Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Little Sneaker

On our good day days, Peanut Two is incredibly easy to parent as she is an independent, content little gal.

On all of those other days, she continues doing her own thing and if it isn't in sync with whatever else is going on drama ensues. On top of that, she doesn't seem to respond to sticker charts, praise or other types of good-behavior tactics that worked so well with Peanut One.

Because of this - and because quite frankly I just dread it - I've been dreading toilet training with her. It was relatively easy with Peanut One, but he loved sticker charts and once we figured out the exact right amount of celebration he needed for each accomplishment (not too much, not too little) he swiftly moved to underwear. For whatever reason, though, it inspired anxiety in me. I thought about it way too much and worried about it way too much.

Thus, I've been completely avoiding the idea of toilet training Peanut Two. Even though she has had all the signs of readiness, I've had in my mind that we'll just wait until the New Year.

Yesterday I picked her up at play-school and she had a substitute teacher who was much more communicative than her regular teacher. Apparently, the little stinker Peanut Two has been using the potty at school.

The substitute told me that she walked right in like she always did it and went to the bathroom. She tried to praise the little Peanut, but Peanut Two blew it off, shrugging her shoulders in a blase way.

I'm wondering now . . . what else has she got up her sleeve?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

So That's How It Works

Peanut One has been increasingly interested in how babies are made. A year or so ago he questioned me and I said that Daddies and Mommies make babies.

He asked if we made them on the grill or in the oven.

About six months ago he asked how babies got out of their Mommy's bellies. I told him the Mom went to the hospital and the Doctor helped get the baby out.

That sufficed for a few months.

Now he is persistently asking how babies get into their Mommy's bellies. I try to tell him:

That is hard to explain to a 4 year old.
You just learn how to do it when you are old enough.
I can't really tell you.

Nothing works. . .

Finally tonight I whispered in his ear, because whispering seems to make any explanation better, and told him that Daddy met Mommy, he loved her, we got married and then made a baby.

He thought about it for a while and whispered back that he got it.

Then he told me he was going to get a baby, shove it in his friend's ear and push it down into her belly.

Works for me. . .

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Thrilla' From the South

Peanut One has gotten really into dancing lately except that only a mother could call it dancing. It is really flailing, combined with jumping and hopping, combined with the head shaking thing that white boys do when they boogie.

Tonight I put on 'Love Is A Battlefield' by Pat Benatar, in honor of the haircut I just got which is a little shorter than I wanted. Peanut One began 'dancing' as Peanut Two looked on in awe. Suddenly he grabbed his crotch a la Michael Jackson, threw up his other hand and then continued dancing. Huh? Has he been watching this on You Tube?!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Thanks Mom

My mom and I have had many ups and downs over the years (perhaps, as any good roller coaster, more downs than ups). While things are pretty stable now, she often reminds me that there was a time that she thought we would never be able to speak again. I must admit I've spent a LOT of time trying to understand our relationship and imagining what it was like for her as a mother and wife when I was young.

The other day Peanut One was rifling through my things, as usual. He came upon an old journal of mine and quickly raced through the house with it shedding bits and pieces of paper I had stuffed in there at one time or another. I thought I caught it all and put everything back to rest.

I must have missed something, because the next day I found a card J had put on my dressing table. It wasn't dated, but was clearly written to me when I was in college - about 20 years ago. I opened it up and found it was from my mom. Apparently she and I had a big blow-out before I went back to school and she wrote me a letter lamenting our relationship and wondering what had gone wrong. That, in itself, was surprising enough - even my mom would admit she's not the most open person with her emotions.

What followed was a gift that I probably never appreciated when I read it as an angry girl-woman unable to yet see her mother as a human with a path of her own created and driven by people and events I hardly knew of.

What followed was the most open and emotional expression of her past and her path that I have ever received from my mom. I have read it over and over during the last few days and imagine responding to her letter now.

Dear Mom,

I know it took me a while to respond, but thank you so much for your letter. It means the world to me to hear you express yourself this way and I only wish that I had more letters like these to look back upon. Please write back.



Sunday, September 21, 2008

How Ya' Cookin'?

