Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Where has smart mama gone...

Lest you think some tragedy had befallen me- I just took a trip to Kansas for Thanksgiving- smart daddy-o's family was having a reunion there- and well my philosophy is a trip isn't worth the time if you don't stay at least a week so, we were gone for a week. (couple that with the craziness which is packing for a weeks vacation and recovering from a weeks vacation- and my lengthy absence is explained) Smart son has no officially travelled to 25 states! I am finally back to report good times were had by all. I have to say I am impressed with Kansas City- the service, the food, everything we did was well worth our time and $. We swam in the indoor pool at the hotel, ate out, went to see a fighter pilot imax movie (well worth your time), a sharks 3-D movie, went to the KC rail experience (all about trains) the Robots traveling exhibit, science city, enjoyed the tree and wreath and train displays at union station, ate at the crayola cafe (where I run into one of my old grad school roommates I had long since lost touch with- totally random!), made things at the the Hallmark kaleidoscope, and checked out moon marble company (it is so cool - we watched how marbles are made by hand and bought lots of cool marbles- but I won't tell you how many $ I spent because that would be embarrassing) Then we drove down to Wichita for the reunion. On the way our cranky, tired baby (who we later realized had an ear infection) vomited all over the rental car- so here we are pulled over on the side of the freeway attempting to safely clean up- somehow I manage to sit in some of that unfortunate substance- Smart daddy-o is laughing and I am telling him it is not funny as i feel it soaking in through my jeans- but there is nothing you can do about it on the side of the road in Kansas. Luckily the marriott had a courtesy laundry and I only received a few strange stares as I carried a stripped down baby into the hotel. We then enjoyed days with aunts and uncles and cousins. It was fun to meet people I hadn't met before and to see those I hadn't seen in a while. Smart son and smart baby enjoyed more swimming in hotel pools-- which was fun until the last day when I put on my swimsuit bottoms and noticed the fabric felt funny- I looked in the mirror- and to my horror- part of the fabric had gone sheer- yes like you can read a newspaper through it!? Who knows how or when (my swimsuit is only 9 months old!)? And I have likely been wearing a semitransparent bathing suit for some time without my knowledge- my apologies to anyone who may have unwittingly glimpsed my backside!
Also 2 thumbs up to Midwest- our airlines on the trip-I love the 2 across seating, warm cookies, and cheap fares. (also thanks for the brief stop in wisconsin- long enough to grab some good ole squeaky cheese!) Sadly I only have 17 pictures from our excursion- due to the fact that somehow the camera got left on and battery ran down and we didn't bring the charger dock-
But I am back and heading full swing into the Christmas holidays!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

lessons from a headband, toilet cleaning, robotic handcarts, and living a dot-to-dot

Today was one of those work around the house , 6 loads of laundry, family clean, wear Pj's the entire day, and try to return life to a semblance of order after Smart daddy-o was away in Japan for a week (hence lack of blogging) kind of days. As I tucked smart son into bed tonight and I asked his most special time of the day he said, "Being home and not having to go anywhere all day! And cleaning the bathroom counters and toilets! (his job at family clean today)"

You may question what type of torture my child must endure to report his favorite time of the day was cleaning toilets- but i savored his comment- I feel successful that he is content to just spend a day- nothing flashy, nothing that costs money, just enjoying family, playing with toys, being creative, and feel happy as a result of working hard and knowing you've done a good job at something. The thing I worry most about is my kids growing up in such a trouble, confusing world, but when they make comments like that you know they get the important stuff!

He is growing up I really love being around him! And man I LOVE the way he thinks! Here are some of my favorite smart son conversations of the day

I was attempting a leisurely bath when someone bursts into the bathroom and through the curtain I hear "Mom, it's just like being on and island out in some water, and then looking around and flying over to another island in the middle of water, and then going to another and another- and making lines as you fly"

"What is?" Needing some context for this sudden random image/analogy.

"Living in a dot to dot!"

Tonight he got talking about what life was like in different times- this was first prompted by him putting on one of my stretchy headbands around his head 80's sweatband style. After putting it on he asked "Mom, why did people wear bands around their heads in olden days?"

We didactically decided 1- functionally- it was because of the excessive physical labor in hot climates and it kept the sweat of your face, reason number 2- well you never can account for the Fads of the ages.

Then we started talking about life before different inventions and technologies. I said, "What do you think people did before CD, radios- for music?" (hoping for they practiced and learned to make music on their own) The first thing I got was a response about player pianos and then he shot back immediately, "They went outside!"

