Category Archives: Kids

gOOd ideas with KIDS in mind

Cat and Dog People

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I grew up with dogs so I thought I was a dog person.  But then  I got a cat.  Sorry Fido, I’m hooked, on felines.  Ever since I proclaimed my pet partiality I’ve wondered what makes a person pick  team cat vs. team dog. It’s more then just a preference like vanilla or chocolate.  It’s much, much more.

To answer the question, cat vs. dog I turned to the expert on most things – Google. There is enough research and opinion out there to write a thesis on this topic but here are my top 5 findings about dog people and cat people.

  1. It seems everybody agrees that dog people are more outgoing and friendly then cat people. No surprise there, right? Just picture the folks in the park throwing Frisbees to beautiful golden retrievers. Are they not the picture of health and well being, just out there inviting conversation, companionship, or a friendly wave. “Nice throw.” “Good lookin’ dog! “What fun!”

Cat people therefore, are more like, um, cats? You see a beautiful cat who looks like he’d be yummy to pet so you approach him, hand gently extended and you say “hi kitty” in the most loving voice possible.  You get  close to him, maybe even just a few inches away and BAM!  You get a swat, a snub, or the cat simply gets up and walks away with his tail bobbing up and down, flipping  you off in cat language.  Cat people don’t mind keeping to themselves, and if a cat person is not in the mood for you, he or she  will definitely let you know.

  1. Another across the board finding was that cat people are generally smarter and more curious than dog people. There’s a bunch of supporting evidence on this but I’ve always held that dogs are not particularly smart, however they are highly trainable. I’m not sold that trainability equals smart but the majority disagrees with me.

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Here’s a picture of a dog named Scout who is internet famous for balancing things on his head, and waiting.   He has outstanding patience.   Go Scout.

Felines are complete agreement that putting a treat on their head and waiting for the command to eat it is just dumb. I think that makes them smart.  And,  I believe that cat people don’t invest a lot of time or energy in things that make no sense either, thus, smarter.

  1. There is a strong agreement out there that dog people are less neurotic than cat people. I guess it makes sense.  If you have idiosyncrasies, walking or running with a dog, receiving the dog’s love, licks, and constant reassurance that you are the one and only may help ease your problems.  But to say that dog people are less neurotic than cat people? I disagree on this one without a shred of documenting evidence except to say that the term ‘crazy cat lady’ is not without merit.
  1. I’ve repeatedly read that dog people are more tolerant than cat people. I agree, being a cat person I know intolerance first hand.   My teenage children are good examples of cat people.
  1. Dog and cat people each have a different sense of humor. I’m not sure if I understand the research behind this finding but it does go  along with two other bits of information which is this:   There is a higher percentage of females who identify as cat people, thus a higher percentage of males as dog people.   Cat people enjoy satire and irony, dog people think burping the alphabet is a sport and that the fart and dart is funny.

Oh, you dog people!   I like you all, even if you have gone over to the bark side.

 

Fall 2016

IMG_6106I wave bye bye  to summer

And the beehive in my yard.

I’m deflating all the pool toys

Which is more sad than hard.

 

The beaches are still open but

leaves are on the ground.

I can’t help buying pencils and

A bag to tote around.

 

I haven’t been in school full time

since 1983

But September always makes me sigh

And wish that it was me

 

who is

 

Cramming summer reading,

And catching up with friends,

And picking out my “first day” clothes

As if my life depends

 

On making good impressions,

And turning a new leaf,

But soon enough I realize

that me,

is just still me.

 

 

The air is subtly changing

I pull more toys from the pool.

And pretend I’m getting ready

for another
year

of school.

Big Sister Goes To College

 When the girl in this picture was a wee tot I took her to preschool.   I held her hand as  we walked down the hallway and as soon as she let go and waved ‘bye bye’ I started to cry.  I didn’t think she saw me when I teared up, and I know for sure she didn’t see the director comfort me and show me how I could peek into the classroom undetected to see that I had nothing to worry about.

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Melody Moves into the dorm.

So as certain as I am that she didn’t see me cry that day, she still somehow knew, because on day two as I held her hand and walked her down the hallway to her teacher she looked up at me and said “Mommy, are you going to cry again today?”    Of course, you know I did.    But on day two I cried because my little baby girl didn’t seem to mind leaving me and that was hard.

Yesterday, when I left her at college, it was just as hard.

And the reason it was hard to leave her two states away in a dorm room, was not because she doesn’t need me, and it wasn’t hard because I’ll miss her.  It was hard because she’s so incredibly confident and smart and beautiful and, well, ready.    She is ready and I don’t think she’s going to need me at all soon.   It makes me  wonder if the mama bird who kicks her birdies from the nest feels the pain too.   She thinks she’s ready for them to go, but then they fly away and it’s too late to say, “wait, make sure you eat vegetables, and make good choices!”   I wonder.

