Category Archives: Scorch

Rebel Girls

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The interesting part, at least for me, in raising both a boy and a girl is ensuring both my children understand their importance. I want to fully elevate my daughter- I want her to know down to her marrow that she is worthy, intelligent and as capable as any man out there. Period. But, I don’t want to do this at the expense of my son because he is just as worthy, intelligent and capable as any person out there. I struggle with the stereotypes of men as bumbling idiots or hostile assholes only out for one thing just as much as I struggle with any stereotypes of women. They aren’t true and falling back on them is harmful to everyone. I will always support female empowerment, but I firmly believe that empowering women doesn’t mean dragging men down (see the infuriating trend in young girls clothing to promote girls while dragging down boys).

My job, as a parent, is to raise my kids to be empathetic, kind, caring individuals who kick ass and take names at whatever they set out to do.

And yet, girls don’t always feel that way. Did you know that by age 6, most girls feel less smart than boys? At 5, when boys and girls are told a story about a super smart, high achieving person and then asked to share if they think the main character is a boy or a girl, boys picked boy and girls picked girl. At 6, girls thought the main character was a boy because only boys could do those super smart things.

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My kids read in fits and starts, each preferring different genres. But one series they have both have consistently loved over the years is the Who Was? series– biographies on everyone from George Washington to Walt Disney and Harriet Tubman to Sally Ride. Scorch owns a few of these and even now, when he’s between the latest James Patterson book for tweens, he’ll pick one up.

When I first learned about the book Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls from a blog I frequent, I was intrigued. A book filled with 100 stories about women in all walks of life—inventors, doctors, dancers, pilots, protestors, abolitionists, writers, artists—complete with illustrations, sounded perfect for my kids. So I ordered them a copy and the book arrived this week.

You guys, I went from intrigued to in love. First, this book is gorgeous. From cover to cover, it’s visually lovely, with a butter soft cover. The stories are short—only a page long per person. I have read some complaints about that, but for me and the kids, it’s the perfect glimpse into each woman’s life, allowing us the freedom to do more research as we see fit. For example, after reading the article on Amelia Earhart we looked up more about her—how she got into flying, what she ate on her flights, how she disappeared and on and on.

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Every night before bed, the Bean reads about 3 or 4 women to Scorch and me. I truly, truly cannot recommend this book enough. It sits in the living room now and I find each kid thumbing through it at least once a day, stopping to read a story when a name or an illustration catches their eye.  I love that the kids are getting exposed to women who have changed the world in such a captivating way—proving in a subtle way that girls are just as smart and capable of just as much.

If you have  grade school aged child in your life- boy or girl- this book is a must.

 

The Pen is Mightier

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16 years ago, the Hubs (then the Boyfriend) and I were on vacation with my extended family at one of my favorite places on earth. He and I had been living together for 8 months and even though we were young (I had just turned 22), we knew we were going to get married. We had looked at rings a month or so before because he didn’t want to pick one out that I hated. We narrowed it down to 3 choices and I told him that was all I wanted to know- I didn’t want to know which one he picked, I didn’t want to know when he was going to propose -the rest should be a surprise.

And even thought I said that- and I meant it – I was really, really hoping he would propose on this vacation. We lived in DC at the time, but we were on vacation with my family and were going to see his family on our way back home, so the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The Hubs knew this, so the very first day of vacation he pulled me aside and told me that it wasn’t happening. He couldn’t secure financing or a loan (remember, we were babies fresh out of college) and he wanted to let me know that upfront so I didn’t spend all vacation waiting for him to get down on bent knee.

So we went on to have a great vacation and I didn’t give it any thought. On our very last night, the whole extended gang of us on vacation went out to dinner. While there, unbeknownst to me, the Hubs asked for my Father’s permission while grabbing a drink at the bar and then asked me to go out on the docks to watch the sunset. While out there, he did get down on one knee and he asked me to marry him with the most perfect ring.

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Where we got engaged, 16 years later.

