Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Tornadoes by Ben, age 7 3/4

"I'm going to line up all my favorite stuffed animals to keep them safe from the tornadoes"

-Ben, age almost 8

When Ben told me this last night I swooned at his sweetness.  He had been very scared about the impending bad weather at school yesterday.  While we were doing homework, we talked about how they recently practiced for severe weather. I reminded him that if he was at school that he needed to listen to his teacher and follow her directions if they needed to take cover. I told him that the teachers and Principal knew the safest places to be in the school.  We talked about how school buildings are made of strong materials and while it was ok and totally understandable to be scared, that I felt he would be safe at school.  We talked about where we would go in our own house if we were at home and we needed to take cover. His one question?, "how many of my animals can I take with me? I'll leave some behind to take care of the other toys?"

It was the 4 year old that was crying around 4:45 this morning as a round of heavy storms and lighting moved into the area.  I also assured him as I laid with him that he would be ok and was safe.  Luckily he fell back asleep and I got up to get ready for work knowing that the drive in would likely need an ark.

Good thoughts to those already impacted by this large storm and those in it's way.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Weekend Part 2- Dad

Bill and Ben left Friday afternoon for Y Guides spring outing at Camp Seagull on the NC coast.  This is the end of the second year they have participated in Y Guides. The program is similar to the Boy Scout program in organization and focuses on relationships and service..  One of the great things about joining the soccer team is that one of the Y Guide families also plays.  This weekend the soccer coach has planned a kids vs. parents scrimmage with a pizza dinner afterwards.  It has been nice getting to meet some other families through Ben's activities.

Bill texted me that they had gorgeous weather all weekend, perfect to enjoy a Wild West themed event. Ben's group has a pirate theme and this year their group task was to build individual totem poles.  Seen here is the tribe called "Skull and Crossbones" with their poles.  Ben's sported red eyes made of Christmas lights.

Between working on patches, they engaged in some favorite activities including Bb shooting, ziplining, fishing, scavenger hunt, and lassoing. Last year at the final night event, many of the kids were scared by the tall tales that was part of a big bonfire.  This year, all the dads opted to heard back, build a big fire and roasted marshmallows.  Bill whipped out his portable speaker and kid playlist for an impromptu dance party (the kids, not Bill.)

When they returned Sunday afternoon announcing that they had not showered since Friday and everything they owned smelling of a campfire.  Both Bill and Ben gave me a blow by blow of what they had done with the rifle range as his favorite.

I have been impressed with Y Guides programming.  I'm even more impressed in how Bill has really liked the friendship with the other dads.  Did Ben need an invitation to run wild with other 2nd grade boys?  Nope.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Weekend Part 1- Mom

Bill left Friday after school with Ben for a two night camp out with Y Guides for their annual Spring Outing.  I worked late Friday, only to drive into torrential rain for the commute home and to pick up Ian.  Saturday I was at NC State for a chunk of the day grading Master degree portfolios for NC teacher licensure.  Before you say, how can I spend a large part of my Saturday in such a fun way, money was involved.

Saturday afternoon Ian and I took the dog for a long walk, checked out the geese nests near the lake, fed the ducks and then went to get ice cream.  Seriously, this kid is all you need to hock ice cream.  He wanted some creation that only a 4 year old would want that was bright blue and red and proceeded to tell everyone within earshot that he had the best ice cream, better than theirs, not understanding that no sane adult would ever eat something that color.

We snuggled on the couch watching tv before taking a "special bath" aka, one in the whirpool tub.  I stayed up waaay to late attempting to get the copy paper box of grading down to a reasonable amount to bring back tomorrow while getting caught up on the last season of Mad Men.

Sunday we did early church, super double coupons at the grocery, and then headed over to Chapel Hill to Touch a Truck.  This is the 4th year we have gone and the first without Ben.  It was again a child paradise of loud horns and flashing lights.  But, this year there was a new entry.  A totally sleazy guy who was hitting on all the ladies, including those with their spouses in front of his personal Maserati.

As we walked over to the car I noticed he had something in the front seat.   In the annals of "let's not understand what we signed up to participate in doing involving children", this guy had a mannequin in the front passenger side, holding a glass of wine with a lingerie bag in her lap.  It beyond weirdly inappropriate for a kids event, or even ANY event involving car safety.  While we were standing nearby in line I saw one of the organizers walk over and the guy quickly high tailed it out of there with the mannequin still in the front seat.  I had hoped for a picture, but sadly no by the time he had driven off into the sunset.

I give you this picture of sheer joy instead.

*I love this hat embroidered with zoo animals, once a favorite of Ben, now living a second life with Ian.

