Monthly Archives: December 2008

Mothers Are Blue Songs

The winner of the 2008 Writer’s Journal Poetry contest was Cambria Cesar of Santa Rosa, CA.
I came across Cesar’s poem, Mothers Are Blue Songs in the Nov/Dec edition of Writer’s Journal. I really enjoyed the vibrant imagery summoned by Cesar’s writing and wanted to pass it along to my readers.

Congratulations, Ms. Cesar, on your accomplishment!

Mothers Are Blue Songs

Mothers are blue songs
at twilight.
Shadowy tunes
you hear as you drift off
in sailboats
on dream-night waters
across the shore into another year.

Blossoms, Poems, Moonstones, and all things of purest blue, unclouded.

Mothers are silver juniper needles.
Silver flashes in dark corners,
steel daggers hidden in their back pockets,
cut-throat pirates
Or piranhas, if they need be.

Blossoms, Poems, Moonstones, and all things
of purest silver, serrated.

I’ve seen a mother or two,
when I’m lucky,
in the milky moonlight
floating in fawn-colored waters
pushing their young
from leafy bank to leafy bank.

Rhyming each line into lullabies.

Blossoms, Poems, Moonstones,
and all things innocent and…absolute.

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Filed under Artists, Mommy and Motherhood, Writing and Publishing

Got the Post-Holiday Blues?

With Christmas now behind us (but the Christmas season still present…remember:  Epiphany–the day the wisemen reportedly visited the infant king in the stable–didn’t happen until the twelfth day after Christ’s birth, which we celebrate on January 6th) we, like many families, are navigating the post Christmas blow over.  With lost naps to catch up on and a plethora of sweet treats to recover from, it always takes a solid week for Andrew and me to help our kids recalibrate after Christmas.

In our ego-centric, over indulged, Western milieu of a society, post-celebration-let-down is a common occurrence.  In a similar application, I wrote about this in A Dozen Invisible Pieces; likening it to the post-childbirth crash, often called “The Baby Blues,” or the post-marriage let down that a new mother, or new bride  suffers:

“…after some time, [the glow of pregnancy] begins to wane. I distinctly remember how it sadly faded following the birth of each of my children.  As sleep deprivation took over, and each baby passed his or her one month mark, whatever reverence had come my way slowly disappeared.  Even as I imagined I could still feel the child’s distant kicks within my womb, I became “just another mom” with “just another baby”.  Perhaps this is what leads to the strange sense of mourning many postpartum women experience.

Similar to the emotional crash that occurs shortly after a bride’s wedding day, the conversion from regal to ordinary deals a hefty blow.  After being the honored guest at her own baby shower(s), the main attraction at her numerous doctor’s appointments, and the hero in the delivery room, the metamorphosis from having been pampered, coddled, and prioritized to assuming a twenty-four-seven on-call status, now on the other end of the pampering and coddling… even the most humble of women can end up feeling a little dejected.   It is no wonder a new mother experiences the retreat of her recent magnetism like the wind being knocked out of her.

And so, with family visitors now gone, the Christmas tree still standing in the corner of our living room like a nearly forgotten sentinel, and a barrage of new toys, books and craft supplies strewn about the house, I am determined to fight the post holiday blues that my family’s circumstances enable us to contemplate.  But if I hear so much as a syllable that rings of “I’m bored…” coming from my kids, I will have plenty of ammunition at the ready.

Here are some ideas that have been percolating in my head as the reality of two more weeks of Christmas vacation stretch before us:

* with plenty of snow around these parts, we will continue to work on the sledding hill/snow fort/series of snow tunnels that have begun to take shape in our front yard.

* with butcher paper and a combination of colored pens, pencils and crayons, we will trace outlines of each child and allow them to decorate themselves to their heart’s content

* with a couple squirt bottles and some water and food coloring, we might spray designs into the expanse of snow that makes up our back yard

* in recognition of the thoughtfulness bestowed upon us by family and friends this holiday season, we will make home-made thank you cards and, if organized and energized enough, include photos of the kids using the gift given by each loved one

* after printing off a series of photos of family/friends at our local 24 hour (or instant) print shop, we might make photo collages of the people each of our three children deems most precious to them.  These collages can go on the walls of their rooms; a constant reminder of the love that surrounds them.

*after all the fudge and Christmas cookies have disappeared, and once I’m ready to dust off the baking gear again, I might teach my children how to make home-made bread (what kid wouldn’t love the privileg of pounding on a ball of dough?)

*As a writer, it’s my job to help my children appreciate the joy of writing and story telling.  Again, using butcher paper or even computer printer paper or construction paper, I might work together with my kids to design a story book.  Using their imaginations as the guide, I could transcribe the story they come up with and we could jointly work on illustrations.