I've been thinking about friendship a lot lately. I think it's because Peanut One started a new school and we've been meeting so many new people. I also have seen many friendships over the years either falter or take-off for no rhyme or reason and have been wondering about the strong bonds I hold with my friends and the tenuous bonds that never gelled.

What I've decided is that we are all a type of friend maker. I've determined that I'm a slow-cooker (please don't call me a crock-pot!). It takes me a while to warm up and get going but once I do I'm steady, comfortable and reliable. Funny enough, without some sort of event or intervention it is difficult for me to make friends with other slow-cookers, but if I do the friendships last forever.

It seems last year I met a few woks and skillets. They are great - exciting, hot, energetic, engaging - but if you stick around too long you either get burnt or cooked into a mess. I love these people for who they are and the fun they bring, but they are not my go-to buddies.

Recently J and I met some people who seem to be grills. They are open, engaging, come-one-come-all type of folks. This weekend they pulled us into their world like we've been part of the bbq forever. It has been really great and reminds me how much I miss having some grills in my life.

I'm hoping this friendship will pan out - the summer grills and the winter slow-cookers joining together for year-round festivities.

Stop me before I pun too much . . .

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


"Sensitive people are by nature shy and anxious."

I read this somewhere and it struck a chord. Is it true?

I'd say I'm a sensitive person. I'd also say at points in my life I've been very shy and/or very anxious. I can see the connection.

Yet I also feel there is a way to be sensitive without being shy and anxious.

It's not my 'nature' to be shy and anxious. I think when I'm shy and/or anxious, it's a result of my sensitivity running rampant without any self-awareness, grounding or 'sensitivity-to-self' kicking in.

The quote kind of ticked me off once I thought about it.

What do you think?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Jabber Jaw

When I pick Peanut One up at school it is difficult to get a sense of his day. The most he'll usually give (without massive prodding and interrogation) is whether he liked his lunch or not.

Peanut Two is another story. She started play-school a few weeks ago and we now have a running commentary the whole way home about what she did today, what she said, what he said, what he did, what she said, what her teacher said, what they ate, what they will do tomorrow . . . .

In fact, she is upstairs in her bed right now still talking about things to herself.

Before I had kids I never thought boys and girls were different at young ages.

I was wrong.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Serves Us Both Right

J was brought up under the long-standing Catholic tradition of being late for mass and staying until the final blessing.

I was brought up under the long-standing Catholic tradition of arriving to mass on-time and jetting out right after communion.

We were both brought up under the even longer-standing widespread Northern tradition of having mass be about 45 minutes.

This has made it very tense in the Magical Mansion each Sunday. You see, I like the beginning of mass. It's the only part of mass that is different each week. The latter half of mass is the same . . .

. . . every week . . .

. . . week after week. . .

Now I know there is value in this repetition, but I just can't stand the monotony of it all without a little sugar to start it all off.

Unfortunately it seems Catholic churches in the South don't feel they've held a true mass unless it is well over an hour long. Thus unless I am willing to herd cats all Sunday morning AND try to get two children to sit quietly forEVER, we are always late for church. Very late. In fact, I don't think anyone EVER gets there after us.

It seems we've gotten our comeuppance now. We enrolled Peanut One in Sunday School and today learned the schedule.

Kids need to be there at 9:30 - the start of class.

Kids need to be picked up at 10:45 - the end of class.

Seems like God won this time - or the South, depending on how you look at it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Another Strike Against Mom

Act One, Scene One (Contemplative silence in car as mom and son drive home.)

Peanut One: Mom, I'm beginning to like Dad better than you.

Me: Really . . . why?

Peanut One: Well . . . he carries me around more than you do.

Me: Hmmm.

Peanut One: And Mom . . . do you have any wood?

Me: No, I don't.

Peanut One (disappointed): Oh.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Color Mafia

I am taking an art class on color and learned that there are a group of 1,500 people - sometimes referred to as the color mafia - who each year chose the color palette that will grace our clothing, sheets, curtains, floors, cars, etc.

They decided, for example, that after 9/11 we needed to be happier so hot pink would be the color of the year.

The go-go and political 90's were all about red, white and blue.

Now we're heading more towards environmentally conscious greens and browns.

I think Meryl Streep's character in The Devil Wears Prada said something referring to this, but I thought she was just being obnoxious.

Things tend to shift minutely. There aren't usually dramatic shifts from year to year.

