Tag Archives: Parenting

The value of rings

Yesterday the rainy weather held off long enough for us to get in a few outdoor projects.  My husband winterized the pool.   I dug up the dead green bean plants, the wilty lemon cucumber plants and mountains of weeds that had taken residence all around our yard.   I filled our composter.  I filled our yard debris can.   I gloried in the clean and trim flower beds.     I went inside.  I washed my hands.   I had a panic attack.     One of my rings was not on my finger.   It was dark outside and my ring was somewhere out in the yard.  Or in the composter.  Or in the yard debris can.

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This ring is 42 years old.   My father bought it in New Mexico as a gift for my mother on their 1st anniversary.   My mother wore it for years.   I remember what her hand looked like with this ring.  About ten years ago she gave it to me.  My hand looks the same.  I wear it because I love my parents, and long marriages, and my husband, and my daughters.   I wear it because people ask about it all the time and I love to tell a good love story.   I always said that someday, I’d pass the ring on to one of my girls.   Now its out in the mud somewhere.

Last night I called my mom and I told her I lost her ring.   She said “Oh honey, I’m so glad it wasn’t your wedding ring.   I have another ring you can have.   Don’t worry.  It’s just a ring”.    The fact that she is so gracious makes me want to find it more.    I know this band of silver and turquoise is just a thing.  But it does happen to be one of my favorite things.   Lesson from my mama though is simple.    People matter.   Things don’t.

I spent an hour today in the rain wandering around my yard.   I dug through the compost bin.  (Ewwww).   I emptied and sorted through the yard debris bin.  (Twice).   I got wet.  and muddy.   and a tad sad.    So I gave up.   I grabbed a few green tomatoes off my plants and went and found my eldest daughter.     She’s always up for cooking something.   Frequently she saves me from great disaster.  The resident chef is training her well.

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This time though I had a plan.   I followed a recipe and I didn’t try to substitute any ingredients.   We chopped and dipped and chatted and took pictures.    She liked how messy our fingers were.

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I liked the smell of the egg and corn meal frying.   She liked the little tomatoes.   I like the taste of the biggest circles.     Fried Green Tomatoes are some pretty amazing rings.   The first time I had Fried Green Tomatoes I was in Atlanta, Georgia.  Great little cafe.   Good ribs.  Good tomatoes.     The second time I had Fried Green Tomatoes was at book club.   Enough said. Anything at book club is divine.

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These turned out nicely.   Crispy on the outside, tart and juicy on the inside.    My daughter and I plan on making them every year.   My baby will be old enough to help next year.    I love how food entertwines us and circles the year.

I’m not giving up on my mama’s ring.   A friend promises to bring his metal detector over and he’s going to comb through my grass.   I hope we find it.   If not, its okay.    I have lots of rings.    My life is circled by love.

 

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Reading Olympics

My eldest daughter is a reader.   She comes by it quite naturally.  She’s spent the last six years of her life being read to and watching us read.   I’m trusting that her baby sister will join in the love of books as she gets older.   If not, she’s going to have a rough time getting our attention when all three of us have our noses in books.

The first grader’s school runs a contest all year called Reading Olympics.    To participate you just fill out a calendar each month with how much you read each day.    I’m worried that this year the people who keep track aren’t going to believe that we filled it in properly.    The six-year-old discovered Diary of  Wimpy Kid at the library.   She can’t put it down.   I read part of it with her.  We were giggling quite hysterically.   I told her if she got any ideas or picked up attitude we were shelving Greg Hefley.   I figure I survived reading Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and didn’t turn out too bad.

She received a set of several more of them for Christmas along with a couple of Baby Mouse books.  After she opened her first book on Christmas morning she promptly started reading.   We had to tell her to put the book down to open her next gift.  She reminds me of me. Really the whole point of this blog was to share this photo.    Add a pair of glasses and you have me thirty years ago.

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My first grader and I have many similarities.  We are both fiercely protective and amazingly proud big sisters.   We both don’t shy away from a microphone.   We are both learning to stand up for the under dog and love the bully into submission.

There are some ways that my daughter is nothing like me.  Ways that I am very proud of her.  Ways that she’s a lot like her dad.

