January 18, 2016

Taking A Moment For Dr. King

We try and do screen free Sundays. The kids are screen free Mon-Fri afternoon, but on Sunday Hill and I put away the phones and we have a big old family bonding fest. We do TRY. Some days by 3:00 I am wrapping my son's hot little hand around the remote control, duct taping them both to the sofa, pouring myself a giant glass of pinot and staring at my Twitter feed for an hour.

But yesterday, we had a planned interruption of screen free Sunday. Beck has the day off from Kindergarten today in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as do most kids. To their credit his school did a unit on him and Beck was talking about why he had the day off. Which sounded like:

"Mom! Did you know that people used to be separated because of the color of their skin?! That doesn't make any sense!" No, kid, it doesn't.

I didn't want it to just be a day off for him, so I decided to supplement what he learned at school a bit. Naturally I did what anyone looking for materials appropriate for young children on the Civil Rights movement would do. I checked Pinterest.

I found two short YouTube videos that I felt were right for our situation. They talk about MLK and his life and accomplishments, they don't gloss over the hard stuff, but explain in a straightforward, matter-of-fact way that I've found works well with young kids. Could I have done more? Yes! Probably like printables and art projects and themed sensory play. But that's not really my style. I do want to use the holiday as an opportunity for volunteering in our community when they are a bit older and I feel like I have my shit together a little more. Right now, these short videos were a great way to dip their little toes into a whole ocean of conversational material.

 First this -


Because LeVar Burton and Reading Rainbow can tackle any topic - no matter how weighty or complicated.

And then this -

Because...Kid President. Enough said.

I sat on our sofa with my 2.5 and 5 year old children as we watched these well said, hopeful and even a little funny videos and sobbed. Even Beck got a little choked up at the story LeVar read us. But I'm not entirely sure why I was crying. Perhaps it was just that the emotion of this story I know so well came across new to me as I heard it told through new voices. It was probably a little because of all the ugliness in the world my kids are just starting to learn about. And I think a lot of it was because of the two vessels of hope for our messed up world that were sitting on either side of me and the weight I felt from the responsibility of making sure that they are part of healing this crazy place.
January 12, 2016

Cursing Kids

Sailor Lo
Not too long ago my family was sitting at the dinner table with my parents, who were visiting, enjoying some delivered pizza when my two-year-old knocked over her sippy cup. Without hesitation she spit out, "deezuz tiest!" While righting her cup, my mother asked her to repeat herself because it takes a few days to get used to Marlowe speak and they had just arrived. My five-year-old was all to happy to help translate, "oh, she said Jesus Christ."

Thanks for your help on that one, buddy.

Luckily, my parents aren't the type to be offended and they suppressed a chuckle at our budding truck driver. Around our house this kind of language is not exactly permitted, but no one gets in trouble for saying words. I was actually kind of proud of her for using it in a "correct" way. The week before, she was saying "dammit" in a sing song voice as a response to questions like "do you like this dress?" So without instruction, she was making progress here.

I am a lover of words and the use of them to convey any emotion or thought to another person in hopes that they mean the same thing to them that they do to me. If you think about it, it's really a gamble to spout these abstract sounds into the ether and expect someone else to know what you actually mean. Know what I mean? These kids were non-native speakers just a few years ago and much of the time when they speak to us they are just throwing things at the wall to see if they stick. So I am really pro them launching whatever words they have in their rapidly growing arsenal to let us know what is going on inside those adorable little heads. Because since even before conception, I have been DYING to know.

Now, having said that, there are teachers and others who may be offended by my two-year-old swearing. I do not want to pretend like they can say any thing they want to just anyone. So around language use we have two rules.

1) Be careful the words you use to describe someone, because yes, words can hurt. So more simply - don't call people names.

2) There are some words that mostly grown ups use - Dammit, Jesus Christ, B has only dropped an effe bomb once and that was in asking if he could say it - so unless it's inside our house, be careful where you use them.

The kids seem to get it so far. Sometimes in the grocery store B will say, loudly - Lolo said dammit in public - but she'll catch on. Clearly, he already has.
January 7, 2016

Simple Here We Come

The kids just playing in the tub, occupying themselves, while I sip some Thursday night wine.

We recently downsized from a full on diaper bag to a little preschool sized backpack. We keep a diaper or two, wipes, a spare pair of leggings and a spare set of undies for the boy, who at 5 still has the occasional accident. Normal boy thing. We rarely use anything in the bag unless we're on like a 5 hour trip to Goggi and Grandpa's house.

Lolo is potty learning and she's doing pretty well. Yesterday as I was wiping her tush, I thought, this has gotten SO much easier as of late. Now, hold on, before you start to tell me how it just gets harder as they grow, attitudes, back-talk, puberty, etcetera, etcetera. I mean, easier logistically.

