Thursday, February 28, 2013

Deep Thoughts From Noah #22

Noah: "Mom, I know what I want to do when I grow up."
Me: "What's that, honey?"
Noah: "First I want to help the slaves and then I want to become a Master Builder for LEGOS"

Dear God 
Thank you for giving me a son with such a loving heart.

Monday, February 25, 2013

All In the Family

Yesterday Natalie asked me to play "stuffed animals" with her.  And, I admit I was a little unprepared for the rules of the game.  She and I are so different.  When I was her age, I was interested in crafts, coloring and any and all board games -- Candyland, Checkers and Connect Four were favorites.  Natalie, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with any of those things. Sure, I had Barbies, too...but I wasn't the type of kid to launch into any sort of real imaginative play with my dolls.  I was more interested in doing their hair and dressing them up for a big Barbie & Ken wedding.  So, when I went to reach for one of her bears she shrieked, "Mom! they must be in family order."


Which led to this convo in which Natalie explains the "rules" to me:

Natalie: "Mom, they need to be in family order so they can have a happy ending."
Me: "But you put Twinkle (the purple racoon-like critter) with the dogs.  How come?"
Natalie: "Because she has no mom, but needs somebody."
Me: "Why did you throw polar bear on the floor and not put him with the other bears?
Natalie: "Because he has no wife and so he can't be in the circle."
Me: "What other rules are there for playing stuffed animals?
Natalie: "Mrs. Cat and Mr. Ladybug go with the cats because she's big and he's big so they go together. And, Gigi Giraffe and Sparkles the Horse go together because they are both kinda horses."
Me: "Who is your favorite?"
Natalie: "Mr. & Mrs. Bear and sister bear and baby bear."
Me: "Why?"
Natalie:   "Because they are family."
So, while Natalie and I are very different, it seems she shares my sentiment for what is most important in life.

I can live with that.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Collective Memories

Sometimes I'm not sure if what I see in my children is a result of nature or nurture, but either way, I'm pretty proud of the result. This afternoon on the way to school Natalie discovered an unopened Valentine from her classmate, Ian.  Inside the envelope was a single heart made from clay that he had painted himself and signed with his name on the back.  "Aww...Mom, I'm taking this with me when I go away to college because when I'm far from home I want to have my memories with me.  This heart is a gift of love,” shared Natalie.

I know the feeling.

All my life I've been a collector. Not a traditional one in the sense that I gather items of value like antique porcelain dolls, Coca Cola memorabilia or rare coins.  Maybe some would call me a pack rat, but I disagree…I’m just a sentimental one.  It’s true most of the items I've amassed over the years and deemed as precious wouldn't bring a dime at auction.  

When I was about nine years old and on a family vacation, I decided to start collecting thimbles.  I made sure to pick them up in every state we visited.  Over the course of several years, my collection grew quite large.  I’m not sure why I chose thimbles. Maybe it's because many of the women in my life used their hands to create.  My dad's mother was a master at crochet.  She made all kinds of useful goods.  I still have an afghan blanket she made for me more than 35 years ago, that not only keeps me warm, but makes me feel somehow closer to her even though she passed away a very long time ago. My mom's mother was an avid quilter and during her 40 plus years as a grandmother, she tried to create a quilt for each and every one of her 36 grandchildren.  I was the 5th grandchild born and feel lucky to own a piece of her handiwork. 

