Posts Tagged ‘love’

Playground Rejection Is Not Just For Kids

Friday, August 17th, 2012

One of the best things about being three years old is that everyone is your friend. My kid runs up to another kid on the playground and says “Hey, wanna slide?” and they’re off to have adventures, even if they never see each other again after that day. Kids that age like pretty much all the same things and believe in the Truth of Childhood: Climb it if it can be climbed, always run as fast as you can, and anything can be a pirate ship. They don’t know enough about the world yet to judge or condemn or turn their noses up at kids who want to join in so everyone gets to play. It’s beautiful and pure and I wish I was three years old again on a daily basis.

Or at least that was the world Evan lived in until this week. My heart is breaking a little all over again just thinking about it.

We’ve made a habit of visiting the park in the evenings, so Mommy can get some exercise, the kids can run their wiggles out and we can all enjoy as much sunlight as possible before it starts getting dark at 5 pm. There are two playgrounds at this particular park – a bigger one meant for older kids and a tot lot meant for littles. Caroline has no preference – as long as it has a swing, she’s happy. The big playground was crowded on Wednesday, so we took a stroll around the lake to the smaller park for some low-key fun.

When we got there, the situation looked perfect. There were two little girls – probably 5 and 6 – on the playscape. Evan ran off to join them and I put Caroline in a swing for a marathon pushing session. A few minutes later Evan can running back, looking a little upset.

“That little girl said I can’t slide, Mommy!”

“It’s OK honey,” I reassured him, “You’re allowed to slide if you want to. Just be nice to your friends and use kind words and remember you’re not the boss of them, OK?”

“OK Mommy!” he said and ran back to try again with kind words and a gentle voice. My boy is really good at using his kind words and gentle voice.

But I forgot the magic age of insta-friendships doesn’t last that long and by kindergarten little girls don’t always want to play with little boys, especially if they already have a girl friend to play with. Despite his best efforts, Evan was rebuked again and told he wasn’t allowed to play. “Go away, boy!” I heard from across the playground, and my heart sank knowing what I was going to hear next. My sweet little ginger, his offer of friendship crushes like a leaf under a pink Dora shoe, burst into tears and ran into my arms.

As I reassured him it wasn’t his fault – he was still a good boy, a nice friend, he had done everything right but sometimes people don’t want to play with us – I got a lump in my own throat. Oh how I know that feeling! I am overflowing with empathy when it comes to rejection and being left out and worrying that everyone is hanging out doing fun stuff without telling you. Even as I was telling Evan it was OK to cry but he shouldn’t let those mean girls affect his self worth – in the most toddler-friendly words I could think of – I realized I have never, ever been able to take my own advice.

Right now I can fake it, because my words to him are more powerful than my emotional reaction or my words to myself when I don’t think he’s listening. But the gravity of helping to shape my children’s entire emotional life if overwhelming. I miss the days when the only kid-related problems were whether or not they were sleeping through the night or if I was a bad mother for not cutting their grapes in half. I’ll take the baby stage back in a second rather than deal with the drama and heartbreak of my children’s friendships and unfriendships and fake friendships. I can’t even deal with my own friendships without chewing my nails into little stubs of worry and self-doubt. What if they don’t want to play with me?

So for now I just hug my boy and tell him he’s kind and good and beautiful and I adore him. I dry his tears and help him climb the jungle gym and cheer for his upsidedown sliding antics so he has the confidence to keep being himself. And I hope and pray he always feels that way, whether he’s 3 or 33.

Spontaneous Vlogging

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

So yesterday I watched Mandy & Harper’s adorable vlog and decided to do one with Evan. I mean, how hard could it be to get my 3 year old to be cute on command? Yeah…not so much. But Caroline is a good trained monkey baby and I managed to get a couple minutes worth sharing, even if you also get my epic eye-roll when I ask Evan not to spit food on me. Also, please note my paint-splattered sweatshirt with the neck cut off and third day unwashed hair. I am the HEIGHT of sophistication and class.

 

An Explanation For My Children

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Dear Evan and Caroline and Future Hypothetical Offspring,

Congratulations! You have learned to read and also know about the internet! Those are two of the most important things in life, so excuse me while I pat myself on the back for a minute. I am not a complete failure as a mother! Speaking of which, I’d like to explain to you why you are here, on the website, looking at words and pictures about yourself that you did not give me permission to post, which some might say DOES make me a failure as a mother so I feel like maybe I should elaborate.

This is my blog, a web log if you will, an internet journal of your lives from the moment I knew you were coming until (enter current date and time here). I have shared many things about our lives here for anyone with an internet connection to read. I’ve told the stories of your births, my fears about motherhood, your milestones and birthdays, your favorite things, special days, normal days, good days, bad days and everything in between. Through those stories, I’ve met and connected with a community of women who have become dear friends. You have met some of them already, and probably many more by the time you read this, and even more who love you even though you have never met. I am so happy to share our lives in a way that has made them more joyful.

