Friday, March 30, 2007

Santa Bunny, or Easter Claus

"Gran's visiting this weekend." It's bedtime, and I'm in the middle of our nightly negotiation. Clay wants me to stay as long as possible, and I'm looking forward to a couple of alone hours with Mike and a crossword puzzle. So, I'm changing the subject...

"She'll probably bring your Easter basket too." Bingo! He's no longer worried about my leaving, but is now thinking of future treats.

"Does that mean the Easter bunny's coming?" he asks.

"Not this weekend, but next."

"Oh. And then he'll come down the chimney saying 'Ho, Ho, Ho!'"

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

This I Know

There’s been a lot of press lately about the childhood obesity "epidemic", and it’s about to make me throw up. Kids may be getting fatter, or this may be a ‘let’s scare everyone about TV and Twinkies and get a ratings boost to boot.’

I don’t know what the press’ true motivation is, but I do know this: criticizing someone about their weight does absolutely NOTHING for their self-esteem, except break it down. If that’s your motivation, then criticize away, and you will succeed in making a fat person feel smaller (and not in a good way). When it comes to children, a primal, visceral, guttural rage starts to build in me whenever someone tells a child to watch what s/he eats. And I think “People who make comments about a person’s weight should be slapped. People who make comments about a child’s weight should be strung up by their toes.”

As long as you limit a child’s television viewing time, provide lots of opportunity for outside play, and offer a wide range of healthy food choices, let them eat up the refrigerator if they want and you can afford it! For heavens’ sake, their bodies are still GROWING.

That being said, let me confess to the hypocrisy that is my life. I am a fat woman who needs to lose at least 100 pounds. I worry about my kids' weight every day because I don’t want them to follow the same path I did. (And for the record, I was not a fat kid. My weight problem started in college, and was based primarily on other demons. But my views of food, as comfort and refuge, began in childhood.) I have recently found myself telling Clay he can’t have an extra yogurt (for example) because he just had lunch (for example). Never mind that he’s a thin, active kid. I am not a thin, active adult, and I don’t want that for him.

So why? Why? Why? Why? Why am I doing this to him? I don’t know, but I know better, and I resolve to do better by him. If anyone hears me telling him to watch what he eats, string me up by my toes. Okay?

For a reality check, read this:

We Protect Our Kids from Everything But Fear

Monday, March 26, 2007

Cooking Lessons

Tonight was pancake supper, and Clay got to help crack the eggs. While fishing the eggshells out of the bowl Mike told him he was quite the chef. Beaming, Clay ran all over the living room, saying "I'm a chef! I'm a chef!"

Fast forward to bedtime, and I'm helping Clay into his pjs. And although I'm trying to hold his underwear so he won't have to do too much of a balancing act, he grabs them out of my hand and says "I do it myself. I'm a CHEF!"

I guess he'll be ready to dress a turkey next...

REALLY Clueless Boys

This morning at preschool drop off, Clay hops out of the van and his classmate Emma greets him with a cheery "Hi Clay!".

You can probably guess what happened next:

"Hi Mia!!"

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Blissful Sleep

Anyone who has young kids knows that sleep is a precious commodity. Babies? Fuhgeddaboutit. What's a parent to do?

Why, pawn the kiddies off on Grandma (and aunt & uncle)!

Last night was Clay & Drew's first sleepover. And it was Mike and Nancy's first opportunity in nearly 4 years to actually sleep past 7:30!

Thanks Mom, Karen & Pete. We'll be down in a few hours. Um... promise!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Here’s how I know today is the first day of Spring. It isn’t because I checked the calendar, or because of the fine weather (actually, it was 50 degrees and a little dreary). I heard no chirping birds, and although I spied daffodils and crocuses this past week, none caught my attention this morning.

So how did I know? Every spring, the radio stations play John Fogerty’s Centerfield a LOT. And sure enough, it was on as soon I got in the car this morning. You might think I’d get tired of this song, but nothing could be further from the truth. I love it. Every time I hear the ‘Clap Clap/ Clap Clap Clap/ Clap Clap/ CLAP CLAP’, a great big smile crosses my face.

