Thursday, May 31, 2012

Keepin' It Clean

Oftentimes in our house, Natalie assumes the role of older sibling.  So, when I glimpse moments of Noah acting like the true big brother he is, I get excited.

Yesterday, I walked in on this conversation between Noah and Natalie:

Noah: "I'll teach you all the bad words,"
Natalie: "What are they?"
Noah: "There's hate and stupid," he says as he ticks them off on his fingers...Mom, what other bad words are there?"
Natalie: "You're not cool?"
 
I told the kids I needed to get the laundry from the basement.  I knew if enough time lapsed that they'd be onto something else and I'd be free from answering their questions.  

Anyone who knows me, knows I do a LOT of laundry...not because I like it particularly, but because the walk to the basement (my swearing haven) gives me a few extra minutes to calm my Mommy self down when the kids are testing my patience.  Needless to say, this has resulted in lots of clean clothes and mouths!




Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It's Just Fine...Turnin' 9!

Nine years ago today at 7:29 a.m., we welcomed Noah into the world. He weighed in at 5 lbs. 14 oz. and was 19 inches long. Today, he weighs more than 10 times his birth weight and the top of his head now reaches my shoulder. But, I'm still in charge...at least until he learns to "force me" (as he tells me) with his growing Jedi powers.

In honor of my favorite Padawan's special day, I'd like to share some of my most treasured photos and insights he's shared with me over the years.

Noah, 4 months - enjoys a dip in the kitchen sink.
     

"Noah, sometimes you have to do what others want to do.
It's not all about you," I said.

"YES, IT IS," he responded.
 


Noah, 3 1/2 years - meets his sister
"Hello baby," he said.

 

"Mom...I mean Andrea," he said.

"Yes, Noah. What do you need?" I asked.

"I want to be the parent and you to be the kid...
but, you would still do the laundry, ok?" he asked




"Mom! Look what I made for you...cause you're a good mom," said Noah.




"So, Mom...I think we should throw you a thank you party
for all the things you do to us," said Noah.




My favorite part of this photo is his neon orange lips - Noah thinks of Cheetos as it's own food group


"Mom...you know what? I was born to do good stuff," said Noah.

 

I love you, too buddy!

HAPPY 9th BIRTHDAY NOAH!
This morning we made one cute, 9 year old boy very happy.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day

When I asked Natalie what the Memorial Day holiday meant she exclaimed, "The beginning of summer!

Her answer makes perfect sense as all around us stores are enticing shoppers with sales on everything from BBQ pits to hot dogs and potato chips to get your backyard party started. 

"Actually, Natalie it is a day for remembering and being thankful for the men and woman who have served and protected our country -- especially those who gave their lives for our freedom.  Your Dad was a soldier," I explained. (technically, a Marine, but I knew she wouldn't understand the term.)

With deer in the headlight pupils, she responded, "He was?"

"Yes," I answered.

"What do we do? she asked.

"We hug him and love him and be thankful for him," I answered  (To myself I included, "but not until after he's helped me spread 50 cubic square feet of mulch in the front yard." wink wink)

In all seriousness I am very thankful for him and all who have served.  And, since Steve chose to bear arms during Operation Desert Storm, the only arm I ever needed to raise was my own to answer a question posed by one of my college professors. 

In that spirit, I'd like to share one of Steve's favorite quotes

"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather we should thank God that such men lived." 

General George S. Patton

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Inconceivable

As we were getting ready to attend a wedding reception, Natalie brought me a children's book she planned to give to the couple...and their baby.

"Um, Nat they don't have a baby," I said.

"What? But they got married, right?" she asked.

"Yes, but they just married last month.  They don't have kids yet.  Also, some people get married, but don't ever have children," I responded.

Uncharacteristically, she pondered my words before speaking. Then, with a furrowed brow asked, "You mean just a man and a woman?"

"That's right," I said.

