Thursday, August 30, 2012

Transitions...some good news (Finally)

I was hoping it would not take so long to go from this to this announcement...but I can finally say---

I am EMPLOYED!

I am kinda mixed up emotionally at the moment.  Very glad to have a job, excited about the opportunity and the company I will be working for--worried about the fact I haven't worked a nine hour day in over a year.  I will have a lot of learning to do and obviously I need to impress, etc.

On top of the normal pressures of starting a new job, we will be dealing with the transitions for the whole family, especially with school starting on Thursday (I start work on Tuesday).

But for right now--we are going to enjoy the long weekend, the ending of summer and some new beginnings!!


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Monday, August 27, 2012

Memorable Moment Monday

Another installment of PAIL Bloggers Memorable Moment Monday:

A couple weekends ago our friend had some free tickets to a pretty fun Science Center.

I love finding "new" places to explore!  There were a lot of fun things to play around with--in fact, I think the adults had just as much fun playing with science as the kids did!

Big Wheels!

Pulleys and how they work!

Willow pulling her own weight.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Memorable Moments Monday

Another installment of PAIL Bloggers Memorable Moment Monday:

Last week we went to a park we had never been before...and for some reason Willow actually was interested in the tire swing.  Big brother Michael helped her out. It was a perfect opportunity to capture the wonderful relationship they have.

It is especially heartwarming to me for two reasons.  The first reason is because we worked so hard and long to have a sibling for him.  The second is it is amazing to see someone who often cannot relate socially with other people, but who obviously loves and cares for his sister.









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PAIL Monthly Theme Post - TV Time

The question this month at PAIL is concerning Television screen time and your child.

I find this an interesting subject because it is, of course, very subjective and frankly, changeable with age.

We have a general guideline with our children.  The general guide is they can have a 1/2 hour of television time in the morning and then 1/2 hour of television at night and then there might be 1/2 hour of "family" television.  On the weekends this can be changed to 1/2 - 1 an hour morning and night.  And there are exceptions for movies and special events.

That is the general guideline but it is not so strictly enforced.  And here is why:

--During the summer and school vacations, rules are relaxed.

--My son is now 13 years old.  Sometimes he wants to play a video game for 1/2 hour and then later on watch television too.

--Having a 13 year old in the house often means my four year old gets exposure to television and computers a lot more than I would necessarily like.  Distraction only works so well sometimes.

--We make exceptions often for good behavior or long days or times when it is rainy/snowy, etc.

Here are rules that are NOT BROKEN:

--85% of the time a parent is watching with the child (this hasn't changed that much even with my 13 year old--in fact, we watch a lot of shows with him like 30 Rock and Modern Family)

--after a media time there is a break.  The media is turned off.  People explore books or the outdoors or whatever.  Some meaningful time away from the media is important.

--No handheld games.  No DVDs in the car.  There are plenty of opportunities for these things, why make it even more portable.**

--We have one television in our living room; the computer is in a corner in the living room.  This is our family area, this is where most of the watching occurs.  The only other television is in our bedroom, I mainly use it for morning exercising.

My television/computer usage philosophy is pretty open.  It has changed as my son has gotten older. We have put in parental controls on the television and the computer.  He occasionally surfs the web now and we monitor what his history is.  He is not on Facebook or other social media, although he does on-line games. He often watches programs with us that have more adult content.  He started watching R rated movies with us when he was 11 years old (violence doesn't bother us or him--it is sexual content that we are more vigilant about).  (Btw some of the R rated movies were Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List).

Our philosphy has changed as we added another child.  For example, there was no television usage at all until my son was age 2 years.  Obviously, my daughter was exposed a lot earlier, as my son was 9-10 years old when my daughter was born.  She has definitely had more television viewing and more movies under her belt...she has went to the movies since she was 6 months old.  One of the ways we limit her exposure is to make sure her bedtime is reinforced so that we have time to watch our shows.  Or if our son wants to watch a specific type of program, he has to wait until a parent takes her out of the viewing area (outdoors, etc.).

This can sometimes mean that it takes us two years to get through Walking Dead (because our son wants to watch it with us so we have to have a conflagration of time when our daughter is asleep, husband is not working, son is not going to school the next morning, we are in the mood, etc.).  But thank the gods for DVRs, DVDs and Netflix.

Media can be a good teaching tool.  Often we watch meaningful movies or documentaries with our son and discuss them with him (see above). My daughter watches mainly educational television and I try (oh gosh this is HARD sometimes!) to watch them with her and engage her.

Media can also be a great source of entertainment and family time.  We are science fiction Geeks so we take it upon ourselves to have our children well versed in Star Trek and Twilight Zone.  And the many times we have had a Rock Band party or a Wii bowling tournament has shown us how to be together rather than apart.

However, as with most things, moderation is the key.

