Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"...my own little sign..."

Nathan is quite a good reader these days and while it seems crazy that he can read most anything on his bookshelf by himself, I witnessed the progress each step of the way. It's been sort of fantastic. The writing has come on much more suddenly, perhaps because he lacked the fine motor skills previously, but he's getting there. He practices by writing signs and notes for every occasion. His spelling and grammar is amazingly accurate. These are a few recent notes we've gotten:


"thanks for playing with me"

"I read the red the little red hen today is non ficshin"

"Mommy Im wateing for you to print it"

"I have a surprise for you"


Recently he became annoyed with us and he promptly stomped into his room, shut the door, only to reappear moments later to post a sign on his door that read:

"don't come in here"

Requests to watch television or use my computer are incessant and now come in written format as well:

"Can I watch tv I am done with my bike. Love, Nate" (Watch?? Maybe Shaun helped with that one, I'm not sure.)

I suspect there was a Veteran's Day prompt at school for this one, but I still love it:


"I am thankful for my Grandpa soldier"
If you receive an emotive email from me, it may be that my five year old has broken into my email account and feels the need to express himself. Yes, and he knew exactly what he was doing. Somehow, this frightens me. Must password protect my account.

Since the conclusion of his acting class, he has started writing a play about "women going to jail for speeding and making kids fall out of the car on purpose." Hmmm... Also there is a scene about leaves falling and monsters turning children into hammers to pound on the trees, making the leaves fall--a regular nightmare. And then there was this, I sorta prefer it over children falling out of cars. (I give it to you verbatim as I found it on my printer.)

YOUYOUYOUYOUYOU
You are...You are the earth.
I can see you are the best.
Chesty is too and family.
we....we love our cats.
The leaves are falling down on Silly hats and birds
the leaves are falling down.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Parents Are People, Too!

Written and directed by Jill Costanzo

These kids put on a heck of a show, and had a good time too!

Parents Are People, Too! from David Newman on Vimeo.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Scary Arrived 2010

This was our most fun Halloween ever! It was the first year Nate was even remotely into the scary aspect of the day; in the past he wasn't too keen on even going into the Halloween costume stores, this year, he couldn't get enough. He contemplated the costumes, tried on all the masks, and eventually had to be pried away from a display involving robotic zombies, bloodied baby dolls and lots of troublesome audio. As much as I pitched the pirate costume, he wanted nothing to do with it. We left with his original idea of a scary ghost. Not entirely secretly, I was pleased that he still looked like my baby angel without the hideous mask on.

Auntie Celine joined us in full awesome costume regalia as is tradition. Also, Sam, David and Jarrah joined us for our first ever neighborhood trick or treating excursion with the Klingers and the gang on M Street. The kids ran at top speed from house to house, each intent on collecting the most poundage their treat bags would hold. It became hysterical to them to wish each house miscellaneous holiday greetings other than Happy Halloween. The laughter was complete joy, none sugar induced, they hadn't had a piece. One house even distributed not just full size candy bars, but the ginormous, king size bars--as if that weren't enough, this festive household also passed out jello shooters for the adults!

Eventually our group found ourselves headed home with nary a complaint from our candy laden ghost and witch.

It was quite an evening.


As an aside, please note the difference in photos taken within seconds of one another. Granted, David may be the better photographer/editor/techie, but still, I covet the camera.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Meet Cynthia

A few months ago I took a photography class and while I had hoped to simply learn my machine better, the instructor had art in mind. His assignments were thoughtful and could be intense. One week was never enough time to do them justice; even for the people that could devote their entire week with little other distraction.

One of the early, less intense assignments was to use color as our subject. During the critique while viewing my image of some complementary colored kayaks, he asked if I had moved the kayaks in my quest for the colors and position I captured. Of course not, far be it from me to impose myself on a kayaking company in the middle of class, or anytime really. Hell, I was impressed with myself for trespassing the private property sign on the beach to get the proximity I wanted. He reminded us not to be afraid of boldness.


