Tuesday, February 28, 2006

5 Random Things About Me (a meme)

1. I was a very ugly baby: I was born 3 months premature, weighed 2 lbs and was blue and hairy. I never had a cute baby pic until I was 6 months old and even then my mom cut my hair into a flat top since it wouldn't lay down. My twin sis, on the other hand, was a darling baby. I learned very early that life isn't fair.

2. Nougat makes me nauseated: When I was 7 years old I found a bag of 3 Musketeers minis that my mom forgot she had stashed for Halloween. Sinced I didn't like chocolate at the time, I cut all of the chocolate off and gorged on the nougat. The entire bag. Haven't been able to stand the stuff ever since.

3. I've always wanted to run in a marathon: Those who know me will laugh because I hate to run. I just want to see if I can do it. I learned to run flat-footed as a child (it was the only way to keep my shoes on my skinny feet) and would come in dead last in every Presidential Physical Fitness race in elementary school. I think I'm emotionally scarred.

4. I love rainy days: When the mountains turn dark and exquisitely detailed with the clouds hanging low on them. It rained on my wedding day. KMN!

5. I have a very dry sense of humor: and use it with a straight face. People would be offended if my darling husband didn't traslate for them.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I Hope You Dance

Today was a day that every mom should have with her daughter. My only daughter started dance class a month ago. It is a performing group full of kids with Down syndrome. This particular group is made up of preschoolers. Dear Daughter (DD) is the youngest and also the shortest by a good 6 inches.

DD knows when it is dance class day. She gets excited the same way she does when the bus comes to pick her up for preschool. She sings all the way, throughout the entire 30 minute drive. She insists on walking by herself through the parking lot. When we get inside she says hi to everyone, including strangers.

She knows to sit on her carpet square. She warms up along with the teacher. Kids with Down syndrome are very flexible so it is a riot to watch them stretch their muscles. DD spreads her legs into center splits and then flops her chest completely to the ground with no effort. She touches her nose to her knees with ease. The only difficult part of the warm up is when the class has to jump. DD hasn't mastered this skill yet so she goes up on tip-toe and then bends her knees and tries again.

Today DD managed to make it through the entire dance, participating in every step. She didn't even stop to run around the room in the middle of the practice. I was so proud of her. Part of the dance is to hold up two fingers when the lyrics say "two". It took DD four weeks to master a "two". We practiced every day and she wouldn't give up. Today she proudly held her "two" up and at just the right moment. Aww, small victories!

When we left, she absolutely had to hug everyone once, her teacher twice. She made sure everyone saw that she could "two" with the best of them. At the door, DD princess-waved goodbye to the entire room.

After dance class, we were given instructions for a dance uniform. Off we drove to The Glass Slipper, a dance supply store near her class. We had to special order a leotard as they didn't carry them small enough for DD. We'll purchase the ballet shoes when the leotard comes in. DD was enamored by the sparkly pink tutus by the register and the dance pictures on the wall. She wanted to touch everything silver, gold or glittery.

Today was a very normal, very satisfying dance day. When you get the choice to sit it out or dance......

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

It is NOT all about me......

I have finally come to the conclusion that taking care of myself is a good thing. I'm not talking about regular appointments at the spa for a massage and facial (although this would be absolutely wonderful.)

I'm talking about a few things that I do just for me. Getting up at 5:40 a.m. to work out. I would rather not get up that early, but it is the only time I can schedule exercise and not have to bring my kids along. I've discovered that having that time to myself in the morning, sharing yoga or a cardio workout with other women in my neighborhood is a good thing. I feel better about myself when I am done.

My hair appointment at the salon is another. Not the cheap by any means. But it is okay to want to look good for my husband. It is okay to want to look good for myself.

Third would have to by my book club. I go out w/out DH or kids and let someone else cook dinner. The evening is full of conversation, debate, and (depending on the restaurant) really good food. DH loves book club night. He spends some Daddy time with the kids (along with a pizza, movie and game). He knows that I will come home happy, refreshed and relaxed. Not to mention it is nice to have new ideas to discuss with him. Real adult conversation. The very best part.

Why did it take me so long to finally understand this idea? When I take care of myself it is not all about me. A woman's choices affect everyone around her. Husband, kids, extended family, friends......a woman is naturally a nurturer. The energy it takes to be a nuturer is tremendous. If science could bottle it up it would solve the world energy crisis.

Hey, here is an idea. In order to solve the world energy crisis we need to eradicate mom-guilt. Forget these t-shirts I see young hotties wearing that say "It's All About Me". I'm going to market a t-shirt that says "It's NOT All About Me". Only moms can buy them.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Dr. Scarehair is now in....

The 14 Days of Valentines are now over. Those who participated this year found great results. One girlfriend received her first piece of jewelry (other than her wedding ring) in 14 years from her husband. Another received flowers for the first time. A third has a date with her husband this weekend - its the first date in years. About time, don't you think? I know I am preaching to the choir here, but......treat your man like a king and he will want to slay dragons for you.

But now that the 14 DOV are over, does that mean we go back to life as normal? No. Absolutely not. I have hidden 14 red, pink and white note cards all over. In them are love poems, sonnets, song lyrics or book quotes. Each envelope is addressed to DH is a way that gives a hint as to what is inside (The one addressed to "My Snugglebunny" has the quote "I love you all the way to the moon....and back!") He has found 5 of them (and last night he read aloud the Shakespeare sonnet in his best Winston Churchhill voice). I am banking on the idea that it will take him a full year to find all 14. If he finds them before 12 months are up, I have more of the same cards stashed away to hide around the house, his car, and I will even sneak into his office at work. I might even come up with some original poetry. Ah, the things I will do for my man. Mr. Wild Thing, you make my heart sing. You make everything groooovy.