She set the book down, then turned on her heel and stormed off to her room. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

It Takes Two

If it takes a village to raise a child...it takes two, sometimes three villages to raise a child with special needs.  Our story is no different; which is why we are so thankful for the wonderful team of caring people at Action for Autism St. Louis.  A not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping families obtain access to therapies and educational resources they may not otherwise be able to afford.  They believe a family's financial standing should not determine a child's life potential.

To read the speech I gave at Action for Autism's 1st fundraiser and how our story began with AFA  -- Click here then scroll to pages 6-7

Since 2009, Action for Autism has been helping our family send Noah to Camp Happy Day, a special summer camp for kids with learning challenges.  The camp has been such a blessing as it keeps Noah from losing skills over the summer break and provides him with a social outlet.  Camp Happy Day runs from 8:30-12:15 for six weeks.  During that time Noah receives speech therapy, reading and math support and learns the fundamentals of team sports.  In addition, he has the opportunity to shoot arrows at a target, climb a 30 foot ladder and the chance to practice his growing social skills on kids who may overlook his awkwardness.

To read our story about the positive effects of Camp Happy Day -- Click here then scroll to page 7

June 16, 2012 is the 4th Annual Action for Autism Family Fun Walk.  I realize that there are many, many great charitable organizations to support and it can be difficult to choose among them.  But, I can tell you with 100% certainty, the monies received by Action for Autism really do make a difference in the lives of children affected by autism.  Our family is living proof.  To donate to the Action for Autism Family Fun Walk click here and select "Family Fun Walk" in the campaign drop-down box.  Also, be sure to type "Felgenhauer" in the comments box. 

A special thanks to everyone who has supported our family in previous AFA Walks.

For more information on Camp Happy Day click here

Our family at the 1st AFA Family Fun Walk - 2009
 

Noah had the chance to hang out with Fred Bird while with his Camp Happy Day friends - 2009

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Stupid is as Stupid Does

Dear Eight Year Old Boys at Tilles Park:

Today you missed out on an awesome opportunity to get to know a really funny and creative kid.  Noah is NOT stupid, however, your choice to use that word to describe him only reflects poorly on you.

Although I will spend the remainder of the afternoon trying to erase your hurtful words from his thoughts, I will also pray that the next time you meet someone different from you that you'll show a better side of yourself than I witnessed today.

Good things come in small packages...but, really good things come in packages that don't quite fit inside the constraints of any box.

Sincerely,

Noah's Mom
a.k.a. Master Windu's Mom
     


Wanted
Bubble Large Enough to Safely House One Very Cute, Loveable Boy
Money is No Object
Please Call 1-800-SERENITYNOW
 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Shot in the Arm

Although Natalie is excited about the prospect of Kindergarten, yesterday I burst her bubble a bit with the news that she'd need to get a few shots before blazing a trail through the school hallways.

"I don't want a check-up," she said.

"I know, Natalie.  No one does, but it's a school requirement.  Don't worry.  I'll be right by your side," I said.

After a moment of contemplating my offer, she picked up a photo of Noah she found lying in the car and asked, "Mom, do you think I could bring this photo of Noah with me to the appointment?  Then I could just pretend he was holding my hand."

Now, that's what you call "a shot in the arm."

Nat holding the photo she took in with her to the doctor appointment.
 

A lip whistle prize.  Hmmm...I don't think my pediatrician likes me very much.
 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Change in Status

Today is the last day of school for both of my kids.  For Noah, it means no homework and lazy afternoons at the pool.  For Natalie, it means she is one step closer to KINDERGARTEN and attending the same school as her big "brover".  Oh geez!  What will I do when she no longer has a lisp?   Honestly, it's one of the few things she does that encourages me that she is still little. 

Just the other day she was telling me how she can't wait to go to kindergarten because then she won't need anyone to sign her in or out anymore. 

"Mommy, you'll just pull up the car and I'll run in ON MY OWN," she states.

I was too afraid to ask, "But not on the first day, right?"

You've heard the expression, "Don't let the door hit you on the way out." Well, apparently I won't need to worry about that as I'm not even allowed inside the school building.   

