Wednesday, September 26, 2012

GRACE

When I was younger I did gymnastics from the age of 5 to 14.  I was frequently told I was graceful...graceful as I moved across the beam, danced across the mat.  I was not very strong on the vault or tumbling across the floor, but my long arms, pointed toes, and fluid movements afforded one perk in a power house sport.  

Please fast forward 15+ years and let's call my new powerhouse sport MOTHERHOOD.  At which I'm learning I'm NOT very graceful.
Exhibit A
That moment when your speedy 2 1/2 year olds make a bee line for the automatic doors leading to the parking lot as you chase after them like a a bat out of hell across the lobby with their empty stroller.  Upon gathering your children, taking a deep breath, and talking to them as nice as possible (hello, we're in public) you stand up straight to see every sweet old lady volunteer looking right at you.

Exhibit B
That moment you're watching morning cartoons with the kids and waiting for the coffee maker to finish dripping, only to enter the kitchen and see the coffee mug sitting by the sink.  Which is across the room from the coffee maker.  Which has just dripped your cup of joe all over the counter.  So you make a new cup.  And then have to be out the door two sips later.  So you re-heat the coffee after lunchtime.  But 20 seconds in the microwave was a bit too much so you spit it out (yes, on the floor) and now your lips and tongue are scorched and tingly.  For the love of coffee...

Exhibit C (from a friend)

That moment you're trying to shop in Whole Foods while your sons rage through the store with their own pint sized shopping carts and hit everyone and everything in sight, including the grapes that come crashing to the ground, which the boys proceed to devour. 

Exhibit D
That moment you wake with a jolt from what should be a pleasant afternoon snooze while your children nap only to realize it's your night to host supper club and your to-do list was supposed to be crossed off item by item while your children slept.  Ooops.

Exhibit E
That moment in the grocery store when your children think it's fun to play airplane as you walk down the cereal aisle.  And every box you pass comes crashing down.

Exhibit F (from a friend)
That moment when you have to bring your youngest to your dentist appointment and to keep her quiet you give her a lollipop while you have your teeth cleaned.

Exhibit G

That moment when we're waiting in line to ride the choo choo train at our local museum and as you hold one son while grabbing the shirt collar of the other you realize everyone around you can now describe the color, size, and pattern on your bra of the day.  Toddler hands and stretchy v-neck shirts don't work well together.

Exhibit H 
That moment at nap time when you're desperate for your kids to go to SLEEP and you just heard yourself say, "If you go to sleep right away you can bounce on the couch and jump on the cushions this afternoon."  Seriously?

Exhibit I
The moment you run into your OB/GYN at Target and she mentions the voice mail you recently left her about a concern/question.  At least she says I'm normal.  And as I proceed to chat with this one woman in the world who knows EVERYTHING about me inside and out, our children start playing catch with the Advil containers on the shelves.  She has twins too along with an older son.  Five boys "going long" to catch the flying medicine in the air.  Time to move on.

Exhibit J
The moment you wonder where those two dirty diapers could be as you start a load of laundry, only to realize once you're back upstairs that they were carried down in the clothes hamper.  The clothes hamper that contained the clothes that are now in the wash.  Emptying a full washer of water, soap, and wet clothes to retrieve two dirty diapers can get a little messy.  To say the least.  BUT at least I caught my mistake before the spin cycle started.  Oh the horror that could've been.

I had a dear childhood friend whose brother would say, "Yes Grace," every time he'd see us trip, fall, stutter, or drop something and he knew we needed a little help.  Here it is over 15 years later and I can still hear his sarcastic tone as I stumble through my days.  As gracefully as possible, of course.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Little Help From My Friend

image from babyeckhardt.blogspot.com
What better cheerleader to have in your corner than an identical twin brother.  A forever soul mate, play mate, confidant, get-in-trouble mate, buddy.

Don't let the boys fool you - they switch roles all the time.  For a while Gavin will be the bull in the china shop, while Garrett is Mr. Thinker.  Gavin will be more clingy and need more hugs at bedtime and then Garrett will assume the role for a while.  These days Garrett's taken on something similar to 'Ramona the Pest' and often hauls off and hits Gavin, for reasons both prompted and unprompted.  He likes to stick his hands in his brother's face and play footsie in the stroller when Gavin's made it clear that he's not in the mood.  Sometimes it's Gavin that will run full speed ahead and try something new, but Garrett is no shy guy either.  He's a climber and a jumper, and these days he likes all things high and fast.  Hence both boys' fascination with rocket ships?  I digress.  Gavin can be just as brave and strong, but sometimes he needs a little coaxing, encouragement, or someone to lead by example.  And Garrett too, sometimes just needs a little extra
prompting, or fire under his tush.

***

A little peer pressure or friendly competition can be a good thing.  Case in point at dinnertime.   Wrapping up a meal will often sound like this...

"Garrett, since you're not eating your kiwi can Gavin have it?"

"No."

"Well buddy, you're not eating it and we don't want to waste it.  It would be nice to share with your brother."

"No."

"Ok, well Gavin is going to get his treat since all of his dinner is gone.  Finish up your fruit."

"No."

"Alrighty, I'll clean up your plate then, but no treat (no, I'm not above a little bribery.  I call it 'positive coercion.')  If Gavin eats his treat and still wants more, I'll just save your kiwi for him."

