Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Bowl

Noel is a little negotiator. "Just ONE more minute."
"Maybe after I eat my dinner I can have just a little piece of pie."
"Maybe when we go to Costco, I can get a churro."
"You should put Lennon to bed so I can play this big boy game."
Last night he read me a sentence. "This says 'Things'. This says 'that'. This says 'go'." "Things that go."
He makes jokes.
His relationship with his dad is the sweetest, most loving father/son relationship I shall ever witness (until Lennon gets a little older, and they become a trio).
He likes to play puppies. His name is "Woof Woof". I'm "Frannie". Lennon is "Big Blue".
He likes cars, and diggers, and trucks. He greets every car he sees. "Hi, Whitey." "Hi, Silvery." and my personal favorite, "Hi, Blacky."
When putting him to bed, he will give you kisses so you'll stay. He'll hug you around the neck so you "Don't leave!"
He is a good brother, a good son, and I couldn't be happier that he is my little boy. The Bowl is 3 1/2.

I'm A Stinker

And I know it.

I love this kid. He's such a little smartie. He knows what he wants, and he will tell you...LOUDLY. He mimics his big brother. He adores him. He is ready to be a Big Boy, just like Noel.
He is 26 lbs. of pure trouble. He's long and lean, and he has a big head to encase that big brain. He says a million words, and he babbles pretend sentences. He can't wait to really join in on the conversation. He likes to "PEE!" on the toilet, and brush his teeth while he goes. He likes to take a bath and pour water on his brother's head. He likes to laugh when you tell him "no" and run away from you (laughing).
He will lay his head on your shoulder when you hug him. He wants to be "Uppa! Uppa!", in your arms. If you're sitting down, he will come sit in your lap. He has the sweetest giggle, and a toothy, adorable grin that will melt your heart.
Lennon, Lemon Juice, Lennon Spa-chem-an (Spaceman), Jucifer is 1 1/2.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Making the Best of an Unfortunate Situation

Sometimes I get wrangled into things I shouldn't...and I always regret it later. Without going into detail, I was involved in a review blog that went sour. What do you do when you've got sour milk? Can you make something with it? I don't know...Can you use it as buttermilk? Well, from this sour milk, I got Anna-my buttermilk. Anna is a fellow mum, and a terrific friend. She would bend over backwards and do cartwheels, flips, and an entire gymnastic routine for you, if you asked her too. She is one of the most giving and loving people that I know.
There are times when I am sure that Anna and I were separated at birth. We both love music, hanging with our families, LOST, cooking, and share a similar sense of humor. She is the real deal. She is awesomesauce.
I've not had the pleasure of meeting Anna and her super-duper family yet, but I see it in our future. Elliott loves all things American history, and the Holler's happen to live in Philadelphia, just a few blocks from the Liberty Bell! The Holler's have also been considering a move to Hawaii, and well, duh, when we have the money to do some traveling, we'll be there with bells on. Bells, whistles, kazoos, and harmonicas-we'll be throwing a parade all the way to the Holler doorstep, where ever that might be.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Our Moment

We've embarked on something new in our parenting journey. We call it The Very, Insanely Willful Child. Literally, there are times when I say "Put your arms up!" to change his jammies, and he'll put them down and give me a dirty look. Oh be 3 1/2 again...or not. This evening, he was being very good, and even though he cried when we left Rosa's (Taco Tuesday, baby) because we wouldn't get sopapillas, on the whole, it was a good night.

After Lennon went to bed, we had Noel's "Special Time", a 15 minute window of hanging out with just Elliott and me. Tonight I introduced him to one of my very favorite records of all time, The Point. Nilsson was a genius. Noel loves music, and his taste rivals his father's. I can see many future arguments which might go something like "No! Exile on Main Street is infinitely better than Let it Bleed". The other day, he asked me to play "Johnny Thunder" by The Kinks. Whoa.

Needless to say, I was a little nervous that he wouldn't like this album and story that is so dear to my heart. I put it on, and he immediately started air drumming, and the look on his face actually got me choked up. He looked awestruck. It was so adorable. We sat, listened to the music and the story, and looked through the comic-like book that came with the album (yes, as in LP). It was one of those moments as a parent that I thought "I hope I remember this forever."

The Point is something that has always been in my life. I used to listen to it with my parents, and sing every word with my mom. I remember how excited we were when we found the video tape at the video store, and how happy I was when I rediscovered it and found it on Amazon 10 years ago. Then, I had no idea that 10 years later, I would share a special moment with my own child, listening to the same record that is so dear to me.

