Thursday, August 29, 2013

See what I put up with?

Last night when I got home from work my guys were still out doing errands so I called my husband to tell him I was going to walk to the mall because I needed something at Michael's Crafts. I explained that there was pizza for him and our son and they could heat it up and eat it without me. 

Husband; "isn't Michael's next to a Firehouse Subs? I could really go for a steak and cheese. And CD wants a ham sandwich. Get something for yourself too since you will be hungry when you get home." (Gee, thanks, can I really??)
Me: "I am WALKING. I don't want to carry sandwiches for 2 miles! And you have pizza!"

After a little back and forth he finally convinced me that carrying three sandwiches home wasn't going to kill me.
So I did it.
I carried three hot sandwiches for two miles.
Like a baby in the crook of my arm because the flimsy paper bag started to break. But I brought them home dinner. And when I walked In the door they were sitting at the table waiting for me.

In front of their pizza crusts.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hannah Montana and the Wildly Awkward Twerker

Okay, here is my deal on the whole Miley Cyrus thing. I watched it once...that was all I needed.  It's not a case of "if you don't like it, don't watch it."  I'm not horrified that Hannah Montana has grown up and is trying to show she is an adult and is "sexy".  It's the fact that she was so weirdly awkward while doing it.  I actually feel bad for her if she thinks that what she was doing was provocative and racy but instead it was clumsy, ugly, and just plain bizarre.  How does she seriously think that the tongue wagging stuff is attractive?

You are a grown up, go for it....just please learn to do it in a way that doesn't burn my eyeballs and make me cringe for you in embarrassment.

p.s. you know you are an amateur when your "surprise" costume #2 is hanging out under costume #1.  The minute she walked out and I saw that, I thought "this just can't be good."

Friday, August 23, 2013

School Anxiety

My five year old will be starting school in two weeks and I'm not sure if we are ready.  And by "we" I mean "me."  I do think he has come to terms with the fact that he will be starting Kindergarten.  In the beginning he was very nervous and said he didn't want to go, but then he went to a Kindergarten prep "camp" of sorts for two weeks and I think he saw that it wouldn't be much different from the two years of preschool he just completed.  He seems totally fine with the prospect of starting school now, thank God.

I, on the other hand, am a bit nervous.  Not about sending my son off to begin the next 13 years (or hopefully 17 years) of learning, but about having to be involved.  With other moms.  Who will no doubt be very different from me.

I am older.... in my ((cough cough)) 40's (closer to early 40's, but next year I'll be closer to the mid's).
I work full time, 8 to 5, every day
Our son is an only child

This feels like the trifecta, the perfect storm for not fitting in.

I can't relate to the other moms.  I only recently heard the song "Blurred Lines" for the first time.  They don't play that on XM's 80's on 8 satellite station.

I won't be able to volunteer at the school on a weekly basis. I'll drop CD off on my way to work and my husband will pick him up on his way home.  No extra time to stand and chat in the drop off/ pick up line.  No getting together to hit the gym or take a walk while we pass the time waiting for school to end. Probably won't be able to fit in many PTO meetings either.

I won't know any of these parents on day one because I don't have other kids that have gone through the school system. Some days I feel like we are the only parents in a one-child family.  We didn't intend it to be that way, but it's just how it has worked out.  And given my age, the ship has pretty much sailed on this one (so please stop asking when number 2 is coming thankyouverymuch).

My husband and I are very active socially with our core group of friends that I've known since my twenties.  But they don't all live in our town, nor do they all have children.  Now that CD is starting school I know it's important for us to make friends with the parents of his classmates so we can plan play dates, and such, something that will be crucial for an only child since he does not have anyone at home his own age.

I don't want to sound like I'm anticipating only bad things and this is all in my head.  It's not.  For two years we tried to fit in at CD's preschool.  People were nice enough, but we always felt like outsiders.  At school sponsored events we would try to strike up conversations, but they didn't go much farther than the pleasantries.  We typically are likable people, I swear.  We aren't degenerates and we don't smell funny (well, I don't think we do).  We just found that a lot of the other parents at that school knew each other already.  They were around the same age, many of whom went to high school together.  We felt like they intentionally didn't want to include others that they didn't know.

I hate cliques.

Ironically toward the end of his last year of preschool I started to fit in a little more.  CD was invited to a number of birthday parties and we always went to them.  They typically were at a local inflatables play place, so it was easy to mill around and talk to different people for short periods of time, while keeping a watchful eye on the kids.  Even though we would ask him every day who he played with at school, our son always replied "I didn't play with anyone today.  I don't have any friends at school."  However when we would go to these birthday parties and I'd introduce myself almost always the reaction was "So you are CD's mom!  My son does not stop talking about him!!"  Apparently our son was highly regarded among his classmates, although he would never let onto this fact at home.  This finally gave me a little more leverage when it came to socializing, but it was a little too late.