Some people think this is a very poor choice on my part, that I show a lack of discretion, intelligence and general self-awareness by making our lives public. I absolutely understand their point of view. There are definitely periods of my life – most of 1996 for example – I wouldn’t be thrilled to see on the internet.  When my dad threatened to show my prom date my baby bath time photos I died dead of embarrassment right there in the living room and never even got to GO to prom. Ok, that’s a lie, but I sure wished the earth would swallow me up before Dad got out the pictures. I imagine you feel like this now, seeing dozens of photos of yourself, many of which you probably think are embarrassing.

But now, as a grown up – and I assure you I will do everything in my power to make sure you are a grown-up some day – I cherish every photo, video, scrapbook, postcard, and slide of my own childhood. I check the back of faded prints to see if they are labeled with names and dates and places so I can fit them into my consciousness. I have a terrible memory, so tangible evidence of things I vaguely recall are precious puzzle pieces. I hope this blog can provide you with all that a more. You’ll have access to hundreds of different days in an instant, with places and exact dates and the names of your friends all recorded. You will have details about your childhood I have long forgotten. Someday, if you have kids of your own, you will have a totally comprehensive guidebook explaining everything you need to know about raising them to be perfect, brilliant, successful humans! Because that’s what I did! Or, depending on how you think you turned out, a very serious warning. Either way, I’m being servicey!

More selfishly, I’ve written things about myself. You’ll probably find posts detailing what we ate for dinner and my knitting projects boring now, but someday I hope you’ll read them, eager to know more about the person your mom was when she wasn’t just your mom. It’s a remarkable thing, realizing your parents and grandparents and great-grandparents had lives before you came into the world. Maybe you’ll learn where you got a love for the ocean or why yellow always makes you feel so happy or that your parents were once cool enough to drive a Mustang convertible instead of a minivan.

All that being said, if you decide you are uncomfortable with this – any of this – I will take it down. I’m sure there are posts where I shared more than I should have, told stories that belonged in a baby book instead of a website and forgot you deserve my respect as well as my love. It is just so tempting to shout from the modern-day rooftops that my kids are the cutest and the best and the smartest and the loudest and the most frustrating and the most adored ever. Even though it might be hard for you to believe, sometimes parents make mistakes too, and I apologize if you think this blog is one of mine. Although I’m assuming by now kids get Facebook pages the day they are born and people all wear cameras that record and broadcast their entire life online, Truman Show-style, so my little baby blog is barely a drop in the bucket of your Googleable life. Just please remember the internet is a public place – and I will try to do the same.

I love you,

Mommy

Evan’s Dinosaur Birthday

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

This post contains affiliate links.

I asked Evan want kind of party he wanted for his 3rd birthday and he said “Dinosaurs”. I told him he could have anything he wanted – trucks, trains, pirates, diggers, ANYTHING – and he said “Dinosaurs”. So we went with a dinosaur birthday. It ended up being an excellent and fun birthday theme.


Dinosaur Birthday

Dinosaur Birthday

Dinosaur Birthday

Dinosaur Birthday

Dinosaur Birthday

Dinosaur Birthday

It seems that no matter how much I try to stick to a color scheme I always end up with ALL THE COLORS. But since according to Dino Dan the dinosaurs WERE all the colors I figured I was safe as long as I toned it down with some natural accents. I got lots of moss, fake leaves, and branches from places like the craft store and the dollar store. All the tablecloths are cut from one big roll of burlap I bought in the garden department at Lowes. I made a zillion dinosaur “terrariums” (an idea I got from Mandy) with a bag of garden rocks (also from Lowes – $5 and I barely used 1/10th of them!) moss and tiny dinos left over from the favor boxes. The backdrop to the food table is two rolls of cork I bought at JoAnn’s. I cut every triangle pennant by hand with pinking sheers and printed the banners on my little printer.

For food, I had three sections: carnivores, herbivores and dessertivores. I thought I was pretty cute and clever, until I started looking at dino party supplies on Etsy and saw I was DEFINITELY not the first person to come up with “dessertivores”. It was still cute.

Menu:

Dinosaur shaped sandwiches (PB&J and cucumber)
Dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets
Mini hot dogs
Mozzarella sticks
Fruit
Individual hummus and veggie cups

Ice Age punch (blue punch with tiny dinos frozen into ice cubes floating in it)
Juice for the kiddos

Dessert Menu:

Brownies
Fossil cookies (I made mine with almonds)
Cereal bar “bones”
No-bake nest cookies (I did peanut butter & chocolate)
Dirt pudding cups (chocolate pudding & crushes Oreos)
Dinosaur shortbread cookies with royal icing
White wedding cupcakes with cream cheese cake batter frosting
Dino fruit snacks and candy eggs

And an AMAZING cake made by my friend Heather (I HIGHLY recommend her if you’re in the Eastern CT area and would be happy to put you in touch with her)

Since Evan and his friends are all old enough now for games and activities but the thought of trying to wrangle 25 kids into organized activities makes me break out in hives I planned lots of free-play fun.