When we were leaving yesterday she let me have a little pow wow with her so I was in fact able to tell her to eat right, make good choices, and go to class, even when you don’t really want to sometimes.  We hugged for a long time (I thank her for that), we both got a little teary. and then hugged for a while more.    She hugged her sisters and her dad and we all said I love you and then she waved bye bye just like she did all those years ago.   She was off to start an exciting journey and we just went home.

So today was her first day there and our first day her without her.   When I went up the stairs past her room this morning I noticed from under the door that her light was off.  I thought “Hmm, she’s still asleep,” and then I realized she’s not here.  I told her sister the story and she said “Funny, I did the same thing.”

Resisting the urge to text her, to call her, to drive two states away and peek in the window like I did when she was little is hard. Yesterday I cried because I handed her off to her new place at her new school and today I cried because she went.  Tomorrow will be better and before you know she ‘ll be home arguing with her sisters and making a mess in the kitchen and I’ll have to remember just how much I  missed it when she was gone.

And when she returns to college for another term she might say “Mom, are you gonna cry again this time?”  And my answer will probably be yes.  Of course you know I will.

 

 

 

The Fancy Dress

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I wrote this piece several months ago, but it seemed timely now that prom season is in full swing.

I recently attended the NJ All Shore Chorus’ 53rd Annual Recital. My daughter was awarded a music scholarship from All Shore this year and when she texted me from the auditions to say she had the scholarship, the first thing I thought about (after yay!) was, what will she wear?  There really isn’t any pomp and circumstance to choir wardrobes. Although she’s needed clothes for every kind of choir you can imagine, from high school to a touring A Capella group, outfitting her has always been the same. “Mom, I need a black dress.”  (It’s amazing how many different kinds of black dresses one girl can own.)   But now were were shopping for a soloist gown that might be  red, or teal, or peach, with beads, or sequins!  I was giddy.

When I was in high school I had just one gown, when we, as seniors, we were encouraged to dress formally for our final spring music recital. I remember the day when my mother bought me a fancy dress for that occasion.” Don’t tell your father how much we spent,” she said. “Just hang it up in your room.  He probably won’t even notice.”  The dress she bought me was over budget, but “for some things we make exceptions,” she said. Now it felt like my time to pay it forward.

Busy schedules sent us shopping after 8pm on three separate occasions, until finally we found the perfect dress which unfortunately did not have the perfect price tag.   But how could I not buy this for her?   How many times will an event like this happen? I could hear mother’s voice in my mind,  “She looks so beautiful in that gown.  She feels beautiful. So, you’ll have to turn the thermostat down for a month and skip all the takeout until Spring. Do it. You will regret it if you don’t.”   And then a saleslady named Anu came into the fitting room and sighed with me. “You have to get this one,” she said in an Indian accent.

“It’s really more than I was planning on spending.” I said.

“Don’t worry about the price mommy.” she said, “I fix it for you.”

And she did. Bless that saleslady who with the swipe of two coupons knocked the price of that dress down by 40%. Anu has daughters too she told me, who are all grown now. “When they feel and look that beautiful?  There is not a price for that. You’re a good mom,” she said. “We moms have to stick together.”  She smiled and zipped up the garment bag.   “Now you carry it,” she said to my daughter.  “Mom did enough hard work today.”

When she stood on the stage that night and sang for us it was perfect. It was all worth it, every penny. And after the concert, and then our small after party,  I was thinking that I hope one day my own daughters will have the chance to buy their own girls a  dream dress. And if not that, then maybe like Anu did, they can help in some other way.

There are so many things our kids want to do that require money and time we’d rather spend elsewhere. But we spend it on them for whatever the important reasons are at the time. For me, this was one of those times.

It’s true, if it can make them look and feel like a million bucks, there really is no price for that. And to my own mom and to Anu I  am grateful to be reminded that you can’t buy happiness, but once in a while you can buy a really great dress.

You Crazy Moms

 

 

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This morning while stopped at a traffic light I watched a mom on a rant. It was my neighbor actually, who is a great mom to a great kid, most of the time. She was clearly annoyed with her daughter, whose gaze went everywhere except to her mother’s face. I could feel the push and pull between the two of them; the mother talking and talking without pause for her daughter to speak, and the girl, waiting for a chance to defend herself but relenting to one long sigh that went nicely with her rolling eyes. It was a clear case of the mother needing to be heard verses the girl wishing mother would just shut up. Of course it’s possible, even likely that the girl was thinking about lunch with her friends, or about a boy. I’m pretty sure she burst from the car as soon as they pulled up in front of the school and she didn’t look back, except to glare. But more importantly she won’t remember a single thing that was said in the car.   Of this I am certain.

