The cake that Braden selected for his 4th Birthday…
Recipe for success! Let the preparations begin!!
Swirling and twirling….
And now the final product….
My family headed to the Great Wolf Lodge for an overnight this past weekend to celebrate Braden’s 4th birthday! The windchill outside was -20 degrees, schools were closed, people were advised that even 10 minutes of exposed skin could lead to frostbite. And there we were…. running about in our bathing suits in the tropical waterpark air. It wasn’t Jamaica, but it wasn’t too shabby. (By the way, this was an online winter deal and cost just over $100 for a one night stay and passes to the waterpark for four- totally worth it!)
This mini-vacation was so many things at once. A much-needed break from the cold. Essential time away from email, facebook, and all things work-related. A pseudo-outdoor adventure (or as close as we’re gonna get to something-like-the-outdoors when the weather is so cold you can’t actually stand outside for more than 10 minutes.) A chance for our little 1 year old to experience a waterslide for the first time. And a window into our now 4 year old’s soul- where he can’t stop smiling, laughing, and racing for each new ride without hesitation. He is a water-baby through and through.
It was also a reminder that Justin and I are the grown-ups now. We’re not the ones running down the hotel hallways, giggling and yelling (yes, fellow guests, those are my kids waking you up at 7am.) We’re the ones shouting, “That’s far enough!” as our kids run into the pool. And “Stay where I can see you and you can see me!”
One thing Justin and I are learning about is how to balance our responsibility with our desire to have fun. Sometimes it feels like a colossal joke that we are actually the ones in charge. We try to sound authoritative when we talk to our kids. You know, like they should listen to us instead of doing whatever they want when they want. As in, say, bobbing up and down like a buoy in the middle of a giant wave pool without an adult in sight. We try to remind them that, like, we’re the bosses now. Yes, us. The girl who did bong hits for breakfast in college and the guy who just a few years ago went sledding off a roof on purpose.
We are very responsible when it comes to our kids safety. (Wear life jackets in the waterpark.) But a little less responsible when it comes to their diet. (2 hot pretzels for lunch? OK.) In fact, meal planning and getting nutrition into those little bodies is one of our greatest challenges. My family often eats like we’re on an expedition – we’ve found that our kids will usually eat food that packs well. Cashews, portable pouches of mashed fruits and vegetables, Clif Bars, pretzels, cheese curds, summer sausage. I’m never sure if I should be happy because my kids are eating, or feel worried because they won’t touch most vegetables and entrees. So it was with no small amount of pride that on our last day at the waterpark, we achieved a small (big!) victory on the We’re-Responsible-Parents front.
We had already checked out of our room so we had a change of clothes in a bag with us by the pool. It was almost time to leave and we needed to find a way to keep Braden in one place long enough for him to dry off a bit and get ready to go home. So, of course, I bribed him with food. I said, “Brady, we’re going to sit here at the table and you can have some Froot Loops while mommy changes clothes. Then it will be your turn to change.” (Justin had smuggled a box of Froot Loops out of the breakfast buffet earlier.) And Braden says,
“What is a Froot Loop?”
VICTORY! VICTORY! VICTORY! High fives all around. My children may eat hot dogs for breakfast some days, and very often eat noodles with butter for dinner. They eat peanut butter on a spoon for protein pretty much every single day and regularly ask for Campbell’s canned soup. But, my son has lived for four years in America and does not know what a Froot Loop is. We win, fake food, we win! And for that matter, we win, obnoxious advertisements, we win. We are responsible enough to shield our kiddos from most junk foods and, even more importantly ads for junk food.
Roof-sledder & Bong-queen: 1
Fake Food: 0
“since the thing perhaps is to eat flowers and not to be afraid.”
e.e. cummings changed my life. Poetry had always seemed like a rigid form of writing to me. At least, the poetry that I was introduced to in high school, and asked to write followed very definite guidelines. But after college, I was introduced to a different kind of poetry where rules were made to be rewritten, broken, and just ignored altogether. This not only made me a better writer, but a better human. Richer, fuller, and more willing to turn my inner volume way, way up until it blasted out my pen, and out my mouth in spoken word events. I love e.e. cummings. He tromped on all kinds of rules while zinging right to the heart. This might not be his greatest quote, but it’s the one I always think of when I realize how powerful writing can be. It can change lives.