We filled our old kiddie pool with sand for a fossil dig and hid tons of green eggs filled with stickers and candy for a dinosaur egg hunt. I also ordered a couple of inexpensive dinosaur coloring books from Amazon and dinosaur shaped crayons for a quiet, inside activity.

A few more details:

I saw dino party hats on Pinterest but didn’t really have enough ambition to make them from scratch. Just a few days before the party Evan said he NEEDED party hats so I dragged last year’s 2nd birthday party hats from Target out of my paper goods storage box and turned them into dino hats. It was really easy – they’re folded together with a tab, not glue or tape, so I just opened them flat, cut a piece of colored paper into a “spine”, cut a slot in the spine for the tab and reassembled with a little tape to reinforce it. I did a terrible job of explaining that, but trust me – if you take a look at a store-bought party hat you will definitely see how easy this is.

Between the hats and the masks we had quite a few tiny dinosaurs terrorizing the party.

My friend Amanda mailed me these leggings 2 seconds after I said we were doing a dinosaur party. So perfect!

Brilliant idea I stole from my friend Cheri – Take’n’toss cups for all the kids. No worries about juice or punch spills on my floors and they’re cheap enough to toss out if they get ruined.

Adorable invitations designed by the very talented Denae at New Mom Survival Adventure and printed (as rounded-corner post cards) by Overnight Prints – an idea I got from Tam.

I think that’s everything! Scroll to the bottom of this post for links to where I got stuff and as always let me know if you have any questions. I’m more than happy to share and info!

OK, just a few more pictures (the not awesome ones were taken by me)…

Resources and Sources:

Pinterest party board
for inspiration
Template for straw flags
Custom stamp from Tickled Pink Paper + Ink
Paper straws & favor supplies from In The Clear
Evan’s dino shirt – Gymboree
Photography by Open Shutter (Website)

Dinosaur stickers
– Amazon
Dinosaur cookie cutters – Amazon
Dinosaur sandwich cutter – Amazon
Dinosaur coloring books – Amazon
Melissa & Doug dinosaur stamps – Amazon
Dinosaur cupcake wrappers & toppers – Amazon
Dinosaur banner (I disassembled half to put on my cork backdrop) – Amazon
Dinosaur skeletons for fossil dig – Amazon and Oriental Trading (cheaper from Amazon)
Dinosaur masks – Oriental Trading Company
Dinosaur crayons – Oriental Trading Company
Dinosaur candies – Oriental Trading Company
Inflatable dinosaurs – Oriental Trading Company
Giant inflatable T-Rex – Amazon
Brown paper bags – Oriental Trading Company

Let me know if you see anything I missed or forgot to link!

(Oh and in case you are confused compared to previous party set-ups, we rearranged the house a few weeks ago and flipped the dining/family rooms. I was worried it wouldn’t be a good for the party but it was great! With the new set-up – and the patio – I have tons of space to invite even more people next time.)

Thank you to everyone who came and made our day so special!

Pink for Happiness

Monday, February 27th, 2012

When I wrote out my New Year goals, I made a corresponding list of rewards for reaching certain milestones. People do this all the time, often to great effect. Once you lose some weight you can buy new shoes! Get a manicure! Take a vacation! You deserve nice things because you’ve worked so hard! So for two months now I’ve been thinking about the new tattoo I’ll get or the new haircut I’ll splurge on or the new jeans I will buy. Eventually. Someday.

And in the meantime I’ve felt dumpy and boring and unattractive. It’s really too bad there’s a law that says being overweight means I can’t have nice things.

OH. WAIT.

The idea that my pants size should prevent me from treating myself well is bullshit. Bullshit I say! It’s part of that terrible, dangerous idea that if only I weighed X all my problems would be solved. It’s putting my life on hold until I achieve some arbitrary ideal that matters exactly zero point zero percent to anyone. It didn’t work when I was 17, it didn’t work when I was 23, and it’s not going to work now when I’m 30. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to knock it off, but instead I will tell you:

You will never, ever get to a weight that will MAKE you happy. You can choose to be happy right now.

Reward yourself for surviving today. Buy new shoes because they make you smile. Buy new jeans because they make the ass you have look fantastic. Get a scoop of ice cream because ice cream is delicious. Book a massage because life is stressful and massages are awesome. Get a manicure because it makes you feel good about yourself and when you feel good about yourself you treat yourself better – both physically and mentally.

I’m not saying I’m quitting my diet. I’m not saying I don’t still want to be thinner. I’m not saying I won’t celebrate when I get to my milestones. But it’s so much easier to not eat my feelings when my feelings are happy, light and beautiful. Why not do something now that makes me feel good?

Pink hair. My 10th grade self just squeed with joy.

I am done waiting to be happy. I am doing nice things for myself today, right now. I don’t have to earn my happiness – I am choosing to love myself today.



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