SIT Conference 2015

My friend told me about it,  conference for students by students.”You totally should come. Tricia is finally old enough to attend. Tech and kids…it’s a fantastic day,” she said.
Trusting her and her knowledge of great things and things my daughter would love (bonus: our girls would be able to hang out together and well the promise of technology…no brainer).  I signed my daughter up to attend the Buffalo Grove SIT Conference 2015.  Then I decided why should she have all the fun and I signed up to be a volunteered at the conference!

Bright and early on last Saturday morning my daughter and I drove to Buffalo Grove. There we would join hundreds of other 3rd-12th graders for a technology conference for students by students. To top that there would also be four other SIT Conferences going on the exact same day and time as ours throughout the state of Illinois!!!

At check in I was amazed at every detail that had been noticed. Every procedure and process had been put in place and thought of  to make sure this conference for students by students was safe for kids.  It would allow this all the students to be as independent as they wanted to be and have a real conference experience.

As quickly as the keynote started she was off with her friend to the sessions they had selected.  The conference had started and to say it was a beyond awesome experience would be an understatement…

SIT Conference #SketchnotingLife

At lunch Tricia barely got a bite of food in as she talked non-stop about all that she was experiencing and learning she had done.

I honestly had never heard her talk so much in her life.

SIT Conference 2015

As we drove home from this fantastic event,  I looked in the review mirror to see Tricia’s head leaning on the window… she was sound asleep.  I smiled.  I knew in that instant that we will forever support and be a part of this incredible day!!!

Instagram…Its For More Then Just Pictures

“Look mom!  Look at all the people that liked my game!”

“Uh huh…cool! Do you know any of those people?” I question

“No. They are just people who played my game.  Look!  Look!”

“Can you comment on people’s games?”

“Yes.”

“Do you?”

“No mommy,” she answered looking away with a look that told me she wasn’t telling the truth.

“Olivia…do you? I won’t be mad.  Tell me the truth,” I press.

“Yes, mommy.”

“Show me,” I say as I move to sit right next to her on the couch.

Createrria had become an instant love, as soon as I showed it to her.  Make your own games.  Play your own games.  Share them with others. Get and give feedback on games.  Earn gems.  She loved it and I did too…but I was suddenly concerned.  I wasn’t concerned about her desire to connect with others or her desire to share or create. I was concerned with the medium in which she was going to start developing these skills.

I knew it was time.

“Sweetheart, come scootch next to me.  Mommy wants to show you something.”

I pulled out my phone and opened the app.  I showed her the pictures.  I showed her our family and friends that were on their too.  I told her I thought she was old enough, that I could trust her enough and that I thought she was ready to have an Instagram account (a private one).  We set it up, added her profile picture, we wrote her bio and I showed her family and friends she could start to follow. She was ready to start sharing pictures of her world.

“Olivia, you should share that on Instagram.  Mary so and so would love to see that.”

“No, that’s ok mommy,” she shrugged her shoulders, answered and skipped away.

“That’s such a great craft.  You should share it on Instagram,” I encouraged.

“Maybe later Mommy, ” she shrugged her shoulders, answered and skipped away.

This went on for a  few weeks. She had not found what I had thought she would….maybe I had been wrong. Continue reading

The Lego Challenge

My daughters and I saw the Lego Movie two weekends ago.  The movie exceeded my expectation to say the very least.  It left us with a message that inspired us, got our imaginations going and had us wanting to be uber creative… awesome Master Builders.

The Lego Movie also left an impression on my girls and they have been non-stop Lego builders.  They have pulled out their books, organized their Legos, built Lego creations, pulled the creations apart, pushed the books aside and started creating their own Lego creations too.

It has been Legos, Legos, Legos!

 . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Mom will you play legos with me,” Francine smiled.

“Sure!” I answered even though it was one of those I’m tired as all get out moments but I know I need to drop everything and play with her moments.

I sat on the living room floor waiting for Francine to bring the bucket of Legos into the living room.

“You coming!!!!” I yelled.

“Just a minute momma!  I’m looking for lights,” she shouted back excitedly.