Probably my favorite treasures come in the form of mail.  I have a large Rubbermaid full of letters, cards, and even a few faxes received while working aboard Carnival's M.S. Fascination.   In fact, chances are good that if you ever wrote to me, I saved your letter --some from friends and family and even a few boyfriends that date back to 1984.  Each one is like a little time capsule that reminds me how much I am loved and have been throughout my life.  Like the note I received from my dad the first year I went off to college.  It was the first and only time he has ever written to me.  Growing up, he was the breadwinner and worked seven days a week to give my siblings and I a good life.  My mom was the one who handled everything else from doctor appointments, school projects and carpools to grocery shopping and gift-giving.  His note came at a time when my mom had been sending me care packages to my dorm filled with banana bread and cookies.  My dad wrote, “I wanted to send a care package, but since I can’t cook, here’s $5.  Go to Mrs. Fields on me.”  And, although I’m pretty sure I used the cookie dough to fund a 6-pack of Milwaukee’s Best…I never forgot his loving note.
I use an old printer’s box to house some of my favorite memories.  The tiny painting was done by my artist cousin, Sarah and the first ebay auction I ever won.  The bracelet of tiny wooden houses was purchased while bumming around the mountains of Venezuela with my friend, Jacqui.  It was a fun trip, but we nearly missed the boat! They were pulling the gangway and we had to jump across.  We laughed after we made it safely aboard, but also breathed a sigh that we didn't have to spend the night in Venezuela with only a few bolivars between us.

When I was young, it was popular for photo studios to offer locket-size photos.  On the right side of the box, is a locket containing a photo of me with my cousin Molly. On the bottom right side of the box, is a buckeye.  When I met Steve he told me he was originally from the Buckeye state.  I told him I had never seen a buckeye.  On our second date, he presented me with one.  I carried it in my coat pocket for years.
Recently my kids each brought in collections of their own to school to be put on display in their school library.  Both enjoyed the attention and questions they received from friends and teachers about their caboodle of prized possessions.  Later, Natalie’s teacher asked me if I collected anything.  I told him no.  Maybe because my collection is personal and probably most people wouldn’t understand.  But, now I see…through the eyes of my own children that my compilation of stuff is important because I am a collector…of memories.

Natalie with her fairy collection.

Noah with some of his favorite Star Wars collectibles.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mollie and the Two Cats

Aside from hatching plans to catch a fairy, probably one of Natalie's favorite things to do is have me transcribe her stories.  She has so many!  Below is a recent one she shared with me.  I write her words down verbatim.  She instinctively adds dialogue and lots of description and naturally follows the age old writing rule: Show Don't Tell.  

Mollie and the Two Cats by Natalie
After school Mollie and her mom saw two cats – a momma cat and a kitten. 

Mollie said, “Mom, can we keep them?”

Mollie’s mom tried to pet the cats, but the baby cat hissed at them and the momma cat put her leg over the baby cat’s mouth because she didn’t want the hissing to scare Mollie and her mom.  Mollie’s mom started thinking about keeping the two cats.  She looked into the cute eyes of the kitten and her big momma cat.

“Can we keep them?” asked Mollie one more time.

Finally her mom nodded yes.  She named the fat momma cat Pinky and the little kitten Pink.

Mr. Blue, their next door neighbor hates cats.  He never ever gets dirty.  Mr. Blue is the mayor.  Mollie went to see if she could have a play date with his daughter, Sarah.  Mrs. Blue came running along.  She is a little small.  She held Mr. Blue’s hand and smiled because she loves cats.  Mrs. Blue started to pet the kitten but the kitten hissed at her, but she didn’t mind.

One day Mr. Blue had a plan.  He was going to pull the two cats tails.  Mrs. Blue raced over and told Mollie what he was going to do.

“Hide your cats!  He’s going to pull their tails!” said Mrs. Blue.

Mollie hid the cats under her bed.  Mr. Blue couldn’t find them because they went to sleep and made no sound.  Mr. Blue thought about how painful it would be to the cats to pull their tails and changed his mind.  Now he loves cats…but he hates dogs.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sweet Fairy Dreams

Natalie is obsessed with fairies and tonight decided she would find out once and for all whether fairies really do exist.  Using an old shoe box she fashioned a tiny abode that surely no fairy could resist.  She furnished it with a doll bed, complete with cotton ball pillow and a quilted toilet paper comforter.  She thought long and hard as to what kind of food a fairy would like best.  "It should be sweet and small.  Blueberries are perfect!" shared Natalie.  She originally included a glass bowl full of sudsy water -- a "shacoozy", but I convinced her that no fairy would be taking a dip tonight as I feared the water would freeze and shatter the bowl.  Before I tucked her in she asked me where fairies go to the bathroom.  I told her they probably just go outside like when you go camping.  She looked at me in disbelief and then said, "But, that's not natural.  Can you have Daddy make a toilet for my fairy box?"