Isn't it cool that we have access to movies, music, shows, toys and games that we loved as children, and now have the ability to share them with our own? We are probably the first generation to have the massive library of "stuff" to pass on and enjoy with our kids. That is just so cool to me.

What's something special from your childhood that you have shared with your children?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Good List

Being a "mom-blogger" is certainly a mixed bag. There are good impressions, and not-so-good impressions left on the rest of the world, blogging or otherwise. Just like any community, there are people you hang with, and people you make sure you give a wide berth. I thought I'd fill you in on some of the neato kids that I meet on the smoking patio (even though I don't think any of us actually smoke...)

This list must start with all of my super-awesome Mums pals, Naomi (@superdumb), Anna (@annaholler), and Amy (@amysphere)(now of ParentSphere), and Lisa (who doesn't work with us anymore, and doesn't blog much, but is still a total stud).

I also love these fine people. When I read their words, I get something from it. None of them are rude or looking for a fight. They are just moms who write & do it well. They are kind, funny, sweet & cool, and I think you should love them all too: The Charlie, Stephanie, Beth, Sarah, Erin, Erin (apparently people named Erin are groovy), Meagan Francis, Diane (who will be a mama one day), Ashlee (who also doesn't blog much, but is "the awesome"), and Erika.

I am sure that I am missing people, but I'm trying to do this in a hurry, because Elliott wants to watch "Moving Target"...uh, help me. :) If I have forgotten you, please call me a jerk & tell me, please!

I hope you'll find these folks as pleasant, readable, and lovable as I do.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

What a Wild Duet!

My boys are different.
Here's Lennon. He's almost 1 1/2 years old. You can tell he's up to something. He's had this look on his face since he was about 4 months old. He will be the one we have to worry about.
You can see Noel's face to the left. This is some "art" that he made while we were at lunch. He made sure to tell us all "Don't touch it!" Had Lennon been able to reach his masterpiece, it would have been on the floor, and two of the utensils would have been used for drumsticks.

They are so different, and I love seeing their individual personalities blossom. I hope that even with their differences, they will continue to grow together, rely on each other, be best friends, and always be able to lean on each other throughout their lives...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Homeschooling: What's the Big Deal?

There are a lot of mixed responses when I tell someone that we plan to home-school our kids. Since both of my kids stay home with Elliott, they are already home-schooled, in an unstructured fashion. We have not decided with 100% certainty that we will take this path, but I’d say we’re 99.99% sure. That being said, I’m not opposed to looking into other avenues, and I, personally, don’t care where you send or plan to send your kids to school. As long as your children feel happy and safe, do what feels right for you.

Both of my kids, while I am quite sure they will be talented in many areas, already seem to show more interest in the arts. We all know that most public schools are sorely lacking in these areas. I also know there are many charter, private, and magnet schools that focus on the arts, and I’m not opposed at all to looking into them, especially as our kids get older and might need more specialized attention in certain areas. But, what I am really curious about is why there is such a guttural reaction when you mention casually, “We are planning to home-school.”

I’ll admit, there was a time when I was not 100% on board, but after lots of talks with my husband, and some input from some good friends, I realized quickly that there are many ways to receive a great education, even if it’s not “traditional”. I went to private school all of my life, and I had mixed experiences. I had great friends, and I received a top-notch education. I would not trade it today. However, life at Catholic, all-girls school came with it’s downside-cattiness & cliques aside, school just didn’t hold a lot of interest for me, especially in areas that I didn’t like or appreciate. Sitting through any math and science class was equal to water-boarding in my 14 year-old mind. ”What’s the point? I’ll never use this!” was a conversation I had many times with my parents, particularly if I brought home an average grade.

I’ve always prided myself on being “unique”, which doesn’t always gel well with other school aged kids. In retrospect, I’m sure I was always considered a weirdo. I did have a great group of friends, but I always felt out of place & awkward, which led me down some self-destructive paths, so that I could feel more confident and self-assured…and I probably came off looking like an even bigger bozo. I know that kids will be kids, in any setting, but I don’t want my kids to ever feel that they have to hide their uniqueness to try and fit in with a group because someone, somewhere decided that kids that turn this age on this date belong with kids that have similar birthdays. I also want them to be able to explore and grow in the areas that they will excel in for the rest of their lives. I want them to have a real chance to succeed in those areas. I believe that through homeschooling and co-ops through homeschooling, this will be better accomplished than if they were in traditional school. As I said, this may be a temporary solution to our situation, and it may not. We would love to, as a family, travel & see the United States and North America. Homeschooling would allow us to do this whenever we choose.