I had had occasion recently to be in the less trendy parts of downtown for several evenings. I was frightened and motivated by the community of homeless people I encountered each of those evenings. Each time I passed under that bridge I cried, my stomach tied in knots, I laid awake thinking of them for hours into the night. I felt a call to do something, but what? I wondered about social programs our city offered, I thought of starting new ones, I thought of statistics and who these people might be and how that profile has likely changed dramatically in recent years. I was determined to do something the very next week I was scheduled to be in the area, and it came to me. I knew how to make a sandwich, these people were homeless and might be hungry, they might like a sandwich. Next, not only did I need to buy a loaf of bread, I needed to figure out why I was terrified, and how I was to get over the hysteria that was quickly layering atop a firm foundation of cowardice. What if I offered someone a sandwich that was neither hungry nor homeless? Now I was going to be insulting people. Perhaps even those that did need or want a sandwich didn't want me assuming they needed or wanted one. Who the hell was I to shine a light on their misfortune by offering them a damn sandwich anyway?

I might have gotten over the sandwich fear, and also facing my own fear of homelessness. But the fear of the unknown in the darkness of the city I did not get over and ultimately aborted the sandwich mission before it ever began.

I did decide to take a drive downtown one luminous Sunday morning with my camera. Later my photo instructor advised us not to photograph the homeless for many reasons, the most poignant of which was that a portrait should be a gift of sorts from the subject, a sharing of themselves and many times, the homeless don't have a lot to give. I'm glad he shared those thoughts after I had already been, as he may have dissuaded me from going. My camera was secondary on my excursion, perhaps a security blanket of sorts. My main purpose was to face what I considered unreasonable fears, in the bright of day.


I'm no master of navigation but it didn't take long to find a few streets lined with people starting their days. I circled the area. I was a stalker, a peeping tom looking in on what I take for granted are relatively quiet, private moments in my world. There were people discreetly changing clothes, having coffee, reading, brushing their teeth, chit chatting with their neighbors and sweeping their sidewalks. I saw more than one person sitting on their bedrolls putting on bright white socks, that really connected me to the experience for some reason. I do love brand new white socks myself. Still I was frightened. There was no way I was going to stroll down that street; it would be like walking through their home uninvited, how rude would that be? Also, I reminded myself sometimes we are fearful because there is actual danger.

Finally, I parked my car, got out and walked down a side street, on the right hand side that was completely uninhabited. I later found out it was uninhabited because the building had an LO8 posted, which is basically a no loitering sign. There were a couple of people that had set up their living space across the street. My intention was to cross over and maybe strike up a conversation with one of them. I don't much like to strike up conversations with any strangers let alone ones that might see me as a threat. I stayed on my side of the street. There was a woman across the way bent over a planter in the sidewalk pouring water over her head. She cared enough to wash over the planter, her run off watering the spindly city tree trying to survive. Back on my side of the street, I passed a warehouse with a large roll up garage type door halfway up. Inside were a good fifty men busting out of their wife beaters all seated in metal fold out chairs listening intently to someone lecturing about how to further thicken their necks. I crossed over and approached who I would learn was Cynthia. By this point she had also brushed her teeth and changed her shirt. There was a faded ring worn into a back pocket of her jeans. She was an ample woman, not young, not old with clear blue eyes and a sprinkling of freckles across her face. In another time and place, she might have been pretty.

First, I walked by. She was gathering her sleep mat and putting it away in her shopping cart. I turned and asked if I could photograph her, I didn't know what else to say. She was abrupt, angry, told me about how just the night before some of the guys from the other street jumped a woman with a camera and smashed it to bits. She wasn't sure about the well being of the woman. I began to relax, just a little, afterall it could have been true. Cynthia then let me know that if she were offered some money, she might be willing to be cooperate. I had expected this and it seemed reasonable so I gave her a few bucks. Her demeanor changed remarkably. She loved to talk and told me all about the routine on the streets of San Diego. Apparently she's been here only three months and moved here (how?) from the streets of Phoenix, AZ. She knows when the van comes to distribute clean needles, knows the beat of all the local police, knows where to get an afternoon shower, the library schedule and an occasional hot meal. She's found a dead body, collects used needles for money, has two kids, likes video games and reads lesbian literature. I learned that the residents on the better streets keep their shopping carts covered with tarps neatly tucked in and sweep their streets every morning to keep things looking tidy so the cops will give them less trouble and not shoo them off.