When it came time for his birthday party mid-August I asked who he wanted to invite and he gave me four names.  It was nice having their mom's at our house for his party but I still didn't feel like I fit in entirely. Part of that may have been because I was trying to chat with them, while also checking on the other 30 guests (family members). I guess I just feel awkward when it comes to small talk.  Plus, we have an odd sense of humor (says the woman with the pair of jeans hanging on our porch wall, that were ripped off one of our friends at our "Redneck" party or the giant stuffed boar's head looming over our table where we serve our summertime guests)

I know we have to try extra hard and be there for every school sponsored event so people will get to know us.  I plan to approach parents and start up conversations, as hard as that may be.  But I'm still fearful of being the outsiders.  I fear it will eventually hurt our son and that is the last thing I want to do.

I plan to keep an open mind and a positive attitude.  But I am also a realist and like to plan for all the "what ifs!"

If anyone has some experience with this, please share it in the comments.  I can use all the encouragement I can get!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Strong boy, powerful words

My son, CD, just turned 5 and he is gearing up to start Kindergarten in two weeks.  Originally because his birthday was so close to the September 1st cut-off, his preschool teachers convinced us to wait an extra year before sending him off to elementary school.  Then back in March they changed their mind and felt that his social skills really blossomed this year and he would be ready to start school on schedule.  We spent months convincing ourselves that it was in his best interest to wait until he was 6, only to reverse course and scramble to enroll him for this September.  We still speak to a lot of people who think waiting another year would be best, but when the teacher said "if he was my son, I'd send him now" I took her advice to heart.

But that doesn't mean we aren't all still a little nervous, my son especially.  We thought we had one more year to prepare for this, but we don't. So I have been trying to talk up how great Kindergarten would be and how he will still get toys even though he is getting older (yes, this was one of his concerns)!  We decided to hold off on other activities for a little while until we were sure he could handle more than just the day at school.  He is going from a three day a week, 9 to Noon program to five days a week, 8 to 2:30.  One of the activities that we are temporarily putting a hold on is his martial arts class.  We do plan to start up again in a little while, but for now we wanted to wait.

Over the weekend I had to stop by the martial arts studio to drop off a headband to his instructor.  While we were waiting someone asked CD why he wasn't in his uniform.  We explained that we hadn't renewed our membership for right now because we wanted to see how the transition to Kindergarten went.  Another student overheard this and immediately exclaimed "Kindergarten will be the BEST year of your life!"  then he recounted all of the wonderful things about going to school.  It was a little different for him because he is a cancer survivor and he was going through treatments when he started school, but he still had such a fond remembrance of it all.  He told us that he is 12 years old now and heading into the seventh grade.  I was a bit surprised by this because he looks younger.  And as if he read my mind he said that he knew he looked like he was only 8 years old and he was always the smallest in his class (as I fear my son will be), but it was okay.  He didn't say it with sadness, just very matter of fact.  There was a wise-beyond-his-years attitude about him.  He was so excited to tell my son about how great everything would be, even I wanted to go back to Kindergarten!!!

I marveled at this boy and how kind he was to my son. I regret not seeking out his parents to let them know what a great job they did in raising him.  The martial arts studio is having an awards ceremony on Saturday night and they will be celebrating this young man's 8th year in remission. I am hoping I can let his parents know at that time how much his advice helped me and my son.  I truly think CD is a little less apprehensive now because of this really brave guy and his kind words.  And I hope one day my son will do the same for someone else.

Never underestimate the kindness of strangers, no matter how young they may be!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Indiana Jones and the 5 Year Old's Birthday Party

About a year ago my son became infatuated with the Lego Indiana Jones Wii video game.  Next came the movies, which he can describe with amazing accuracy.  He has learned a lot about history, nature, and survival (he knows more about scorpions than I do)!  He will tell you that when he grows up he wants to be an Archaeologist, to which we reply "Not all Archaeologists swing over chasms with a bullwhip" so then he changes his mind and says that he wants to be a stunt man, too.  Oh, boy!

So, it was no surprise to us when we asked him six months ago what he wanted his 5th birthday party theme to be and he said "Indiana Jones!"  We asked again each month after that and the answer never wavered.  Therefore this mom was given the great task of planning a party around a 30 year old movie.  Yeah, me!