Now, I am no baseball fan. The game’s okay, but mostly I enjoy watching a game at the stadium because of the crowds. I’ll never watch a game on TV. Nevertheless, there is something so happy and so hopeful about Centerfield, I literally bounce in my seat. That very first verse, I confess I imagine Clay (and now Drew) in a little baseball cap and cleats.

Well, beat the drum and hold the phone - the sun came out today!
We’re born again, there’s new grass on the field.
A-roundin’ third, and headed for home, it’s a brown-eyed handsome man;
Anyone can understand the way I feel.

And by the time the song gets to this verse, I’m a little teary (it’s true!). I wonder if my dad, growing up in rural North Carolina on a little dirt farm, actually played baseball. If he did, I’ll bet he would have said this:

Got a beat-up glove, a homemade bat, and brand-new pair of shoes;
You know I think it’s time to give this game a ride.

So put me in Coach! I’m ready to play today!

Clap Clap/ Clap Clap Clap/ Clap Clap/ CLAP CLAP!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Clueless Boys

Today was Mike's day to parent aide at Clay's preschool. This happens about once a month, and it means that Clay gets to be the 'leader'. It's not quite as exciting as Christmas or birthdays, but 'Daddy's at school, I get to be the leader' day still ranks pretty high with the boy.

And on top of all the excitement, it was 'Green Party' day (aka the St. Patrick's Day Party). So, Mike and Clay went off dressed in green clothes, and bearing green snacks (lime sherbert, green apples and kiwis). Mike got to wear the big green hat, and would play the title role in the promised 'Find the Leprechaun' game.

Meanwhile, Drew and I spent some quality time at home. And by 'quality time', I of course mean helplessly trying to quiet his red-faced screaming fit due to aching gums. And by 'fit', I mean an hour long performance. This kid has stamina.

So, it was with some relief that I met Mike and Clay at school, and off we went to McDonald's for lunch. (Clay is practically beside himself at this point: 'I was the leader!', 'Daddy was at school all morning with me!' 'I get chicken nuggets AND chocolate milk!!').

At Mickey D's, as if Clay's day wasn't SUH-WEET enough already, we ran into his classmate Mia. (Tina and Mia, if you've heard the stories, are semi-groupies of Clay. He's very popular with the ladies.) Clay wants to sit next to Mia and her grandfather, which we did. And this worked well. In addition to her chicken nuggets, Mia was sampling some of her grandfather's salad. Clay was in full "copy cat" mode, so he wanted to try some of my salad. And since he normally has an aversion to anything from the vegetable food group (barring French fries), I was happy to share. Clay and Mia played with their happy meal toys together. Clay and Mia looked out the window and waved to the passing cars leaving the drive through. Clay was having a blast. And then, he made a tactical error:

'Hey Emma! Do you...'

'My name's MIA!'

Oblivious, Clay proceeds with his question. Mia looks past the oversight and sips her apple juice. A few minutes later, my boy makes the VERY SAME MISTAKE!


Exasperated, Mia reminds him (again) that her name is NOT Emma.

And I'm watching this scene, and I cringe every time he calls this little girl by the wrong name. I remember past conversations with boys I fancied, and my cheeks turn a little red because I remember experiencing the very same frustrations whenever one would commit some little innocent (albeit thoughtless or cavalier) transgression. And I wonder, 'what's wrong with him?' He knows Mia (mostly he knows her as 'Tina and Mia' b/c she's they're always together), but for some reason he has Emma on the brain. I chalk it up to the testosterone.

Mia, if it's any consolation, he sometimes calls me 'Daddy.'

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Celebrating Ordinariness

I'm reading this book called 'The Blessing of a Skinned Knee', by Wendy Mogel. She's a child psychologist who has studied Judaism and applies traditions from that religion to parenting. You need not practice Judaism to get this book. I've been nodding my head all along with it, particularly with the second chapter "The Blessing of Acceptance".