She spoke of missing her children, they were her security. Her expression darkened and she spit the words of her daughter leaving her just when they approached the top of the list for housing. Without a dependent, she lost her spot and had to go to the end of the line. She said her son was serving our country in Afghanistan. It had been her life's mission to get him in the military. She had tried to get in herself with no success. I've always appreciated the thought that one of the things that connects us, whoever or wherever we are, is that we all love our children the same. I still believe that's true in its depth, but man oh man the business of survival is tough.

Meet Cynthia, she had a lot to give. She gave me a new perspective, helped open my mind and heart and I'm thankful to have met her.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Draw the Line

Nathan is an affectionate boy, a very affectionate boy. He is quickly identified as "The Hugger" amongst his peers, and if one of his peers has a baby sibling, there is no stopping him, he really loves up the little ones. Some of the time it's sweet, more of the time it's inappropriate and it's a tough situation to parent. Nathan's behavior is not overtly hurting anyone, he wants to hug too long, kiss, hold hands and stroke soft skin--if I don't squash it all out of him first, it could be a great thing in his life someday.

I can't tell you the number of times parents of the other kids will tell Nate or me, "oh it's okay", after I've directed him to unhand their child. It's annoying on several levels. Are we, particularly as women, so programmed to politeness that we condone and even encourage inappropriate behavior towards our daughters? Even when our daughters are clearly uncomfortable? Isn't this the time we teach them to trust their instincts, to respect themselves and demand that others do as well? One mom even told her spitfire smidge of a daughter to stop being rude when the child refused his advances for a hug. I could have cried, not only was it not serving what I was trying to teach, but what about her daughter? Her body and affections were not her own to share as she saw fit? If we don't teach it now, when exactly should we start?

There are a few little girls and one or two moms that support our cause in teaching Nate to "hug and release" as Mrs L used to say. It may just be Jarrah that gets through to him someday. She certainly has affection to share, but when she's had enough, she's had enough and she let's it be known yet holds no grudges.


Whew, that was a tangent...So I've been encouraging Nate to use words or other gestures to show affection. Trust me, the high-five idea is no where near gettin' it for him, but I think he's trying out a line or two on me lately. I've been hearing a lot of "Mommy, you're so cute", and lots of extra I love yous. Tonight after he got out of the bathtub I was drying his hair. He laid several smooches on me, sighed and told me he wanted to marry someone. I responded "Oh yeah, do you have someone in mind already?"

"No, but whoever they are, they can't like pickles."

"No pickles? Why not?"

"Cause I don't like pickle breath, no pickles and no pickle breath."

Well, men too, must have their boundaries it seems.

(Perhaps I should become 'snack mom' and distribute pickles to all of the girls in his class...that might teach him...)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Baby Girl Donaldson--18 weeks

"...Peace will guide the planets, and love will steer the stars, this is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius..."


"Aquarian Age is thought to bring with it an era of universal brotherhood rooted in reason where it will be possible to solve social problems in a manner equitable to all and with greater opportunity for intellectual and spiritual improvement, since Aquarius is an airy, scientific, and intellectual sign."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Kindergarten...nonfiction


Nate's first day was a big success, he was even more ready, more confident than I thought he would be. Each of us had a moment, a different moment, of welling up with the traditional kinder tears but there was no sobbing or clinging by anyone.


Some of the things Nate had to say about his first day:

"They just do baby stuff."

"She didn't even pick me."

"Can you sign me up to ride the bus?"

"Can you sign me up to eat cafeteria food?"

"We didn't even get any homework."


The week went on and we've mostly fallen into a routine. I am likely having the toughest time of it due to logistics and work demands. My intention is to come to a better solution, but for now, Nate is happy and Shaun is spending good bonding time to and from school with him.

The "homework packet" has since come home and I've had to limit the amount of time we've spent on it--he's very into this new responsibility and all the "paperwork" involved. The work of the worksheets is well below his capability; the focusing and following directions seem to be worthy endeavors. I am most impressed with the calendar activities from which he is to choose two per week to complete, and the reading log that includes a column to indicate whether the books read are fiction or nonfiction. Nathan brought up a good point, often he is not sure whether his books are true or not, how exactly is he supposed to know? So far, homework has been done at the kitchen table; well, with me at the kitchen table and him climbing, pacing and swinging in the near vicinity. Incidentally, something has been going on with his development because he is has turned into quite the climber. I have found him on top of his dresser, my desk, the tv cabinet, chairs and tables. His preferred position for watching television is now upside down.