"Outside?," I puzzled needing more info.

"Yes, they could just look for a nest(outside=nest=bird=bird songs!)".

It was such a fabulous unexpected answer.

Then we got talking about life before cars and pioneers and handcarts and he said he would like to build robots for the people who couldn't afford covered wagons and animals and had to pull their handcarts.

Lately too we have been talking about the blessing of education and the importance of working hard and learning all that we can. We had talked before about children I have known in parts of the world who haven't had the chance to go to school. "Mom," he said, "I know- if they don't have schools- they could be home schooled!" I tried to explain that this was a good idea and that is what people tried to do but it was hard for their parents because they didn't get to go to schools either.

Then he petitioned, "Mom could we please send papers to them so they could have school- I really think we should do that!"

Guess I know what type of family service opportunity we are going to be looking for!

I just love the way his little heart and brain work!

Monday, November 13, 2006


I took a doctoral level graduate class in relationship development and mate selection. I was the only girl in the class and one day that became glaringly apparent. As you know I don't shy away from sharing my opinions and engaging in academic debate. The topic of debate with my male classmates was about our cultural labelling of all personality traits as masculine and feminine. I attempted to say we create stereotypes that can be very negative/rigid when we do this. (i.e. men are supposed to be tough, not cry, fight, etc) Every attribute/personality characteristic is on a persecute with extreme opposites at both ends, but most people are in the middle. Labeling each end as masculine and feminine implies that it is the ideal for men or women. I do believe men and women have inherent differences but I don't think that justifies this division/labelling. This whole system of labeling is erroneous as there is as much variation in a given characteristic amongst men (some men are gentle/mellow while others are very aggressive/rough) as there is between a given man and a woman (aggressive woman and aggressive man). I asked them if I am aggressive/assertive does that make me less of a woman? the answer "No, it just means you are comfortable with your masculine side". Masculine side? You think that is a joking answer but it wasn't. I am a girl 100% and proud of it. I held my own that day but they still didn't get it.

I am a rough and tumble girl- just as much as i am a girly girl . I like to to get glammed up, and throw parties, I wear lipstick and dress in pink but, in 7th grade I was also the only girl who chose to play basketball with the boys while all the other girls stood around giggling and occasionally hitting a volleyball. My dad had to break it to me in 5th grade that no matter what i did I would never be a center in the NFL (I do hike a mean football) and my only outside chance at any football would be as a kicker. In college, Shelah and I spent some evenings playing rugby with the guys in the neighboring apartments and we were known for our true tenaciousness on the field. Boys do not intimidate me and I relate as well to men as I do to women. At church functions, I am always happier moving furniture instead of doing dishes. I wrestle and race my kids as much as any dad. As much as I love lounging at a nice hotel, I am one brave traveller who has slept, eaten and spent my days in some very hard, dirty places. But all of these things make me a great woman not a woman comfortable with her "masculine side".

just some thoughts today on how silly our culture is sometimes.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

come let us reason together, smart baby

Smart Baby,
I know you are going through the toddler autonomy phase, but see you are lucky your mom has a masters in child development and is totally down with piaget, erikson, and freud, she is here to tell you all the developmental secrets, help you see your errors in thinking, and let you skip crazy childish behavior and move right into rational adult thinking.

1. Dumping your soup all over the table- not cool- c'mon baby this means more mess for mom- more mess for mom means more cleaning for mom and more cleaning for mom means less time we can do cool mom/son stuff.

2. Screaming and screeching doesn't help anyone and it doesn't get you what you want and could have seriously lifesyle implications. This behavior could seriously cause some hearing loss to others and we don't want to lose our house and your cool toys in a lawsuit- living a cardboard box is no fun- got it!

3. Throwing- throwing is only good when it comes to certain things like baseballs and should you chose to hone your skills there I will happily accept half of your income from a MLB contract- but the throwing of shoes, raw eggs, pretzels, shampoo bottles, yard sticks, mops- gotta go baby- I am being up front with you, although you've got skills- there is no lucrative career or Olympic gold medals in those sports so let's focus on other money makers!

