My son has crabs

Yesterday, my son and his girlfriend spent the day at the beach. It was like any other day at the beach, warm sand, breaking waves, and the feeling of summer’s intimate caress in the sun’s rays and wind’s breeze. Oh, and there was a boatload of crabs all over the beach, mostly dead, a few alive. Wait, what kind of crabs did you think I meant?

IMG_3644When I picked up the kids, my son and his girlfriend showed me their prize possession, tucked safely at the bottom of a Styrofoam cup: a small crab. “Look!” she gleefully cried. “Isn’t he cute? We’re going to call him Mr. Crabs!” It was dark, I honestly didn’t see anything in the cup, but I’m a mom, and I know how this game is played. “Cool! How exciting! Are your seat belts fastened?” I am all about safe driving, ya know.

After we had arrived home, the kids put their beach gear away, took turns showering, and then settled down to watch a movie. Just as I was falling asleep, my son decides it’s time to find Mr. Crabs a more permanent housing situation. “Hey, mom, do you have a glass bowl we can put Mr. Crabs in?” Why is it they ask me questions after I have drifted into the state of relaxed bliss, ready to release the day and fall into Morpheus’s waiting arms? Foiled again! I’m sure I mumbled something mostly coherent, because when I awoke this morning, Mr. Crabs was tucked in his new home, safe from the cat and out of view of the curious (although mostly blind) dog.

Playrooms and unfinished sessions

I’m attempting to gain more interactive gaming fluency for my job (really). My 14-year old son volunteered to help me. Even though there were times he wanted to do things for me because it was more efficient, he didn’t. Instead, he patiently directed me with tidbits and helpful hints. We played a version of air hockey, which was trippy and fun. He won, but by only one point. Then we played something called Playroom, which was entertaining for about five minutes. He showed me how to navigate through the interface, and we explored various options. I decided on a single-player, puzzle game where I could explore, get used to the controls, and wrap my head around game theory and interactive play. I made it to level two before it was time to begin fixing dinner. I didn’t disgrace myself too much, but I have a lot to learn before I can smoothly move through virtual worlds.

After breakfast the next morning, I was jonesing for another Unfinished Swan session.

Mira in technicolor

20150225_212230I am sad to report that the first pair of Mira shoes had a run-in with a can of Scotchgard. My intentions were good! I wanted to protect the art for as long as possible. While the integrity of the shoes are still intact, the design is now muted. I think it looks kinda cool, but I prefer the stark contrast of its original state. Lesson learned: Sharpie pens and Scotchgard don’t mix.

The aforementioned experiment just gives us an opportunity to design another pair, right? Of course, right! This time, my colorful and creative younger daughter wanted the bamboo design in green. Well, okay.

It was cheaper with a coupon to purchase a set than it was to just buy a single green pen, and what are you to do with all of those color just screaming at you to use them? Well, d’uh, color savvy girls pick their favorites and her mom uses them. I’ve never Zentangled using a color palate before, I usually stick with the standard black and white. I must say, these are pretty exciting and I’m quite please with how they came out.

_WearingNewMiraClearly, my youngest daughter loves them, as she donned them this morning paired with her signature mismatched socks.

She’s a colorful person, without a doubt!

Mira, Mira on the shoes

20150217_163309My youngest daughter is a huge Animal Jam fan. Recently, she stumbled across Sketch Jam, where an artist demonstrates how to draw some of the animals featured in the interactive Animal Jam world.

My sweet youngest child decided that she wanted to draw an animal on the toe section, and that I could Zentangle the remainder of the shoes. It was fun working with her on this project. Listening to her talk about which animal to draw, which patterns she wanted to surround her animal, and wondering how long it will take to complete, made me smile. Once she decided on Mira, the crane, she hustled her dad out to shop for shoes.

20150217_163341She is proud of these shoes in which she took part in dreaming, planning, and creating. I can’t wait until we design our next pair!

Yarn of yore

20150206_064525My youngest daughter is gearing up for her sleepover on the Californian, the field trip for a cool history unit her class is studying. Last week, her blue eyes dripping with wistfulness, she asked me to knit her a hat. Well, yeah! What color?