We are very grateful for what seems to be another fantastic teacher this year. Many of my concerns about Kindergarten were quelled when Nate complained that, "all we ever do is play". Fabulous.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Run, Don't Walk

Though it never really arrived, it's now unofficially over. Summer that is. We celebrated with a neighborhood block party yesterday that was a kids' wonderland complete with a ginormous bouncy slide, several motorized vehicles at their disposal, and 192 pounds of sugary treats with a side of hot dog.


We kicked our summer off with a similar walk through the neighborhood, pulling our otherwise unused gardening cart to the cul de sac piled high with BYOWhatnots and Nate cruising on his scooter, while I yelled across the neighborhood for him to slow down, that this is a busy street. Ahhh, motherhood.

We planted and tended our first garden this spring and summer. I thought our harvest was respectable for a first try. We were in tomatoes all summer long, and also had strawberries, beans, pumpkins, carrots and bell peppers. Two of my favorite sights in our little garden were Nathan picking the fruits and veggies right off the vine, popping them in his mouth and the exclamations that followed; and second, a bunny nibbling at our carrot greens! A bunny sighting is not a common occurrence in our urban setting. We also started composting with red wiggler worms this summer. I'm certain they have reproduced, so I'm thinking they're thriving, but Nate and I are both unsure of "which part of this is the compost?"

Shaun taught Nate to ride his bike without training wheels this summer. He is proficient enough now not to require someone running madly alongside him. That's arguable though since when he becomes fatigued he will invariably smash right into any obstacle in his path. Not a great thing when it's Labor Day at the bay.


Nate had his first root beer in Ventura and lost his first tooth at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Sentimental guy that he is, he didn't want to give it up to the tooth fairy.

Auntie Terry and Uncle Jeff are expecting their first baby in February. Just this morning, with no provocation whatsoever Nate asked, "How big is the baby now?" He loves the baby stories.

We played our first round of miniature golf together, rode our first big roller coasters (he thought he would get to sit in my lap), and stayed awake for his first Padre game. As I was explaining what was going on, not surprisingly, Mr. Literal questioned the running around the bases to home bit. "They aren't going to run to their actual homes are they?"

Nate's been interested in earning money in the past and has earned prizes this summer and previous Summers doing the library reading program, so he definitely understands the concept of it. Another first this summer is his detour away from PBS Kids television channel. Yes, now he wants to watch vile characters doing evil non-kid things and to top it off, these new channels have...commercials...so now there's a whole new world of things that he must have. "Actually, Mommy I don't want a Pillow Pet, I need a Pillow Pet."

"You need one, huh? And how much do they cost?"

"$19.95 plus shipping and handling. And, they are machine washable and guaranteed for 60 days."

"Do you have $19.95?"

"No."

"Well, if you want, we could probably work something out, but you may not want to and that's fine; you can just put the Pillow Pet on your birthday wish list."

From there he proceeded to make his own behavior/earning/Pillow Pet chart complete with the days of the week labeled on the left and a cutout of the advertisement he found in the Toys R Us circular taped to the top. He worked the majority of the summer for that damn pillow and let me tell you, it was a proud day when he earned the final mark and knew a trip to Toys R Us was in store that afternoon. I was pretty proud of us too.


I think maybe the best first of the summer is the full blown reading. It's been coming in bits and pieces for some time, but now, there's no denying it. While the accomplishment he feels is evident, it goes well beyond cracking the code. He reads aloud with expression, appropriate intonations, questions what he doesn't understand, and especially with any Mo Willems books, there is giggling.

There are other firsts that make a mother a tad less proud and more perplexed, infuriated, and triggered but this is not the time or place...

Tomorrow begins a new first, Kindergarten.


