Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Writer's Wednesday: The Traveling Jewelry Returns

A few months ago I wrote about how two of my life-long friends and I decided to give a grown-up nod to The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Katie had the necklace first.  Her husband was awaiting orders from the Army to tell them where they would be stationed, so we thought she needed it.

The idea always seemed like a good one, but I had no idea what an experience it would be to receive the package in the mail.  Reading the journal was like having Katie right there in the room with me--except I couldn't interrupt or ask questions! Wearing the necklace reminds me my friends have chosen to stay with me even though they aren't bound by blood or contract.  I confess: I feel braver wearing it.

Pretty cool.

Although Ange is visiting China and Japan right now, they wanted me to have it when Baby Alexandra arrived. I'm thinking Ange's journal entries about hiking and camping on the Great Wall of China would have been more interesting than me dealing with "nesting" and behaving in a freakish nature to get all the closets cleaned while hoping baby girl didn't arrive before I threw my son's third birthday party and had her nursery prepared.

Then again, Ange is always having adventures.  Baby Girl arrives only once.

See? Friends do know best.

Is our jewelry as magical as the traveling pants? I think so. Katie and her family are being stationed at their top choice.   Max's birthday party was a success, the ladies of the office surprised me with a sweet shower, my home is getting tidier, and I have an obedient daughter who is hanging out in the womb until we have everything prepared for her.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Toddler Tuesday: Yoga for Kids

Max and I attended a summer session of Yoga for Kids. What a fun experience!

Preschoolers are naturally cute, but when you see them doing downward facing dog and hear them barking, they're irresistible.  They hissed in snake position and meowed in "kittycat."

Libby Rogers , the instructor and owner of the studio, is great.  But who knew she was so creative? 

Each session offered positions and teachings of yoga.  What child doesn't love story time? We repeated the stories at night because they helped us remember essential life lessons. Like any great instructor, she adapted to the mood of her class.  Tree Pose was practiced in a fresh way by incorporating it into a game similar to Red Light, Green Light. "Big tree, little tree, grow!" Or something like that. One day the kids--okay, MAX--was antsy, so she introduced Butterfly Bowling.  The kiddos sat in butterfly position until "it" rolled the ball to him or her.  Then the position changed.

He had a "ball."

This morning he twisted himself into different positions--probably just to show me he could.

"Look, Mommy! Pretzel!"

"Mommymommymommymommy, butterfly!"

"Ruff-ruff, Mommy!"

I can't say enough good things about yoga.  I've taken private classes the last couple of months in preparation for baby Alexandra.  Hopefully, if I start my children early enough, they'll reap the benefits and find peace for life.

If you have the opportunity to practice yoga--for yourself or your little ones--do it!

If you want to practice at home, here's a link from on some yoga poses for kiddos.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Favorite: Back to School

Preschool is widely accepted as a milestone.  NPR recently published a story providing data that it is also "the best job-training program" a person can receive.

To provide social interaction, we placed our little guy somewhere with a great reputation last year.  Then it changed. Drastically. So we removed him. We've been assured that the social skills he may have learned there won't damage him for life.

Fingers are crossed, folks.

Luckily, we were able to get him into the local Mother's Day Out/Preschool program at the Methodist Church. 

Day 1
Because of his previous experience with "school," we shouldn't have been surprised he was less than enthusiastic once the day arrived. In fact, the only children I know of who cried that morning must have had had some traumatic memories because they were the ones who attended the other place.

Insisting Dad carry him in rather than walking like a big boy

Unhappy, but being a little soldier and hanging up his backpack

Although he happily made gifts for his teachers, he refused to hand them over.

Day 2
It is fabulous! Two teachers are assigned for the small class of little bodies.  Daily updates are given.  Children play and learn. Healthy snacks are requested of parents instead of cakes and cookies.  Hallelujah! Note: I'm not opposed to some good junk food, but I want to be the one to give it to my kid thankyouverymuch. The school probably reminds him of the one Sid the Science Kid attends. Whatever the reason, improvement was definitely seen on day 2. He still wanted us to hang out and watch him play, but he didn't completely freak out when we left.

Afterward, we had a great conversation.

Me: What are your new teachers like?
Max: (grinning) Flowers

Day 3
He grabbed his teacher's hand to help her store some snacks and didn't seem to hear us when we said goodbye.

Day 4
Max: You take me to school today?
Me: Not until next Tuesday.
Max: (sticks out bottom lip and threatens tears)
Me: Today you get to hang out with Mommy
Max: (sighing) That make Mommy happy. (pats my arm and smiles sweetly)

Yes, very happy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Writer's Wednesday: Hereafter by Tara Hudson

I met the charming Tara Hudson 

at a book signing with fellow Oklahoma writer Sonia Gensler.  Tara was a lady after my own heart as I watched her husband and baby amusing themselves (and others) as Mommy did her book thing. 