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That night, after we celebrated by passing a single bottle of champagne around the campfire for 15+ people to share, we talked about the life we were going to build. That life included our own home (check), kids (check), animals (check) and jobs we love (check 85% of the time).

What it did not include was the nitty gritty details. Like what happens when your kids find both the boy and girl version of “The Care and Keeping of You” books on puberty and then proceed to swap books and read them out loud to each other while crying with laughter. When the poor Bean read “penis” as “pen is”* I truly thought Scorch was going to hurt himself he was laughing so hard. And when we got to erections and periods? Forget it. Game over.

The crazy thing is the exactly the life we pictured and I’m so damn happy to be living it.

*I looked EVERYWHERE for the SNL “The Pen is Mightier” Jeopardy skit with Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery and I could not find it. Let me know if you do!

 

10.

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Dear Scorch-

You turned 10. TEN. Double digits. Child of mine, how is this possible?!

I read through your birth story last night (something I’ll share with you when you’re older and won’t make you gag) and looked through all the pictures we’ve taken of you on your birthdays to-date and my mind was more than a little blown because these years went by fast. Faster than I would have ever thought possible.

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Sometimes I miss your sweet baby cheeks. I miss looking down at your darling face and eye lashes while you nurse. I miss your squeaky voice and holding your tiny hand in mine. I miss how you fit on my lap and how your face would light up when I walked into the room.

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But most of the time, I don’t miss much because I’m loving the time we’re in right now. You are one of the smartest, wittiest kids I know. You’re sweet and kind hearted and have more energy than a puppy. You’re loud and enthusiastic and without shame (within reason)- all things I adore about you. You manage a crazy schedule better than I do and your joy is infectious.

Earlier tonight, you were watching a video and your laugh resonated through the house. Even though I couldn’t see the video because I was doing laundry, I couldn’t help but start laughing because of how hard you were laughing. That kiddos, is just who are you. People are drawn to you, in part, because of this joy that you have.

I won’t lie to you- the tail end of year 9 has been challenging. Your emotions are close to the surface and I never know which way the wind is going to blow. Thankfully 85% of the time you’re still your normal happy-go-lucky self. But when you’re not? It ain’t pretty for any one. Eye rolling, tears and yelling are more common place then I’d like- but these crazier times have led to some great heart-to-hearts. I promise you that no matter how many times you roll your eyes and stomp around, I’ll always be here to listen. I may get mad and I may do some stomping of my own, but at the end of the day- I’ll *always* be your soft place to land.

As you get older, here is what I want you to promise me. Promise me that you’ll:
> Keep your kind heart, it will never lead your wrong.
> Remember your manners, they’ll get you out of more tight spots than you can imagine.
> Don’t forget to laugh. If you look hard enough, there is always humor (even if it’s dark, gallows humor. Sometimes that the best kind)
> Keep perspective. There are very few things that are worth getting terribly worked up about, so learn to let things go.
> Fight for what’s right. Those very few things that are worth getting worked up about are VERY important, so don’t hesitate to fight hard for them.
> Respect yourself. You’re a smart, passionate kid who has one hell of a future. Respect your mind and your body enough to make the smart decisions to keep yourself safe and healthy, even if that means not going along with the crowd.
> Respect others. Be kind, listen to what others say, respect their feelings and be empathetic. Stand up for those that can’t stand up for themselves, even if that means not going along with the crowd.
> Blame me. As you get older and people start doing things/saying things that make you uncomfortable, blame me. “I can’t because my mom will kill me.” “I can’t because my father can smell a lie a mile away.” I’ll be the bad guy in any story you need me to be because if your heart is telling you something isn’t right, listen to it.

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You, my sweet, darling, amazing child, are a complete and total miracle. We couldn’t love you more if we tried and I’ll never tire of reminding you of that. Watching you grow is one of my biggest privileges and I cannot wait to keep seeing who you turn out to be.