After doing some research I realized I was very limited in the party supplies I would find.  The last movie, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skulls (which is my least favorite of the Indy franchise), was released in 2008 so if there were any party supplies out there they would be centered around that movie.  But even those were hard to come by.  I finally made the decision to purchase a few things, but then make most others.  One of those purchases was a plastic tablecloth.  For $14.99!  Of course after spending that much on a piece of plastic picturing an old Harrison Ford and a post-Transformers Shia LaBeouf I didn't want to get it dirty, so I hung it up like a banner to keep it as clean as possible.  Will I ever use this again, who knows?  But I just couldn't bear the thought of eating off a $15 tablecloth!  Buyer's remorse much?

We nailed down the party date just before leaving on vacation so I really didn't have much time to get creative.  Most invitees were family with just a few of my son's former preschool classmates, so I found a picture of Indy with a map in the background and used PowerPoint to fill in the details.  Printed out on regular old 8 1/2 x 11 and we were good to go....

I found this cute Adventure Trunk that included an Indiana Jones costume, foam whip and knife, coins, compass and some other miscellaneous items.  Even though CD already had a Fedora and Whip he still loved everything that was in here.  I added in The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones and a few tiny artifacts that I found on eBay and he was beside himself with excitement before the party even began!

We have a pool and normally that is the big "activity" for the kids, but I felt like I had to do a lot more given the nature of this theme.  I debated on having someone show up dressed as Indy, but in the end I just went with having an adventure obstacle course. In my head the 8 kids would all arrive at the same time, we'd line them up and each one would go through the obstacle course one by one.  It would be a grand old time, with their parents and friends watching on, full of laughter.

We'd start by having to cross over the snake pit, then crawl through the tunnel of bugs. Oriental Trading Company and The Dollar Tree were instrumental in stocking these obstacles.

After that they would climb up the rock wall into the bat cave, which had these great animated bats (yay for AC Moore putting out their Halloween stuff early!!)

They would then go down the "mountain" slide while trying to avoid the giant boulder.  After that they would dig for treasure in the sand pit (more Dollar Tree finds)
Treasure before being buried
And here is how the sand pit looked when they arrived

Finally they would grab a "goblet" and use some adhesive gems to make their own Holy Grail.  All the while they could dine on some worms and sip the antidote if they had the Pankot Punch (generic blue fruit drink from the local market).


In reality, as soon as the kids showed up  they were so excited to see each other, they ran past me as I was greeting their moms and made a dash for the "bat cave", but not before grabbing handfuls of snakes and insects to take with them.  One little girl went right to the treasure dig and had a wonderful time finding the jewels as the boys threw snakes down the "mountain".  My OCD started to kick in, and I was about to shout "wait, there is an obstacle course!  I have a whole PLAN!!!"  But once I heard their squeals of laughter I realized all that mattered was that they were having fun!  Seeing the smile on my son's face made it all worthwhile!

After a while some of the girls (and my son) decorated some of the goblets.  That seemed to be a hit for them, along with the treasure dig.   Boys and girls alike seemed to really enjoy that.  Of course I had to add some skulls and spiders in there for good measure, but it was fun to see the boys walking around with giant "diamonds" on their fingers, too.

Lunch was a feast of pizza, sandwiches, and of course Eyeball Soup (ping pong balls floating in tomato sauce)

and Monkey Brains (raspberry jello with dry ramen noodles dyed red)! One little girl was even brave enough to try the brains.

Of course we had a Pinata (the skull shape went along well with the theme) and the backyard was decorated with movie posters and brown paper wrapped boxes that were marked "Property of Dr. Jones" and "Top Secret, Army Intel, Do Not Open".

My son loves the Zeppelin scene from the Last Crusade, but the closest I could get was a Goodyear blimp.  I wanted to somehow paint it to look like a Zeppelin but my husband nixed that idea (probably because I asked him to do it at 10 pm the night before the party), but my son didn't seem to mind that it was not an exact replica.  He loves that blimp!

For the goodie bags each child went home with their own "Adventure Journal" (awesome find at AC Moore in the dollar bin. I added a sticker using the SF Fedora font and a stamp that said Confidential. Voila! Perfect), some snacks, and whatever treasures they uncovered in the sand pit. Oh, and of course snake tattoos!  Why did it have to be snakes!!

This was the most thought I've ever put into one of his parties, but it definitely was the most rewarding.  My son gave me a huge hug at the end of the day and told me I was the BEST MOM EVER.

This may not have been the most elaborate Indiana Jones party (by Pinterest standards), but for me it was a huge success!!

Well, maybe not so much for this guy. I think he was waiting too long for a push.