And the book was great, too.

As you know by now, I'm a fraidey cat.  Hereafter succeeded in giving me nightmares.  In the same way the dementors freaked me out in the third Harry Potter book, the sheer alone-ness of the dead protagonist gave me shivers. (Since these things cause me such fear, I'm sure this tidbit is ripe for psychoanalysis!)

Then the completely original scary stuff happened. Forbidden love mixed with an entire dimension most people don't want to think about demand a sequel. I'm looking forward to it.
Check out this great interview with Tara Hudson from author Susan Dennard on blog Let the Words Flow

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Favorite: Goodbye Cozy Slippers

The Christmas before moving to New Jersey, I received a wonderful gift from my mother: Jessica McClintock house shoes. Now, don't think slippers get me all excited usually. They don't. But these were special. Completely animal friendly, these boots felt like they'd been lined with the fluffy fur of a magical woodland creature.

I wore them all the time. 

My feet aren't as cold here in Oklahoma, so I haven't worn them as much since we moved.  

But when pregnant, a woman longs for any little bit of comfort. So, I dug them out of the closet and let them work their magic again--even during the hottest summer in Oklahoma's recorded history.

Pieces of black fabric and plastic appeared around the house.  We wondered what caused the mess. Several times I jumped because I thought a piece was a bug.

Eventually, I realized it was my shoes!

So, so sad.

Dorothy had her ruby slippers to lead her down the yellow brick road.  

My house shoes have led me to motherhood.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Writer's Wednesday: Jane Eyre

***Spoiler Alert!***

I finally watched the newest version of Jane Eyre.

It's so wonderfully gothic! 
gorgeous old manors
shadows promising danger
dreary, twisted landscapes

secrets lurking behind locked doors

Although other versions of the movie have been enjoyable, I much prefer this cast.

Mia Wasikowski is Jane.

In the movie she truly is a plain Jane; although, after surfing the net, I found much more glam pics of her where she's quite pretty.
Mia: not mousy at all

Is this what Rochester sees beyond her obvious spunk and intelligence?

Aside from Mrs. Fairfax, played by Judi Densch, the movie omits the few female figures who are kind to Jane.  In fact, other than including the friendship of Helen--which ends in her death--the movie only shows the cold, dismal parts of Jane's earlier life. Still, it's a movie, so one positive mother figure can suit for time's sake. And who better to serve in that capacity than Judi Densch?
Dame Judi as Mrs. Fairfax
Michael Fassbender is an enchanting Rochester. At times, he's a bit more handsome than I imagined him to be--and younger. (Perhaps because I'm closer to his age than the young Jane?)
Hello, Mr. Rochester.

When I first read Jane Eyre, I was astonished any girl could fall for such a cranky old cad.  I figured even if I'd not been exposed to men, I'd have better sense.  In some versions, he fits right along with my teenage interpretations.  However, if I were Jane, I'd have fallen for this Rochester, too.
Although he can be fearsome and mean--and, sure, he lied about his crazy wife in the attic--he is, at times, delightfully sympathetic. In the movie, he is also totally and completely smitten with her. Unlike the book, he doesn't pretend to be engaged to the beautiful and shallow Miss Ingram. Although, it does seem pretty obvious he brings her to Thornfield to inspire jealousy in Jane. Even this juvenile attempt makes him more endearing in the movie. (What's wrong with me?)

Like the novel, by the end of the movie, Rochester is repentant and her social equal, so she doesn't give up anything to be with him. In fact, she proves herself to be his moral superior.

And they live happily ever after.
I'm going to watch it again.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Toddler Tuesday: Spiders and Storms

My son hates "funder"storms.

I hate spiders.

Due to the extreme heat in Oklahoma, we're having an insect invasion. 

Miraculously, it rained last night. A good thing considering the trees are dropping leaves like it's autumn, and fires are springing up due to the tinderbox conditions.

Our terrified son fled to our room where he begged us to keep him "safe" from the "funder." We reassured him there was nothing to fear.

In the semi-darkness, I held my trembling boy...and watched a black shadow skitter across my top. I shifted into the light and felt eight tiny little legs skitter across the small area of my exposed tummy.

My son must have sensed my horror.

"Mommy?" he asked. "What's wrong? Are we safe?"

I swallowed hard as the spider crawled toward my leg.  "Yes, honey." I kissed him on the head as his daddy held him. Then I walked into the next room, barely suppressing a scream, and danced out of my clothes as quickly as possible.

The spider escaped.

My fingers are crossed the "funder" scared him away.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday Favorite: College Re-Visited. Sort of.

Some things never change. On the way to meet a couple of my college sorority sisters, I got lost.