We also take our kids to museums and theatrical shows, to zoos, plays and concerts.  We are lucky we live in a wonderful area to expose them to history, nature and the arts and we take advantage of that as much as possible.  We have Friday night family gaming nights (sometimes lately that is movie night) and we try to maintain that balance.
**UPDATED TO ADD: Someone in the comments mentioned going on long trips and portable devices. This is what I put into the comments section: We have most of our relatives living in Michigan, so we have taken 14-18 hour (one way) trips with our kids. And no portable devices. We play games, kids sleep, we have them pick songs etc. We talk. No need to have videos whatsoever. Yeah, long car rides can be boring--or they can be an adventure! If we get too bored/tired--we stop along the way.
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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Time

Time is annoyingly fleeting, annoyingly slow. There are many times when I want this phase of our lives to be over with. I am so done with the desperate roller coaster that is job hunting.

When I was working, the days sometimes blurred into weeks and months and I oftentimes would lament the time I was missing out on or was too tired or busy to appreciate.

Now, time can go achingly slow to the point that I find it hard to fill it. Especially now that I have the children all day, every day, trying to find ways to fill that time in meaningful ways can be exhausting.

Depression can make time seem to stand still around me, while others go about their lives. I am standing still. I am waiting for my life to catch up, to catch on, to move forward.

And yet. Time is slipping past me.

Sleep is an escape sometimes. Yet, in that time, I can find the most important things to stay up for. Tonight, Gabby came into bed with us and laid on my hip as I laid on my side. I laid perfectly still as she occasionally made small movements/adjustments in her impromptu bed. Gabby likes to sleep in our bed during the day. Usually, though, she is not one to cuddle like this. She prefers a quick pet and off she goes. She prefers Chewy to me. But not tonight. Tonight she tickles me every so often as she lays on my hips. And I take the time to realize how soft her fur is, how small and fragile she is starting to feel as age is starting to make changes to her body.

I drift off to sleep. I wake up to realize that my son is now in our bed. I awake to find that I am holding/hugging him while Gabby is sleeping near my head. My husband has not been pushed out of bed--yet. I should take my son back to his bed before that happens.

But I so want this time to stand still as I hold him. It strikes me how this past week has been a bit annoying with him home from camp; how I have been annoyed at his teenage lack of enthusiasm; how I have tried to connect with him and not been as successful as last summer; how I am going to miss him when he starts school (8th Grade!!) in 3 weeks; how I should get him new shoes, does he need new clothes too (where is that money coming from); how he is so tall and lean; how he used to be inside me and now is this person I sometimes don't understand. I hold him tighter. I try to breathe him in. I try to remember this time.

I take him back to his bed and find an extra cover for him. I go back to bed and cannot sleep, thoughts about time going by fast and slow--I need to write it down.

It is 5:30 in the morning, in about an hour we shall all be starting to get up--time is quick on Saturday mornings--karate is at an absurdly early time.

I am finishing this post--when I hear footsteps and movement. (Oh great, I have woken people up?!)

She has had an accident in her bed. Her sheets are on landing of the steps and I throw them downstairs to the laundry room. [sigh]

Time marches on with mundane clarity.



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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What do you do on a Rainy Day--Play with Shaving Cream!

Wish I could take total credit for thinking this up, but this weekend a  heard a friend mentioning that she would do this with some kids she used to nanny.

It is a rainy, thunderstormy day today.  Later on we are going bowling...but first....

I took some old shaving cream (if you know Chewy, you know he hasn't "shaved" in years) and emptied it out in the bathtub.

Then let her go at it:








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Monday, August 13, 2012

Memorable Moment Monday - Pride

Taking part in another PAIL Bloggers Memorable Moment Monday:

This weekend we went to Manchester, New Hampshire for their first annual Gay Pride Festival.  It was a bit smaller than we had hoped--partially because of the weather, partially because it was the first one (and we are used to Boston) and partially because of controversy.  Small or no, we came to support and spend time with our friend Ana and her dogs (she was helping out a bit at the Manchester Animal Shelter's booth).

Willow made sand art.

Michael hanging out with Juli.

Listening to a speaker.

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Guest Post from Michael's Dad

Michael's dad went to parents day at his summer camp last Thursday. This is the second year he has done so.

I feel the need to relate one of the remarkable things I have seen in my life and its about role playing games.

My son attends  "Wizards and Warriors Camp" summer camp .  Children (2/3 boys, 1/3 girls) between the ages of 6 and 15 dress in medieval flair  (for example my son wears a cape, a big blue musketeers hat, and a pouch with "spells" in it) and adventure in the woods.

The camp session is two weeks (my son attended 2 two week sessions) and has a "back story" that is different  every session.   Like the best stories, the story writes itself in a general outline.  The kids sword fight, cast spells, and wander the woods while the Monster campers (the CIT's and counselors) play various monsters and NPCs.  There is a loose plot line, and it is generally fleshed out or altered by the actions of the kids.  At the end of each two week session, there is a big battle where parents can volunteer to play zombies, followed by a wrap up and a "feast of heroes".