After three hours in the sun, Ian was beat and slept all the way home.  Bill and Ben arrived shortly after and reported a really fun weekend on the coast camping and doing all boy stuff including not bathing for three days.  More tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cover Boy

Ben and I were going through the Town of Cary Summer bulletin of art classes and camps to select some items over the weekend.  My summer schedule/trips are almost completely booked as is childcare, but we had a couple of holes now to be filled.  Namely trying out the Cary SK8 park for a week of BMX biking when they offer an open house in May to try a lesson for free.

How did we miss this picture the FIRST time we went through the bulletin back in February?

From "design your own wacky putt putt course art class" last summer, front and center.  From what I remember Ben "offered" to take home the communal putt putt course they all built, taking up so much room in my car we had to roll all the windows down to make it fit.  The course somehow "disappeared" just before we left for Florida as it was falling apart.  We did keep the golf club that is typically used as an instrument of death as part of our weapons collection.

Speaking of cover stories, one of my students in AP Gov't is the president of one of our service clubs at school.  He approached our History department last month to invite us to participate in a lunchtime speaker that served as a special prosecutor during the Watergate investigation.  He is now a local attorney, but helped uncover Nixon's illegal White House Office taping system back in the 1970s. Yesterday he came to speak and afterwards our department (ahem...organized by good ol' Southern me,) hosted him for lunch.  I was in all kinds of history nerd heaven listening to his work on the famous investigation.

It just happens that Woodward and Bernstein of "All the President's Men" fame are speaking next month as part of the 40th anniversary of the Nixon resignation.  Yes, in case you had a bet going,
I bought tickets with another history minded friend who just about wet herself when I told her they were going to be in town.

Ben may have the market covered as a smiling advertisements for local summer camps. But, I got to hold a copy of the Washington Post, dated August 9th, 1974 announcing historic news.

It was AWESOME in the highest levels of dorkery.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Give me a nice shirt picture, I'll give you Madden

A few weeks ago we were driving into our neighborhood on the way home from the beach. Around the entrance to the neighborhood is a lake surrounded by cherry trees in full bloom.  Ben remarked, "those are pretty enough to take a picture."

Light bulb idea given that taking pictures after riding in the car for several hours sounded like a monumentally bad idea.

"If you put on a nice shirt, aka.. nothing with a superhero on it and let me take 10  minutes of pictures by those trees I'll let you play Madden for 20 minutes."  The reality was I was going to let them play video games anyway while I unloaded the car.  To get agreeable pictures at the magic hour with nice lighting was the icing on the cake.

We settled on a tree in full bloom with some low branches to climb on and snapped away.  Granted these are no where near professional quality, but I think they turned out nice.

A few individual shots

I posted this first one of Ian last week on FB and someone messaged me who I had used for pictures.
My reply... ME!

And a couple together

This final shot was my favorite and the way I hope to remember them at ages 4 and almost 8.  Just before I took this picture we were all making farting noises and laughing hysterically in hopes I could catch them in a natural smile.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

*Pants optional

Yesterday Ian had his 4 year check up at the pediatrician. The crazy thing was I had to get the robocall reminding me to schedule since we had not darkened the door since flu season for any reason.  Knock on wood that after two rounds of stitches, 2013 was uneventful for Ian.

Since I waited so late to schedule, our usual ped was not available so we met with a different practitioner. Knowing that we were going to do kindergarten shots, I prepared by making sure we had watched "Daniel Gets a Shot" to prep including wearing our superhero cape to make us brave.  We curled up with our Daniel Tiger figure and when they get to the song, "when you are scared, think about something that makes you smile,"  talked about what makes us smile. The song refrain talks about puppies, riding on a sled, jumping in leaves.

What is Ian's comment?

"It makes me happy thinking about hitting Ben in the stomach and making him fall down"

"WHHAT?  Do you want to rethink that answer. "Nope."

We tried coming up with some alternates, but he stuck to his story and told the doctor when it was time for the shots.

I wasn't too surprised at his nonchalant look, given that the doctor had already seen us in the hall going to the bathroom AFTER Ian had gotten undressed. I was temped to put his clothes back on, but come on, the bathroom was like one door down.  He did put on the cape over his underwear, so we got a pass.

Really and truly, only when you are 4 can you get away with wearing a cape and underwear as clothing.

Ian was right on target with stats as follows:

Weight:  37 lbs
Height:  40 inches

As the doctor said on more than one occasion, he's all boy including the desire to go without pants.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Happy 4th Birthday Ian!

My sweet Ian, today you are four.  During your last year around the sun you have come into your own personality.  You are stubborn, defiant, and all too willing to throw a fit of epic proportion.  Ten minutes later you are full of love and kisses.  In the past year you have continued to show a love for all things that roll, whether that be cars or trucks, balls, even yourself down a grassy hill.  You would rather be outside for any and all reasons.

When someone looks at you and gasps at whatever daredevil thing you are doing, I usually tell the eight stitches in a week story of last Mother's Day.  I also usually nod towards your brother nearby and say, "two boys are a good weight loss plan."