I looked at Olivia’s Lego direction book that she was working from on the living room floor.  Her booklet was opened to a page  that suggested combining two small kits to make one bigger creation.

“Olivia,” I smiled, as the light bulb lit up in my head.

“What mommy,” she asked looking up at me with a I know what that tone means smile.

“I’m having an idea!”

“What is it?” she smiled excited to hear it.

MOM NOTE:  I love that they still love my ideas and think they are awesome.  I’m soaking this up as long as I can.  I’m not always sure how long this whole mom awesomeness thing is going to last! 

“Lets have a Lego Challenge,” I exclaim.

“A what?” she asks tilting her head and smiling as she asks in wonder.

“A Lego Challenge,”  I smirk at her with squinted my eyes, challenging her ” You ready?!!”

“Ok Mommy!” she says in a here goes nothing, I love my mom but I have no idea what this crazy idea of hers is kind of way.

I smile at her and pause…..

“I challenge you to build a cat transporter out of Legos!

“Ugggg that’s heavy!!!!”  Franicne sighs as she interrupts and  drops the pink container of Legos on the floor next to me.

“Hey, did you hear?  We decided to have a Lego Challenge!!” I smile and say to her.

“I’m building with lights” she frowns letting me know she does’t want to do my idea.

“Do you want to play too?”

“I have all my lights,” she says

“I know!” I smile back at her trying to get her to come around to the awesome Lego Challenge we are having,” I have a challenge all set for you. Are you ready?”

“Fiiiiinnnnnne” she says making sure I know that she will do it but she’s not going to like it because she had lights you know!

“Your challenge is to build a glowing tree house,” I tell her.

Her eyes light up as ideas start to sprout and connect in her mind, “Ok Momma but you have to build it with me!” she smiles.

“For sure!!!” I answer poking her side to get a giggle out of her.

“Mommy, look I’m done!!!” Olivia shouts.

“I’m ready for my next challenge,” Olivia announces. Continue reading

She Was Always Listening

Driving home I was happy.  For once I had finished them early.  For once I would have them done before they needed to be sent out.  For once I could get them all ready to go and just stare at them all beautiful, neatly folded, hand printed and done…early!!  It only took me eight years…I totally rock this mom thing!

I took my work bag out of the car and walked in the house with a smile (yup still proud of myself)

I put my bag on the arm of the couch and took out a blue file folder.  I could not wait to show her what I had gotten done so that we could put everything together.

“Olivia!  Come here!!!!” I hollered to the upstairs, “Mommy’s home and I have something to showwww youuuu,” I happily sang.

“Coming mommy!” she answered back in the sweetest voice

“Look what mommy got done today!!!” I said proudly showing  her the neatly printed, ready to be paired with glittery ice cream cone party invitations and put into envelopes sheet of directions and party details.

“Oh…” she fround. Continue reading

Overwhelmed By Kindness

The text pinged in on my phone (actually it we do wee wo so…yes yes… R2D2… Stop laughing…I know…I can’t help it) 

TEXT: Can Francine come over for a playdate on Friday?

Francine had been dear friends with this little girl in kindergarten. The change in grades and then into different classrooms for 1st grade had made it tough for the friendship to continue to blossom.

I knew didn’t even need to ask Francine (my 6 year old), though. I knew she would 100%, without hesitation want to go over to her friends house.

MY REPLY: Of course!!! She would love to see her!

As soon as my finger hit the send key my heart sank.  

What about Olivia (my 7 year old)?  

I would be at work and she didn’t have a play date of her own.  She isn’t going to like this!  Telling Francine that she has a play date and then telling Olivia…sorry sweetie you don’t have a play date was NOT going to be fun!

Wait!

I thought for a moment. Olivia has her wonderful, long time, we only get to see on days off, since they go to different schools but are like kindred spirits friend…

Nahhhhhh

Sighhhhhh.

Wait… Maybe…just maybe….nahhhh.

Grrrr…

What was I going to do?!!

Maybe I could.

Nahhhhh I couldn’t.