Noel turns 5 in 1 1/2 years, so we have lots of time to research and decide what exactly it is we’re going to do, as far as school is concerned. There are a lot of options, even in the homeschooling world. Thankfully, there are so many resources, groups, books, friends, and parents out there that can help us discover the answers. Our friends at The ZRecs Network just began homeschooling their daughter, and it’s really excited me for our future. Jenni is a walking encyclopedia of information in many arenas, but homeschooling is certainly one of her specialties. Zella will be a great role model as we start our home-school journey.

A couple of years ago, Elliott asked Jenni how she became interested in homeschooling Z, and her answers really struck a cord with me. I’m sharing them with you, just to give you food for thought.

My desire [to home-school] has only grown greater since Zella has been born. She’s a very bright kid but she resists being “taught” things. She likes to discover things on her own and the moment she suspects that you want her to “perform” (she can do x thing but refuses to do so on cue) she shuts down. She can be very engaged in a particular activity and be reluctant to leave it for another one just because - homeschooling is better for that because there isn’t a requirement to get in math, science, social studies, etc, each day - so she can be as involved and go into as much depth as she wants to in any particular subject and will cycle to other things eventually. It just seems that with homeschooling you can follow more natural rhythms of learning that you can’t in school.

Other reasons:

  • none of us (including Zella) like to get up very early in the morning
  • no wasted time doing “busy-work”
  • no wasted time checking roll, finding seats, changing classes, with disruptive students
  • learning at her pace instead of faster or slower than other kids (allows for advanced learning in certain areas and/or slower learning in other areas - not an “all gifted classes” or “all normal classes” approach)
  • more time with her
  • can travel (day trips or longer trips) without having to get “approval” from the school
  • more time outdoors
  • more time for physical activity or rest as needs change
  • more time for art, music, crafts, gardening, and animals
  • no selling crap for the school district
  • no grades (we try to have learning and/or behavior be because of internal motivation rather than external rewards )see Alfie Kohn)
  • less peer pressure

As I already said, I have no qualms with how anyone chooses to educate their children. All I ask, is that the idea of homeschooling quit being met with such disdain and negativity. There are many reasons why some families choose to home-school. More than likely, their children will turn out just fine, just as educated, and just as well rounded as the rest of them…and possibly even more-so…

