Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Let Them Eat Pie

I am ashamed. Until this month, it had been more than 15 years since I had been inside a Marie Callender's. Current stats: I've been there three times since October 1st. So here's how it went... I was running on my treadmill when what do you know, a commercial for MC came on advertising their semi-annual pie sale. Only $5.99 for a whole pie! Hee, hee! Where had I been all these years? And here I was earning a pie while I watched the commercial! Lucky me! I headed down there and got one, and since I was having so much fun I made a little pact with myself to come back for another before Oct. 31st - the end of pie month or whatever. When I came in for my second, my son (who I had secretly hoped would stay in the car) wanted a different kind than I did, and in a moment of weakness I promised him we'd come back for his kind another day this month. What?!?!?! Did the butter shoot straight to the logic center of my brain? Or do they put something extra in the darn things that alters your thinking? Somehow, I was lured by the idea of PIE MONTH - it was intoxicating. Plus, I had been invited to Marie's pie party, and I can't turn down a party. So now I am a thrice pie eater extraordinaire. There you go.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sugar And Spice Is Really Quite Nice

Zach and Spencer

I happen to disagree with the adage that boys are equal to "snips, snails and puppy dog tails." My three little boys have been a true joy. I wouldn't trade them....except maybe sometimes, if someone offered.

But really, I've thought a lot about this. When I was pregnant with my fourth baby, I was given many opportunities to think about my life with sons and the real prospect that the ultrasound for this fourth baby would reveal, as Paige has so aptly put it, that "my little girl has a penis!" [Anatomically correct in our house, too, sorry!] But aside from turning a blind eye to all baby girl clothing sections, I was at peace in my mother-of-boys world. Having been asked so many times by well-meaning friends and strangers how I would feel about having another boy, I realized I could say with confidence that it would be great.

BUT IT WAS A GIRL!!! Since that awesome, life altering ultrasound, I just wanted to revel in the girl-ness of it all. I could let myself enjoy it, and wow did it feel great not to stifle it anymore! Twenty months later every day still feels like I won the lottery. Ava and I form a little island together in a sea of boys. This isn't to be confused with girls against boys, just a little place of togetherness, a place of knowing. I hope it lasts through the years! The following are three areas of girl-parenting happiness I have found among many:

1. Girl Club #1 - THE PONYTAIL:

I had one of those liberating "moments" just a few nights ago when I put Ava's hair into a ponytail. Who knew the joy a ponytail could bring? The realization snuck up on me when I was least expecting it. People, it's pure mother-bliss to put your little girl's hair in her first ponytail. You're part of the club, now she's part of the club. Welcome little one....

2. Girl Club #2 - THE CLEARANCE RACK (OR ANY RACK, REALLY): Boys clothes have gotten cuter through the years. (The outfits my mom had to choose from for my brother were woefully lacking.) Nowadays, boys look absolutely adorable. However, the sky's the limit for girls. And it's cheaper. The baby girl gets a ticket into this club before she even knows what's going on. It's simple math:
Girl clothes go on sale more often + There is a bigger selection =

Girls get more clothes......and shoes!

I still feel like I'm dressing my own little dolly every day. I didn't have any Barbies growing up. Didn't want any. The Greenans had some if I ever felt the need. But now I get it. I have my own little Ava Barbie. I'm making up for lost time, and Ava's closet benefits.

3. Girl Club #3 - EAR PIERCING:

I know there are differing opinions about this. For me, it's a girl's right of passage. Ava joined this club when she was 4 months old. Her cousin Sophie did it and all was well, so Ava was a shoe-in. I have to say, I recommend that moms undertake this with the support of a sister/friend who will back you until the deed is done because I give you fair warning: Once your feet are planted in the jewelry store you will begin to have heart palpitations at the idea of causing pain of any kind for your little girl , similar to the mother's pre-circumcision-of-her-son panic attack. Stand strong. Now is the first of many valuable teaching opportunities of the truism I learned at the feet of my own mother: Beauty is painful. Wish it weren't so. Welcome to this club, too, sweet girl.

Added note: The crying was pretty much done before we left the store. Whew!

Now here is the question: Does all of this help the situation of being the only girl in a family of boys? I don't know. In any case, girls are social creatures...club-oriented. So welcome to the club!!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

M.A.M. (Moms Against Marinara)

This morning:

Zach: Mom, guess what?

Me: What?

Zach: We've learned [in school] that there are three main bad drugs.

Me: Oh yeah? What are they?

Zach: Heroin, Marinara, and Crack

Evidently, Italian food lovers now have cause to mourn due to this newly discovered fact. I'll have to scour the bottles of Ragu out of my pantry post haste.

