Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Do you have your pets, er, I mean kids?

So tonight, E is working late, and after a long day for me and P, we decided to hit Pizza m$ Heart for dinner. There was a couple of women there with four children, who looked between 2 1/2 and maybe 5. The four kids were sat together and the women sat at a different table at the other end of restaurant. Now, it's not a big place, and I'm all for sitting the kids together. But not to be at an adjoining table seemed, a tad, questionable. The moms kind of watched the kids at first, but then a man joined them and they got busy in conversation. By now, the kids were tired of sitting, and started to run in circles around the place. I watched, as one mom made some half-hearted efforts to check on the kids, slowly rising and glancing around when they were out of vision. The next thing I know, Miss P says - pointing at the front door, "Hey mommy, someone just left without their owner!"

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Sometimes, after I drop Miss P off at Sunday School, I zip back to my car, en route to Starbucks, book in hand. Instead of making a left and walking into church with the rest of the parents.
What's your dirty little secret?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Okay, okay....

...I love Facebook now! I finally joined a few weeks ago, and was inactive at first, just checking people's pages once, and not posting anything myself. But, I've finally gotten into it and have come across so many cool things, such as seeing pictures of E's cousin's adopted sons for the first time and just yesterday hearing about a friend's surprise wedding (and seeing photos). It is a good way to keep in touch with lots of people that don't live close by, and/or just aren't in your day-to-day life due to conflicting schedules. (But whom you still care about).

Bravo, Facebook!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day

This evening we celebrated Earth Day by seeing the new movie of the same day. It was really good! It was released by Disney Nature and is a documentary following three animal families - elephants, humpback whales, and polar bears. I am not a big documentary person. You won't find me, glasses on, watching the Discovery Channel, or reading National Geographic. It just aint gonna happen! However, I was completely enthralled by this movie.
E and Miss P liked it too. However, there was a bit too much 'circle of life' happening, if you know what I mean, for P's taste. Poor thing had to hide her eyes several times. Unfortunately, she is also a loud movie talker, and peppered us with questions throughout. We were just waiting for someone to turn around and glare, which fortunately, didn't happen.
An understatement, I know, but watching this movie really reminded me of how incredible our Earth is. How animals communicate with each other and instinctively make complex decisions. There is a scene where lions and elehpants are circling each other and the hungry lions are trying to figure out how to get to the elephant calfs. The calfs are too well protected, so they figure out a way to seperate one of the elephants from the herd, and then all the lions attack it at night. I was quietly saying, 'shit, shit, shit' over and over (I never usually swear - I just don't).
Anyway, go see it. Just think about preparing small, sensitive ones first.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

More Monterey

So, we had a fabulous time on our Monterey trip. Not only was it fun, but educational in so many ways. Not only did we learn new facts about several sea creatures, we learned that our little family is quite...'unique.' Here are the top three things that gave me pause to reflect on our 'character.'

3. We have a penchant for knock-knock jokes. Made up knock-knocks. Miss P still hasn't gotten the hang of it and will say random things, and laugh hysterically, asking 'was that a punch line??' Actually, any style hokey joke will do. Here's one of my 'homemade favorites.' "What did one cat say to the other while on vacation? I'm having a purrr-fect time!" (Bum dum dah!)

2. How else did we entertain ourselves, between aquarium going, eating at Bubba Gumps, and shopping? Charades. Our second night there we camped out in front of the fireplace in the 'reading room,' with some glasses of wine, P and her coloring books. We happened upon some older folks from NY who were also on Spring Break and were teachers. We just all seem to find each other. Anyway, after a great chat with them, E and I did a few fun rounds of charades with P. How often do you see a family, out in public, acting out Snow White eating the poison apple, Giselle falling into the well, or Mulan defending her country?

And 1. Possibly the oddest...our adventures with 'Sage.' Miss P loved the aquarium and loved the trip. But she had a few moments of homesickness. You see, we drove down just for the afternoon initially, without clothes for us (we did have a spare set for P), or P's beloved 'Doggy.' On a lark, as the earlier post tells, we decided to spend the night, and one night turned into two. We ran to Longs and The Gap for necessities and enjoyed winging it, for the most part.

However, Miss P missed her home, special things, and routine a bit. That's where Sage came in. To distract her from homesickness, we invented a character - Sage - who was 'after us.' We were a bit fuzzy on her purpose. I think she was a bit like Dora's Swiper. She wanted to infiltrate and take P's doll (now, as I write this, it sounds terrible! I thinkn that was P's idea.) Anyway, we devised several missions to protect ourselves and belongings from Sage, and Miss P loved the action and excitement. (It also helped move her quickly.) The hotel wasn't busy, and had this one really wide curving staircase that had a glowing jellyfish type chandelier over a vast landing. We did a fair amount of hang out time there, getting out wiggles and completing training for future Sage missions.

Paige training above.

E training using the most available form of free weights.

E practicing his 'moves.'

Miss P practicing her dancing moves.

Wouldn't you love to have us as your hotel guests?
How is your family unique?

Friday, April 17, 2009


Last Monday we headed down to Monterey for an afternoon excursion at the aquarium, and ended up staying until Wednesday afternoon! The day was so gorgeous, it was day 1 of Spring Break, and anything felt possible. So I said, 'let's stay the night!' E was not hard to convince (we have a history of impromptu trips) and we got an amazing 'walk in the door on a low-key weekday' rate at this hotel. We ended up staying not just one night, but two!

More to come later. We are out the door again!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter Day Marathon 2009

Good morning! Let's start our 12 hour day...

