Sunday, October 31, 2010

October: You Never Over-stay Your Welcome

We packed a whole lotta fun into this final weekend of my favorite month of the year. T. Bone kicked it off with a pumpkin carving party at a friend's. He actually took time off from ghost in the graveyard and football to carve his favorite team's logo in a big, fat pumpkin.
This crew assembled for a bonfire on a chilly fall night. Marshmallows were roasted, smores were made and these little ladies then washed the gooey goodness down with cups of hot cocoa...cups of hot cocoa with extra marshmallows, of course! Amazingly, no one was burned despite the fact that 13 six year olds were brandishing molten sticks. Camp songs and a few games of telephone and duck duck goose provided ample entertainment.
We headed out early Saturday to watch T. Bone's football game. He played great, he scored a touchdown, and his team won. They are undefeated. Hubby says that winning streak will likely end next weekend cuz' T. Bone won't be there. Next year he has his sights on tackle football. The coaches already have their eyes on him too. I have exactly one year to make a soccer player out of him!

After his victory, we headed to a local college campus where Miss Bit was cheering during half-time. It was Homecoming. We were in the student section. That was entertaining and interesting. I am a dinosaur. It was worth it to see Miss Bit cheer even if she only performed for like a minute and a half. There are 25 girls in her cheer clinic. Only 6 showed up. It was the highlight of my girl's weekend, and the very bestest part was when the "real" cheerleaders gave the girls their pom poms to use! The look on her face when the crowd cheered back at them was priceless. I thought it was so cute that when we replayed the video, her Daddy was her loudest fan in the stands.

Sunday came quickly...especially for T. Bone who stayed up until 2:30 a.m. with his buddy playing video games. That was only possible because after hours of yard work and a late dinner, the parents in charge fell asleep during a movie. It's a good thing too because that movie was Saw. Better to sleep than to see that. The boys managed to get in a couple more games before Sunday school. Hubby took the kids while I stayed behind to make a pot of soup for dinner and catch up on cleaning and laundry. Then we snuck away for a walk when they returned and left the kids at home to rest up for trick or treat. T. Bone headed out with friends to canvas the neighborhood only to return home hours later sans costume, which is a good thing because it sorta freaked out the cats. That's why there aren't any pictures of's not because I love her more. Miss Bit and I made the rounds just the two of us at her adamant request, and hubby stayed home to hand out candy and do more yard work (and maybe to watch a little football too). We spent the better part of three hours going from house to house to house hand in hand. She was super cute and sweet and gracious. She thanked everyone who complimented her beautiful, sparkly costume, and that was everyone. We were two hours in before it even occurred to her that she could eat some of the candy she was accumulating. Well, and then once she started, there was no stopping her. I guess she realized that I wasn't playing sweet police when I said, "I wondered how long it was going to take you to start eating your loot!" Next year she wants to be an angel. I love that! She was an angel for her first Halloween. Nanny bought that sweet costume, and now Nanny's an angel. I thought of my Mom all day long...all weekend. She always joined us for trick or treat in her light-up jack o' lantern hat and black and orange boa. I couldn't wear either one today...just couldn't do it. I want her, not her things.

When we came down from our sugar highs we all felt like this.

Until we meet again Old October...31 days just isn't long enough.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Last night's Monster Bash at school. The kids had so much fun swinging, singing and stompin' with Radio Disney.

There was high 5in' and fist pumpin' too!
Miss Bit's got the moves and the confidence to boogey down.

Must be those pink boots!

T. Bone did not don a costume...

but he did get his groove on for a bit.

Miss Bit using her alarm to wake up this week. On Tuesday, she crawled into bed with me and proudly said, "I hit the snore once and now I'm up."
A game of Scrabble with my hubby. He's lucky we couldn't finish because with words like toked and sex, I was on course to beat him badly.
Healthy, homemade chicken fingers this week.
A fox in our yard the other day. The kids are convinced that O.J. is back.
A little George Winston while I work.
Miss Bit's first love letter unless you count the ones from her mama and daddy. She crumpled it up and threw it away acting like it really bothered her, but I can tell she 's a little smitten herself. I retrieved it and put it in her memory box. I still have my first love letter.
Date night with my hubby mid-week. It was such a treat to catch a movie that wasn't Disney or Pixar. We both mostly enjoyed Hereafter.
Hubby, T. Bone and Miss Bit have a fun day planned today. I believe it involves a museum and lunch out. Wish I could join them, but it's good for them to have a little Dad time.
Tyler Perry. I saw him on Oprah. He's not only an amazing artist, but an awe-inspiring survivor too. He talked about how he carried things his abusers gave him that he didn't ask for or want for a long time. He blamed himself for the baggage, but not anymore.
Snuggling in at night...all 6 of us in the family room sharing afghans and a little t.v. time.

Magic Potions

My beautiful butterfly.

