Bottlecap Stew

There are certain skills we are already equipped with when we begin the journey of motherhood and there are others that we acquire over time or in times of need.

Of my positive attributes as a mother, the following are not/have never been/may never be included:

  • Styling hair
  • Cooking food
  • All things mess related

I don’t know what my beef with messes is these days.

When I was a kid, I spent full days making mud pies in my neighbor-best friend’s back yard.  I proudly held up garden snakes never minding that distinct burnt rubber smell they left behind.  I fought bath time good and hard with the rest of them.

Our kids are following suit, spending long hours in the garden- literally.

And I want them to.  But this time is usually supervised by daddy since the mess making tends to produce some anxiety for mommy.

Since I started staying home ‘half-time’, I have not entirely intentionally started to let the mess go a bit.  I’ve found that now I have more time to devote to being at home, keeping it clean doesn’t top my priority list.  I’m relishing the times of both activity and relaxation I get with my kids that I missed out on when I was at work all day, every day.

When I brought the kids to the park this week, I was quick to react when I saw brother pick up a stranded bottle cap to examine it.  I went to grab it from his hand and then figured, as long as he doesn’t put it in his mouth…

Which he didn’t.  So I watched as he filled the bottle cap up with bark chips and dirt before leaving it behind to go seek something else out.  I figured his 10 seconds of play with it was done when he returned with a small stick.  He recovered his bottle cap and thoughfully stirred the contents of it with his stick

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before holding what I know recognized to be a makeshift spoon out to me with an expectant smile.

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My son was offering me a taste of his bottle cap stew.

He spent the next 20 minutes refining that stew til it was just right, offering me another taste every few stirs.  And if I had tossed that bottle cap aside because of my fears of how it could ‘contaminate’ him, he and I would have never enjoyed that meal together.

Lesson learned: a little bottlecap stew never hurt anyone.

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The Wonder Years

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Very excited that in addition to her three days a week at her regular preschool this year, sister will also be a “model peer” along with classmates in one of our program’s special education preschool classrooms.

And her classroom is in my old elementary school!

I have watched an amazing thing happen since my daughter started asking me questions about the work I do and the children I work with.

(Before this, we once had a very long meal at a Chinese restaurant once fielding her questions about a man with a prosthetic leg at the next table).

As we talked over time about how everyone has different abilities, strengths and challenges, she stopped pointing out people she came across who looked or acted differently than her.

I noticed her watching as some of the children came into the classroom today and could see her inquisitive mind at work.

But when she walked up to a young boy a few moments later, her only comment was about the toy he was playing with.

And I was so proud.

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It’s never too late

to be what you might have been.

I could have been a dancer, if only my parents had ever had the money to send me to lessons like they’d hoped.

I could have been an actor, if only I’d chosen drama over other “extracurricular” activities.

I could have been a singer, if only I’d followed my childhood dream (yes, I’m that old) of auditioning for ‘American Idol’.

Luckily for me, it’s never too late.

I did return to the stage last year for the first time after many joyful experiences as a child in the theater world.  I was fortunate to be part of the cast of a musical written by my father in law, which seemed like a natural point of re-entry and was as comfortable and casual of an experience as possible for a novice like me.

When the opportunity arose recently to try for a role with a respected local company in a Christmas musical (and as buddy the elf would say, ‘Christmas is my favorite!’) I did a really good job of talking myself out of auditioning in the weeks leading up to try outs.

For those or you who don’t know- and maybe I’m not as good at hiding it as I think- I am a long time sufferer of low self esteem and high self doubt.  So in the final hour, I turned towards those I trust and respect to give me some honest advice.

I was overwhelmed by the positivity of my family and friends and their ability to believe in me despite my disability to believe in myself.

With a supportive friend in tow, I made my way to auditions two nights ago. Surprisingly, I felt my nerves calm when I walked in and felt pride in the accomplishment of just getting myself there!

Looking around as the night went on, I inevitably thought how others were more good looking/better singers/better dancers than I, but when it came time for me to take center stage, I felt the sentiments of those who had encouraged me carrying me and lifting me up as if I were an untouchable cloud floating high in the sky.

I chose to sing “If Only” penned by my father-in-law, a song that my character sang in an expression of hope for a world where everyone can be who they want to be/really are.  Searching the faces in the crowd, I could sense that even these complete strangers were cheering me on and when that voice in my head seemed to recognize it was the only one on its side, it seemed to silence itself.

By nights end, I was, to my amazement, cast as the second lead. I know I have much to learn and lots of hard work ahead of me.

But I think I am finally ready to be what I might have been, if only.

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Rainbow Dreams

Today was the day my four (and a half, mom!) year old had been waiting for the last 3-4 weeks. This was when we started our latest positive reinforcement system: a sticker chart that once complete, would enable to get whatever she wanted.

Yes, I told my four year old she could get “whatever” she wanted- a potentially costly proposition.

She knew immediately what she wanted to work for, an item she’d see on a trip to the Dollar Tree with friends: rainbow hair. I didn’t know if she’d hold onto this idea the whole month long, but I’m beginning to think that my child is part elephant since she NEVER FORGETS.

So we went to that dollar tree and we got that rainbow hair. I had to bite my tongue and keep myself from talking her into another slightly less flamboyant option because who was I to crush her rainbow dreams?

Of course, we had to affix the rainbow streaks before we’d even left the parking lot. She beamed as she showed off her new ‘do to her dad and brother and even let me try it out later in the evening. I’m guessing the boys will get a turn eventually, too.

The price tag on this experiment ended up being all of one dollar. But watching my four (and don’t forget the half) year old’s enthusiasm and pride from start to finish was priceless. That’s the stuff rainbow dreams are made of.Image

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