Sunday, October 31, 2010

Whoot! Whoot! For Grandparents Who Totally Rock

Trip to Denver for three nights, Halloween party last weekend, Halloween party last night ... this month has been a busy one -- for the Grandparents.

Last night's Halloween party. Paul and I were a Cowboy and an American Indian

Well, no ... my in-laws aren't party animals, but they do definitely ROCK! Paul and I got to have five overnight "adult" nights in one month without our kids. Being away so much is such a rare opportunity for us. I definitely know that we are so fortunate to live in the same city as Paul's parents AND that they love being such an active part in our kids' lives.

Our friends tell us all the time how lucky we are to have the Grandparents around for babysitting, but especially for our kids to get to grow up with them in their lives. So, "Thank You!" to my kid's Grandparents for telling us it is a gift for you to have our kids (when I know it's a gift for us). You totally ROCK!

Our 2009 Family Vacation

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Xavier's Knock Knock Joke

My 2nd grader, Xavier, made up a Knock, Knock joke ...

Xavier: "Knock, Knock."

Me: "Who's there?"

Xavier: "Peach."

Me: "Peach who?"

Xavier: "Aren't you glad I didn't say Banana?"

After I stopped chuckling, I asked Xavier, "Why are you so cute?" With a big smile on his face, he answered, "Because you understand me, Mom."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Parenting Lessons -- That's My Job, No One Else's

My previous post, Parenting Lessons From My Parents... was very much a rant. I re-read it and know that it spurs from the frustration I'm finding with trying to open up the lines of communication with my oldest son who is in the 6th grade.

Two weeks ago, I found out that he is "going out" with someone. Now, I know that usually relationships between kids at his age entail sitting together at lunch and just the title that "We're boyfriend/girlfriend". However, I also know that some kids are maturing faster than was my experience, so I won't be naive and think that he's too young for "The Talk".

So, I asked Paul one day to take Zach to his soccer game. It was a 45 minute drive one way, so I knew there would be plenty of time for quality father/son talk. His task was to strike up conversation and hope that Zach would feel comfortable enough to share some details about his new girl pal or ask questions about girls in general. That evening, I was disappointed to find out that Paul got no information. In fact, Paul came away with the opinion that Zach wasn't ready for "The Talk" yet. Paul said, "Zach's a good kid. He'll make his own choices, and he'll make mistakes. But, he's a good kid. He'll figure it out".

When he said this, I felt a sense of helplessness that I am still grasping to get ahead of. It took a few days to realize it, but I feel like what Paul said is a version of my parent's parenting lesson. And thus, Friday's post.

I haven't completely figured out what the next steps will be. But, we're working on it. What I do know, is that I'm not leaving it up to luck, Zach "figuring it out", or divine intervention. We're the parents. It's our job to provide the lessons.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Parenting Lessons From My Parents: #1 Leave It Up to God

My parents left a lot of their parenting responsibilities to God. They never told me about the birds and the bees. I didn't know about menstruation until after I noticed blood in my pants and it was explained to me that I wasn't dying. (Even then, it was just a pad tossed my way and the advice to "Put it in your pants.") I didn't know anything about smoking, drinking, or drugs -- other than that I was told not to do them. Sex was never a subject, it was a taboo. I was simply told, "If you do __________ (fill in the blank), then you'll go to Hell."

Now that sounds like a useful parenting tool. Instead of telling my kids about the reasons for avoiding drugs and alcohol, waiting to date until they're older, and giving them information to help them build their set of values so that they can make their own choices (and sometimes mistakes), I can just tell them what to think and what they should not do or else their souls be lost to eternal damnation.

Well, if I believed in Hell, I'd say that that parenting lesson could go there.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Letter to Amy — Reasons Why Jamie Should Be One of Lucas’ Godparents

[In early September, my girlfriend, Krista, and I went to visit our girlfriend, Amy, who moved to the Boston area in the beginning of this year. Amy gave birth to a beautiful baby boy in August whom she named Lucas. Krista and I stayed with Amy for a week and helped her unpack and organize the layers of boxes and gifts she never had the time or energy to get to. We had so much fun getting to know Lucas -- this involved a lot of cheek, leg, and belly eating, as well as long strings of kissing frenzies. During the week, our girlfriend, Cath (who lives in Pennsylvania), came for a day. Also, Amy's sister, Beth, hung out with us. And, we got to visit with Amy's big and fun Irish family.

This letter that follows, has a long story behind it, but the gist is that an unsaid tradition for Amy's Irish family is that her son's Godparents would be an immediate family member. Well, I hold firm that I do fit the description (even though my cinnamon skin and long, straight, black hair say otherwise). I do know that Beth and Amy are the best of friends and the closest of sisters -- I don't doubt that Beth is the most likely choice for Godmother. I am therefore starting a campaign to stake my claim to the office of Godfather... I also want to add that Amy's son has my feet. It's not by coincidence, I say!]

Dear Amy,

So, we were laughing and joking around when the subject of Godparents came up. The conversation ended, of course, with saying the traditional choice would be that someone from your immediate family would take those roles. However, with just a bit more thought (not that much though because it’s pretty much just like “Duh”), I’ve decided that it is a great idea, as well as an obvious choice in my opinion, that I should take one of the parts.