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Lost Art of Friendship

It used to be that in order to make a friend, you actually had to meet someone face-to-face. Those early meetings probably happened in the school yard, or you got set up with your mom's friend's kid (the way I met my oldest & bestest friend). At the very least, if you wanted to meet someone you'd actually never seen, you had to write Archie Comics and ask for a pen pal. When I was in high school, we had one computer hooked up to the outside world, where, if you used some code or something, you could find other people to talk to through the computer. I tried it a couple of times and didn't really see the appeal. In college, although I had some sort of email account, I had to go through linux or some crazy thing to actually send and receive emails. It was in a DOS program. I had a friend in college that had her very own modem, and would sit in her dorm room for days, chain-smoke, and chat with people. I thought to myself, "Why on Earth are you holed up in this cement room talking to people you don't know when you are at a campus with 20,000 students?" The whole thing seemed insane.
A few years ago, I had a desk job that required about 10 minutes of actual work during the day. I had opened a Yahoo Messenger account so I could talk to my friend, Molly, who was also bored out of her mind at work. One day, she announced that she had started a blog. What? I thought only people who fancied themselves political wrote on such things. Soon, my friend Lisa started her own blog too, and introduced me to some of her friends that were writing on their own blogs. "Wow, they'll give a blog to just about anybody!" I thought. Reading the blog of my friend and her friends, I suddenly realized that should start a blog of my own. I say funny things, so surely, I could write funny things. Soon, I had my own little "blog group", mainly comprised of Lisa's friends and their friends and relatives. All these years, I had laughed at the dorks that met people online...and now...I was meeting friends online.
I started my first blog in 2004, when Facebook was still only for college kids, and Twitter didn't exist. Your group of blog friends was limited...and the best way of finding new blogs was to hit the "Next Blog" button on Blogger. After several years of blogging, my "blog group" blew up. There were still the old standbys that I'd been with from the beginning, but now the list of blogs that I visited on a daily basis had grown by leaps and bounds. So many blogs, so many chats, so little time...and then, on the other side of this screen lies real life. I got married, I bought a house, I had a baby, I got a new job, I had another baby...We are human, and can only spread ourselves so thin.
First and foremost, I want to always "be here now". I want to be in the present for my real life, my family, my heart. I want to be there for my "real life" friends. Those that have known me for almost my entire life. My oldest friend and I have been besties since we were 3 years old. My 2nd oldest friend, I met when we were 8. These relationships were, and continue to be some of the most important in my life. These "real-lifers" have seen me at my best, and at my worst. They have seen me laugh, act like an idiot, ugly cry, act silly, treat people horribly, and pick them up when they have been down. We have actually held each other up, and been there in the best of times, and the worst. In other words, they know exactly who I am, and regardless of the chinks in my armor, they continue to love me.
When we make friends over the internet, regardless of how those people come to be our friend, they see mainly our best side. From behind this screen, we can choose to be whomever we want. We see people who are almost always putting their best foot forward. Until we actually start to dig deeper, we really hardly know each other at all. Some people choose to write about the trials and hardships on their blogs, along with the funny story of their kid barfing on the lady in front of them at the check out line. These honest, real posts are hard, because we know that with them, we risk judgement or scorn, and God-forbid, not everyone might agree with your choices, or not every single person that reads your words will like you!!! AHH! We tend to forget that in real life, we aren't friends with every single person we encounter. We don't agree with everyone, all the fact, sometimes, we are real-life friends, and then we grow apart, or that friendship becomes less necessary and important. And you know what? That's ok. We don't have to be "BFF" with every single solitary person on this planet.
With the advent of Facebook & Twitter, friendship has been reduced to a mere click of your mouse. As my friend Dan put it, some of the most important relationships of our lives have become a verb: I'll "friend" you tomorrow (Dan, by the way, is an internet success story friendship of mine). We "friend" people we barely know, hardly remember from our past, or really don't know at all. An algorithm thinks that we may, in some way, know a particular person. In some cases, these friendship suggestions connect us with a childhood sweetheart, or an old friend we haven't seen since 6th grade. In other cases, it brings together people that have never met, and creates some of the most important relationships that you will ever have. There are good aspects, certainly, but it also makes it very easy to put a lot of faith into one click. I have made great friends though the internet, best friends, even...and I have made friends with people who I'd later deem "cyberpsychos". I'm eternally grateful, in many ways, for the internet, to have the opportunity to meet amazing people, and become close friends with people that I would have otherwise never met. I am also careful to not put too much of my heart & soul into these friendships, until I have really had the opportunity to get to know the real person behind the blog, the Facebook account, or the Twitter @. While I want to befriend and get to know lots of people, I only have so much time to invest in these outlets, and I want to continue to make the most of them.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Monkey Wants YOU

Some people have asked me, “So, what exactly IS Space Monkey? What are you selling?” Well, The Space Monkey Shop offers 12″ x 12″ canvas artwork that comes ready to hang for children’s rooms. Custom sizes are also available. Just contact us for pricing on larger or smaller items. Imagine this as a 36″ x 36″ print. Cool, eh? The prints are as clear and swell looking in person as they are on our website. Our artists have worked together for over 25 years, creating animation, graphic design, and film productions, so you can rest assured that your purchase from Space Monkey will be of the utmost quality. You know that little mouse known as Chuck E. Cheese? THEY DESIGNED HIM! They also create kitschy artwork for adults too. You can find the big kid’s stuff here.

As you can see, we only have a few series up right now, but Dan & Charlie are busy creating more art for you and your children to enjoy…

We want to know what you’d like to see in The Space Monkey Shop! And that’s not all…we’re hosting a contest to get the idea wheels turning! Here’s how it works:

Become a Fan of Space Monkey on Facebook, and post your ideas for a series or a design that you would like to see available in our online shop, or follow us on Twitter & DM us your idea. We’ll pick one, make it available in the store, and GIVE YOU ONE 12 x 12 limited edition signed/numbered print on archival art paper FREE.

Yes, your idea will be rendered, you will get one of your very own, and your idea will remain in our store. Who knows, we migh even name it after you! No idea is too far-out (as long as it’s family friendly): We are SPACE MONKEYS, after all! Now, conjure up some cool ideas and tell them to us! The deadline to enter is August 20th, 2009. Go to our Facebook Fan Page or Twitter us & enter!

Monday, August 3, 2009

I'm Going to Talk About Breastfeeding. I Warned You.