I love you,
Mom

Book Recs for 10 Year Olds Needed

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Ah, Scorch. He’s thisclose to turning 10, assuming we let him. As in- let him survive that long. I have a feeling we’re officially starting to move out of our parenting sweet spot and starting to enter a land full of mood swings, hormones and pure batshit craziness. My sweet, easy going boy has cried more, fought more and come this close to being grounded for life more in the past few weeks then he has since he was 3.

Let’s all say a prayer for the mothers of soon-to-be tweens everywhere, shall we?

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A few months back, we banned all electronics in the morning before school which has been amazing. Not to sound all preachy – but really, it’s made our morning so much easier as I don’t have to wrestle the kids away from a show or game. Scorch normally gets up a lot earlier than the Bean, so he’s been reading like a mad man.  Given what a complete and unabashed bookworm I am, this makes me happier than I can tell you.

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The issue is we’re starting to hit a really odd stage where Scorch’s reading ability (roughly 6th-7th grade level) is butting up against his maturity level. He wants to read bigger, better books- but we’re having a hard time finding books that hold his attention while still being age appropriate (no sexual related themes, no crazy violence, no mature topics).

He’s all over the place in what he likes to read. Here are some of Scorch’s recent favorites- if they spark any other ideas about what he may like to read, please let me know!

  • I Survived Series: 99% sure he’s devoured all these book and loved each one
  • Who Was I/ What Am I? Series: both he and the Bean love these books!
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Scorch could not read these books fast enough- begging to stay up late/ getting up early to read them.
  • Amulet series: Scorch went through a time when he loved graphic novels and these, hands down, were his favorites.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: (ugh) I hate these books, but he laughs so hard, I’m afraid he’s going to hurt himself.

Together, we’ve read the first 3.5 books of Harry Potter– midway through Book 4, he started to lose interest as the books just got too old for him. We also read aloud Wonder, which was a big hit. He just finished the first Lemony Snicket book and was not a fan at all.

Any other suggestions? I’m all ears and we’re willing to try just about anything!

Making Room

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And just like that, it’s over…Christmas 2015, you were perfect. This year I was on my game- I shopped early with intention and it paid off. The kids were happy, the Hubs was happy and I was happy. We got to spend 4 days straight with family and friends – holding babies, eating so much good food and catching up.

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And now we have a week off at home and that’s just like a little slice of heaven. If, in heaven, you had to clean every room in your house every day to make room for all the new stuff you intentionally bought. This was the living room the day after Christmas:

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It basically makes me want to cry. Living in a smaller home has some great advantages, but finding room for stuff is not one of them. So Monday we completely tore Scorch’s room apart- two garbage bags later, there is now room for all his baseball cards. Because baseball cards and books made up a good 75% of that boy’s Christmas haul.

As for the Bean? Her room is up next. I may need some liquor before I tackle that one. Anyone remember a few years ago when we found a can of purple frosting her in room 4 months after it was used for her birthday cake? Mind you, it’s only been 4 months since we last hauled out her room but the possibilities are just endless when I think about what we could find in there. Say a pray we all come out alive.

Hope you and yours had a wonderful holiday!

 

 

 

Crazy 9’s

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So, you guys- none of you told me that 9 year olds are nuts. Because they are. I never associated 9 with being a tween- I still pictured 9 year olds as little kids, but nope, the hormones are a raging and the mood swings (slight as they may be) are starting.

And not one of you warned me.

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Our morning routines have been the same since the kids were itty bitty: eat breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth, brush hair, pack up backpack and put on shoes. That literally hasn’t changed in 6 years and yet, some morning we (read: the kids) struggle with following that pretty basic task list.

Last Thursday was a rushed morning. The kids have 50-odd minutes to get ready in the morning and breakfast took up 30 minutes because they were messing around. I scooted them off to get dressed and told them very clearly that they had 2 minutes to do so (their clothes were already laid out- God bless uniforms). 2 minutes go by and Bean is dressed, but Scorch is making some sort of tunnel system under my blankets so I told him that he lost electronics for the day and that he had 1 minute to get dressed. He got dressed in 37 seconds and proudly proclaimed that he earned back electronics. When I told him that it doesn’t work that way, he sobbed. And raged. And sobbed some more. I yelled, he yelled, the Hubs yelled and the Bean acted like a perfect angel just to tick her brother off even more.

