Tuesday, June 12, 2012

They age...even when I don't want them to...

So The Monkey graduated from Preschool last week...

My heart, it's breaking.

How is The Monkey even old enough to wear that tiny little motor board and stole?
It shouldn't come as any sort of shock, I'm sure. She's been haunting the hallways and kitchen doorsteps of the apartment for the past four months reciting her Valedictorian Speech and humming verses of her graduation class song until the four of us could have done them in our sleep.

I can still remember the day I brought The Monkey home.
I was terrified, even in my already sleep-deprived haze. Here was this brand new little person, so similar to the others, and yet so different... And I had no idea how to raise her alongside the other two and keep my sanity alone. Not much has changed, truth be told, in the past five years other than I'm certain that my sanity has, at times, completely fled the building.

But in the past five years The Monkey has proven time and again that her indomitable little spirit would not be ignored. She is feisty, that one, and demands her due. She doesn't back down from a challenge, and she doesn't let others push her around. She has her own way of doing things and a creativity that leaves me in awe some days. I cannot wait to see the adult that this little creature I baked will turn into. 

 And now she'll be off to Kindergarten in just a few months.
I still have trouble reconciling the girl I saw climb the step ladder to reach the podium and give her speech in a loud, clear voice; with the little bit she once was. When I look at The Munchkins sometimes I see their younger selves transposed on top. The three-year-old Isabelle tumbling down the brick steps of our front porch, the two-year-old Baz with a streak of dirt across his face like a lightning bolt, and I wonder where the years have disappeared to. It's just not going to get any easier, is it? I'm going have to accept that these little creatures, little pieces of my heart walking around outside of my body, are going to continue to grow and move further and further away from the arm's length I want to keep them at.

If I'm this much of a mess at Preschool graduation, I don't know how I'll survive high school and college...

Congratulations to my big, grown-up Valedictorian, girl.
What a little Monkey...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Last Minute Gift-Giving

So we did a little sewing last night...

The eldest two Munchkins have book-buddies at school. They're each assigned a junior high student early on at school and this year, and they meet weekly to visit, read, and from the stories that sometimes trickle home, these kids serve as mentors to the younger students. Anyway, both Isabelle & Baz have "graduating" book buddies in eighth grade, and today's the last day they'll get to hang out.  Isabelle's over the moon for her book-buddy and has requested red Chucks, silver jewelry and funky hair on more than one occasion to be just like her. She decided weeks ago that she was going to lay claim to some of my mustache fabric from Crimson Tate and "Make something for Maddie". 

So last night we sat down, The Biz in my lap, and did a little sewing.

Isabelle helped measure and cut the material.
I worked the foot pedal and let little hands guide the material through.
About an hour later we had two simple little zippered pouches done and ready to be filled with silly little trinkets for the book buddies.

I'm pretty fond of the talking mustache keychains...

Baz may not have done the sewing, but he specifically requested the material for his book buddy. Hopefully the older kids get a kick out of the gifts.
The Munchkins were so proud, wrapping them up last night, knowing they'd had a hand in creating something for their friends.

Next Up? Teacher Gifts!
Just three more days of school left!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Overflowing with Attitude

We've been having attitude issues at la casa, recently...

I know that everyone and their brother harps on the Terrible Twos and that the teenage years are purported to be something so horrific that it doesn't bear thinking about until it arrives, but I've found myself stuck here in age-eight-and-knows-everything for quite some time now and it may just be my undoing.

I've always been proud of the direct, no-nonsense, strong-willed attitudes that The Munchkins have developed. I remind myself daily that these are the things that will carry them confidently forward into adulthood. The way they throw their shoulders back in smiling defiance will make me proud when they're stating their beliefs as young people making their way in the world...

But if I have to send The Biz to her room one more time for rolling her eyes at me...
If I have to take Mr. Man aside and lecture him one more time on how a brother protects his sisters and doesn't pick on them morning, noon and night...
If I have sit the Monkey down one more time in a kitchen chair, set the timer for four minutes, and have her recite to me the reasons why we do not whine, we do not stomp around, we do not slam doors, we do not throw our toys when we are angry...
You may well find me on the evening news for having finally lost it.

And yet, despite the...er...challenges that everyone's attitudes have offered lately, the (both awful and) wonderful thing about children is their ability to swing from extreme mood to extreme mood within minutes. So even after we spend a morning arguing and punishing and refereeing the small coups that break out in the living room over games of Pictionary Man; Sometimes all it takes it a few deep breaths and a few slices of watermelon to bring everyone back to ground zero.

It bears mentioning again and again that we all have an amazing capacity for forgiveness. And that children, at the heart of things, want nothing more than to please us. I lose my temper. They lose theirs. But in addition to fostering strong attitudes, I've always done my best to also foster an understanding that learning how to apologize, and mean it, is just as important as any other lesson you'll learn at school or in life.

How to Apologize:
Make eye contact.
Say you're sorry.
Now say it again without a snotty tone in your voice.
Now say it without sticking your tongue out.
Say you're sorry.
Mean it.
Don't follow it up with an eye roll or a scoff or a quick spin on your heel and an attitude as if what you just did was beneath you.
A proper Apology can carry you through awkward situation.
A proper Apology can smooth over the rough edges of life.
When done well, a proper Apology can salvage friendships.

And, honestly? don't be afraid to apologize to your children.
It doesn't lose you any ground in the daily household power struggle. I find that it actually gains me a little ground. It reminds your children that you're human. You're going to make mistakes. And that if they play their cards right? Your apology just might include watermelon.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Oh Dear

The problem, as I see it, with getting a full body massage; is that I now have some frame of reference...

Now that I have some basis of comparison for what 'well-rested' and 'relaxed' feel like, I realize that I miss them.
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