After Church at Grandma Riley's....Miss P and Cousin C in matching American Girl play dresses

Some of the Riley clan...awful photo

Next stop, celebrating with close friends - Miss P hunting with her dear friend Miss I


Spontaneous tea party

Not pictured - yummy Easter dinner with mom!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

It's Spring and you need new

....If you're me, you might get one or two new t-shirts if you're lucky. Then, you pull out your under the bed clothing tub marked Spring/Summer and hope for the best. Not finding much, you catch up on all your laundry and re-organize your closet and find some passable combos.

If you're Miss P, your mom makes a fantasy list of clothes you could use - tops a certain color, t-shirt dresses with leggings (because you abhor jeans). This is followed by a shopping trip to many stores, to compare and contrast, because your mom says 'we only buy what we love!' In the end, the budget gets blown a bit, - (oops, you needed shoes too) - but you'll be super cute all Spring!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

On my soapbox

Are your kids driving each other (and you) crazy? I have some tips! Now, I'm no expert, but, I've learned a thing or two in my 8 1/2 years teaching kindergarten and my 4 1/2 years of parenting. I've been using this stuff a lot lately, so I'm in the mode to share.

One thing my teaching partner and I are really good at is conflict resolution. We were just talking about this today. I think its kind of our 'signature' as a classroom. A lot of times when children are having issues with each other, the response is: "stay away from him then,' or 'tell her you don't like that.' We go deeper.

We use something called 'Tools of the Heart,' that we learned from a group called Soul Shoppe.
It goes like this:

Student A (accidentally) knocks Student B's crayon basket to the floor. Student B doesn't realize it is an accident, and is very angry. Instead of saying, 'YOU'RE NOT MY FRIEND ANYMORE!' or socking him, they say this:

Student A: "I feel (insert feeling word) 'angry' when people (important not to say 'you.' research shows that as soon as you say 'you' the other party goes on the defensive and stops listening) knock over my things. (Now ask for what you want) "Will you please help me pick up my crayons?" (or) "Will you please be more careful next time?"

It is surprising how empowered students feel and how much better they feel after saying this. They go from angry to pacified immediately. Student B almost always looks sheepish and calmly agrees to do whatever Student A asks in a kind voice. Problem over.

Just about every time an issue arises in the classroom (a lot), we go through these steps. It seems like it would take longer to do this, but it really saves time. (We aren't having to contend with lingering arguments.)

Miss P doesn't have a sibling, but at home this translates basically to us just really hearing her out. I can't think of a great example, but when she doesn't want to do something - like brush her teeth, instead of saying,'just do it now,' (which I only say when I'm rushed and at the end of my rope - rare occasions), I will say something like, 'It looks like you're feeling unhappy about brushing your teeth. Tell me more.' Then, I will usually just empathasize. "I can see how it's hard to stop drawing -- which you love to do -- to go brush your teeth. I hate stopping things I love to do a chore too." If you haven't tried this before - simply empathizing and relating works wonders. Your child relaxes. Then I offer a choice, or something that sounds like an incentive, but really isn't anything, like, 'why don't you color for 10 more seconds, and then go?' or "do you want to use your red toothbrush or the pink one?" or "let's go brush your teeth and then read a book after."

Again, seems like it would take longer to do this. But it goes fast, and if you weigh the 30 second conversation that ends in smiles against a fit, the conversation is worth it. It is all about relationship building and giving kids respect.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Tomorrow's Oprah

Check out Monday's episode, which features a panel of mom bloggers 'getting real' about the challenging aspects of motherhood. Should be good!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Playgroup Egg Hunt 2009

So the party pretty much went off without a hitch. There were only two casualties....two little boys who ralphed near the end from too much tire swing. Happily, they each recovered after a hosing off and short rest and were back in action soon!
I was a bit nervous in the a.m. because we realized the night before that our beloved 'Doggy' was missing in action. I determined that when we were at the bank that day, Miss P must have left him in the small play area. Fortunately P isn't as dependent on Doggy these days and was fine just getting him in the a.m. However, as we went to bed, I wasn't actually as confident about Doggy presence at Chase Bank as I let on to be. Somewhow I didn't let myself worry about it until the moment of truth when we zipped down to the bank this morning at 9:00 a.m.ish. I beelined for the play area -- no Doggie. Then I got closer and peered in the book box. There he was, curled up amongst Dr. Seuss. Thank goodness!
Anyway, the egg hunt was a blast. We overplanned activities, and ended up just doing one organized game as the kids were enjoying the bounce house, play structure, sandbox, etc. And then of course was the good 'ol hunt. You can see the kids above waiting with their baskets. E and our friend's husband took off after a respectable about of clean-up time to go to a Final Four party, and my girlfriend and I hung out with the kids and enjoyed the sun the rest of the day. Then, Miss P and I headed to my mom's house for dinner. Miss P regaled grandparents with snake facts.
The snakes are a whole other story. Last night (Doggy-less) the three of us went to a joint birthday party that was a combination reptile / Stars Wars theme. New one, right? It was a brother (5) and sister (7) born on the same day. The party was in-sane. There was a 'Reptile Wrangler' (did you know that was a job title?) and a whole cast of Stars Wars Characters. Sadly, I left my camera in the car. One final note, before the birthday party (which was out of town) Miss P and I did a mother-daughter shopping spree. (In case there is any confusion - this was daughter shopping, mother buying - not a stitch of clothing for me). Anyway, Old Navy had/has the cutest stuff right now! I almost peed my pants, the clothes were so darn cute.
Between parties, Easter prep, late nights, and early mornings, I am toast right now. I am on duty tomorrow morning for church. Good night!

Thursday, April 2, 2009


I've finally joined! Just saw photos of E's Texas cousin's two new sons, adopted from Russia. Very cool!