I try to be supportive of my kids' school - the fact that we teach in tandem, so to speak. I try not to get too tied up in knots over this buddy system of educating my kids on social issues. Really, though, I'd like that stuff left up to me and the standard subjects left up to them, sort of.

The elementary school topic this week is drugs. It's Red Ribbon Week. The school is decked out in red ribbons; each concrete pillar is tied with ribbons and bows flying in shiny red splendor. Today, my kids are wearing crazy socks to school in order to "Sock" it to drugs. Thursday is crazy hair day - so maybe it's something like: Doing drugs turns your hair blue and makes it stand straight up or something. On Friday they're going to wear their clothes backwards, because you're "backwards" if you use drugs. The "crazy" socks

Do I want my kids to use drugs? No. But this just doesn't sit well with me. This morning Zach - my 4th grader - and I had a brief talk about drugs (see above) which came while we were checking his backpack before he walked out the door to school. I started to explain that I hadn't listened to the school's CD on the dangers of drugs and the world of drugs (the school wanted a report back). I am negligent in this. I'd rather be the one introducing my kids to this hideous part of the world, slice by slice, piece by piece - at our own speed. I wanted to make sure he understood what we'd already taught him at home, etc.

He let me know he'd listened to the CD which was fine, but two years ago the school sent home a drugs video that we were supposed to watch as a family. I sat my kids down, ages 5 and 7, and started it. Holy smoke! Information overload. We tossed the tape and had our own talk. They'll get more info when it's time.

Really I was just waiting for the right time to help them really explore the world of a crack or heroin addict. Is this what the educators would prefer? I get the feeling that the school would probably approve of this as my next step in the quality at-home part of their education. But first, I need to get a few visual aids: one of those tan thick plastic tube ties that you wrap and tie above the elbow - Does this to make the vein easier to locate? Please inform. I need to know this stuff so I can pass on the correct info. A few syringes would be a nice touch, too.

This morning I was pleased to find out that along with learning about the perils of that spaghetti marinara we ate two nights ago, Zach's teacher has enlightened him on the life of a crack addict this week. It involved something about how you're reduced to cleaning the floor with toothbrushes. ????? No joke. Whatever the connection between toothbrushes and crack I have no idea, I'm just extremely grateful we don't live in Little Italy for pete's sake.

Reality check. This is where my kids are: Last year, after looking at the "down on drugs" poster every kid in the school was encouraged to create I was proud to see that my kids will for sure punch the guy's eyes out who dares to try and offer them a cigarette. My kindergartener would really go GET the guy who tries to make him drink alcohol. Oh, and Bullies? Just so you know, you're dead meat, too. My kids will hunt you down. Maybe they're behind.... I don't know. I'm fine with where they are. The other hard core stuff will come soon enough, when it makes sense in their lives.

As for the school's well-meant efforts, I really hope that when that evil kid lurking in the bushes after school offers my sweet boy a joint, my kid will quietly display his fancy socks. They should speak for themselves, but he could explain the power of the socks if the bad kid doesn't get it.

(Incidentally, this isn't just a Utah thing. Check out Paige.)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Will Work For Food...or General Grievous

Here is a picture of my Spencer. He is weeding. I have many fond childhood memories of weeding for my Saturday chore. It was pure torture, and I think I even got paid. I just remember never doing the job well enough, dirt got wedged under my fingernails, that evil long-limbed plant whose edges cut like razors, and playtime looming so large in front of me I couldn't keep my mind focused on the rooty little buggers in ground.

So, what does a mother do when she buys her child a gratuitous toy before he's earned the money because "it was the last one, Mom! (sob, sob)" at Ross where you can never be sure what's going to be there when? Pick a job that little hands can do and that I still hate: weeding.

General Grievous provides moral support

At choretime, Spencer disappears. Nowhere to be found. But if he has the right motivation that kid can focus. As he got going on the money earning I started to wish I had just weathered the bloody uprising from his siblings and bought the toy for him outright. With each chore completed he demanded a running tally on how much more he had to do and how much he could expect to be paid for each chore on the list. This became my chore. It was taking forever. I became overwhelmed with calculating tithing, savings, and spending on each $2.50 chore. I began wondering if just this once he could skip out on tithing, forget saving. But no, I had life lessons to teach.

So Spencer and I toiled together, because as we all know, the kids' chores are our chores. I don't want the car cleaned 7-year-old style. That just sucks and you don't get much for all your nagging except wet, streaked windows, dried bugs only half-way pried off the paint, and tears when he realizes that the car needs to be cleaned inside, too. So he was my "helper" while I scrubbed, swept, and tried not to strangle on Windex fumes, and then I got to pay him. Where's my money? Oh well, my car is clean. And he finally got his General Grievous.