The wrap up this year was a "trial" for Moebius, a magic being who left the fold and was trying to take over and /or change the world.  The story itself was a mixture of "Prometheus" and "Cain and Able", and was largely told by the actions of the kids and not a script.  At the trail the children sat around a huge stump in the woods and the CITs dressed as various magic beings (one was mother nature, one was earth, etc,) and debated Moebius's fate.  The choice was given to the campers:  Exile, Forgive and let him return, or Death.  The first vote was split evenly between Exile and Death.

Then one boy, perhaps 11 , stood up.  He was a shy boy with glasses, a bit pudgy, dressed in some Robin Hood style garments. No one called on him, pointed to him, or asked him to say anything.  He just stood up on his own.  He walked into the circle and extemporized for ten minutes on how change is part of life just as death is and that they should let Moebius back into the fold, because it is both wise and compassionate.  They voted again and it was a landslide.   They let Moebius back into the fold.

Later at the Feast, this boy was singled out by the head of the camp for his courage and for speaking up.   But "...mostly importantly because he showed compassion, the mark of a true hero."

The boy was beaming.

In summary, a boy who would most likely be f@#@#ing outcast in the outer world was praised for speaking not only with wisdom but with compassion. In a game with lots of simulated violence, campers were told your voice is your best weapon.

The country would be better off if we dumped gym classes for this.  It's just as physical, but it was about imagination, cooperation and learning instead of an Alpha-male "exercise".

I have said many nice things about this camp before and I will do so until its as well known as it should be.

--Michael's Dad

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Conversations at Bedtime

"What a long day.  [sigh]"

"What was your favorite part of the day?"

"Going to see Ana Banana."

"My favorite part was when you were singing in the car"**

"I love singing."

She is laying in her bed, I am sitting in the rocking chair.  There is a long pause of silence, I am hoping she is drifting to sleep.

"Mom?"

"Yes"

"You are the greatest mom ever."

"You are the bestest daughter ever."

"I remember you singing to me when I was in your tummy."

"I remember singing to you when you were in my tummy. Thank you for reminding me that I should sing more."

"Good night mommy."

"Good night."


**My favorite part of the day was when were driving to meet Ana and she was singing along to Judy Blue Eyes unprompted (and I don't mean the easy part either).  It actually made me feel good and happy about everything in my life and that everything will work out.  The power of a four year old singing.
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Final Battle at Wizards and Warriors Camp

HERE is a video of the final battle at the end of Wizards and Warriors Camp, with some glimpses of Michael and Chewy (it is a four minute video; Chewy and Michael and about one minute+ in). There is a lich, a man with a witches heart in a box, zombies (that would be Chewy among them) and Anubis.

Chewy will be writing an update to this post with his description of the day. Meanwhile, here is a picture of him when made up.



Michael had a great time at the camp and cannot wait until next year!


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Monday, August 06, 2012

Memorable Moment Monday

Taking part in another PAIL Bloggers Memorable Moment Monday:

Daddy took this photo of Willow enjoying one of her highlights from this weekend:


She was invited to a Birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese!  (That is the birthday girl in the striped dress)  Not only is Chuck E. Cheese the place where she had HER party this year, but she also enjoyed being able to pick out a gift for her friend!  And Daddy took her--added bonus!  

(I went with Michael to go see "Dark Knight" -- Awesome!)





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Thursday, August 02, 2012

Okay, I guess I am going to say something about it...

Although I started this blog with the intention of keeping family and friends informed about our family, etc. I did not shy away from my politics. Most people are pretty clear that I am a liberal. Most people know I am an athiest.

But, I try to stay out of the fray most times--mainly because I realized as time went on, that no matter what evidence I present to the other side, no matter how many times we argue back and forth--neither side budges. And I get frustrated with it. I get frustrated with the jingoistic, hypocritically religious on both sides.

However, today I looked on Facebook and saw a friend in pain. Saddened and upset because she knew people who personally went to Chick-a-Fil yesterday in protest of her way of life. And my friend means a lot to me. And her rights mean a lot to me.

Personally, I think boycotts do not "work". I do feel that if you have a problem with some policy it is good to avoid their business. However, to have a religious call to protest--that is another matter. That means you are supporting discrimination and bigotry. To specifically go there to support that on that specific day.

I guarantee you know someone that this affects. I believe that marriage equality is a HUMAN right. A human should be able to love whoever then want, however they want to do it.

It sickens me that people who are Christian would feel that another human being is filthy and dirty and cannot have such a basic human right.

Okay, I would probably write more--but, of course, I really should be getting ready for a job interview...I just had to get this off my chest.

As for the first amendment right -- yes, he has his first amendment right to do as he wants to.  We have the first amendment right to protest that. A good article about that is HERE. I just read a very well written piece on this subject HERE. Photobucket

Things I haven't done yet...

Things I haven't had the chance of doing yet or been prevented from doing: See my son's presentation on Rabies for his biology ...