She’s way tougher than I ever was at her age.   She can do the entire monkey bar circuit at school.   She beat a third grader at tether ball.    I never beat a kid at tether ball.   I think the third graders would still beat me.   In fact….I’m pretty sure my first grader could beat me.   I asked her how she accomplished this feat.   She says that a friend told her the secret tip.   According to the first grade girls you wind up the ball, fling it behind your back and then throw it as hard as you can.

She loves science.   For Christmas we got her a Snap Circuit set (very cool…check it out here).    She can now explain resisters, circuits and the path that electricity follows.    I even understood what she was talking about.   She and her dad have been spending at least an hour a day since Christmas building simple machines.  They just completed a cool art spinning motor.    I love girls who love science.   I love dads that hang out with their daughters.

My baby girl and I are sitting in front of the fire while the two scientists putter in the other room.    I’m blogging.   Shocker I know.   It’s because my sister-in-law and my sister ganged up on me today and told me it was time.   They are probably right.   The baby next to me is celebrating the fact that she has a new skill.  She knows how to roll over.    Life is about to get very interesting.   Wonder who she’ll turn out to be like.

 

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First day of Kindergarten: Learning to write on my daughter’s heart.

My daughter started kindergarten today.   It about killed me off.    

The heartbreak actually started about a week ago.   We went to the back to school ice cream social.    There was no ice cream.   False advertising.  I didnt’ t think this was a very good way to start our relationship with the local elementary school.    After we met her teacher and toured the school and confirmed the absence of ice cream at the ice cream social we drove to Burgerville.   We all had milkshakes.    I figured that something had to keep my child’s trust in the world intact.    

Besides I needed a milkshake.      One of the activities the teacher had laid out in the classroom was for parents.    We were supposed to write a message to our child to be read on their first day of school.    I knelt down, picked up a pen, grabbed a heart and started to cry.      I couldn’t figure out how to say all that I wanted to on the tiny heart.   

 

I want her to know I’m proud of her.   I want her to know that I will always love her.  I want her to work hard and play lots and make tons of friends.  I want her to stop the class bully and befriend those others won’t.   I’d like her to know that she can call me at any time and I’ll drop everything to come.   I’d like her to know that her drawings could use some more detail.   I’d like to remind her to push her hair behind her ears and her chair in.    I’d like her to know that her freckles make me smile.

I love Jeremiah 31:33.   It’s a message from a Father to a people in transition.   “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,”declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their  hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”      

God wants to write lots on my heart too.    Big messages about faith and hope and love and justice and joy.    I think mostly He wants us to know that He is God and that He loves us.  

I went home today at lunch for the big event.    My husband and I and the five-year old drove the three blocks to the school.      When we arrived we joined the other parents on the lawn in the picture fest.     My husband encouraged my daughter to introduce herself to the other students.    She met a nice little boy named Noah.   She smiled at a little girl she’d met at the ice cream less social.     My husband encouraged me to meet the other moms.    I hung back.  

Her teacher opened the door.     My heart skipped a beat.    My daughter said “Mom, I gotta go”.    And off she went.    No hug.  No tears.    Brave girl.     Her teacher asked the kids if they had friends already.   My daughter grabbed the hand of the ice cream girl and said “This is my friend”.     Noah pointed at her and said “I’m her friend”.    I breathed again.    Her teacher smiled at all of the parents huddled around.   She said “you can all come in and take pictures.  It’s your day too.”.     I wanted to hug her.  

A few minutes later we decided that we better leave before we were black listed as the clingy parents.   Our daughter did great.     I walked outside with tears again.    Right outside the door was a group of six sobbing moms.    I grinned and said “Is this where the crying moms stand?”.     I took my place with the other moms and introduced myself.    

I’m the mom and I love her.    I hope it’s written on her heart. 

 

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Bloom Baby Bloom

Guess what??!!   My bulbs bloomed!   I’m shocked.   I hoped and planted and trusted and cried over the one slug eaten daffodil and now I’m totally amazed that I have a backyard full of blooms.  I keep going out in the backyard and checking to make sure they are there.   The tulips are even up.   I am already planning on planting more this coming fall.   I want lillies.

My daughter shares my joy.  She has a bumblebee watering can which is getting daily usage.   She wants to water the flowers even when its raining.   I appreciate this committment.   She’s no fair weather caretaker.

She turned five this last weekend.   Someone asked her how old she was and she replied “Five.  Five is a big deal.”   She’s right.