In my campaign for helping you to make this important decision, I think it’s a good time to start presenting to you a recurring list of reasons why you should choose me to be one of Lucas’ godparents. Here are my first two reasons…

(In no particular order)

#1) I’m so pretty.

OK, this one is in the correct order, but I just mean the rest after this one may not be. Of course, being pretty is an easy reason for so many of the situations we both find ourselves in so, even though we could, we shouldn’t pull it out as a reason for everything. In the case of being Lucas’ godparent, it is a valid and an important reason. When all of Lucas’ friends are hot for momma at the pick-up circle, what better way to elevate his social standing than not only having a hot mom, but also having hot “aunties” — oh, and by the way, (pointing at me) SHE’S my godparent. See? You should never downplay the importance and responsibility that sometimes arises as a result of looking this good.

Pretty ... and classy.

#2) Lucas would be an easy addition to our family.

One kid is one kid. Two kids are playmates. Three kids are crazy. I know that your brother and his wife have me matched on this one, but truly that’s my only concession on this point. With three kids or more, it pretty much doesn’t matter how many more kids you add, someone’s going to need therapy. I can promise that if I had to step up as godparent and add Lucas to our family, that I would ignore him just as equally as I do each of my other three kids.

OK, so these are really great points. And, they are only the first two of many reasons. They should no doubt help you come to the same conclusion as I have… that you should choose me to be one of Lucas’ Godparents.

Love you!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fat, Old Lady Legs That Didn’t Used to Do That

“Mommy, when you sit down on that chair your leg REALLY goes out on the sides!”  Those words spilled effortlessly from the smiling lips of my angelicly innocent 8-year old son, Xavier.  My state of blissful pride came to a screeching halt.  So rewind back to when these words were spoken…

One day, I was sitting on one of our hardwood calaman chairs in our living room, proudly listening to my 8-year old aptly play his entire repertoire of songs.  It’s simply amazing to me how easily he has picked up learning how to play the piano, and I’m sure that I shoot out bright, sharp rays of light coming out of my every pore each time he plays.

When he finished, he turned around with his huge smile, just waiting to soak in my praise.  I’m positive I said something about how brilliant he was or how he was likely going to be asked to play a solo during the San Francisco Symphony.  I can’t believe he wouldn’t have been blinded by my bright beams of motherly gloating, but no he wasn’t blinded.  He could see perfectly well as he pointed to my leg and stated, “Mommy, when you sit down on that chair your leg REALLY goes out on the sides!”

I know my face showed shock and disbelief because the sweet, loving child that he is, Xavier saw my face and his reaction was to fix things.  His remedy:  “No, no, no Mommy!  I just meant that your leg goes out a lot NOW, it didn’t used to do that!”

Times like that you need to close your eyes and chant, "I love my kids. I love my kids. I love my kids."  I must really love my kids — and they’re lucky for that … because otherwise I would guiltlessly have kicked them to the curb so long ago using my fat, old lady legs.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Redo of Middle School at 29 (plus or minus ten years)

For many years, I’ve done well to block out anything that could possibly have scarred me for life during my pre-teen years. Every morning in Middle School, I’d go to my friend Lourdes’ house and we’d watch videos on MTV. We’d carpool to school and swoon over our favorite Duran Duran band member. I recall the fun times with my girlfriends at recess playing high jump and giggling about which boy of the day we had a crush on. I had a favorite teacher, Mr. Buettner, who told me I was smart and always gave me A’s. I don’t even remember what subject he taught, but I’m sure I was good at it.

I was a total Duran-ie!

So flash forward a few years, ahem!, to 2010. In May, at my oldest son Zach’s 5th grade graduation (and even before that day), he and his friends were so excited about finishing elementary school and beginning what they were so sure was the start of growing up. As the driver for the afternoon carpool, I’d listen in as the kids romanticized the transition to the bigger school and the things they would get to do because they were “growing up”. To them, Middle School meant having a cell phone (Ba! To me it meant hearing Zach’s uncanny lawyer-esque abilities to layout and backup the argument for needing one), getting to walk to Rock ‘n Frog Yogurt after school with friends, going to dances (or talking insistently about how the dances would be boring and then some needling about how so-and-so likes so-and-so), and getting to just “hang out” when and where they wanted (in their dreams!).

School has now been in session for six weeks. It took Zach less than one of those weeks to figure out that it’s not what he’d envisioned. Middle School was such an exciting change for him in his eyes and I see that all the great things about it are getting quashed by the demands of an increased workload, sports, and a desire for an active social life.

So, what can I do, if anything, to help him through it? If I force myself to think harder about my own Middle School experience, I do remember some of the bad things — getting my $0.25 bus fare stolen by a bully, reading the response in a letter to my request for a date to the dance “No”, having the nickname “Teamer” because I was so bad at high jump that I played on both teams (Oh, the injustice!). There were a lot of road bumps I hit, yet somehow I emerged just fine even if just a bit nicked and dented.

I know I’ll have a lot of posts about the struggles we’re already having as our sweet and dashing young man goes through his pre-teen years and beyond. I feel as if I’m redoing Middle School, even though I finished it so long ago. I hope I’m able to keep the lines of communication with my own child, that I know I myself closed off with my parents when I began my pre-teen years. I’d like to do whatever I can to help my son through his time right now. Like me, I’d hope he would mostly remember the good things … and I’d like to add that I also know I couldn’t possibly have been THAT bad at high jump.