Could you imagine the power though?

How strange.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I Don't Recall

Oh how much I loathe love the: cheap plastic toys, coloring book pages, pieces of paper, 'art' projects, junk creative expressions my kids bring home from school or parties.

I admit it.

I tend to sometimes toss it.

Well . . . a lot of times.

I keep the projects that actually demonstrate some learning, that the Peanuts really love, and that touch my heart or funny-bone in some way. That still leaves about ten million tossable items a week.

As the Peanuts get more aware, I am beginning to have empathy for Roger Clemens, Bill Clinton and OJ Simpson:

Peanut: Mom, where are my two big bags full of rolled-up paper telescopes I made?

Me: hmmm

Peanut: Mom, I put them right in the middle of the living room here in my special spot!

Me: Oh, did you?

Peanut (agitated): Mom, did you throw them away?

Me: I'm not sure.

Peanut: Mom, where are they?!

Me: I don't recall.

Peanut (clamoring through the recycle bin): Maaaaahm!

Me: I can't remember.

Anyone know a good lawyer?!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Higher Self

I've been thinking about religion a lot over the past year. I was raised Catholic but from the time I was confirmed until I met J I was not really a church attender. I had some issues with Catholicism and a hard time finding peace and spirituality in the confines of weekly church going. None of my friends really went to church and it is actually pretty en vogue with many I know to not go to church, to find spirituality in nature, to decry organized religion, etc, etc, etc.

I also kind of gave up on God when I was a teenager, but more about that later.

Through it all though, I always wanted a religion. I always wanted church to feel special. I always wanted it to be a place of comfort and joy. It just wasn't.

J was raised Catholic and attends mass every week, says prayers at night, and finds comfort in the ritual and routine of it all. It was easy when we married to agree our kids would be raised Catholic - of course they would. It was harder for me to figure out how I was going to marry my version of religion and the church's version of religion. It seemed so difficult and monumental. I couldn't figure out how to connect with it all.

Yet I started going to church with J. I started saying prayers with the Peanuts before bed.

One day I was introduced to the concept of a Higher Self. You've heard me wax lyrical about my Future Self, well this is another layer. I picture my Higher Self as the best, most spiritual essence of me. She is unworldly - more angelic - and a conduit to God/Goddess/All That Is.

For some reason, it is much easier to connect with her than with God. I can kind of 'get it' - the awesomeness of it all - and feel a part of it in an intricate way.

A few months ago, I was saying The Lord's Prayer with Peanut One and the beauty of it suddenly hit me. Sure I would use different words than trespasses, temptation, daily bread; but after saying it eight million times the essence of the prayer finally hit me.

Higher Self;
Help me make our world the best it can be.
Nurture me every day.
Look kindly on me and I will do the same to myself and others.
Help me be my best self in word, act and deed.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Halloween Huh?!

Peanut One wants to be a hyena for Halloween. How on earth am I going to find a hyena costume - because I am not making one.

When he told me this two months ago, I assumed it would pass.

It hasn't.

Today I started my subconscious campaign talking about how it would be so fun if the Peanuts could dress up as characters from Winnie the Pooh.

Peanut Two loved the idea and claimed she would be Piglet and Peanut One would be Tigger.

Peanut One thought it was a great idea also.

For next year.

This year he wants to be a hyena.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Growing Up

Peanut One started a new school a few weeks ago. J and I were very concerned about how he would fare in a new environment (worrying about the Peanuts seems to be one of our favorite pastimes). We were all nervously excited as the big day approached.

He has loved it, thank goodness.

Something I've realized during these transitional weeks is that he is gaining control over his emotions. It is a bitter-sweet evolution to watch.

On one hand, it is exciting and moving to see him growing up - able to take a worry/anxiety/uncomfortable situation, add a deep breath and bust his way through it without tears or whining.

On the other hand, Peanut One's sensitivity is one of his strongest assets. As we developed our special mother-son relationship over the past four years, I often imagine him as an grown man with the sensitivity of a little boy - the willingness to wear his feelings on his sleeve and unabashedly claim his emotions.

Is this slipping away?

Is he on the path to monosyllabic grunts instead of conversation?

Am I losing my little sweetheart?

If so, who will he become?