Between rounds of Scrabble, laundry and Candyland we asked Nate if he wanted to walk or drive to school tomorrow. "Walk, well--actually run, because the bell rings at 8:58am

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Oh Yeah

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."
~John F. Kennedy

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pirates and Pendants

I was pretty sure Shaun would be stuck home working while Nate and I headed up the coast to visit my sister and brother in law in Ventura, so I decided to splurge on our room. That doesn't sound right, but basically since I wouldn't have the comfort of my usual personal navigator, I wanted the comfort of familiarity in our accommodation and location. When our regular spot was booked, I reserved a room down the street, due West, thank you very much.


I must be getting anxious in my old age because almost immediately after hitting "reserve", I began to consider the earthquakes we've had lately and from earthquakes come tsunamis and a room in the sky overlooking the ocean may not be the ideal spot to be in such a circumstance. I hoped for above ground parking at the hotel and wondered if Ventura had installed the tsunami escape route signs that dot our own beach town landscape. I am acutely aware of just how wack these new anxieties of mine are, yet somehow they ebb and flow amongst the rest of the clutter in my head.

Nate has always been a trouper on a road trip and this time was not much different, with the exception of a few cases of role reversal. I was called upon to answer the age old classic question from the back seat, "Are we there yet?" at least a dozen times. Also, on the way home, when I got lost, he informed me that he knew how to do directions better than I did. Yeah, that's not really a tough contest to win with me.

Once we arrived I could scarcely get him to leave the hotel room. The kid loves hotels, figuring out every piece of new equipment in his reach, and arranging everything to his liking. This tests my patience much as it is tested with his father anytime we rent a car. He also must test every operation of the vehicle before we leave the rental garage. I'm certain I should count myself lucky that he doesn't peruse the owner's manual before inserting the key in the ignition, but I don't. Instead, I roll my eyes, do a lot of sighing, and think how much further along in our journey we could be if only these tedious details could be figured out in the event they were actually required. Yes, this from the woman who didn't bother to bring a map with her for a road trip with her five year old and proceeded to make a seventy mile, two hour mistake en route home.


Eventually, we made it out to the playground on the beach and met Terry and her friend there shortly after. It was really cool to see Terry share her pregnancy news with a very enthusiastic friend, who is a new mom herself. Jeff met us later and we all went downtown for a lovely dinner.

Saturday was a big day. We slept in and read and watched cartoons followed by breakfast at Nona's at Nathan's request. Next we played text tag with Terry and headed for a stroll through the the farmers' market.


The Ventura Farmer's market is much smaller than ours which is great in that there are way fewer people to jostle about with in the crowd. There are also way fewer farmers offering tastes of their crops since there is much less competition amongst them. Dreads, new age hippies, and folk music made it feel just like home. We stopped to listen to two gals playing Irish country tunes when Nathan promptly demanded money to show his appreciation. I suggested he give them the dollar I knew was in his pocket. There was no hesitation, "I want to give them your money not my money."


Occasionally I know when to pick my battles so I forked over a buck and after a few more songs I pulled Nathan aside and decided it was time he had some spending money of his own. I was feeling bold and curious so I asked him how much money he would like for the weekend. He thought for a good while and wide eyed answered, "ten dollars".

"Whoa, that is a lot of money, how 'bout I give you five instead and you can add it to the one in your pocket, then how much would you have?"

"Six bucks."

"Is that good?"

"Good."

I had it on good authority that the coolest candy and soda pop shop in town was a mere couple of blocks away. Primed and ready, we were off.


There was much browsing and calculating, in the end I was pleased that Nathan chose to spend the bulk of his cash on a small toy instead of a red lacquered bucketful of sugar. It was extra thrilling when the leathery man behind the cash register gave him the candy portion of his purchase since the cash register wouldn't ring it up. Yup, .29 and a balloon made his day.

We met up with Terry and Jeff for more strolling and then a relaxing couple of hours in the park. Nathan had a blast with his Uncle Jeff while Terry and I lounged and chatted in the sunshine. She got to witness Nathan's friend making technique of silently approaching a smaller child and either gently taking their hand, or if he is really enamored, trying hug the child while lifting him or her from the ground. Usually I intervene before the picking up of children, at which time he proclaims his love. If the little one continues to hold his hand or hug him, he is most certain of their love of him.


Next Nathan and I went to the Harbor for Pirate Days, where we met Jack Sparrow...several times.