*we will enjoy the company of other families with children of like ages who are also looking for some post holiday fun

*Let us not forget to encourage some independent play within out family.  Whether a child was showered with Christmas (Hanukah, Diwali, Kwanza…) gifts this past month, or sprinkled with just a meaningful gift or two, they ought to be encouraged to cherish those items chosen for them by loved ones or otherwise invent their own creative games and activities during this post-holiday lull.

So, those are my ideas.  What are yours?  How do you keep your kids inspired, entertained and active during the cool-down from the busy holiday season?


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Filed under family, holidays, Kids

When Our Kids Talk…

A friend of mine does a fabulous job of recording the silly things her three girls say, and the engaging (and sometimes maddening) scenarios that occur in a household of three kids under seven.

Not only does my friend record these priceless words and events, but each year she collects a sampling of the girls’ quotes and includes them on the back of their Christmas card!

This year, when I received their card, I asked her to forward the document to me where she records her family’s verbal tidbits.  I wanted to (with her permission) share some of them with you.  This is a WONDERFUL example of why every parent should keep a running list of the funny things their children say and do.  It’s too hard to remember them in a sleepless, fatigued mommy or daddy brain without writing them down.

Enjoy the following quotes, and consider starting your own list of funny sayings!

Merry Christmas…

July 28, 2004
Mom: Grace, don’t pick your nose while your finger nail polish is still wet.
August 3, 2004
Gabby: I need to go potty! I need my helmet!
Mom: You need to wear your helmet to go potty?Gabby: Yeah!
August 10, 2004
Mom: Gabby, don’t flush the toilet with your mouth!
October 25, 2004 (a big morning for quotes)
Gabby after Mom checks her unders: No, I’m not poopy. I’m Gabby.
November 8, 2004
Frustrated Mom to Gabby who isn’t cooperating in putting on her pajamas: Gabby, these are they ladybug pajamas that you chose for tonight.
Equally frustrated Gabby: I want to choose to change my mind!!
November 12, 2004
Mom to Gabby after she suspiciously smells my homemade dinner: Does it smell nice?
Gabby to Mom: It’s not nice. It could be dangerous.
December 15, 2004
Grace: I’m wearing puppets on my feet so I don’t get wet when I step in Gabby’s pee puddle.
February 26, 2005Mom to Grace who has worn new eyeglasses for a few hours: How do your glasses feel?
Grace considers carefully before answering: Like bananas covered in cheese.
August 28, 2005
Gabby from the bathroom: Come help! I can’t wipe because I’m holding a big Popsicle!
November 30:
Mom trying to regain some level of authority with Genavieve: Who’s the Mommy here?
Genavieve: Dada’s the Mama!
December 10, 2007
Genavieve: I go to doctor again. I stuck another bead up nose.
December 14, 2007
Grace, surprised that the chicken we are eating tastes good: Now I know why kids aren’t allowed to complain about their dinner. Because every once in a while it’s actually delicious!
December 14, 2007
Grace, happily looking into each box of a Harry & David chocolate tower of treats: This gift is nothing but junk, junk, and more junk!! Three cheers for junk!!!
May 12, 2008
Mom to Genavieve: Please don’t put bananas in my belly button while I’m doing yoga.
May 14, 2008
Gabby: I can’t go to sleep. My bed isn’t the right amount of bouncy tonight.
July 10, 2008
Genavieve, hoping for another dose of medicine: I just have one more headache.
July 29, 2008
Grace: I was up early this morning. I think the angels really did wake me with the morning light!
July 29, 2008
Grace: I can’t go to sleep yet. I think my tongue has some more words left on it.
August 2, 2008
Mom: Genavieve! Do NOT throw a fit on the floor of this port-a-potty!
August 4, 2008Genavieve: Grace, (can) I have a piece of paper?Grace: What’s the magic word?
Genavieve, pleased that she knows the answer: Abracadabra!!
August 18, 2008Dad to Genavieve: You need to get out of my office now because I need to work.
Genavieve: Can I be worky, too?
August 31, 2008
Genavieve, protesting her bath: I’m allergic to hot water!
December 3, 2008Grace: Why are you wearing that hat?Mom: I’m having a really bad hair day.
Grace: I think you are having a bad hat day by wearing it.
December 4, 2008
Genavieve, learning about life from a Charlie Brown cartoon: Mom! Guess how you die. When somebody runs over you, you just stick your tongue out and that’s how you die!
December 23, 2008Mom: Girls, how do you want me to do your hair tomorrow?
Genavieve answering immediately: Like a turtle.

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Christmas Thief Caught!

In a household of three young children, one can only expect that the wrapped Christmas gifts sitting tantalizingly under the tree will beckon curious eyes and hands to the point that one…if not more…will get opened early.