Today’s Favorite: Guitar Lullabye, Ricardo Cobo
As we all know, the frustration of getting a little one to sleep can be mindblowing. Mama needs some powerful lullabyes to calm her nerves and this cd delivers. This music will always remind me of the long nights trying to get my oldest son to stay asleep when he was a babe. He would roll around for hours, literally, before drifting off- and then wake up at least three times a night until he was around 2 1/2. When you’re listening to lullabye music night after night for hours, you gotta love it. In our house, Cobo’s cd would be playing in the background for at least part of that night time marathon and regardless of what effect it had on my son, it really soothed me, and I loved the music. It’s classical guitar that was researched to provide the optimal in relaxation for babes. It incorporates the phrasing of lullabyes and the speech patterns of parents talking in soothing tones to their children. For me, it definitely stirred some deep comfort and inner *sighs*- maybe taking me back to the lullabyes of my youth even though his music sounds nothing like my mom’s old standby, Rock-a-bye Baby. This is the first cd I recommend to anyone looking for a lullabyes.
“No, no, no, no and no. Also, no, no and no.” – my son Braden, age 3
Calm delivery. He thought he was being reasonable and making a good argument. He used the “also” just to add the special emphasis he needed. As I recall, I was asking him to do some menial task like wash his hands or head to his room for quiet time. One of the things I love about him is that he talks like a grown up but expresses kid thoughts. Perfect.
Today’s Favorite: Red Sled by Lita Judge
My son loves sledding. We checked this book out from the library because it was about sledding and I have to say, it is simple, sweet and fun. There are hardly any words – mostly just sounds one would hear or make when sledding (Whoa! Whooosh!) which makes it really fun to read. Forest animals all take the sled out for a joyride and have a ball. And the little girl/boy is onto them. Super cute winter book.
“And then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me
would I yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will yes.” -James Joyce
Is it hot in here? ‘Cause I’m getting a little bothered. Sooooo romantic. A few years back when I was performing songs out, my fellow songwriters and I were discussing the magic of soulful male songwriters. Put a poetic, soulful female songwriter on stage and the audience is like, “Show me something I don’t know already.” Put a poetic, soulful male songwriter up on stage and the audience is captivated. Initiate swooning. This quote has that swoon-worthy quality. It’s all wrapped up in itself and in the momentum of the rich moment.
Today’s Favorite: How Many Jelly Beans? A Giant Book of Giant Numbers
by Andrea Menotti – Illustrated by Yancey Labat
This book is just so cool. The illustrations are modern and fun. The little dog is hilarious. And it’s a sneaky way to introduce little ones to the visual reality of really big numbers. The story starts with a brother and sister challenging each other to who can eat more jelly beans. Each one tries to outdo the other and the illustrations reflect their increasing challenges. 25…100…1000…100,000 jelly beans! It tries to answer the great philosophical question: Is there such a thing as too many jelly beans? (The dog doesn’t think so.) The fold-out page at the end of the book has 1 million jelly beans on it! I can’t think of any other place my 4 year old has actually seen a million of anything. It was a pretty cool realization for him to see…1 million is a lot! Totally awesome!
“my feet will want to walk to where you are sleeping but
I shall go on living.”
Neruda. He said pretty much everything better than anyone of us could. I’m posting this quote as a tip of the hat to those we’ve lost. Blessings to those who are grieving. I never really knew grief until my dad died two years ago. Now I know as much as two years as taught me. “Grief” is one of those words that does close to nothing in explaining what it is supposed to represent. Like “love” or “birth.” It is a scrap of blanket covering miles of geography. It does nothing to cover the different terrains and seasons. I love this quote because I’ve found that even though my mind has moved on from my dad’s death, my body absolutely remembers. During the time of year that he died, I find myself sad, tired, angry, desperate. It doesn’t matter that I’ve gotten therapy and have worked on forgiveness, moving on and all the stuff you’re supposed to do. My body is still acclimating. I still go to his speed-dial number, think about what I’m going to get him for Christmas, and get a choke in my throat when I think of him not being around to see my kids as they grow. But I shall go on living.
Today’s Favorite: Little Fairy Can’t Sleep
This book is gorgeous. Daniela Drescher is such a beautiful artist that I really wouldn’t care if there weren’t words to go with the pictures. As an adult reading this book, I want to jump into the story so I can interact with the glittery, charming world she paints. I can only imagine how magical it must feel for little ones. Growing up, I loved reading about enchanted worlds — and if I’d had it, I know this book would have been a favorite. If I were being super-liberal, I’d take a small point off for the fairy being so tired at the end of the book that the moth-fairy prince carries her home….but this book is so sweet (a mother fox & her family, a father elf & his family, the sandman, a mid-summer night’s party!) that I don’t even care. If I’m reading this to my son at bedtime, when we get to the sandman page, he asks me to grab some magic dust from the page to sprinkle in his eyes. That’s how much this book comes alive. Gor-geous!