The slides and jumpers invigorated my boy.


When he ran out of tickets he did his own interpretive dance for a good 45 minutes next to this guy on the otherwise unoccupied pirate sound stage.


We ended the day at Terry and Jeff's for dinner. Turns out my brother-in-law is a good cook and an even better garage/studio designer. It was fun to see their space and some of her works in progress along with pieces from her peers.

One might think I should have been showering my sister with gifts being that she is newly pregnant with a birthday approaching and one would be correct; but this night I was to be the recipient.

Nearly a year ago, I became a certified, ordained Reverend in the interest of serving as officiant in Terry and Jeff's wedding. While I was honored to accept the job, I was terrified on many levels. Perhaps there is another post in this whole experience, but for now, I'll just say I spent a good amount of time on it--where good amount of time, means every spare moment during the month of August 2009. They had a beautiful wedding and I was relieved not to have crumbled into a blubbering mess at the top of the mountain.

As if the whole experience were not gift enough, they touched me deeply after dinner with thoughtful words and gifts, perfect mementos of the day.


Sunday morning, before we headed back home we had breakfast in a super cool courtyard restaurant in Midtown and took in the views from a hilltop over Ventura.

Nathan is a sweet affectionate boy and shall we say...has a soft spot for babies...I suspect Auntie T was getting a little extra lovin' for the peanut too.

Congratulations to Terry and Jeffrey, I couldn't be happier for you and for all of us.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Tour de Palomar


photo by Michael

They made it! Maybe I should he made it! My dad and Michael have been training for a tad longer than the last two weeks, so there wasn't much doubt they would make it. Shaun showed up late to this party, but with some encouragement, sheer determination and the fact that he's a stud, he climbed a mountain today.

Grey Skies and Career Choices

Determined to spend some time at the beach this summer despite the depressing weather, we packed our parkas and headed out.


It was a little odd to find the beach very much occupied. Normally when our skies are this grey, it is the dead of winter. Foolishly I expected it to be as deserted as one would expect in February. Instead of umbrellas jutting out from the sand and brightening the scene, beach towels wrapped the locals. Tourists were making the best of it, some even romping about in the ocean.


Nate made good use of the playground and I got to play around a little with my camera entirely in the manual mode which was a first for me.

Earlier that morning we had picked up a new photography book at the UCSD bookstore. Nate was very much intimidated by the campus, I'm sure because his point of reference for Grayson's school was his own preschool, or maybe the elementary school he has visited a few times and will be attending in the fall.


I'm certain he has now reconsidered the notion that he will simply attend Kindergarten and First Grade and then head off to college; but he is steadfast in the decision to attend UCSD at some point. He is clear that he will not be an engineer like his brother, that job description is a bit elusive. Nor will he be a doctor because they give shots and hurt babies. It was a tough decision between being a Veterinarian or a Zoo Keeper, but the decision is made. He has deduced that though a Vet gets to spend lots of time with animals, their owners eventually (usually) take them home, while a Zoo Keeper's animals will always stay at the zoo with him. So it's settled then.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Verklempt...A Kindergartner in our Midst

Dear Mrs Landis and Ms Jennifer,

If I were more creative and a much better wordsmith, I might fashion this note into a little ditty, but instead of “Waltzing Matilda” or “Ten Little Indians” it would be to the tune of “All the Single Ladies”, and I’m thinking it would be a movement song, yes there would definitely be dancing.

I might include lyrics about all the many things you taught Nathan. I‘d sing about the conversations your lessons inspired across our extended family. I’d tell of your tireless energy, your creative and ever-changing materials in the classroom. I’d weave something in about the great fun celebrated at every holiday, the butterflies, the puppies and so much more. The refrain would have a catchy melody and would express my deepest gratitude for giving my boy a safe, happy, rich environment to blossom in so many ways.

He leaves you not only with solid footing for kindergarten, but for real life. He’s not yet the king of coloring, but he did draw a blueprint for the “every-wary” (aviary) he intends to build. His love and knowledge of animals has been more than nurtured in your classroom, if he had it his way, we would have ten of every classroom pet at home—plus a “bone” constrictor, of course.