Yesterday under a beautiful, Carolina blue sky we celebrated with your school friends and our neighbors who are becoming a second family given how much time we spend with them playing outside.  Watching you walking hand in hand with your friends, giving each a good bye hug was sweetness only seen for a few short years of boyhood.

I wanted you to pick Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood as a party theme, knowing that you have watched all episodes of this second generation fare Mr. Roger's Neighborhood.  I have personally watched, "Daniel Gets a Shot" about a million times with you.  I hope for more years to snuggle with you with growing arms and legs all around.

You settled on Jake and the Neverland Pirates theme. We celebrated at a family favorite, Durham Science and Life Museum.  We rented out an afternoon train ride for your friends' squealing delight as we looped through the tunnel.  Once again, our friend Eileen delivered some yummy cupcakes that we enjoyed along with a pizza and fruit lunch.  What a fun day as we hit the pinata, played preschool games, and talked about which animal pooped the most as we toured the barn.

This past year we took trips to Disney, Atlanta and Florida to see grandmommy Pam, several trips to see Uncle Brian, and many Camp Mommy field trips.  A new favorite was the NC Museum of Transportation where we spent a crazy hot, August day climbing all over things that move.


This year has not been without many exasperated days.  For all the ways Ben seemed to be much calmer, more centered and the voice of reason in the past year, you have taken his place in the land of crazy and loud.  Many days in your attempt to do everything that Ben does, the reality that you are still four years younger is evident.  Your now infamous sobbing at Uncle Jamie's wedding in November when you lost the quarter you suppose to be standing on is now forgotten all but for the pictures of that day.

Last year at your birthday letter I wrote, "at our much anticipated IVF transfer I promised I would see you again in nine months. I had hopes you would complete our family.  I wished that you would grow into a loving, sweet child.  Ever day you prove that that dream reality." Another year later and I feel the same.  I will always see your birthday as an answered prayer.  Ian, you are a gift of love and light.

My beautiful, blue-eyed boy with burgeoning freckles like your brother, I wish for so many things for you in the coming year.  Most of all I hope your laugh and sweet, often mischievous, smile will carry you through life knowing that you are loved.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

No foolin', the joke is up

What to do with myself during the multiple snow days at home with the kids listening to Air Bud in the other room?

How about this?  Researched my master list of national teacher seminars and set up a summer 2014 spreadsheet of applications.

At the last minute I changed some options including trading out the 9/11 for one on the history of Financial Crisis and instead of the Chicago architecture tour, one on Duke Ellington and the Jazz age at NYU.

So what do these two things have in common?

That's right people, I got into my first choice for both Gilder Lehrman and the National Endowment for the Humanities.  I talked to Bill once he was home from Atlanta about the odds of going to both and he agreed that if I worked out all the details for full time child care that I had a green light to plan flights and accept both spots.

First be flying to Spokane, WA where I will be spending a week on the western states Atomic Program that was first part of the Manhattan Project and later helped build up the US nuclear arsenal at the height of the Cold War. We will be spending part of the week at the Hanford Nuclear Power site of plutonium processing for the Nagasaki bomb.

So WHY would anyone want to study a now defunct and National historical site with a focus on the environmental fallout of our military industrial complex on nearby Columbia river?  I'm not expecting some Silkwood type nuclear accident, but I do think I'll be drinking bottled water while we are on property.

For the the second trip I will fly on from a weekend sorority reunion in Vegas to Los Angeles to spend a week studying the Age of Reagan. Again, WHAAAT? Are you asking for some slap down from those that believe that Ronnie is akin to God?  Nope.  I love, love, love teaching the Election of 1980.  It has everything this political junkie dreams of:   Domestic vs Foreign issues, prospective vs retrospective voting, slapdown for the incumbency argument, the rise the modern Conservative movement, and gridlock a plenty. I'll stop before I bore you even more!  I was screaming and jumping up and down on a Friday afternoon of recent hearing I had won the dorkery jackpot. So much for that whole, "I'm giving up cursing for Lent."

I've tried to get into the Reagan conference for the last two years as with most Gilder Lehrman conferences they run for 3-5 years and then are retired.  This is the same amazing conference host I attend in 2009 at Harvard on the Evolution of the Women's Rights Movement.  Happily, I won't have to fly carrying $3,000 of injectable drugs for my IVF cycle.  Instead, I'll be eatin' jellybeans and engaging in what I hope will be a week of incredible resources and personal interest.

I'm super excited to be picked for both national conferences.  I'm a little sad that I didn't even get to applying for a special Library of Congress session for teachers on the 1964 Voting Rights Act or a week on Ellis Island at the Smithsonian.  But, come on... I'm going to be talking Mutual Assured Destruction and why the Morning in America Reagan 1984 re-election campaign ads even bring a tear to this liberal eye.