I love the daffodils, tulips, crocus and Hyacinth but my favorite flower in the backyard right now is the dandelion.  I love watching my five-year old traipse around the backyard gathering up the cheerful flower.    I love that dandelions can survive and thrive everywhere.   I love how they make my daughter want to give.    Her hands thrust out with a huge smile.

I went running after work today.   My daughter asked if she should come.   I said sure, you can do the first lap with me, go get your running clothes on.   She came back in plaid red and green pants and  a turquoise t-shirt on backwards.    She jogged ahead of me and ran all the way around the big block, .38 of a mile.   She only stopped once.   It was to pick a dandelion.

Parenting this child is a joy.   Watching her grow is a treasure.   Bloom my honey girl.  Bloom.

 

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Kindergarten Registration

When I got dressed this morning I did the mascara and hair dryer thing, put on ironed pants and found matching socks.    I was determined to make a good impression.   It’s a big day.  Kindergarten Registration.       

My husband had me hyped up.  It’s imperative that our little one attends afternoon Kindergarten.   Morning Kindergarten really is not going to work at our house.  I recognize that only buys us a year but we’re both perfectly willing to procrastinate the whole bedtime and early morning process as long as possible.   

The packet I had to fill out to register my child to go to school was daunting, six pages plus backup documents.   It also raised a lot of questions I’d never really considered.    Do I care if the military has access to my child’s data?   Visions of the child soldiers in South America flickered through my head.    Can someone explain this to me?     

When I got to the school it became obvious that I am in over my head.   There were lines painted on the road and the sidewalk and I’m not sure what they all meant.  Am I supposed to stay to the right or the left?   Are some of these for traffic and some for hopscotch?  Apparently you can also only enter and exit in  certain places.  Sigh.  Hopefully they send a handbook.   

I got a dirty look from the cross walk leader when I jaywalked in the parking lot.  My kindergartener was not with me.  I’ll have to practice before fall.

The children were already lined up outside the school waiting for the first bell.  They looked cold.    My heart skipped a beat.

I found the school office by following some other panicked looking parents.   I was the third parent to arrive.    Third place is okay right?   

I handed over my packet and received more paperwork to fill out.    They handed me a clipboard with a pen tied to it with string.  I leaned over to fill the rest out and promptly got the pen and string stuck in my hair.  Not exactly the impression I was trying to make.    

When I was finished, I quietly asked with trepidation “Can we request afternoon kindergarten? Please?”    The secretary looked at me like I”m sure she looks at all nervous parents and she said almost sternly “I’ll try but I make no promises”.

And then she winked.

And I breathed again.

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Heart and Soul

When I was about eight there was a very simple test that girls used to decide who was cool or not.   At that time, it had nothing to do with clothes or boys or brands.   That would come later.   At eight, it all hinged on whether you could play Heart and Soul on the piano or not.   I fell in the later category. Eight year olds with a little talent are dangerous.

A friend did have a player piano which was a ton of fun.   It took about four of us to have enough weight to manage the pedals but if we got the timing right we could pump hard enough to coax the songs from “Annie” out of it and sing along at the top of our lungs.  I’m sure her parents were thrilled.

When I turned sixteen, my aunt’s piano came to live with us.   Piano’s are like that. You can’t get rid of them unless you have a home willing to adopt. Kinda like puppies.

My mom and I came up with a deal.   She’d pay for lessons I if she didn’t have to bug me to practice.  I loved it.  I took lessons for about a year and a half before my piano teacher decided I had to join in the Spring Recital.   I was not remotely interested in playing in a recital.  Mostly because most of her students were eight year olds who’d been playing longer than me.    Memories of Heart and Soul were haunting.   But this particular music teacher, while talented and kind, was also old school and all of her students were going to play in the Spring Recital.

We chose Cannon in D by Pachelbel. I practiced.  A lot.  I memorized the whole thing.   I practiced more.   I’m sure my parents were thrilled.  They must have been because they invited all my relatives to attend.    Particularly excited was my grandmother.  

Her mother loved the piano.  When my Great Grandmother was getting married, she told her fiance’ she didn’t want a ring.  She wanted a piano.   He gave her one but she never had the opportunity to learn how to play it.

My Grandma learned just enough piano to pound herself through a hymnal and support my grandfather at church.   So now it was my turn.