"You mean like a latrine?" I asked.  

"No!  A REAL toilet.  He'll just need to attach some pipes so the water can go down.  Put that on his list, ok?" she insisted.

Poor Steve, no holiday rest for him.  Looks like he'll need to make a trip to Lowe's tomorrow. 

How could any fairy resist?  Berries, shiny coins and an animal print rug made from a piece of felt.
I wonder how long I'll need to eat berries and leave "leaf notes" behind?
If I'm lucky, at least for a couple years. 

Blue & Gold Banquet 2013

On February 9th we attended Noah's first Blue & Gold Banquet.  Held at the Masonic Temple in Webster Groves, the circus themed room pulsed with testosterone and the smell of fried chicken.  The kids and I met Steve there as he was in charge of picking up 300 pieces of King Edward's finest for the event.  It was a fun evening punctuated with lots of laughs thanks to our entertainer, Juggling Jeff.  But, the best part was seeing the look on Noah's face when he heard his name called during the award ceremony.  As it turns out, you don't have to build the fastest car to win at Pinewood Derby.  Noah earned a 1st place trophy for his entry in the category of "Original Design".

Smorgasbord of side dishes.

Juggling Jeff  is always a good time.
Each den was charged with making a cake for the cake decorating contest.  This one was done by Noah's group.  I can only imagine what the poor Den mother's kitchen looked like after a dozen boys had been through it.
Noah looks a bit shellshocked.
The A Team
Noah with his buddy, Jacob

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Deep Thoughts from Noah #21

After finishing his shower, Noah wrote on the steam-covered bathroom mirror.  He shared, "I wrote I love you, Mom, but it's implied that Dad is included."

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Musings from Natalie #34

Natalie: "Mom, why can only boys grow a mustache?"
Me: "Well, it all has to do with hormones."
Natalie: "What are hormones?"
Me:  "In your body..."
Natalie: "Mom, stop!  I'm getting squeamish."
(, too)

Natalie: "Why do you always take me places?"
Me: "Because I like to spend time with you.  Next year you'll be in school all day and we won't get to do fun things like go to the zoo or the science center."
Natalie: "Will you miss me?"
Me: "Of course!  I'll be sad."
Natalie: "Aww, Mom.  Don't worry.  I'll always come back to you. And, when you're old, I'll take care of you.  Just promise me you won't ever call me a whippersnapper, ok?"

"These seeds are like babies...they're just baby flowers."

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Musings from Natalie #33

Natalie: “I want to wear my cowboy boots today."
Me: “I’m sorry but today is a gym day.  You have to wear tennis shoes…and by the way you need to learn to tie your own shoes."
Natalie: “But, I only know how to make knots."
Me: “I will teach you."
Natalie: “But, I don’t want to learn."
Me: “I won’t always be around to do it for you."
Natalie: “Then Daddy can…and then my husband will do it and bring me chocolate."
Me: “Like Daddy brings chocolate for me?”
Natalie: “Yes.  Hey!  Why did you get to marry him first?”

Unfortunately I flipped the radio station just as Ke$ha was singing "that magic in your pants is making me blush" to which Natalie immediately piped up from the back seat, "ugh! magic in your pants..what is that?"
"Oh, I'm sure they are talking about him dancing like he has ants in his pants," I offered.
I ventured a quick peek over my shoulder to see if she was buying it.  She looked at me with one eyebrow raised and her head cocked to the side which told me she wasn't so sure I was telling the whole story, but was willing to give me a pass...this time. Phew.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Deep Thoughts from Noah #20

While I sat at the computer mumbling and grumbling under my breath, Noah asked, "Mom, what are you doing?"
"I'm talking to your Dad via instant message and he's making me crazy," I replied.
"Oh, what kind of crazy?" Noah thoughtfully inquired.