And just like that Garrett will finally vaporize his remaining kiwi.  Because God forbid Gavin get to have it. 

I'll admit, though, that the peer pressure of one boy saying to another in the early morning or at the end of nap time, "Brother, waaaaaaake up!  Brother, up!" is not so helpful.  

Ok, so you win some and you lose some.

***
But having your other half lead by [positive] example is a good thing too.  And the cheering for each other that follows is even better.  Yesterday at the playground Gavin was a little too scared to go down the high, swirly slide at first.  Garrett was already at his second or third turn (no help from Mama needed from him), when I said, "Garrett, Gavin seems a little nervous.  Can you show him how fun this slide is?"  So as Gavin peered from the hole in the tunnel, Garrett went down again.  "Yaaaaaay!" erupted from both boys and in an instant Gavin had the courage to take his try at the slide too.  "My turn," he said as he scrambled up the ladder.  And that's all it took...a little courage from 'big brother' to realize he could do it too.  The rest of their time was spent scrambling up even higher ladders and whizzing down faster slides.

***
So even though they fight, scream, and pin each other down with WWF-like moves, having a little nudge/help/encouragement from best friend, best brother really does seem to trump all.

Wild things.




Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Back to School...in our own little way

As September approached we were not practicing getting up early; we were not trying on new shoes; we were not setting out new outfits for the week; we were not labeling backpacks; we were not brainstorming new ideas for school lunches; we were not yet nervous about spending our days apart with new teachers and new friends.  That will all be saved for next year when the boys start preschool.  And again in a few years when, gulp, they ride the bus to kindergarten.  

Instead we took off for the beach for a few days.  A last ditch effort for this summer's final road trip.  
Love this memory...racing from the dunes to the waves.  Just us 3.
And this morning, back at home in one piece after a fun filled holiday weekend with family and friends, our day didn't look much different for us either, despite the buzz all over Facebook with first day of school pictures...melt my heart.  No.  No, today we woke up happy around 7:10am.  I may or may not have heard the school bus roll by.  We missed the annual parade of new Kindergarteners down the street, which was fine by me because it just makes me cry.  And it makes me miss the chaos and chatter that used to take place in my own classroom each year on this day.  As we got ready for the day the boys chattered about the new light post their dad put in this weekend.  While we played in the sand over the last five days, Joe worked uber hard on various projects around the house and on his truck.  We watched our usual shows, ate a good breakfast, hit the gym to play and sweat, visited the car wash and post office, and enjoyed a pizza lunch date at Superstars.  And this afternoon we'll see Oma and Opa and our routine will remain unchanged for another sweet year.  When I feel 'bored' or 'antsy' I remind myself how fast this time flies even though the days sometimes feel long.  And even if the days feel long, it's during this precious time that my children are all mine for just a blink of an eye in their whole life.  Yep, school will wait.  For all of us.  
Yes, we brought our own stools to the car wash for just this purpose:)

But we are busy, busy these days practicing letters everywhere we see them; singing songs; counting to 30; figuring out which shoe goes on which foot; drawing space ships; chasing butterflies; inspecting bugs; digging and dumping sand; taking turns; shooting hoops; practicing sentences; learning 'please' and 'thank you;' making choices; hitting golf balls and baseballs; requesting favorite books and shows; enjoying the occasional dance party; and having running races in the alley or pretending to be dogs, cats, birds, lions, and frogs in the front yard. 

With so much learning going on how could I not seize the opportunity to set up some activities to have on hand?  Enter bins, baskets, tubs, labels, and supplies.

Had I not become a stay at home mom today would mark my 10th year returning to the classroom.  Alas, plans changed a few years ago and today instead marks the 3rd year I'm NOT at the first day of school.  But since I raided my teacher supplies pile in my parents' basement last week and spent one full nap time a few days ago totally 'schooling out' the boys' playroom, I've reached the conclusion that once a teacher, always a teacher.

 
  
No, we're not having home school preschool everyday, but to change things up a little I thought I'd have supplies ready for something new every now and again.  It may last 20 seconds, it may last 20 minutes.  Things might stay neat, things might will get messy.  But with some items on hand to thread, squish, smear, color, blow, connect, squeeze, stick, clip, roll, stamp, fold, spray, and paint, I thought surely we'd keep things fun.

Exhibit A: threading Fruit Loops onto pipe cleaners was a success!
 
 
 
There's something ingrained in me that still loves a new box crayons; an organized book corner; bright posters making a classroom colorful and welcoming; creating labels for supplies and tabs for notebooks; not-yet-crumbled chalk on a clean blackboard; neatly organized charts and checklists; fresh notebooks and plan books; shiny stickers; and a renewed spirit to inspire young minds.  And dare I admit that even though I don't like to eat the cafeteria food, without it, school just wouldn't smell the same.  The beginning of the school year means a few new clothes, lots of new supplies, shifts if routines; changes in schedules, and resolutions to be more organized, procrastinate less, and study harder.  And yes I'll admit that while I was up way too late last night doing one thing or another, organizing my calendar somehow just happened.  Nerd forever.  So no matter how your school year got started, ambitious or just aiming to survive, I hope it's a good one.



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