I’ll make a long and painful story short.   I stunk.   I froze.  I forgot.  I played all the wrong notes.    Worst part of the whole thing is when I finished, the audience was silent.  It was that bad.   Then, my tone-deaf Grandfather leaped to his feet and gave me a standing ovation.   This did not help.  I promptly quit playing the piano.

Late in my grandmother’s life, the wedding piano came to live with her.   It had been sitting in a garage for a long time and was basically destroyed.  Grandma paid to have it rehabed and decided since I was the only one in the family with any history of playing the piano that it belonged with me.     I love this piano.   It sits in our house with a photo of its first owner on top.

When we moved, we hired a piano mover to haul it to the new house.   This was perhaps the best decision of our entire married life.

If you need to move a piano, call Big Als’.    This is the ad that convinced me they could move my Great Grandmother’s Piano.

YES! We are the moving company founded by the big Samoan guy …Big Al, he really is BIG! He stands 6 foot 6 inches tall and weighs 325 lbs (of muscle).

Because they could not get a truck down our old driveway, three very strong large men pushed it by hand up the hill that was our old driveway.   When they arrived at this house, they had to navigate a muddy backyard and take the sliding glass doors off the tracks to get it in our house.    The lead mover asked us to call him if we ever move again.   He said he’d take that day off.

When our daughter was born, we put her on the waiting list for the best piano teacher we know.  After I hassled this woman for two solid years she agreed to start piano lessons at two.   My four-year old now has taken lessons longer than I did.   She can’t yet play the Canon in D but she’s got a very solid base of music and nice dexterity for little fingers.

While she practices Ode to Joy, I practice patience.   I want to rush in and show her how.   I catch myself having entirely too high of expectations for a four-year old.    I remind myself it’s about learning to love music and not a contest.    Sometimes I miss the right tone.   I need more practice.

She’s had three piano recitals so far.  The first one, I was a wreck.  I had to remind myself to breathe.    My mom says that having a child is like agreeing to have your heart walk around outside your body for the rest of your life.   She’s right of course.    It’s all really about heart and soul.

 

 

 

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Renaissance Woman

My daughter and I went with some friends to a tutu party last summer held     at a local high-end department store. Imagine thirty little girls in line waiting to be dusted and perfumed and spritzed and glitzed and generally fussed over.   They were all wearing tutus.  My four-year old bounces when she’s excited.    As we got closer to the front of the line, she moved past bouncing into full on jumping.    She pointed and yelled “Mom, the grownups are wearing tutu’s too”  (say that ten times quickly).   Sure enough, the workers in the children’s department were decked out with full size ballet tutus.   

Imagine thirty mom’s  waiting in line.  I was  trying to avoid eye contact with the sales people.  I kept checking the tags and asking my friend “Do they really think we’re going to pay $80 for a pair of jeans for a preschooler?”    The glitz and excitement of the under eight crowd was effective marketing though because quite a few of the moms had full arms as they made it to the front.   I was not one of them.
When I was four, I was more the kind of kid who liked mud than sparkles.
I had a dump truck and liked to pick up worms.   In fact, the story goes that one time my mother came outside where I was sitting in the mud holding up a worm above my mouth and preparing to swallow it. She hollered.  I dropped it.
I have a confession.  My daughter is better at walking in heals than I am.
We read a lot of Fancy Nancy books.   I like the vocabulary.  She likes the   sparkle.    We read Pinkalicious and Purplelicious although I do think that  particular littly missy has an attitude problem most of the time.    When we  read it we yell out every time that we think Pinkalicious should go to timeout.   But again, it does sparkle.
I think my daughter has rubbed off on me a bit.   Guess what I wanted and  got for Christmas?   Jeans with sparkles on the buns.    My mother bought  them for me.   Something about being a mom must make you want to see  your girls shine.
The good news is that I think I’ve rubbed off on my daughter as well.    She was still wearing her tutu when we stopped by my friend’s house.   In the front yard was a kid’s lawnmower.

She got down to business and made her mom proud.   Nothing better than yard work in a tutu.  It makes me want to wear heals next time I tackle the neighbor’s blackberry bushes.

There is something about living a life with a variety of interests.   It’s fun to keep people on their toes.
Are you bored this January?    Wear some sparkle. Play in some mud.
Renaissance woman
n.
A woman who has broad intellectual interests and is accomplished in areas of both the arts and the sciences.
Like ballet and yard care.    That’s my girl.

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