This afternoon at 3:10 p.m., I'll officially experience a change in status.  This change will have nothing to do with me buying a luxury car or cashing in on a winning LOTTO ticket.  In fact, it won't even affect the way I file my taxes.  The adjustment I'm referring to has only to do with me closing the books on my life as a mother of a preschooler.  I'm starting a new chapter, mothering TWO elementary school kids!  I can't wait to dive in.
Noah insisted on waving in all of the pictures, but now I see the beauty in it.  It's like he was trying to tell me, "Mom, I'm leaving 2nd grade and moving on to bigger things."  Then, there's Natalie who refused to look at the camera - her only concern was to give her "brover" one last squeeze before school.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Something Smells Fishy

On Saturday morning the kids and I headed to one of our favorite places, The St. Louis Zoo.  Our focus was on Carribbean Cove, a traveling exhibit featuring Cownose and southern stingrays and Bonnethead sharks.  If you live in St. Louis, don't miss the opportunity to see them.  Admission is $3, however, the first hour of operation, it's free.  The exhibit will be open through September 29th.

This year both kids were tall enough to lean over the ledge on their own and pet the docile creatures.  They loved it, though Natalie wasn't keen on the fishy smell.

"What's that smell?  It's making my nose sad," said Natalie.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

With Loving Hands

Today is my grandmother’s birthday.  She passed away last October at the age of 95.  She was a spunky lady who raised 10 children and had 36 grandchildren and 28 great grandchildren. 
She even shared her birthday with her granddaughter, Molly and her great-grandson, Nick.  Happy Birthday Molly and Nick!
With Loving Hands
My grandmother’s hands were colossal to my preschooler eyes.
Thick, knobby digits marked by years of weathering
They tickled the ivories on Christmas Day.
Jingle Bells and Silent Night were favorites 
Strong and familiar
They once washed my newborn skin and made me boloney and mustard sandwiches.
A blur of activity
Palms doubled as measuring cups with fingertips for teaspoons.
They rolled, punched and produced a bit of heaven from flour and lard.
No blue ribbons sought
Her handiwork reserved for feeding an army of kin.
Family squabbles forgotten momentarily
Goodness spread with each airy morsel consumed
They threaded countless needles to create quilted heirlooms
Scraps of colorful fabrics elaborately embroidered
She inherited her mother’s green thumb
Flowering plants and tomatoes thrived under her care
They clapped for me when I blew out candles or donned a cap and gown
They embraced me when I said “I do” or shared news of a baby’s arrival
They counted my newborn’s toes
Her touch skilled at quieting the fussiest infants
I see them folded peacefully across her chest
Her legacy now lies at the end of my own arms

I recognize them.

Grandma shows her granddaughter, Marie, how to make biscuits

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Goodwill Hunting

Six years ago Barb and I began a tradition of an annual girl’s weekend. We stay at her parent’s condo and spend most of our time giggling like school girls. Since that time, we’ve only missed one year -- when Barb so rudely decided to bear twins in favor of drinking a margarita lakeside. The following story is taken from our last trip.


All the signs were there, a drop in humidity, a plethora of color against a clear, blue sky and an intense desire to head south. Fall had arrived and with it signaled my annual pilgrimage to Lake of the Ozarks, the land of Hee Haw and shopping at the Osage Beach Outlets.

Barb and I had been planning this trip since the day after we returned from our previous getaway. Between us, we have six kids under the age of eight. Our days, for the most part, revolve around our kids and their schedules. The term “stay at home mom” is an oxymoron for us, as we spend most of our waking hours carting kids to violin lessons, gymnastics, Brownies, Lego club, dance and swim team. We also both manage to keep one foot in the working world by holding down part-time jobs. 

Though only three miles separate our homes, our face-to-face meetings are infrequent. Our favored method of communication is by phone. With our brood, most of our “lunch dates” are made up of two parts refereeing to one part consumption. In between breaking up disagreements over Polly Pockets and doctoring scrapes incurred on the Big Wheel, we shovel in bites of chicken salad and copious amounts of chocolate. Our husbands have never understood how we can have so much to discuss on the phone even after we’ve just spent an entire day together.