She chose this gorgeous hand spun, hand dyed, yarn I bought a couple of years ago. I didn’t use a pattern, but how hard is it to make a hat, right? I wanted it to be slouchy, and I guessed at how wide to make the band, and when to increase and decrease stitches to give it that slouchy shape, but I think it came out okay. Not bad for my third hat (and no pattern).

I’m positive that she’s pleased with it, as she slept in it last night, wore it to the breakfast table, and occasionally reaches up to run her fingers over the stitches. It’s quite satisfying when someone shows such pleasure in a gift you’ve made for them.

 

Winter wonderland

SoCal winters are not at all white. I’m20141207_123154 amused at how our seasonal decor reflects snow and that my kids have never actually seen snow, let alone see it snow. I gotta fix that one of these days.

I kept to the role of Christmas decor subject matter expert as much as possible, and let the kids run with the actual decorating design and implementation this year. My son wore the mantle of Chief Executive Designer, my youngest daughter became the lead elf, and my oldest daughter decked the halls out of the house to attend a holiday party. That’s okay, as one of her friends helped to decorate the tree.

I am particularly fond of the way they did things, with joy and enthusiasm and not worrying about precision. I took pleasure in listening to them discuss options and hearing my son’s reasoning behind his decisions.

20141208_132340My youngest was given charge of the Nutcracker collection, and she took her time arranging and re-positioning each one in the window seat next to the tree until she was satisfied with it’s placement. She told stories about several of the “princes” as she went along. I enjoyed a treasured peek into her fertile imagine.

20141207_155032-1Busy with the lights and pearl garland, my son gave his youngest sister the job of arranging the Teddy bear collection next, where she was directed to arrange them in the dining room. She did a good job, until she got bored and asked me to finish. I added a touch of holiday spirit to the antique mirror while I was at it.

20141208_133350Next came the Christmas village on the ledge between the dining room and the kitchen.

(You can see my Post-it To Do list. It’s where I ask everyone to post what they need, wish, desire, and things of which we’re close to running out. It’s low-tech, but it works.)

As decorating, in the children’s minds, doesn’t necessarily include putting away all the storage bins, I suppose that becomes my job. Maybe I’ll bribe ask them to help me out…

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Happy Holidays!

Comic relief

20141129_165902There are times in one’s youth when money burns a hole in your pocket. When you’re a teen boy with such a condition, you might simply be compelled to encourage your mom to drive you to the cool comic book store. Heck, you might as well make an adventure out of it, wrestle your sister and her friends out of their cozy chat corner, and make them go with you.

Yup, that’s exactly what you do. Look through large tables stuffed with comic books of all kinds. What happens when you find exactly what you’re looking for? Well, herd everyone together who have wandered off in different directions, load them in the car, and wait patiently until you can climb onto your bed and read the aforementioned comic books to your heart’s content.

Zippy the wonder girl

20141128_163237Zip lining… I personally don’t understand the appeal. I mean, why jump off a perfectly good tower? For that matter, why climb the tower in the first place? Not that I have an issue with heights, exactly.

When my adventure-bound youngest daughter decided that she really wanted to give it a try, I was a little nervous. Only a little nervous, mind you, as I wasn’t the one climbing and jumping off a tower. How could I refuse the excitement emanating from her?

I said yes, and off we went to gear up. Ahem, for her to gear up.20141128_171213 She was so excited, she could hardly stand still. 20141128_163930Finally, it was her turn to climb the stairs, oh, wait, “Hey mom, this is a great photo op!” Where does she get this from? No, don’t answer.

With great enthusiasm, she zipped across the park to the landing tower. See for yourself how she enjoyed the trip.

 

Enchanted Oasis

Earlier this summer, my youngest daughter began planning her Halloween costume. One can’t start too soon with concepts and reminders to mom, because what if mom forgets? Constant an continual reminders are a must! She showed me pictures and videos of what she envisioned, and we talked about what mediums we’d use to accomplish this forest nymph- or sprite-like creature.

