Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Oh, Ange...

Since the time she was a baby, Angelina has been my "spirited" child. She marches to the beat of her own drummer. She looks for a different way to do the most common of things. About two years ago, when I pointed out to her that the lines on the coloring page were meant to be colored in, not over, she looked at me and said "oh, Mommy - everyone colors in the lines. I'm going to do it different." And she does different so well.

We went to brunch on Sunday to celebrate my birthday with my parents. It's our little post-recital tradition. This year, we went to Lib's Grill - which is rapidly becoming a favorite stop for Sunday brunch. I ordered pancakes and eggs for the baby first thing and asked for a take out container to serve him from, since we were seated at a hightop table and the highchairs wouldn't reach. Our server brought us two - but they weren't the standard foam takeout containers. They were fancy brown, coated cardstock containers - Chinese takeout style (without the handle). I used one for Nick - and the other sat, ignored, at the end of the table.

Ignored, until Angelina was done eating. Within minutes of her finishing her meal, Ange had discovered the second container, waiting for her at the end of the table. Seconds later, Angelina had a new hat.

Now - back in our college/post-college days, Rich and I would have made a similar hat out of a discarded box from a consumed case of beer, and we would have called it the "asshole hat." Watching my beautiful, spirited, amazing daughter dancing around Lib's Grill with a takeout box on her head, all I could think of was our "asshole hat."

I was suddenly petrified of what she will be like as a college student.



Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Raising A Dancer

Tonight, I watched my beautiful Rosie girl on stage - tapping her heart out. They ran their dance twice and both times, she brought tears to my eyes.

Early in the dance year, her teacher and the studio owner recognized that her abilities surpassed those of the other girls in her tap class. The decision was made to move her into a different tap class - one with older and more advanced girls. She was less than thrilled to make the move. It would mean new people and more challenges, but I believed it was worth it.

Her second week of her new tap class, she came home crying. She was the youngest in her class and she was being picked on. The "company" girls (who are just mean girls in tutus) were shunning her from their little group. She wantged to quit.

We talked about it for a while that night and ultimately decided to stick it out a while longer. Once she went to bed, I emailed her teacher and asked for guidance. The response was immediate - Rosie belonged in this class and could absolute do everything they were learning.

For most of November and December, my Friday afternoons included a major pep-talk and my nights were filled with chatter of what the mean girls did this week. Every now and then, she would convince me to pick up donuts or cookies - so she could "bribe" these little bitches and get them to be nice to her. As a parent, this was tough. I didn't want her to feel the need to bribe this nasties...but at the same time, I just wanted my kid to fit in and have a positive experience.

Despite feeling discouraged, she stuck it out. She didn't miss a week. She worked hard. She rejoiced when the leader of the mean girls was no longer going to be in her class. She quietly worked on steps in her head. She continually told me that she couldn't do it and I would repeatedly tell her that she could.

Tonight, as I watched my baby on stage, all I could think was "this was worth it." Her poise and skill level has improved more than I ever imagined or expected.  She was the smallest kid on stage - but she had the biggest smile and her tap sounds were strong and confident.

My Rosie girl makes me proud pretty much always - but tonight was a whole new level. Tonight's rehearsal performance was proof of her moxie. She has a gift within her. She is wise and talented beyond her ten years. It may have been hard work and at times discouraging - but it was worth every moment and it shows!

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Broken Hearted Child

 When I was young, my Mom told me that, as a parent, you can only be as happy as your most miserable child. Of course, I didn't really understand this until I had kids. Now that I'm a mother, I understand what she meant. I can't be happy if one of my children is sad...and their sadness is magnified within me.

Earlier today, I picked up RJ's iPad and noticed that he had a message waiting for him from Max, his friend and classmate. I opened up his messages to see when Max had texted and if RJ texted often. I was not prepared for what I saw.

Yes, RJ messaged people. Not exactly "often," but enough and somewhat recently. One of the more recent message was a picture he sent to Day-Day.

My little boy has a beautiful heart. He genuinely cares for the health and well-being of pretty much everyone around him. He worries about his grandparents...he asks about them regularly. When my Mom had her knee replaced, he asked for her every day until he could see her for himself. He is genuinely concerned about those around him. When he doesn't understand something, he often internalizes his confusion until it comes out full force. For the past several weeks, he has shied away from any talk of Day-Day. He has focused instead on Messier and the need our family has for a kitten.

So when I realized that he was messaging his Day-Day, my heart shattered for him. RJ is not big on the written word - he instead expresses himself through art. Through a series of messages, my little guy clearly communicated his very broken heart.