The first thing I did when the mom/daughter duo passed by me at the traffic light was smile, happy it wasn’t me. It could have been, but it wasn’t, at least not this morning. I only had a 15 second glimpse of the scene in the minivan, the mom’s hand waving in the air, her unpainted face stuck in a grimace, a mom who’d had her fill of back talk and excuses, of lousy attitudes and empty promises from her teen. And the teenager, whose body was in the car and whose mind was a million miles away.  I get it.

The fight is exhausting.

We give them unsolicited advice. We ask what they’re up to when we already know.    We make punishments ten times larger than the offense calls for, and then when we’re too weary to follow through with the consequences, we grant them amnesty “this one time.”   Is it possible that we make them as crazy as they make us?

If there were a job posted that listed the qualifications, expectations, consequences, and pay of a mom, nobody would interview. You’d have to be crazy to take that position! But maybe that’s just it. Crazy. Yes, it is crazy to expect that their agenda, at 16 years old, could even remotely match ours. It is crazy to think that she could understand how badly I want her to mature into a decent, loving and lovable human, one who makes good choices and contributes well to society. And, it is crazy to think that I can remember high school the way she sees it today. It’s all a little nutty.

So if we are crazy, that explains the scene in the van right?  Maybe. But here’s what I also know.   The same arm that I saw waving like mad as their minivan passed my car this morning is the same arm that  will hold the girl from harms way at any cost, and that same grimacing face spewing ultimatums in the car is the same face that will say “I love you, even when you make me crazy, I love you.”

So if you lose your cool once in a while, if you know a mom who goes a little bonkers from time to time, or if you look in a minivan at the school drop off and see a mom on a rant, rest assured that this is because crazy is part of the job description.

Let’s face it; you wouldn’t get the job any other way.

Family Meetings

 

Ah… the family meeting.  Have you ever tried to have one?  In our house we all gather around to discuss things like curfews, allowance, chores and bad behavior.  I know I could speak to them all separately about this stuff, but I’ve leaned that it’s much better to have a  witnesses because inevitably, somebody will fail at what’s expected and offer the excuse , “But mom, you never said that.”

But indeed, I did.

What annoys me the most about these family meetings is how everybody nods their heads and says exactly what I want to hear at the exact moment I want to hear it.    Do they know in advance that they’re not going to do one single thing we talked about?   Should I remain hopeful that when they look at me and nod that finally, they actually “get me?”

Let’s face it, they don’t.

Throughout the years I’ve called these family meetings and said things like this:   “I’m shutting of the internet at night;  if you want to borrow something from me you may, but only if you give me something valuable as a deposit,” and “please put things away after you’re done with them.”   You might recognize these results.


 

The internet

Me.  “No internet after 10pm because none of you are getting enough sleep.” 

Them: ” You’re right mom.  We understand.”

                           One night after I put my policy into place

Husband:  “I haven’t gotten to where I can shut down the internet by each device yet, so just leave it on.”


Borrowing

Them:  “Mom, where are the scissors?”

Me:   “I will let you have them for a dollar deposit.”

                          The next day.  

Me:  “Where are my scissors?”

Them:  “I thought I’d just keep them.  It’s only like, a buck, right?”


Cleaning Up

Them:   “Where’s the honey?”

Me:   “It’s in the shed in the back of the yard.”

Them:  “Why?  Because I didn’t put it away?”

Me:  “Yes.”

Them:  “That’s okay, I’ll just use sugar.”


I thought she couldn’t live without honey in her tea.   Seems she can.  The honey bear is still sitting it the shed in the back yard.  

I’ll get it in the spring. 

 

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I Am Mom

I am your sunshine
Who’s your   sunshine?

Recently, in a somewhat spirited conversation with my daughter, I was told that giving her advice “Isn’t your job.”   Of course without missing a beat I explained, again somewhat spiritedly, that giving advice is indeed my job and I continued to list other things in my job description

I won’t repeat it for you, because you’d tune me out just like she did.  But, I would like to name the top five things that I (am moms all over the world ) do, which teenagers forget about and for which I know they are eternally grateful, even if they don’t show it.

I potty trained them.  Without me they would  probably figure it out on their own but I think I am owed a little gratitude for setting them up for bathroom success.  Not to mention all the diaper changes and ‘accident management’ that I’ve provided.

I find the phone, the purse, the keys, the money,  the shoes, the permission slips, concert tickets, and the coat, to name a few.

I braid hair, trim hair, find hair elastics,  dye hair,  put it  in a bun, curl it, straighten it, even try to french braid (even though I stink at it) because you asked me to,  and then I suffer your bad moods when I fail.

I taught you the alphabet, how to count,  how to ride your bike, even how to clean the bathroom, but I guess you forgot that last part.