Nate can take hours to get through his morning routine if I let him, but he can apply knowledge and logic with confidence. Recently he was having a conversation with his Grandma about potential vacation spots. He asked where she’d like to go and she responded Belize. Without missing a beat, he said, no let’s go somewhere on a different continent. That one had several members of the family whipping out their iphones!

His mind may wander, but there have been more than one occasion that I asked him if Mrs. Landis or Ms Jennifer taught him xyz and he responded no, but she taught it to Suzy Q and I was listening. He can even apply humor to the lessons; he’s been known to refer to his girl-friends as fe-mammals and informed me during a sleepover that he and his friend would be staying up all night long, ‘cause they ‘re nocturnal (insert maniacal laughter here).

You fed his passions and his desire to learn. You taught kindness, grace, spirit, and dealt with some tough real life situations. You reminded me the infamous day of the fish funeral that most often it’s best just to keep it real with kids—they can handle it. Yes they can. Sometimes I have a hard time. Did I tell you when our dog died right before the fish incident; I tried to keep it real? Many conversations about death, cremation and locations of ashes followed. He asked poignant questions and much to both our horror, I answered them. After he thought about it all for a while, he bounded back up the stairs with a few nonchalant follow up questions, “Mommy, are we gonna get cooked up when we die? Who will get the ashes if we’re all dead and cooked?” Oy vey.

Apparently Nate is not the only one who lacks economy of words at times. I guess I am trying to say thank you both for all you’ve done and for making our decision to change schools this last year, one of the best parenting decisions we’ve made.

Sincerely,

Stephanie and Shaun

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Next up...Money and Politics

A few years ago Shaun was reading something of Eldon Taylor's wherein he makes a short reference to Mark Twain's Letters From The Earth. I haven't been able to find the exact reference, but I am intrigued to learn more after a couple of brief strolls through it. Taylor talks about the part of the work in which the archangels are deciding where to hide God. It is suggested that they hide Him on the moon or deep beneath the surface of the sea and so forth. Each suggestion eventually leads the archangels to conclude that man is too smart for that--sooner or later they would find God. Finally, they decide to hide God within every human being; for the last place mankind will look, is within.

We thought that was pretty profound, concise, and on target with some of our own beliefs.

So tonight I had occasion to revisit that bit of history and share a new moment with Nathan. (Nate, I should say. He has requested that I let his kindergarten teacher know that he prefers to be called Nate, not Nathan or Nathaniel; it's Nate, thank you very much.)

When Nate moved from his crib to a full on bed when he was two and a half I think, I made what has sometimes been called a mistake. I started laying down with him to help him go to sleep. We went cold turkey on the pacifier at the same time; it was a tough transition. Anyway, we often still lay down with him. I like to think it's on our terms not his, as there are nights that we don't do it and it's fine. There are also nights that I am walking him back to his bed five times, but whatever... Nights when I do lay with him there are often golden nuggets bestowed on me and I am so happy that I haven't taken a hard line on bedtime. He tells me about his day, pets he wants to acquire and places he wants to go. Tonight was no different. He told me all about how much he loves Mika and Dillon from the "baby class", how to spell all variations of his name--forward and backwards and then he told me that Gabriel (his classmate, not an angel) thinks that God lives in the sky. "Oh yeah? And what do you think?"

"I think He lives right in my heart. Good night Mommy."

"G'nite Bug."

Friday, May 28, 2010

Understatement

"Mommy, I want you to make me a little brother or sister."

"Oh, that would be nice, but it's not going to happen Hon."

"But I want it."

"There's this song, I think you've heard it a time or a hundred...you can't always get what you want..."

Relentless, "Why not?"

"Because sometimes a person's body won't do what you want it to."

"But Mommy, did you go to the doctor?"

"Yes, as a matter of fact I did."

"Well, I think you should try again."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Take me home, country road...

We had the good fortune of spending the afternoon at a friend's house today. This is not your typical San Diego county home. I would call it New England Farmhouse in style. They have a full basement, a front porch and decks across the entire rear of the home from which to appreciate the country views of rolling hills all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Adirondack chairs, lanterns, a fire pit and thick planks of salvaged lumber make for outdoor dining and entertainment. Oh, and Kathleen and Rick have a few pets. Here is the latest addition to their family, a sweet puppy named Cassie:


Next we met Charlotte:


Molly may have been my favorite:



We fed the sheep,


and chickens.