In a few weeks, maybe months, I'll have two children, out of diapers, fully able to get around on their own steam, capable of telling me exactly where on their head it hurts or if they'd prefer Joe O's rather than oatmeal. We no longer have to haul a Pack n' Play, a high chair, the Ergo (baby carrier for the unacquainted), 17 swaddling blankets, 40 changes of clothes in case of multiple blowouts or some sort of feeding catastrophe, 2 packs of diapers, 3 packs of wipes, 2 lovies, lovey backups and a modified first aid kit the size of a tackle box on a long weekend adventure. Okay, I still actually bring the first aid kit with us when we travel.

While of course, I get a little sad when I think of how amazing they were as babies, and time is like sand slipping between our fingers. I'm going to let myself do a little jig over the fact that we get to move around the world a little more unfettered than before and my kids have gained skills that make it easier to parent. Once we lose the umbrella stroller, we'll be practically gear free!
January 4, 2016

Pushing the Limits of Family Time

Lolo is potty learning, hence the trainer, no pants.
We really pushed the limits of cozy family time over this long weekend. It started NYE when B came down with his 40th bout of an upper respiratory infection since the Fall and we knew at least some of us would be skipping the New Years Party we'd planned on attending. However bummed I was that we wouldn't be leaving the house to ring in the new year for like the fifth year in a row, I was kind of ready for some solid family time.

I went to the grocery, got makings for peanut butter cookies, soup for New Year's Day and some other fun treats, like canned biscuits and orange juice, which are not on our normal grocery list. And for much of Thursday, Friday and Saturday we gorged ourselves on snuggle time, movies, board games and delicious food. It was glorious!

Until it wasn't. Sunday morning sounded something like:

Beck - She pulled my hair!
Lolo - He won't watch Daniel Tiger!
Hill - Can you two just be quiet for five minutes?
Me - Breakfast? I've been cooking for you kids all weekend. Cereal is in the cabinet.

It wasn't pretty. Then I stepped on a flashlight someone left in the middle of the kitchen floor and I momentarily left my body, and my father (who presumably also left his, I should ask him) inhabited my body and screamed: "The next toy I find lying on the ground is going in the garbage!"

Both kids stopped, stared at me and then fell to the floor in fits of hysterical laughter. I yell to that degree almost never so I'm glad I didn't make them cry...I think.

Today is now Monday and a collective sigh is heard around the country as most of the school age children in North America return to their regularly scheduled education. That includes my kindergartener, Beck. And while I reveled in the good parts, boy am I ready to be out of that house!

I know my husband will hate this post, because he's a screen writer and stay-at-home dad, so he doesn't get to remove himself, as it were. But having Beck back in school and getting Lolo back into her routine will certainly change the energy around here for the better. We had a nice bedtime tonight where I explained my outburst and the feelings around it and we all agreed we're ready to get back to normal life. Except Lolo, who is only okay with the normal routine if her and I are physically touching at all times.

And at work I'll tell everyone what a relaxing and rejuvenating start to the new year we had. That my two-year-old is the snuggliest of cuddlers and I don't care if she never grows out of this phase and about all the puzzles and games my five-year-old and I played together. I'll probably leave out the part about threatening to throw out all their toys though.
January 2, 2016

Resurrection of The Manifesta

(Look! I'm already breaking all the rules by doing a text only post! Don't be mad.)

I am lucky to have a handful of best friends who are scattered, quite literally, across the country, from LA to New York, Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky. They are amazing friendships made throughout different phases in my life. I know that with each of these people, it doesn't matter how long it's been since we've talked, emailed or texted, that when we do, it will be like no time has passed.

A few months back, after a few weeks of feeling like I needed to organize all drawers and closets in my house, not to mention alphabetize the records, filing cabinet and the spice rack - which is a personal flag that something is amiss within or without; I wrote to one afore mentioned bestie who has known me since high school and I said something like:

"I have no idea what's up with me lately. I'm in deep organization mode and I can't pin down the reason, all is well with the new house, the kids are thriving, marriage is in a good spot and work just really couldn't be better. WTF?"

Sometimes we take weeks to respond to each other, but whenever one of us sends and SOS email we're pretty good about getting back. She had an answer that was short, sweet and right on par. She said something like:

"Well if you are good on all those fronts, my guess would be you're not writing."

And I'm not, or I wasn't. Knowing she was right, I wrote for a while just for me. But damn, that's just kind of boring. I'm going to be honest here and just admit - that I like writing for people to read it. And I do have reservations about bringing this blog back because people are just so super great at making blogs and I am not a designer, photographer or programer. Also, I am not an expert in food, fashion, beauty, travel, politics or music but I do have interests in all of those things. I am really good at being a person who works and raises kids and has lots of other interests and I'm going to write about it to you and I hope you like it.

So here it is, back from a hiatus, stint as straight up parenting blogger and then another hiatus - the Porcelain Manifesta.