The sobbing continued on the ride to school with deep, gulping breaths telling me how hard the mornings were because all I did was yell and he was so overwhelmed because I gave him 3 things to do at the same time and he was only human. When I very calmly suggested perhaps he had a part to play in this by not doing what he was asked the first 4 times, Scorch protested loudly that he always does what he’s told and that I still yell all the time.

After 10 minutes of this, I started to doubt myself. Maybe I do yell too much. Maybe I should be more understanding. Perhaps I do give him too much to do at once- I mean, he’s 9 so maybe telling him that he has to get his shoes on, pack up his backpack and find his coat *is* too much. Maybe I don’t give the kids enough time in the morning and I set us all up for failure. Maybe *I* am the problem.

I apologized to Scorch and we brainstormed a new way to run our mornings to see if things can go smoother. By the time we got to school, the sobs turned into little hiccups and he calmed down. When I parked, I told the kids to get their stuff and hop out so we could head in. Scorch asked for a tissue to dry his eyes while the Bean went inside. I asked (calmly, I may add!) Scorch to get a move on because we were late so he leaned forward to throw his tissue away in the little garbage can I keep between the center console and the dashboard.

After he threw his tissue away, I told him to hop out, but be kept leaning forward further. And then further more. Next thing I know, he’s literally trying to wedge his head between the windshield and the dash. When I asked him what in the world he was doing because it was time to go to school (for those keeping tracking at home, that was the 3rd time he was told that), he told me he was trying to see if he could get his head stuck.

He. Was. Trying. To. See. If. He. Could. Get. His Head. Stuck.

That was when I realized that nope, it wasn’t me, it was that 9 year old boys are crazy, emotional, inattentive, pains in the neck.

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Someone told me that the honeymoon is over and this is the start of the crazy train for at least the next 4 years. Hold me.

 

Thankful Heart: Days 24 & 25

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Scorch came home today with this essay that he wrote about things he was thankful for. I’ll spare you the part where he said he’s thankful that we have food so we don’t have to be cannibals and share this part instead:

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Just in case you can’t read it, here is the gist.  He’s thankful that he has things to be thankful for, like food, a house and family, because “…if you didn’t have anything to be thankful for, you would most likely live a miserable life.”

And that, my friends, just about sums it up. Count your blessings, no matter how mundane they are, and be grateful for each and everyone one of them. If you can’t find those blessings in your life, look harder because they are there.

Promise.

Thankful Heart: Days 6 – 10

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Day 6: Old Homes
Friday we went to the Hub’s grandparent’s house for the very last time. The Hub’s grandmother has been a widow for a few years now and she’s moving from the home she and her husband built 60+ years ago in NY to FL to be closer to her son and his family. It’s a great move for a lot of reasons (and a huge relief to those of us who worry about her, especially in the winter), but man- saying goodbye to her and that home was hard. We’ll see Gram again in the Spring, but we won’t see that house again.

I’ve only been a part of the Hub’s family for 17+ years and I have so many memories in that house. Walking the land, family dinners, Scorch’s first Christmas Day dinner, wrapping paper fights, and on and on. I can still see the Hub’s grandfather at the head of the table presiding over the meals with his gigantic hands folded in prayer. As sad as I am, I’m so thankful for those memories all built in that small house on a country road.

Day 7: Small Town Living

The kids are at the age that most Saturdays are devoted to sports- practices, games, clinics. Regardless of the time of year, we’re doing something athletic. This past Saturday involved 2 hours of back to back games (one for Bean and one for Scorch) which are always enjoyable – but they are made even more so by the fact that, thanks to living in a small town, we know so many people there. The Hubs coaches and, frankly, watching athletic competitions between 7 and 9 year olds doesn’t require a lot of brain power so I was super thankful for friends to talk to, making the time pass by much more quickly.