Essentially, Mogel submits that the more we put our kids on a pedestal, the higher the fall they're going to experience. It's the rare person who is good at everything, and the more that we pressure our kids to excel in multiple areas (through seemingly innocuous praise or more severe criticism), the eventual reality check that life is going to give them could be crushing. Instead, we should accept our kids for who they are. Acknowledge their true strength (probably in a few areas) and embrace their weaknesses. My favorite quote from this chapter:

"Children who feel that they are expected to surpass their parents' already high level of achievement or to demonstrate skills that are beyond their capabilities will suffer. Some children are one-trick ponies, and trying to get them to master a broad variety of skills is futile and destructive. Keep at it, and they'll even forget their one trick."

Mike and I are painfully aware that in addition to their little bodies, we're in charge of protecting their little minds. Mindless praise of EVERYTHING will either teach a child to work only for praise, or to have an over-inflated ego. Or both. Encourage the process of learning, the process of working, and they will learn to value that instead.

I'm terribly guilty of this because I don't know how many times a day I mindlessly say 'Great Job' to Clay, regardless of what he's done. Great Job finishing your carrots! Great job on that picture! Great job being gentle with Drew!... As if he were splitting the atom. I'll try to remember that as special as Clay and Drew are to me, in truth, they're just ordinary boys.

No pressure.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Finding his voice

Little Drew is going to be 6 months old next Tuesday. 6 months! I just had him day before yesterday, didn't I? I know I should be thrilled, but truthfully I'm a little sad at how quickly he's growing up. Already, he's moved into that babbling phase. It sounds like 'raow, raow, raow, raow', and it's a perfectly adaptable phrase for just about any mood the boy is in. Such as:

'Raow raow raow' (with arched eyebrows and wide eyes, holding his play rings), as if to say :
'Behold, what interesting shapes I have here in my hands. I mustn't misplace these. Why look, I have thumbs!'

'Raow raow raow' (with furrowed forehead and glaring at Mike or me, sitting in his booster seat), as if to say:
'HEY! PEOPLE! I'm HUNGRY! Chop chop!'

'Raow raow raow' (rubbing his eye with his little closed fist and yawning), as if to say:
'Oh my goodness, when did it get so late??'

'Raow raow raow' (palm of hand against side of face, crying loudly), as if to say:
'Oh woe is me! No one is paying attention? What is this hellish existence I've been subjected to? What did I... oooh! A bottle!'

I said it with big bro Clay (who's babble was 'keh beh beh?', a phrase we still use to this day), and it's true with Drew. He's got an awful lot to say. I can't wait to hear it. But maybe I can.

Monday, March 12, 2007


Mike, dropping a kitchen tool: "Doggone It"
Clay: "Daddy, you shouldn't say that. You should say 'Damnit' instead!"

Me, following Clay up the stairs: "C'mon, we're late. We've got to get dressed!"
Clay: "Yeah, we don't have time to fart around..."

Sunday, March 11, 2007

We're still here!

Already, I'm falling behind (I wasn't kidding when I said I was the worst at journaling!)

Mama and Daddy are slowing being felled by head colds and sore toes (in no particular order). The toe thing is my cross to bear, and let me just say that it (the toe) is THE most underrated part of the body. I fear an excision is forthcoming, or an exorcism. The thing hurts!!

Today is birthday party day. One of Clay's school chums is turning four and is hosting the celebration at Chuck E. Cheese. Clay has been asking to leave all morning for he loves the place. Not that Mike or I have ever taken him. Oh no, that was Gran, Aunt Karen & Uncle Pete's gift (or curse) to us. Mike and I have prided ourselves in not stepping foot in the place... yet. Until today, that is. (Actually, I'm still a Chuck E Cheese virgin a la yesterday's conversation:)

Me: So, you're taking Clay tomorrow, right?
Him: Um, no, I was thinking you'd take him.
Me: Really? 'Cause I definitely had it in my head that you'd take him and I'd stay home with Drew. My toe, and all (cheap sympathy trick...)