I am so sad for him. I am sad for all of us - but knowing what much be in his head and his heart breaks mine. I can't heal this pain. I can't fix this loss. My sweet little boy gave his all to Dave - they were very close, and he is so missing the man who taught him how to stand up to pee...and so much more.

You can only be as happy as your most miserable child - so for as much as I hurt for me, I hurt so much more for my babies. I can't make this better for them - no matter how hard I try.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Angelina Loses A Tooth

From the time she was about three, Angelina has been asking me when she will lose her first tooth. Some weeks, depending on who she knew that was missing teeth, she would ask daily. I have remained consistent in my response: when you are six-and-a-half. 

At the time, 6 1/2 seemed so very far away. She would likely loss a tooth by that point in time, so there seemed to be no harm. That is until she turned six and didn't have a wiggly tooth. I wasn't too upset about this - after all, she is my baby girl and I don't want her to grow up. But her lack of a wiggly tooth was beyond upsetting to Ange, especially as her friends began to lose their teeth. 

She came home many times this winter with a finger in her mouth, saying "look, Mom! I have a wiggly tooth!" But it never actually wiggled. That was until last week. 

Just last week, she came home all excited. "Mom! I have a wiggly tooth!" As always, I would stick my finger in her little mouth and try to wiggle. This time, however, the tooth actually moved! 

You do! You do have a wiggly tooth! She was so excited. 

With her older siblings, the wiggly phase would last for weeks. Sometimes even months. Not my Ange. Just like always, she has to be different from the rest. 

Rosie came in first today, with Angelina about a minute behind her. 

Ro: Angelina has something to show you, Mom. 

Ange: Hi, Mommy! What looks different about me today? (smiles)

Me: did you lose a tooth?! 

Ange: (proudly) yes I did! I wiggled it and wiggled it until if popped right out during sharing. 

I hugged her. I ooed. I ahhed. I made a big stink. And after she proudly marched off for her after school play date, I cried just a little. As my tears fell, I looked at that little tooth in a baggie ans rhoight "my baby girl is growing up!"


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day Adventures

In many ways, I felt like today marked an "end" of an era.

In less than 7 weeks, we will welcome a new little baby to our family. Peach will be here before we know it, and so much will change with a newborn in the house again!

Just 2 weeks after Peach's arrival, Emma will leave for college. Dave has a new family with whom he is spending most of his time, so this was the "last" celebration for our mish-moshed family of 7. I really wanted to make it special. Memorable. For everyone.

We started our day with brunch at our dining room table. I made egg sandwiches and dippy eggs while Emma made her father a spinach and bell pepper frittata. We were able to all sit together and enjoy each other's company. The kids and I had cards for Rich and Dave - and I wrote in their cards to be ready and dressed to be active by 11:15.

By 11, the kids were itching to get going, so Rich took my three littles outside to lead them in some "warm up calisthenics."  By 11:15, we were rolling down the driveway and headed to our adventure of the day - Earth Trex indoor rock wall climbing.

Dave and Emma had been before, but the kids and I had never tried rock wall climbing. We got all 6 of them harnessed up and ready to go. Since my kids were beginners, the instructors took us upstairs to the starter walls. Rosie went first and managed to scale the wall in a matter of minutes. She was a natural! RJ went about halfway up the wall on his first attempt, but didn't want to finish, so came down. Angelina, who mimics big sister whenever she gets the chance, hurried up the wall to touch the stuffed animal at the top.

Then it was the big kids' turn. We went downstairs for Emma, Dave & Rich to have a try. The little kids went for round 2 down there as well, but RJ and Angelina decided they wanted to go back upstairs to try again on a wall where they felt more confident. While they were going upstairs, I went to go get my shoes and harness. Initially, I had decided to wait until well after Peach's arrival - but I gave in to the peer pressure (from Rosie) and decided to give it a try.

Once it was my turn, I made it about halfway up the wall. I had no expectation of climbing to the top. After all - I have never tried rock wall climbing before, and there is a 5 pound baby resting between me and a comfortable grip. But at least I tried it - and I could do it. I only stopped when I felt myself struggling to breathe. (The pregnancy harness was pressing directly on my diaphragm and the more I climbed, the more pressure I felt!)

After all was said and done, Everyone attempted 3 climbs except for myself and Rosie. I attempted just the one and gave her my additional two. She mastered every climb she tried, and I'm pretty sure she would go back there every day until she masters every wall!

After our climbing adventure, Dave & Emma went horseback riding while we ran our errands. We all met back up for dinner...which was wonderful and enjoyable.

For the moment, life is good and peaceful and happy.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Happy Half Birthday, RJ!