An added benefit to this experiment. My sons have been watching the activities of the past two weeks. It has been giving them ideas. I want my sons to learn to be romantic. Their wives shouldn't have to train them. (BTW, I didn't train my husband. Neither did his parents. He was naturally born a romantic. See, it can happen.)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

On the 14 Days of Valentine's my true love sent to me......

Now that the tune is stuck in your head, it is time to educate the masses on the 14 Days of Valentines. This is a tradition that I do for my Dear Husband (who will now be referred to as DH)every single Valentine's.

Each day of the first two weeks of February has a gift associated with that number. The idea being that creativity is more valued than commercialism (although commercialism cannot be entirely ignored). Some days have the same theme year after year, i.e. "On the 4th day of Valentines" is always a picture of our 4 children for DH's desk at work. This year it was a lovely pic taken by a professional photographer showing our children's true personalities. Each of them had pulled a silly/disgusting/scary/laughing face. On day #5 the gift is always fudge: at a local fudge shop, if you buy 4-1/4 lb. kinds of fudge you get the 5th 1/4 lb for free. Day #10 is always "Ten Things I Love About You" (it doesn't always list the same things).

Some days are original every year. This year day #6 resulted in a silly poem commemorating the fact that DH moved from New Zealand to America when he was 6 years old (so he could meet me, fall in love with me, marry me, all about me). Day #3 this year fell on date night so I wrapped up two movie tickets and a box of Redvines. Day #11 will be an 11-piece puzzle with an original sentiment.

DH feels loved. Oh boy, is he smothered in sentimental-sweet-love. And he loves it. For two whole weeks he gets the full treatment. It all ends on the big V-day where we put the kids to bed early and I make him a gourmet candle-lit supper for two. There is just one problem. This year somebody (who obviously wasn't thinking) planned the annual Cub Scout Blue-and-Gold Banquet on Valentine's day. 20 VERY LOUD boys. Silly cheers. And hotdogs.........Where is the romance in this? What were they thinking?! Somebody needs to be taught about the 14 Days of Valentines so this so-very-important-holiday will have much more meaning to them.

I have informed DH that he will not eat anything at the scouting activity. To make sure of this, on Day #2 I presented DH with 2 red tapered candles along with a beautifully printed menu of our upcoming V-day Dinner: Wild Rice Crab Cakes over Field Greens; Beef Tournedos with Seared Scallops, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and Roasted Asparagus in a Browned Butter Balsamic Sauce; Fresh Berry Creme Brulee.

I don't think refusing the hotdogs will be a problem. Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Teen 'tudes........

Today is the day I officially become the mother of .......a teenager. (You thought I was going to say monster, didn't you? Go on. Admit it. You did!)

While my first born is currently going through the phase I do not fondly call "Teen 'tudes" (that's Teen With Attitude for those of you whose children are too young to go through this yet), for the most part he is a good kid all around. This term he pulled straight A's in school, say's "Yes, Ma'am" and "Yes, Sir" (a throwback to my paternal southern roots) and has never made me thoroughly ashamed of his behavior (although he has made me embarrassed a number of times).

There is one part of him that I am the most proud about. My youngest has Down syndrome. When she was first born, a friend of his came over and asked "What is Down syndrome?" I opened my mouth to give what I thought was then a good 3rd grade explanation when Dear Son #1 (hereafter referred to as DS#1) stood up and lectured. "Actually it is called Nondisjunction Trisomy 21. That means the 21st chromasome has 3 instead of 2. Doctors don't know why this happens. Its not Mom or Dad's fault. It means that a person with Down syndrome takes longer to learn things. But they can learn to do anything we do......." I was floored! DS#1 had been reading my textbooks. I had worried how this would affect my kids. DS#1 proved that they would be just fine.

Fast forward to a year later. We were at a BBQ with other families in our Down syndrome community. One of the families there (who had a new baby with DS) also had their oldest daughter who had Rhett syndrome. I don't know all of the terminology for that syndrome. This sweet girl (I'll call her Sweetgirl) was the same age as DS#1. She was in a wheel chair, couldn't talk or feed herself. Mentally and physically, she was a baby.
I was sitting by her grandma (who came for the express purpose of taking care of this girl so her parents could relax and meet other families). We were talking about this and that while watching all of my boys play volleyball with the men. The ball went wild, smacked Sweetgirl in the chest and landed in her lap. DS#1 ran up to us. He didn't look at the grandma or at me. He looked straight at Sweetgirl and said "Wow! Nice catch! Are you okay?" Sweetgirl laughed at him. DS#1 asked if she wanted to play, grandma said they would just watch, and DS#1 grabbed the ball and ran back to the game. Every few minutes he would wave at Sweetgirl and she followed him with her eyes for the rest of the evening. Her grandma turned to me with tears in her eyes. She had never seen anyone Sweetgirl's age react to her without cringing. Most kids her age were intimidated by the wheelchair, the drooling, or the baby noises Sweetgirl made. This was the first time she had witnessed her granddaughter's acceptance by a peer. And her granddaughter loved it.

Now my DS#1 is a teen. I have been told horror stories by parents in the neighborhood, their stories based on their own experiences. But I know something they don't. DS#1 is planning his Eagle Scout project to benefit our local Down syndrome community. He has tutored kids with ADHD in his first year of middle school. He wants to learn ASL as soon as he can.

We're still dealing with the brotherly fighting. DS#1 doesn't clean the kitchen (or bathroom or his bedroom) to my standards yet. He has a few other faults. But they are few - we can deal with the Teen 'tudes. Happy birthday, my firstborn. You're a keeper.