I am  your biggest fan, bar none.  I  go to  recitals,  shows, sports matches, I watch your cartwheels, I love your poetry, hang your artwork, and tolerate your non-stop singing and dancing when I’d rather be reading a book.  I am the cheerleader who encourages you to try when you want to stop, and I am there to understand when you’ve had all you can stand of trying.

I am mom.

 

 

 

The Blizzard of 2003

 

We’re waiting for a blizzard tonight.  If it arrives like the weather channel is predicting we will have plenty of snow to rock a good snowman/woman/person/ball by morning.

Almost 13 years ago, in February 2003,  my brother paid us a visit.  He brought 3 beautiful Micky Mouse Costumes for my daughters who were 2,2, & 4 at the time.  He said they were ridiculously cheap Halloween leftovers from the Disney store and the girls could wear them next year.   My first thought was that I didn’t need to store 3 beautiful Mickey Mouse Halloween Costumes that won’t fit by  Halloween.  My second thought was thanks.   I overreacted, my trademark.   I hated them, the kids loved them.

His plan was to spend the day at our house and stay for supper, but he said the forecast was calling for a major snow and he wanted to leave in time to beat the storm.   Again, I overreacted telling him that he was crazy, I’d heard nothing about snow and he should not worry.  But okay,  “Go if you feel you must.” And so he did.  May I add another bit about stay at home mom burnout?  I never heard the news,  I watched Barney on TV and Elmo music in the car.   To learn the weather, I woke up and looked out the window.

So after he left, I forged outside with the girls to get ready for the snow, just in case my brother was right about the weather.   First stop was the craft store. I was not going to be without glue, paint, or play-do and be stuck in the house.  Food could wait.   I bundled up the kids and off we went just as the snow began to fall. I don’t remember exactly what we bought in Michaels but I do remember that by the time I got out of the store there was 3″ of snow on my car.  I put the kids in the car, brushed of the windshield and thought maybe I should stop at the A&P before going home, just in case.

In and out of the car with three preschoolers in a snow storm, I must have been crazy, or determined, or desperate.  I remember seeing the manager in the crowded store and suggesting he close since he was pretty much out of food,  but all we needed was a couple of boxes of captain crunch, some boxed milk, and we were good to go.

That afternoon and the night that followed we got almost two feet of snow.  I was wrong about the snow and I was wrong about the Mickey Mouse costumes.  The girls put them on and refused to take them off for two days.   They wore them to play, to nap, to eat, and to bed.   I was right however about Halloween, the costumes didn’t fit them by then.  But who cares.

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It must be me

 

This past weekend I had three days of blissful no phone/no fuss bonding, with a bunch of ladies who all shared the same goal.  To make pretty scrapbook pages,  to drink some wine, and to while away until the wee hours of the morning  knowing there was no need to get up early, no cleaning and no mediating arguments between minors for 54 solid hours.

According to the phone report that came in as I was preparing for the drive back home, my husband took care of the errands, the food shopping and doling out the chores while I was away.   Everybody was in a good mood, the house was cleaned up and dinner was in the oven.   “Take your time,”  he said, “enjoy your weekend.”

So as any smart woman would, I did just that.  I took my time and enjoyed my weekend.   I was the happiest kind of sleep deprived by Sunday evening and  I was hoping my relaxed stressless weekend could continue all the way until bedtime.

When I got home, the kids greeted me in the driveway.   They were all in a great mood.  Everybody helped unload the car and we moved pretty quickly from my homecoming to dinner and kitchen clean up.

After dinner as we relaxed together on the couch for a short while, I started to notice things not really done.  The barely vacuumed rugs, and the garbage that wasn’t taken out.  I checked with my husband to make sure he got everything at the supermarket and as it turns out the grocery list wasn’t completely purchased.  I gave him a sigh.  It wasn’t really so much that things went undone, it was more about those happy expectations he gave me that fell a little short of what I imagined.   He called to the girls, explained the situation to them and they redid what they were supposed to do, and they did it quickly and without any real complaints.   One finished the grocery list and the others finished the chores, shocking me, and providing a very nice ending to a very nice weekend.

But I guess my dear husband took the euphoria  with him when he left for work this morning, because by the 7:20AM school departure I’d already done it wrong, said it wrong, looked at them wrong, made the wrong food food choices and oh yeah, I didn’t wear a coat outside so accordingly I set an example that was wrong, wrong, wrong.    It occurred to me that none of that happens when dad’s in charge which brings me to this question.   Is it me?

 

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It is.  It must be me, right?

Happy Monday .

 

New School Year

It’s back to school time and my favorite moment of every day is 7:36 AM when…

Theory –   everybody has what they need for the day and is happily off doing their job as high school students.

Practice – they are suffering through a ridiculously early start time missing sleep, homework, and breakfast.

Reality –  if my phone has no text messages, it’s a good morning.

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” – Albert Einstein.  Can we please bring Albert to the next school board meeting?  Or Father Guido Sarducci?