Dear RJ,

Today is your half birthday. Though I don't know quite how it happened, you are 7 1/2 years old today. I feel like it was just yesterday that we brought you home from the hospital - just yesterday that you danced around the kitchen table with a cupcake liner on your head. Just yesterday when you said your very first word - Mama.

I not only love you more with every passing day - but I like you more as well. I wish I could capture every moment of you and your sweetness, but since your school would frown upon a camera crew, a little letter will have to do!

You are my "guy." I love that you still need and want snuggles. I need and want your snuggles too and if I allow my mind to wander to a time when you might reject them, I feel my chest tighten and tears well. I love how caring you are - not just about me. You always ask me how I'm doing, how I'm feeling - and since learning of the baby in my belly, you sweetly will say "and how is the baby doing in there, Mom? Is the baby healthy? Is the baby moving around in there today?" When Nonna had her knee surgery, you asked about her health and well-being every day and often asked to call her to see how she was doing.

I love watching you play hockey and baseball. This weekend is opening weekend for baseball and I am so excited to see you in your uniform...on the field...your little grin is even more irresistible from under your ball cap.

When I ask you to take out the recycling, you often say "why am I the only one to take out the recycling?" You aren't - but I know you feel that way.

Your mind is a sponge - particularly when it comes to animals and nature. You are so in tune to the world around you, it is beautiful to watch. It is no surprise to me that we celebrate your half birthday today, on Earth Day, because you are already so concerned with protecting nature and the world around you.

One of my most favorite things about you is your sensitivity. You are a very sensitive kid and I hope that never changes. This world needs more sensitivity and caring. And you care deeply about so much.

You still have your stubborn moments - you are not a fan of mornings and while you "like" school and going to school - you would be much happier if you didn't have to get up in the morning to go. Your most recent quirk is that you don't like to eat breakfast in the morning, so we have to beg you to eat half a bowl of cereal.

You still love your animals and like to take Miri, the stuffed Meerkat, everywhere you go. You love to play your Jurassic Park game on your DS and Kindle - and are proficient in all things Pokemon.

There are so many little quirks and characteristics that make up your personality, my sweet boy, this post could go on forever! Just know that all of these quirks blend together to make up the one you - and you are absolutely the best and more perfect son for me. I thank God every day for the gift of you and all that you are. I am blessed to be your mom and so grateful that I get to spend my days watching you grow.

I love you.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Spring Fling!

It's SPRING FLING time at Bridges Montessori, Bel Air campus. Though this is only our second year in this community, it is rapidly becoming one of my favorite days of the year.

As parents, we join our kiddos early in their day - Rich and I only had time for a quick run to Starbucks before we needed to be back on campus to watch this super fun day unfold.

The elementary aged kiddos were the first ones outside. Our kids were fortunately grouped together (Thank God for small favors), so we were able to split our time between Angelina in her group and Rosie & RJ in their group. Rosie and RJ first tackled the Recyclable scavenger hunt.

While they were searching for specific recyclable items on their playground, Angelina and her group were digging in the dirt (her favorite!) to plant some seeds. She was so meticulous with the placement of every seed! I am not sure what seeds were planted - but I am looking forward to seeing her efforts grow.

The second event for the little kids was their recycle sort race. Miss Jenn spread out a bunch of different "trash" items for the kids to gather and sort. By the end of the "race," they had sorted the recyclable items into appropriate bins. While they were doing that - the bigger kids were doing a challenging relay race. The relay started with a potato sack race to a cornhole-style board. After three attempts to sink a beanbag, kids had to spin around a baseball bat 10 times before putting a plastic eggs on a spoon and walking around a cone. Once the egg was safely back in its place, it was time to hulahoop and be tied to a partner for a three-legged race. Finally, all of the kids had to work together and hold hands to work a hula hoop all of the way around the circle.

I think a big favorite for everyone was the petting zoo and pony rides. Angelina now wants a goat, baby piglets and chicks. She LOVED them. I think the goat was a huge hit for everyone. RJ and Rosie were pulled out of another activity for the pony rides and were able to take their rides at the same time as their sister.

RJ and Rosie also had the opportunity to plant sunflower seeds around the outdoor classroom behind their trailer. I was pretty impressed with these Bridges people - they got a lot of their gardening done today! Rosie and RJ also collaborated with their classmates to create a frame out of rolled magazine pages. (Rich and I were both amused that our two oldest children were rolling papers on 4/20...)

It was a wonderful day and I am so grateful that our children have the opportunity to share such beautiful times with their classmates in a wonderful setting!