Day 8: Dad

My father’s birthday was earlier this week and I’m thankful for him all the time because he’s awesome.
Dad_Heather_1982Dad- thanks for being loving and supportive and tough. Thank you for expecting the best from us and loving us when we didn’t always measure up. Thanks for learning sports just because we played them and introducing me to new music. Thanks for being the best Papa around and loving the kids madly. We are thankful for you each and every day even if you do sneeze louder than anyone else on earth!

Day 9: Homework I Understand

Last night Scorch had math homework that he needed help on. And I *could* help him. That doesn’t happen very often, so I’m thankful for a module of 4th grade math that doesn’t make me feel like a freaking idiot.

Day 10: Homework I Didn’t Understand

Never mind. Scorch brought home math today that I had no idea how to do. Then I figured out how to do it, but I had no idea how to explain to him. Very thankful my best friend is a Math teacher who is willing to text me the answer and links to sites to help us out.

Thankful Heart: Days 4 & 5

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You guys, this week has been amazing. 70 degrees and sunny almost everyday. That is crazy weather for up here this time of year. Snow is much more likely than this Indian Summer weather, so I’m ridiculously thankful for this heatwave. But I’m also thankful for other things..

Day 4: Work Life

It’s been a little over 2 years now since I was laid off from my job of 13 years. That was one of the most tenuous, scariest times time as we tried to figure out how we were going to live without my salary. But we did it. I was blessed with a few great part time gigs (which I still miss!) to tide me over until I found this job at the University. About half my coworkers at the University work remotely, but this week my whole team was in the office and it was wonderful. It’s a special kind of joy to work with people you like and respect; people you would have picked to be friends with even outside of the office.  This week was full of lots of meetings and more work to add to the to-do pile, but it was also full of lunches outside in this gorgeous weather and lots of laughs.

I really wouldn’t recommend getting laid off to anyone, but losing my job has instilled in me the confidence that somehow things will work out. Maybe not on your timeline and maybe not in the way you think it will, but it’ll happen. Trust me.

PinkSkiesDay 5: Deodorant

Scorch is 9. Bless his sweet heart, he’s not anywhere near starting puberty. But some of his friends are, which means some of them are wearing deodorant.  This is the year that the kids in Scorch’s school start changing for PE, so he’s seen just how many boys are putting it on and he wants to be one of those kids so badly. So, so badly. To him deodorant means growing up and getting closer to becoming a teenager and that is what he wants. Never mind that my sweet boy still sleeps with the same lovies that he has since he was 1 or that his bed is littered with stuffed animals. Never mind that he’ll still hold my hand in public and doesn’t like going to bed without being tucked in. Never mind that at heart, he’s still a little boy – there is still a part of him that is starting to pull away from his childhood. And it’s kind of breaking my heart.

This morning, unbeknownst to us, he stole the Hubs deodorant and put some on while I was making lunches. He slid up to me in the kitchen, eyes aglow, with a huge grin cracking open his face, vibrating with excitement and glee.

Mom, I put on deodorant. Can you tell? Can you smell it? Smell me, Mom- smell me.

Today I’m thankful that I get to witness these very small milestones- the stuff they don’t tell you about in the baby books- that bring my kids so much freaking joy that they can’t stand still. I’m in no hurry for my kids to grow up, but it’s hard not to laugh right along side them when they do.

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Nailed It!

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Scorch has nails like a pregnant woman- they grow long very quickly.  Which means I cut them often (side note: at what age do kids start to cut their own nails?).  While I was cutting them, Scorch was joking that he wanted to keep all the clippings and save them so he could pass them along to his son.

I told him that if he saved all his clipping I could promise him that he would never, ever get married and sire that son.

He thought about that for a minute and then yelled for the Bean. “If you weren’t related to me and we were dating and you found out that I had all my nail clippings from the time I was 9, would you immediately dump me?”

She paused for a second and shot back, “Nope, I’d find you interesting as long as you don’t mind that I kept all the hair that fell out of my head since I was 7.”

You guys, if my kids end up as childless unmarried hoarders, we’ll be able to trace it back to this conversation.