XO- Warmest Regards,
Smart mama

Monday, November 06, 2006

Chart thinning/art thinning

If you work in a hospital you know about chart thinning- basically a bunch of stuff goes in your chart and then, if you have tons of pages they go through and weed out unnecessary stuff- well as a mom you do the same thing with your child's art. You have the dreaded task of art thinning. Yes for the past 3 yrs I have been stuffing all of smart sons work under one of the beds in a giant bin- well he is quite prolific and the other day i had the thinning task because the bin was way beyond capacity.
It brought back many memories of mom and son moments of days gone by. I absolutely love some of smart sons early works, I am a big fan of qualitative research. I like to hear real people's stories and children's art (as argued in my graduate thesis is one of the most true snapshots of a child). Well here is what I pitched (See Left) and here is what I saved (see right).

It reminded me of smart son's uniqueness, It also reminded me that your moments with your child are what you make of them. So today go out of you way to do one thing that might be messy or inconvienient or just spare those extra few minutes. It also made me really continue to think hard about the educational path for smart son. We debated long and hard this year- public, private, charter, homeschool- we decided on a "try it and see" public school year. Smart son- other than being very unchallenged loves school bu ti still can't put to rest my qualms with the great disparity between what he is capable of and what i think a good education is and the type of work being required of him in school. I am tossing and turning at night and I just can't feel good about it- maybe it's the ghosts of my own unchallenged years in public school haunting me. I called another private school we shall see.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Cow poop train

Smart son was telling me about his adventures on the playground at school with his friends C and B. They were playing trains and smart son said he told his friends that his train ran on cow poop- Yes that comment sounds like a common silly potty mouth response form a 5 yr old but he was totally matter of fact and serious. A few months ago we were reading this article in discover about a train that runs on cow manure and cow "remnants". He was hoping to help his friends gain an awareness of biogas and new energy sources.
It then prompted a full of how nuclear reactors work (complete with visual aids- DOTS thanks to the trick or treating loot) which enabled a model of atoms, protons, neutrons.
I went up to his room today and found this- he had used all his geomags to form a graph- using his metal bed- Which he explained represented various types of days- "good days for bug catching" "sludgy water days - represented in green- which is not a good sign- hazardous to many creature- he was home sick form school hence the bedragdled appearance.
I absolutely adore watching childrens brains work. It is fun to see them soaking up everything around them. I also have loved this week, smart son had his "Reading explosion". He has been reading for about 2 yrs know but this week was "IT"- If you watch many children learn to read you understand that each child does this. One day it takes work to read then they go to bed and wake up one day and really realize they can read without really thinking about each words and their fluency, sight words go off the chart. It is so exciting to see the whole world opening up to them!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Here are some pictures of my cute boys last night- Smart son was a bat- he has spent the last few days really getting into character by hanging upside on the family room chairs. He however is my very sensitive child and not one for scary stuff especially noises- he trick or treated to 15 houses and said he'd had enough (the appeal of the candy is not that strong for a child who begs for asparagus! Then he comes home asks you what your favorite candy is and tells you he loves you and gives it to you from his meager pile- he really is such a love!) Smart baby on the other hand after returning form the 40 min route was crying and wailing to go back out- so smart daddy-took him out for a second round- He is my task/mastery child and was having fun transferring candy from one bucket to the next and doing one to one correspondence with his candy and muffin tins.

Smart son was most excited to show his kindergarten class an article and picture of himself in last years fish costume that was featured in the American profile section last weeks Sunday paper in an article about "Out of the Box Costume Ideas". Yes every year, I embark on some sewing escapade in an attempt to make my child's costume dreams come true. The bat was fairly easy -there are no bat patterns out there- the one I found was a cape of felt with a scalloped edge- BLAH! So we created our own pattern thanks to an internet diagram of the Taiwanese bat. Couple that with yards of black pleather, sequin trim, and black moleskin and viola! It was a bat worthy of Halloween costumeness. The past has brought organ grinder monkeys, dinosaurs, and the fish. If you have every read the Old Man and the Sea you can appreciate the epic struggle of fitting multiple layers of 1" foam and slippery fabrics under the unwieldy foot of my sewing machine in my attempts to craft this. After seeing himself in the paper once though- I am afraid it went to his head and he saw a boy with blonde curly hair on the newpaper we had spread out when we were pumpkin carving and he told me he thought it looked alot like him- and that maybe he was in the newspaper alot.

Sorry I am slow posting this blogger was being lame when it came to pictures and what good is halloween post with no costume pics!okay I post the others later- I all it will let me do is 2. Maybe I am too late and they have a quota for mommy blogs the day after halloween!