The other morning, I discovered 2 1/2-year-old Gabriel under the backside of the tree, hunkered down, mischievous look in his eye, Christmas gift in hand.  A small package with his name on it, clutched hopefully in his little paws was partially torn open.

Caught!

Boy, was he mad…

gabe-under-tree-1

gabe-under-tree-2

gabe-under-tree-3

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Filed under family, holidays, Kids

My New Favorite Quote:

“Be regular and orderly in your life…

…so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

Gustave Flaubert

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Filed under Living

My Favorite Christmas Books for Children…

I have to admit, I’m kind of a Christmas freak. I mean, I start getting excited for Christmas on September 1. You see, I have a theory: any month ending in the three letters ber is a “Ber Month” and therefore, closely related to December…the king of all months! The Christmas month! Andrew loves to tease me about my Christmas zeal which, I am proud to say, is not driven by commercialism and the wreaths that go up outside our local shopping mall the day after Halloween.

For me, Christmas is a time of renewed hope, refurbished relationships, and a time to refocus our attentions on the things that really matter in life.

So, as a mother of three young children, reading story books about Christmas is a HUGE part of celebrating the advent season. It’s all a part of getting heart and mind ready for Christmas. So, here’s a short list of my favorite Christmas books for children:

The Littlest Christmas Tree (Janie Jasin)
The Velveteen Rabbit (Margery Williams, ill. Robyn Officer)
The Crippled Lamb (Max Lucado, ill. Liz Bonham)
Three Trees (Angela Elwell Hunt, Tim Jonke)
The Stable Where Jesus Was Born (Rhonda Gowler Greene, ill. Susan Gaber)
Snowman at Christmas (Caralyn Buehner, ill. Mark Buehner)
The Polar Express (Chris Van Allsburg)
and…of course...
The Night Before Christmas (Clement Moore, updated by Jan Brett)

Even if you’ve NEVER commented on this blog before, please, PLEASE, PLEASE consider adding your two cents in here: what are your favorite holiday books to share with children? There are so many out there and, quite frankly, my book shelves can only hold so many!!! But a virtual book shelf? Now, that has the potential to be endless! Please add to my virtual book shelf with your comment!
(Feel free to add as many of your favorites to the list as you like!)

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Filed under Writing and Publishing

Busted!

How many of you remember this: the squirming in your seats, “oh God, here it comes,” mortal dread of getting busted by a teacher? Well, it doesn’t necessarily end with high school graduation.

Our middle son got busted in preschool yesterday. And, fortunately for me, I wasn’t on pick-up duty yesterday. Dear, dear Andrew had the misfortune of taking the wrath of the preschool teacher:

Some stretch of time into Circle Time and, I’m sure, after receiving a class-wide warning of the Health Inspectors’ annual visit to the preschool, Landon decided he was “bored” of sitting in Circle Time. Now, in a Montessori preschool, kids are trusted to choose their own work and, to some extent, wander the classroom looking for what suites them best.

So off Landon went; wandering. When what to his mischievous eyes should appear, but a bowl of ground cornmeal perched at the edge of a counter top.

Now, let me pause amidst this woesome tale to ask you this: if you were a four-year-old boy, and if you (apparently unobserved by the teachers) spotted a bowl full of cornmeal, what would you do with it?

Well Landon, he decided it’d be a good idea to dump the whole bowl onto the floor of the classroom. Just as those Health Inspectors were walking through the front door.

Apparently the head teacher was able to create some diversion; routing the inspectors to the school office for a few moments while another teacher cleaned up the mess but, believe-you-me, they were collectively none too happy with our little boy.

And poor Andrew got the brunt of it when he showed up on his lunch hour to pick Landon up. Worst of all, as the teacher described to Andrew the debacle of the day, she ended by saying, “and, it seems that Landon thinks this whole thing is funny.

Of course he thought it was funny. He’s four. He’s a boy. His mischievous by nature.

Now, I know it was a poor choice our kid made to dump the cornmeal onto the floor. I know he should have kept his cute little bottom planted on the rug; classmates flanking him on each side. I know he’s gotten in trouble at school before, like when he intentionally peed on the cubby room couch, or when he broke a glass plate while using it as a steering wheel.

But, come on! Since when was it a good idea to leave a bowl full of cornmeal out in plain view of twenty, 2 1/2 to 4-year-olds?

Yes, Andrew assured the teacher we’d sufficiently address the issue with our son. And yes, we gave Landon a bit of a talking to. But, if I am to apply a lesson here that I constantly teach my Lamaze class parents when talking about household safety for a baby, and my CPR class students in general: prevention works way better than reaction.

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