Time to volunteer at school this week. I love getting to know the kids and being there for mine.
Halloween treats delivered from sweet Aunt C, and my girl's reaction upon finding them: "Aunt C. is always so good and nice to us."

T. Bone ordered a carmel mocha during a visit to Starbucks with his Grandma the other day, and he didn't like it. I'm grateful he's over his coffee kick cuz' I don't want to share my Keurig with anoyone...not even my son.

The weather is supposed to be decent for trick ot treat this weekend.

Cirque Dream Holidaze is coming to one of our local theaters.

Miss Bit will be cheering at half-time for a local college football game tomorrow.

Fall festivities. T. Bone's going to a pumpkin carving party tonight and Miss Bit's invited to a bonfire.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Parade Pictures

My scarey corpse... My beautiful butterfly...

Mrs. Rogers as Big Bird...
Monster stew...

Happy Almost Halloween!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

No Child Is Left Behind?

I just dropped the kids off at school. It may be Wednesday, but it's their Friday and I'm almost as excited as they are that there's no school the next couple days. In fact, there is a school-wide costume parade scheduled for this afternoon which will be followed by classroom parties so today really only counts as a half day as it is. Mrs. Rogers (gotta love that name) asked me to come help get the first graders costumed up. I'm happy to lend a hand and be a part of the celebration.

I helped in Miss Bit's classroom on Monday too. I left work a little early because 19 eager, enthusiastic 6 and 7 year-olds were creating storybook pumpkins. This project included hot glue guns and push pins and, therefore, as many adults as possible. At the end of last week, only 2 parents had volunteered. I was surprised because from what I've gathered thus far, most of the kids have SAHMs, but I know that is a busy job too. First I worked with Miss Bit to create her spittin' image of Fancy Nancy, and then I went on to help with a Clifford, a Runaway Bunny, a Pinkalicious and a Jack and the Beanstalk. Most of the kids came with complete planning sheets, ample supplies that obviously required a shopping trip, and plenty of creative ideas. They were artists extraordinaire...I was worker bee. A few kids came with nothing and I thought to does this happen? We had 2 weeks of notices to prepare for this project, but the truth is that I know exactly how this happens.

I think we all know how and why just not what to do about it. It's been weighing heavily on my mind the past couple weeks.

Recently, Geoffrey Canada has been much in the media with the release of Waiting For Superman. He rallies against our broken public school system and I agree with a great deal of what he says. Canada points out that in any other miserably failing business, employees would work harder and longer to turn things around not take months off and come back to repeat the failing model year after year. It's true, but it's also true that our educational system is set-up to offer mediocre pay in exchange for good benefits (easy tenure resulting in ridiculous job security, Cadillac insurance plans, attractive and generously funded retirement plans, lots of time off). I wonder what the results would be if we treated teachers more like CEOs and schools more like businesses? How would performance reviews, incentives and bonuses change the educational landscape? What would be the effects of accountability? Canada places a great deal of blame on our teachers as I've also been prone to do. I must admit Monday's experience made me see things a little differently.

Mrs. Rogers did not punish the children who came without with words, or sighs or annoyed glances. No, instead she worked a little magic with the leftover felt, pipe cleaners and google eyes to help them create something they could feel proud of. Instead of scorn and shame, she gave them her undivided attention, and please note she was able to because there were 15 prepared kids and 3 other sets of hands to help them. She's lucky to have parental support in and out of the classroom. Let's be honest, who knows what Miss Bit would have come up with and come to school with or without if I hadn't worked with her along the way to come up with the fanciest Fancy Nancy. She's 6 and can barely read the instructions, let alone come up with and execute a vision. It's so easy and tempting to blame teachers who get burned out and disillusioned for giving up on our kids...for not doing enough. And what about the parents? Certainly struggles and all they share in some of the abundant culpability. Oh there's plenty to go around: unions, poverty, teen pregnancy, single parenthood, drugs, politics, classism, racism... Failure pointing fingers can be aimed in all directions the way I see it, and little good comes from that. Look just how far we haven't come.

Our children are the ones who suffer generation after generation. They didn't ask for any of this even as they find themselves caught up hopelessly in this vicious cycle. The way I see it the only way to begin to break it is monumental, uncomfortable even excruciatingly painful, far reaching change, yet there's so much opposition to this kind of upheaval on all fronts that it's daunting if not impossible. So we all keep doing what we're doing even though it's not working, and every once in awhile we throw our hands up in the air and ask 'why?' just for good measure.

Because really who answers rhetorical questions?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Little Truth on Tuesday

I'm not exactly sure what to make of this day. It's eerily windy and oddly warm. We can expect gusts up to 60 mph for the next 24 hours, and we are currently under a tornado watch. Temperatures will be dropping some time this morning. Right now the sun is peaking out of rather ominous, fast-moving cloud cover. I have the patio doors wide open. The whipping wind sounds so bitter and biting, but it's mild, moist and muggy. I cannot make up my mind... should I hole up at home? Do I venture out to explore?