“Are you ready?” Barb yelled out her car window as she pulled up to my house, affectionately dubbed the dollhouse by my husband who likes to joke, “It’s so small you have to go outside to change your mind.” 

Were the people living in 1929 really that much smaller than you and I? What I truly want to know is what were they wearing? I can only assume not very much as the bungalow we reside in only comes equipped with a single closet. One! And I’m not talking about one of those fancy-schmancy, souped-up closets complete with floor to ceiling shelving and hooks for everything including a mini-fridge and a twin bed. I’m talking about the kind that provides a season of clothing, a dozen shoes, and enough space to stand and consume an entire family-sized bag of peanut M&M’S (a.k.a. evils) while reflecting over the joys of motherhood. 

Barb had traded her van for her husband’s trusty, albeit slightly rusty Corolla. What it lacked in size and features it made up for in more parking choices and better gas mileage. This in turn translated to more time and more money for us to share with our friends, like Ann Taylor, Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein.

I met her at the driveway with bags in tow. I packed light to conserve trunk space. But I made sure to bring along the essentials like comfortable shoes, a curling iron, a People magazine, a bottle of wine and enough chocolate to send us into a very sweet coma.
While I hoisted my things into the trunk, I spied her copy of “What Not to Wear” and a bottle of rum. I sighed as I thought, I’m so lucky to have such a level-headed friend with her priorities in order.  As I closed the passenger door, Barb threw our conservative, yet sensible wheels, into reverse and turned to me to exclaim, “We’re free!” 

Our get-out-of-jail-free card allowed us to be free of “Honey, have you seen my keys?”; pureeing vegetables in hopes of sneaking nutrition into our kids’ bellies; overflowing toilets; spelling-out words not meant for little ears; and peeing in front of an audience of pint-sized people!

In the words of Timon and Pumba, “Hakuna Matata” baby! 

Interestingly, our shopping excursion did not begin in Osage. In our futile attempts to shake our penny-pinching mom mentalities, we made a brief detour to a local Goodwill. The shop was oddly nestled in a place better known for having luxury car dealerships, high-end furniture stores and drive-thru med spas. 

Our first thought? Halloween costumes! Seriously, is buying a brand new costume the kids are only going to parade around in for a few hours – in the dark -- worth the same as say ten, family-sized bags of Reese’s peanut butter cups? I think not.

We took our job seriously and tackled each rack with intense focus. I found a pair of monarch butterfly wings for my four-year-old princess, while Barb scored a doggy pumpkin costume, complete with lid, for her fifteen-year-old pooch. My little butterfly whisperer would be ecstatic. And we both agreed Peyton (the dog) would welcome the change of style, as she seemed to be growing tired of the usual crowns and boas the kids enjoyed dressing her in. Then we split up so we could cover more ground. Barb headed to the kids aisle while I wandered over to the men’s section. As I flipped through the endless racks of size 46 x 30 khakis, I thought, it may be true that nice guys finish last, but it is also true that only short, fat ones donate their pants. 

As I was contemplating this idea, I spied a horrifying sight, dozens of ginormous, pre-owned, tighty-whiteys displayed on metal clip hangers. And like a train wreck, I couldn’t seem to look away. In fact, I had an uncontrollable need to move in for a closer look. 

Suddenly, my concentration was broken by Charlie Brown’s teacher making a public service announcement to all shoppers. I could only make out the tail end of it, something about free and a time limit. However, as I followed the stampede of sale junkies, my eyes landed on several, large shelves of unopened toys. As I began loading my cart, my inner hoarder was fast at work calculating the obscene amount of money our family would save on gift giving this year. I couldn't believe my luck, which made me consider how different men’s and women’s views of getting lucky can be.

To read Part 2: Click "Beach Bound"
To read about our 2012 Girl Getaway Adventure
To learn how Barb and I met   "The Power of One"