Him: Okayyyyy. I'll go.


p.s. Coming soon... photos. Promise!

Thursday, March 08, 2007



"Mommy, did you have a dream?"

Clay asks me this as we snuggle in bed. Although we pride ourselves in having kids who are really good sleepers (we Ferberized Clay at 4 months, and he's slept like a champ ever since. Well, mostly.), Clay has gotten in the habit of coming into our bed some mornings. And although I worry about it being a regressive step, I enjoy having a warm snuggly little boy join us in the morning more.

I tell him I didn't dream last night. What about him?

"I dreamed about POPCORN. It was going to the movies to eat popcorn. And it had legs, arms and a hat!"

Hmmm. I decided not to tell him it sounded like cannibal popcorn to me!


"Mommy, did you have a dream?" I tell him I didn't.

"I dreamed about a potato chip that was in someone's mouth getting eaten."

I ask him if he remembers who's mouth. "No", he replied, "but he was scared."

"The person?"

"No, the potato chip."

Should I be concerned he's dreaming about food personified?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Things Kids Say

At the big boy age of 3, Clay wanted a pet. And although he was hinting for a dog, we decided to give him a little brother instead. Probably not what he had in mind, but it's worked out well so far.

Nevertheless, the thought of a pet took root in my brain, and I decided that a little dose of responsibility in the form of a fish would be a good lesson for him. Fortunately, my step mother Rose had a betta fish for years that just died (um, I guess it was more fortunate for us than the fish), and she offered us the whole betta fish set up. “Perfect low maintenance pet!”, thought I. We splurged a whole $3.50 on a betta fish Clay named ‘Blue Blue’ (guess what color he was?), and brought him to his new home.

Blue Blue died 3 days later.

Being intrepid parents, we flushed him and went out for another betta fish. Of course, we kept Clay OUT of the loop. I didn’t want to have the life and death conversation with him just yet, and fortunately there were plenty of Blue Blues at the pet store. This time, we splurged and spent $7 for Blue Blue Mach II. And he died a week later. (Really, what did we expect? We spend twice as much for Blue Blue II, so of course he’d only live twice as long!)

At this point, we decided the game was over, and ‘fessed up to Clay. (After all, we could easily go broke on Blue Blues!) He took it really well, and off we went to the bathroom for a watery funeral.

Fast forward a few days to this conversation:

“Daddy, will I die?”

Ugh… I knew he’d ask this sooner or later. I was hoping for later.

“Yes, but not for a long, long, long, long, long, long, long, LONG, LONG, LONG time, Clay. You have a lot of living to do before you die.”

“Oh. Then I get flushed down the toilet.”

Monday, March 05, 2007

Who Am I?

First, welcome!

Next, let's address who I am not. I am not a writer. Many blogs are venues for writers to practice their craft, but that is not this blog's purpose. This is an online journal (of sorts) to record my family's "happenings". A future gift to my children.

I am not a terrific journal-keeper, so this is going to be a challenge. I've lost track of the number of journal writing assignments I've had to slog through during school, and consequently the number of marathon last minute, late night "Oh my gosh what have I done this past month?" journal entries I've had to write. Perhaps this technology will make it much easier for me because I can e-mail myself an idea whenever I think of it (no need to remember what I want to write that one time of day when my paper and pen is handy). I am hopeful.

And there's a segue to who I am! I am Nancy, wife of Mike, mother of 3 year old Clay and 6 month old Drew. I work full time in an IT department for a local performing arts organization. Mike stays home with the kids, and freelance web designs when he can. But mostly, he takes care of us. Which is great, because he is much better at it. Single Nancy could barely get her laundry done, and rarely cleaned her apartment. Married Nancy doesn't have to worry about it much thanks to Mike. (It helps that my standards are low. Plus, a messy house builds immune systems, right?)

As for the blog title ... what can I say? I like to read; my kids are my biggest project, and I don't want to screw it (er, them) up. Consequently, my house is littered with parenting books. My current read is The Blessings of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel.