.

There would be 12 of us moms and daughters, and as a warm-up we would watch "Sense and Sensibility" before we took in the visual delight of the full six-hour series of "Pride and Prejudice" on our big screen television.  We would be huddled around our couch and on bean bags, next to a roaring fire. There was to be soup, and sandwiches, and fun appetizers, and chocolate.

This was intended to be a day of female bonding at its best.  

But then we heard that severe weather was rolling in and I said, "Fear not! We will have a P&P Pajama Party!"  But then the Cub Scout function was canceled and our better judgement took over regarding people venturing out in to the snow storm which has already dropped four inches in just over two hours, and is expected to continue falling in to the evening.

We've decided to take a "snow-sleet-freezing rain check" and postpone our day of Jane Austen fun for a few weeks.  My reprieve from the sadness of not having our home full of dear friends watching Mr. Darcy and Lizzy Bennett, is the spectacular snow falling outside.

And this little one, who finds great joy in shoveling the sidewalk, while it's still snowing....





The visual of this, reminds me of trying to keep a clean house, while they're still growing.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

oh snow you don't

As I've written previously, we're trying to decide where life will be taking our family next.  Within the next four months, do we move to Massachusetts, or do we move to Texas?   On the one hand, I love winter and am so thrilled whenever it snows.

Exhibit A:  We received five inches this week! 


On the other hand, I don't know if my family loves winter as much as me. When we heard from relatives in New England that they had received more than 50 inches of snow during the month of February, my husband's enthusiasm to pack up and move north has quite literally chilled.

Exhibit B: This is my step-sister outside of her home in Massachusetts.  Somewhere beneath the nearly five feet of snow that has fallen in the past three weeks is her car....


My hope is that she digs it out before Easter.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

when the teacher becomes the student

This morning, half of our brood pulled on their neon exercise gear, and headed to the basement to work out.  Because this is what they do for fun. They watch P90X videos.


It was four years ago that I bought the video set and promised myself that I'd finish all 90 days of it.  But then my P90X turned in to P6X, because I only made it six days before I gave up evening work outs for a comfortable bed and movies on demand.

Today I joined my little fitness fanatics. After we cranked out a solid hour of leg and back exercises, the kids turned on the Ab-Ripper series and kept going.  I kept going, too ... right up the stairs and straight for the Tylenol.  If I can walk tomorrow, it'll be a miracle.  But even if I can't walk, the children tell me we can do floor exercises.

They're convinced we can get through all 90 days of this, together.  I'm really inspired by their enthusiasm. And their ability to sit down and stand up without assistance.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

love is...

Spending several hours brainstorming four Pinewood Derby car designs.


Spending several days carving and sanding four Pinewood Derby cars.  


Supervising the sanding and sanding and sanding and sanding.  


Supervising the painting and painting and painting and painting. 

Weighing four cars to ensure the weight is just right and does not exceed five ounces.


Flying out on a cross-country business trip - on Super Bowl Sunday - so that you can be home just in time to carefully transport four little cars to the big event. 


Spending a full day, from 7:30 AM until 3:30 PM, watching races.


Listening to scores of engineers, including those who design planes and rockets for the US Government, tell you how the best place to put weight is in the back of the car, just in front of the rear axle.  And if you really want to improve your speed, you can sand down the nails for the wheels, and put the little wooden car in an wind tunnel, or tread mill, to ensure that the sources of friction are reduced. 


Laughing when your wife tells you that you could save yourself a ton of time if you just glued the Pinewood Derby box to the car, like she suggested, two years ago.


Love is... 

Despite the large amount of time required to design and build and supervise and race, saying you'd do it all again, just to see the smiles on their faces. 


("Toothless", with our toothless). 

Thursday, February 05, 2015

teachers: opening a mind and touching a heart

One might think that three children, born within three minutes of each other, would have very similar personalities or traits.


But our trio couldn't be more different from one another.


There's William, who is very athletic and all-things military-obsessed.  He has a vivid imagination and although Tresiam has largely disappeared, he introduced me to three new imaginary friends, just yesterday.  He is intrigued by physical fitness and nary a day passes, that he isn't out running laps around our driveway,  dropping to the ground to pound out some push-ups, before showing off his little biceps and "six-pack."


He is popular with the kids in his grade, and loves to be funny. He is also a very gifted writer, concocting the most detailed and engaging stories. His teacher has reached out to me on several occasions, including earlier today, to express how impressed she is with his writing, and urging that if he doesn't have a journal at home - that he begin keeping one.   He says he wants a blog.


There's Elizabeth, who is very energetic and (still) all-things bunny-obsessed.  She is an outstanding artist, crafting things out of whatever she can find, all the time.  Without my borderline obsessive compulsive disorder of purging our house once a month of anything not bolted down, I've no doubt the floor of her room would be concealed beneath boxes, paper, and random trash things she's picked up from who-knows-where.  She never stops moving, and scares me with her daring try-anything personality.  Hence, the helmet.


Elizabeth has a kind heart (most of the time) and according to her teacher, gets along with everyone in her class. While most of the girls her age have settled in to cliques, she has somehow transected all of them - and is good friends with both girls and boys, alike. Elizabeth has challenges with reading, and having been diagnosed with a learning disability myself when I was her age - I try to be very sensitive, and yet encouraging that she will totally conquer this, one day.  She wants to live in Hawaii, surf, make art, and drive a lime green jeep.


There's Carolyn, who is the most quiet and introverted of the triplets.  She loves all living things - including worms and spiders and frogs and dogs, and would never dream of intentionally stepping on an ant.  She loves to read, and read and read, and would be perfectly content to spend a day with a book.  But because I try to encourage her to do other things, she also enjoys painting, and writing, and playing quietly with little figurines.


Carolyn does not have the same social butterfly gene that her siblings do; and even during free time at school, she is much more content to read than interact with other children. Her teachers - since first grade - have reached out to me with concern that she may have an attention deficit disorder. More and more, I've begun to think that her desire to always have her nose in a book (and thus, check out of the world around her), is some kind of defense mechanism.  My suspicion is that it has something to do with her quiet personality, coupled with being the tallest child in her class (99th percentile). When she grows up, she wants to be a veterinarian and librarian. She once wanted children, but now worries they may want her to run around and play - and she'd rather stay inside and read.


Earlier this week, Carolyn's teacher reached out to me that she is very worried about her lack of engagement in class.  When I wrote her back and told her that we've talked to the pediatrician and will be seeing a counselor soon, I also explained that Carolyn has been hypersensitive to the behavior of other girls, and I don't think that she is yet equipped to deal with what she perceives to be social rejection.  I'm fairly confident this too shall pass. But I'm also remembering how difficult it was at her age - - especially as I was in fifth grade and middle school - - and I shudder at the memory of how awful kids can be.

Her teacher responded to me today and fully agrees that there may be some self-esteem issues at play.  She then proposed that to help with the self-esteem issues, she will be initiating an effort where Carolyn will work with first and second graders, several times a week, on their reading.  Today, this wonderful teacher pulled my daughter aside and said, "I've selected you to help the younger children because you are such a good reader and have such a gentle heart, I think you'll be the perfect person to help them improve their reading skills."

I don't want to blow this out of proportion, but I'm fairly confident, this one gesture by her amazing teacher, will alter my daughter's life.  When I was in seventh grade, my Special Ed teacher told me, "You have so much potential - yet to be tapped." And I believed her.  So my response to Carolyn's teacher today, included a message along the lines of, "Thank you for your eyes in SEEING that there was an issue here; and for your heart in CARING enough to reach out to me and facilitate a change."

Good teachers are angels on earth. 

When Carolyn got off the bus today, she was so flattered - and flabbergasted - she didn't know what to do.  She excitedly explained to me what would be happening.


It would be HER choice to select two other children from her class, to accompany her to the Reading Pod, where they would sit and work with first and second graders for 30 minutes, three times per week. Tonight it began to sink in, the full breadth of her responsibility, and she began to get nervous.  


Fortunately, she has a little brother who is more than happily willing to help her prepare.