Nate even got to check the nest boxes in the hen house for eggs. He scored and got to take home his booty.


Speaking of booty, the garden was in full production and gorgeous. We came home with a bag full of basil, onions, carrots, cabbage, and swiss chard. Delicious.


I guess I'm a country girl at heart because I love this place. I am so grateful for such a wonderful afternoon and getting to see my son running down country roads, across fields, and me being more fearful of a snake bite than oncoming traffic.


Incidentally, the next morning before I cracked those farm eggs for Nathan's breakfast he was quick to stop me..."Wait! What if Kathleen gave us the wrong kind of eggs, what if there are chicks in them? I don't want to kill the chicks, I want to wait for them to hatch!" I reminded him of a few things and pointed out there was not a rooster in the hen house...So my child is making it his mission to supply one rooster for every hen in the house so they can all get married and have baby chicks, because that would be so cute, and one could fit right in his hand dontcha know?

Many thanks to Bonny for the idea and to Kathleen and Rick for their generous hospitality.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Spa Sunday?

It's been a pretty good run, but it's over now. I have been deemed the baddest, meanest mother ever made. Apparently, there is no laughing, playing or fun around here at all, ever.

I, in fact, ruin everything. He had no choice but to call off Mother's Day. There will be no more flowers for me, my garden will soon be pulled out, and rats will fill my home. Howz that for a Mother's Day greeting? When I tell him not to speak to me with disrespect, I am informed that that makes me even meaner.

On the way to swimming lessons, he asked me for another batch of caterpillars and I foolishly let a bit of sarcasm slip and responded that maybe he should ask some other nice mommy. With no sarcasm of his own, he said, "ok, I'll ask your mommy."

Fantastic, maybe she will also house the mice, lizards, and birds you want; give you your dinner right now; and let you give the cats "bathez" each morning before the sunrise. Yes, that sounds pretty good about now.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Consequences

"Mommy, I am getting you a lot of new pets for your birthday. We are going to do it in steps, and today, we are going to get the food and toys. So do you want to get rabbit food, bearded dragon food, or bird food?"

"Uh, none thank you, I think the kittens we got two weeks ago are quite enough for now."

"Mommy, I gave you your choices and if you keep saying none, that means we are going to get even more pets. It's time to go to Petco, which did you choose; a rabbit, bearded dragon, or a bird?"

"I am not going to Petco and we are not getting any more pets today."

"Mommy, if you don't do as I say, there will be a consequence and I don't think you will like it...no birthday party for you. Do you understand that means no cake?"

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tessie and Shelby

Approximately 48 hours after we had Chippy Fight Fight home, we were informed that Beta Fish were boring. Then we received our caterpillars in the mail which were slightly more exciting as they can be carried all around the house by their proud master watching for all stages of the grand metamorphosis, a concept and a word Nate's been familiar with for a couple of years now. Somehow the discussions started pointing towards a more interactive, pettable pet and this morning when I got out of the shower a very excited five year old barged in on me and told me all about how we were getting a cat today. He didn't stop talking or jumping up and down about it for a good ten minutes. The next time I want something, I must remember to put Nathan on the job, because moments later Shaun joined the party and confirmed it was true; we were getting a cat today.

What? Just one? That's just not how we roll. Meet Tessie and Shelby, female littermates, seven months old. So far they seem easy going, tolerant and happy.




Granted, we are the adults and parents in this house and we make the decisions gosh darn it; but the fact remains we are both more dog than cat people and Nathan was quick to ask when we could take the kitties for a walk to Isaac's house. Also, when were we getting a dog to see how they all get along?

Yeah, I think I'll take the over on that one.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Testing, testing...

"Mommy, I don't love you any more."

"You do too."

"No, I really don't."

"Oh, why do you suppose that is?"

"Because you broke my heart."

"Oh no, how did I do that?"

"Because I love you too much and it broke my heart."

At this I broke into the biggest, most dramatic sobbing I could muster and thankfully garnered laughter and assurances that he was kidding. Whew, that was close.