This week is World Breastfeeding Week. Until a few years ago, I had no idea that such a week existed. Breastfeeding is always a hot topic, particularly amongst, well, moms...the people that do the breastfeeding. I used to not really think much of it, until it was my turn to be a mom. With Noel, I decided early on that I wasn't going to breastfeed him, but bottle feed him breast milk. When he was born 4 1/2 weeks early, I became more comfortable with this decision, as he was so sleepy and small that he never really caught on to latching. Since he never spent time in the NICU, he wasn't treated as a preemie while we were in the hospital, and we never got the hang of "real" breastfeeding. In retrospect, had we tried a little more, we probably could have done it...but that's neither here nor there. I gave him pumped milk, and that was that. I produced LOTS and LOTS of milk from the very beginning, and he had plenty to eat. That little baby that weighed only 4 lbs. 9 oz. at birth, quickly turned into Babyzilla and fattened up with all that creamy stuff. The only problem was, I could not stave off the dreaded breast infections. I got mastitis 6 times in the 7 months that I pumped.

I went to the doctor to see if there was ANYTHING I could do to avoid more a word, she told me "no". She said that women that have had mastitis more than once usually continue to get it. She thought it was hormone induced. I started my period about 6 weeks after Noel was born, and that's when the infections began. Subsequently, every time I started again, I got another infection. LUCKY ME. As I sat there crying, she quietly told me, "It's ok for you to stop." That was all the encouragement I needed. That day, I started weaning off the pump, and by the time Noel was 8 months old, he was drinking formula. I struggled mightily with this decision, but I also could not deal with one more infection. If you've ever had mastitis, you know why I couldn't take it anymore. If you haven't, consider yourself lucky. It's no fun.

When I got pregnant with Lennon, I was determined that we were going to breastfeed. Really, actually nurse. And we did...for a little over a year. The first 3ish months of breastfeeding him were torture. Yes, TORTURE. The child came out of the womb sucking on his hands. He had a mighty latch, and my sensitive skin got pretty abused the first few days of his life. It got to the point where I would cringe when he'd cry, because I knew what was coming: PAIN. I perservered, and continued to nurse him through the agony. I was determined to do this. After the wounds healed (yes, wounds, as in open sores), things got much easier, and I actually enjoyed nursing. I even got brave and did it discreetly in public and in front of people a few times! It was very liberating for me, as I'm pretty private about my body. Nursing just felt different. I never felt like I was being scandalous. I was feeding my baby...using my breasts the way God intended for them to be used. For the first time ever in my life, I was comfortable with my body.

I still pumped, but I didn't have to do it day and night. It was much easier this time around, save the first 12 weeks of his life. Right around the time he turned 13 months, I could tell that he just wasn't into it anymore...screaming and crying are pretty indicititve of "just not that into it". Truthfully, I didn't think that it would end so abruptly, but it did, and that was that.

If you are breastfeeding, or want to breastfeed, and you are struggling, reach out for support. I am so thankful for my husband who was 100% behind my decision. Call friends, find breastfeeding moms on Twitter & through blogs. Locally, look for a La Leche Leauge in your area, or area hospitals that have lacation consultants, and there are resources like and La Leche Leauge on the web.

You want to know the truth? I am really proud of myself for giving both of my kids breastmilk. Breastfeeding is not easy for everyone. I was one of those people that struggled. I am stubborn, and it's the only reason that I continued to do it. I has set out with a goal, and I'd be damned if I wasn't going to accomplish it. Both of my children have been so healthy, and I attribute it first and foremost to them drinking exactly what they needed: the milk that only I could give them.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Five Years, Stuck on My Eyes

First of all, name that tune. Naomi, I pretty much expect you to be the only one to get this...

Five years ago today, Elliott and I boarded a plane to Kauai, Hawaii. We were leaving to get married in paradise, just the two of us. It was the best trip and one of the happiest times of my life. If you get the chance to go to Kauai, take it and run. It is unreal.

Monday, we will have been married for 5 years. In this time, we bought a home and had two babies. WOW. These have been the biggest and best changes for us both. We both grappled with whether or not we wanted children. Today, even with a 3 1/2 yr. old with a mind of his own, and a 1 1/2 year old who "has a lot of energy", we'd both give this life we've built two big thumbs up. If I had more thumbs, they'd be up too.

I know that we will celebrate many more milestones together: birthdays, anniversaries, life, death, and whatever else the world decides to throw our way. We're definitely committed to spending this crazy life right beside one another.

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the I am, stuck in the middle with you.