Don't worry. I only went down two one-way streets (the wrong way) and the other drivers were (mostly) nice about it.

When I arrived at El Guapo's Cantina in downtown Tulsa, it was so much like time spent at The Mont in Norman years ago.  Salsa, queso, and adult beverages. Okay, mine was a virgin strawberry daquiri, but it was delicious.
Steph C and Steph B at the Mont in '04

Even though it was 104 degrees outside and I weigh 40 pounds more than I did in college (due to my current state of pregnancy), I felt young again.

Until we dropped by Stephanie B's home and saw that her daughter had grown so that she was taller than her mom. Then I felt old.

Before long, she may be pledging a sorority herself. In fact, in the same number of years it's been since we rushed, Baby Alexandra will have the option to go through rush.

Whoa! Not feeling so young now.

That night, I drove Stephanie C to my home. We spent a lot of good times in our twenties and early thirties in NYC--hitting many of the hot spots mentioned in Sex and the City. Below is a pic of the night we went to the Meatpacking District, ate at Pasti's, and danced the night away at Soho House. Hey, Samantha may have been kicked out, but they welcomed us!
Before going out one night in '05
Our visit was definitely more domesticated this time around. The next morning we hung out in the shade of the swing set while Max and Garrett played.  Then we had salad and pizza at local yummy place Sam and Ella's Chicken Palace.
Stephanie C and Brandi in 2011
You doesn't matter how much time passes.  Friends are friends and their presence always makes your heart happy.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Thomas the Train

We didn't allow Max to watch tv the first couple of years of his life--except the presidential inauguration, but that had historical significance.

Sesame Street was first.  Then we chugged on to Thomas the Train because he loved trains.

But I never really liked it.  It's not especially educational, although they do promote being nice to others. Sort of.

Actually, I find it a bit sexist.



Sure, trains traditionally appeal to little boys and the creator of the books wrote them for his son.  I get that.  However, of all the engines, there is only one who is female. And she's annoying. She possesses some stereotypical "female nag" traits.

Then, of course, Clarabel and Annie are the coaches.  In one of the books, they annoy Thomas with their excitement and giddiness and he has trouble "keeping them in line."

I wondered if I was the only person who thought these stories that promote hard work and honesty could be tinged with sexism.   Apparently not.  I Googled "Thomas the Train Sexist" and was amazed at how many responses I found.

Read for yourself.

The Week

What do you think?

Should authors who target children be aware of such messages?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Toddler Tuesday: Sleepover!

Max's birthday buddies Jake and Jack stayed with us recently.  They brought along their parents and baby brother. We thoroughly enjoyed them. We love house guests.
Max, Jack, Jake

The older boys were born on the same day.  It's always interesting when they get together.  We learn something every time. For example, when they were about 8 months old, Garrett and I learned that yes, Max really could feed himself his own bottle. He watched them do it and took matters into his own little hands.

This time, we were so pleased to see someone give Max some of his own medicine.  Curious, Jack examined Max's behavior chart. Max marched over and told him not to play with it.

Does anyone else think it's ironic that one of the topics on his chart is sharing?

In response to Max's tyranny, Jack grabbed a magnet from it and tossed it across the room. Then, with a mischievous grin (much like his father's), he hid behind the couch to watch Max unhinge and retrieve the magnet.  This process repeated a couple of times.

They played well after that. Max realized he couldn't mess with him.

Jake, the gentlest of the boys, did not fare as well under Max's territorial assault. When he looked at Max's book on planets, he was willing enough to share with Max, but Max needed more than a little encouragement to understand that sharing doesn't mean he gets to play with everything and no one else gets to touch his stuff.

This parenting gig is hard work.

Still, when we set up the inflatable mattress for the twins in the playroom to spend the night, Max declared he wanted to sleep with them. The parental units were all a little nervous.  After almost three years of sleep deprivation, who can blame us?  But we gave it a chance.

I wish they were here every night because he slept in with no night time visits to our room!
Max and Baby Jameson
No matter how territorial Max can be with his toys, it doesn't seem to translate to babies.  He loves Baby Jameson.  In this picture, Max's fascination with Jameson's "tiny toes" is clear.  Max was so enamored with Baby J that while the baby was sitting in a Bumbo seat, Max pulled up a chair and sat right in front of him to study the infant's every move. Then he raced back and forth to his playroom finding new toys to offer the five-month-old.

Oh, I hope he's as sweet to Alexandra when she arrives!

Max was a little taken aback when Jameson spit up on me--because I was bouncing him after he ate. Head thunk.  I explained babies do that sometimes, and Alexandra might even spit up on him.  He declared that would NOT happen and began listing ways he planned to retaliate if his little sister considered such a thing.

But, according to him, it was okay that Jameson did it.