I don't care much for indecision. I like a list, prefer a plan, find agendas agreeable. There's comfort in knowing what I am to do when, and where I am to be whether I like it or not. There just is. But along with all the 'to dos' I also schedule the 'to bes,' and there's always room for spontaneity. Let's face it...what's on today's list can easily be transferred to tomorrow's. Things are busy in the Casa Wags, but not chaotic because I don't believe in over scheduling. Not myself...not my kids. I think the very best feeling at the end of the day is knowing that I accomplished some things I needed to and some things I wanted to. Give and take...bend don't break. It's a valuable life lesson I'm continually relearning.

I really get sick and tired of hearing people complain about how busy they are. They boast about it like it's some coveted badge of honor...a sickening status symbol. I've done it myself and I know I'll do it again, but I also know that I'll hear what I'm saying and stop the insanity. My happiest memories growing up were simple and mostly shared at home: Sunday dinner at my Grandma's, games of Yahtzee around the kitchen table, racing my Big Wheel down the driveway, baking with my brother...the little things - albeit big littles in the grand scheme of this life.

I can tell that my kids already feel this too. They get it. It was a fantastically full weekend for every member of the family. Bit scored her first new school play date of the year (a post onto itself), went to the movies and had a sleepover with an old friend, and attended a Halloween party too. T. Bone had football, invited a new friend over for the afternoon, spent the night with old friends and went to a Halloween party (sans costume). Hubby and I had exercise, chores, couples' bowling, and family over for Sunday night football. The whole family had church. The thing is... both T. Bone and Miss Bit came home early from Sunday's Halloween party because they wanted to. They were done, and they needed some down time. OK...OK...she also needed pizza, and he needed to watch football with some serious fans, but the point is the same: they wanted to be home just being with family.

My friend, who happened to be one of my Mom's dearest friends, called me this weekend. She was making her Sunday night dinner staple: spaghetti and meatballs. That ritual got her to thinking about sharing family dinners at the end of the week when she was growing up. Those were warm memories from her childhood...leftover hugs, if you will. She called to tell me how proud my Mom would be that my brother and I are keeping up the tradition of Sunday night family dinner (although often it ends up being Saturday, but that's a moot point really). She took the time to reach out to me and remind me that my kids will have many heartfelt memories from these gatherings. It's true...I know it's true, but the truth is that I do it as much for myself as for my children.

Life is best when we slow down, share, savor, sip, say it and open our eyes to truly see...our hearts to truly be. In this, I truly believe.


It's there right before my eyes when my eyes are on them.

Monday, October 25, 2010

On My Mind Monday

The most important thing about a person is always the thing you don't know.
Barbara Kingsolver - Lacuna

Friday, October 22, 2010

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

First and foremost...15 incredible years with my hubby. Yesterday was our anniversary. Wow...we have known each other for over half of our lives now. I cannot imagine anyone I'd rather share my life with, and that is such a warm, fuzzy, fabulous feeling.

Dinner out alone last night to connect and chat even though it was quick. We are celebrating with a weekend away in a couple weeks.

Great conferences. T. Bone and Miss Bit are both making great progress academically and socially. Miss Bit's teacher said that she is never alone...she's made many friends. She's also going to talk to the class about kissing. Lil Bit confided to her Dad that her new boyfriend keeps asking her if she's ready to kiss yet.

My bil for coming to watch the kids so we could both attend their conferences and steal away for dinner. He's cheap (charging only the cost of take out), and the kids and cats look forward to seeing him. When we got home they were all snuggled on the couch watching The Bad News Bears and sipping shakes.

Tea tree oil hair products...they make my scalp tingle and my nose run.

Martha's pumpkin whoopee pies filled with butter cream frosting...perfect in the morning with a cup of coffee, and for that reason...I'm also thankful they are gone.

Miss Bit called from her sleepover last weekend because she was missing home, but she stuck it out and had a great time.

Pot roast in the slow cooker this week.

The enthusiasm Miss Bit has for her cheer class.

Walking through the Audubon yesterday holding hands with both my kids at their request.

After school movie dates.
Helping hands.
T. Bone's waterclolor still life.
Miss Bit's "fancy" storybook pumpkin.

Silly bands.
Too cute to eat Halloween treats.
Too yummy not to eat pumpkin seeds.
Last Sunday was shorts weather, and despite the fact that it was 70 degrees out my girl still donned her fuzzy, suede, favorite boots.
Carving pumpkins with Miss Bit. She was able to create her own jack o' lantern with just a little help from me.

Tigger did not carve his own pumpkin, but he was rather curious about what we were doing.
Photographic proof that Peanut is responsible for destroying my pussy willows.
Room for two...even if just barely.
It's Friday!