EnchantedCompositThe mom in me thought the outfit a bit skimpy for a 10-year old. Yet the idea that my daughter wanted to create a costume rather than buy something pleased me greatly.

Shopping day arrived, and we visited a local craft shop for inspiration and DIY tips. She took charge of the shopping expedition, explaining in great detail to the staff her vision. The ladies who help us were quite charmed by my daughter’s enthusiasm, and within thirty minutes we had everything we needed to assemble a no-sew costume. (Woot! ‘cuz I can’t sew.)

The following day she help prep the tulle but took command of the antlers. Together we added tulle, bits of silk leaves, and a few more pipe cleaners. But wait! “Mom, I need butterfly wings!” The following week I scored butterfly wings at the dollar store.

The morning of her school fall festival dawns bright yet cool. We had volunteered to help set up the event. My youngest daughter, son, and his friend helped me set up the graveyard. My oldest daughter and her friend worked on the haunted house. Their father filled in where ever he was needed. My soon-to-be-tree-nymph and I skipped out to grab lunch and get her ready to debut her costume.

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FFtreeShe is quite please with her costume and couldn’t wait to show it off.  Her delight clearly showed in her face and spoken in terms of “awesome,” “epic,” and “amazing.”

I love it when a plan comes together.

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Hand check

Last night my oldest daughter went to her school’s homecoming dance. She regaled me with tales about guys who “grabbed my hips and started grinding against me.” She decided to employ her power of body autonomy.

school2First, she spoke her displeasure, telling them that she didn’t dance that way, and then she showed her displeasure at their actions. I believe she mentioned that she walked away from one boy, slapped one, and did the grab-squeeze-twist move on another. My daughter is not only a character (she’s charming and funny), she has strength of character.

I wonder what would have happened if the boys had practiced consent. You know, asking if she wanted to dance with them instead of just grabbing her and assuming that she would gladly be the object of their desire.

Young executive

I’m brushing my teeth, getting ready for work one morning, and in marches my youngest daughter with her pink, canvas-covered binder. She plants herself on the floor and announces “you have papers to sign, mom.”

Oh, I do, do I?

pinkbinderMy young CEO riffled though her papers, pulling out the ones she required and set them aside. Once she collected what she was looking for, she held them and a pen out to me. Okay, I guess the place to do this is here, and the time is now. I sit down on the floor and, using the toilet seat cover as a desk, diligently fill out and sign the required paperwork.

“Thanks, mom,” she says as I hand her the signed documents. She files the papers using a system I’ve seen all my kids use as some point: stuff the papers wherever they’ll fit. My pint-sized executive marches out the door, and I can’t help but think that her binder looks very much like a brief case. Wow, first thing in the morning, I’ve been issued orders from a very determined young lady.

I’m most curious where her executive orders may one day take her.

Teen town

Today, my son became a teenager. My cherub toddler who once pushed toy trucks around is now taller and I am and already in 8th grade. Time files, doesn’t it?Trevor

 

A few of his friends got him hooked on yoyos. He searches for tricks to learn, and then practices those tricks until they are polished. There’s a rhythm to these yoyo tricks that is almost hypnotic.

Skateboarding is another activity he’s into. Longboards are his thing, and I get a kick out of watching him glide down the street.

10 things I know to be true

Last night, my oldest daughter insisted that I watch a TED talk. As I’m usually the one who insists that she watch this kind of thing with me, I thought who is this person and whatOneWing have they done with my daughter? Turns out that she watched this particular talk in her English class. A teacher lit a fire under her, and I saw in my daughter the same passion the speaker of this TED talk embodies. My daughter was so moved by this talk, by the class project to make and share the list featured within, that she gave me a homework assignment.

“Mom, you should share this TED talk at your work and have them share their lists.” Her enthusiasm radiated from her in waves. “It will give your friends at work an opportunity to connect with each other, and you’ll learn something about them.”

I try and parent by example. I say that doing your homework is important, and now I have an opportunity to show how important homework is. If you have the time and inclination, I invite you to join me in watching this 18 minute TED talk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0snNB1yS3IE, and then sharing your list.

My list of 10 things I know to be true:

  1. Soren Kierkegaard said that “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Knowing how true this is for me, gets me through life’s rough spots.
  2. “You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice.” ~ Bob Marley Ain’t that the truth!
  3. I share my stories, add my experiences to the collective narrative via blogging and participating in forums, because I know that someone, somewhere needs to hear what I have to say.
  4. Parenting is the hardest and my most rewarding life experience.
  5. There are multiple sides to every story. Question information and research the source. Find out who benefits from studies, reports, news, and ads. Be media savvy.
  6. Take time to nurture yourself. Treat yourself how you want others to treat you.
  7. I may be challenged with learning disabilities, but I’m not stupid – nor is anyone else who learns differently than standard or popular methods used to teach.
  8. Sensory memories are powerful, spend time creating them. Listening to music, eating foods, smelling fragrances from long ago, will catapult me to that time, and fill my mind with related images.
  9. People who advocate healthy lifestyles are right. All sorts of funky things will happen to us when we don’t take care of ourselves.
  10. I can’t help everyone, but I can support others to help themselves.

Ch, ch, ch… changes

My oldest daughter turned 14 today. Soon she’ll be starting high school. She’s amazing, full of energy and laughter; she takes on life with gusto.

Instead of a birthday party, she wanted to redecorate the room she shares with her younger sister.

She picked out paint colors, a new bed, and new bedding. With a plan, a budget, and lots of enthusiasm, she’s hankering to begin. Directing that energy toward her father, she encourages him to get on with it! Paint swatches in hand, she and her dad go off to purchase paint, tape, and all the other necessary paraphernalia needed to paint, at Home Depot.roomduring

First things first:

  • Empty the room of its contents
  • Wash down the walls
  • Lay down the drop cloths
  • Wait until after Independence day celebrations are over

Dressers graced first the hallway, and then the dining room. Mattresses and box springs eventually migrated to out-of-the-way places. Build-in dresser drawers were stacked outside, as were bins of stuffed animals. Yup, there was clutter and stuff just about everywhere.

Seconds things, -er second? Next?roomgame1

  • Help dad paint
  • Get bored and visit friends
  • Let dad finish painting
  • Become irritated that it’s taking so long

Home improvement projects always take longer than originally estimated (and always cost more, too). Between finishing the walls and taping off the trim, my teenager began to feel displaced. Teens need their own space, they need to retreat into their lair whenever the world is too big, and demands to fit into the ascribed role of young adult presses down upon slight shoulders becomes too intense. In an empty room under reconstruction, where can one possibly eke out a space of quiet solitude?

Necessity breeds ingenuity, and my girl is a fantastic problem solver. She found the perfect space, filled it with pillows, blankets, and her laptop, and snuggled into her very Roomgame2own nest. Brilliant. Her anxiety levels decreased, and she waited out the completion of the project with her sense of humor and joyful enthusiasm intact.

I believe that there’s a lesson in here for me: When the world overwhelms me, caver out a quiet place, surround myself with people and things that comfort me, and nest.

Slowly but surely, as budget permits, the room is coming together. Already, memories are being made.

A walk in the park

One of my favorite places to walk is Torrey Pines. When my oldest daughter and her friend wanted to take a hike, I immediately thought of going there, and taking my younest daughter to wander around the trailes with me. It was lovely day, and the older girls had a blast doing their own thing. 20140621_161225

I like it when I have opportunities to spend one-on-one time with my kids. We get to engage in conversations that give me insights into who they are and what’s on their minds. Sometimes, it’s nice to simply be in each other’s company.

20140621_161835Sometimes, it’s simply an opportunity to snap photos of the kids who inspire me to be a better person, a better mom. My youngest is interested in video games, Legos, animals, and conversation. She’s still young enough to want to hold my hand and climb onto my lap. She’s old enough to entertain herself and explore ideas that captures her interest. 20140621_162142

I look forward to taking many more walks with my kids. I can’t wait to discover what we’ll learn about each other and ourselves.