Could I??!!!…

I just got done telling Olivia that it is rude to invite yourself over to other peoples houses.

Sigghhhhhhhh

How am I going to do this without being rude??

So I took a deep breath and just said it like it was.  I texted Olivia’s friend’s mother and told her about Francine’s play date. I explained the situation and how Olivia didn’t have one.  Then I told her I knew what I was doing was very forward of me but I asked her please could she have Olivia over on Friday.  Then I apologized profusely for my forwardness and told her over and over again that I would make it up to her the next time there was a day off.   I knew I would owe her BIG!

In a couple of hours my phone rang (YES!  it was not a normal ringer…the popcorn song from the Muppets Movie….shut up!).

“Hello….”

It was Olivia’s friends mother. Without hesitation, without concern for me to repay this favor, without any thought but that this is what friends do she said yes.  My heart lit up.  Olivia would be giddy to have a play date with her friend and my world of motherhood with two daughters would remain peaceful and drama free.  Most of all I was deeply moved by the selfless, each word that told me not to worry about it and overwhelmed me with her unconditional kind act she did without hesitation for me.

It is an act of kindness I will never forget.

It is an act of kindness I will seek to pay forward to other mothers.

It is a feeling I want other mothers to know and feel…that we are in this together. That we are here for each other. That sometimes we just meet people that are willing to without hesitate an unselfish act of kindness.

It is an act that I will be certain to share with someone else!

Unexpected Kindness

A Lesson We Will Not Forget

The clock said 9:30am.

“I suppose I should actually get out of bed,” I thought.

This summer brought a magical gift.  A gift I had only dreamed of.  A gift I thought would never be bestowed on me….the gift of children that sleep in.  Yep! It was 9:30am and both my girls were still asleep.  Feeling a bit guilty for staying in bed that long and wasting so much of the morning (seriously I get to sleep in but now I have to feel guilty for sleeping in. this whole motherhood thing is exhausting)  I rolled out of bed.

“Ahhhh coffee,” I smiled as I walked into the kitchen and turned on the coffee maker.

The first cup always seems to be the best.  As I went to get the creamier out of the refrigerator I paused and remembered that my dad (he lives with us) was at Habitat for Humanity working on a house all day (his hobby…isnt that cool).  That meant he put Kona out in the backyard (Kona is my sisters dog.  She comes to stay with us for a week each summer when my sister is on vacation). Lazily, I peeked out of the kitchen curtain to see if she was on the backyard porch.

“Huh?! No Kona. Maybe she’s still downstairs,” I thought “but I could have sworn I heard my dad leave this morning.  He wouldn’t leave her downstairs by herself.”

Opening the basement door I called, “KOOONNNNAAA come here girl!”

Nothing.

I walked down the basement stairs to double check that she really  was not there.  At the bottom of the stairs I look and look…no Kona.

“Maybe she’s out in the yard and just wasn’t laying on the porch,” I think trying to figure out where the heck she could be.

Back upstairs I go right the kitchen sliding glass door.  I open it and bend to look out.  No sign of Kona.

“KOOONNNAAAA! ”

Nothing.

Scanning the yard for her my eyes stop….the gate…it’s open.  Panic floods me.  Just last night my neighbor and I (during our weekly True Blood viewing session) were talking about how she had lost one of her dogs when it jumped her brothers fence while he watched her dog while she was on vacation. My heart sank.

Oh My GAWWDDDDD Kona is not in the yard!!!

I ran upstairs waking the girls.

“Kona is missing!  Wake up!  We have to go find her!  Go potty and come down stairs we have to start looking for her!” I say delivering orders as I run back downstairs.

I turn to see Olivia walking down the stairs, still rubbing the sleep out of her eyes and sporting her usual bed head.

Olivia, “Go open the garage door and look around out front.  See if you see Kona.”  Inside I secretly hope that she will open the garage door and find Kona sitting there just waiting for us to see her.

Rushing back in the house, “Mom!  She’s not there!  I don’t see her anywhere!”

Fighting back the tears and the emotion that is going to make me completely lose thoughts start to flood me…

My sister had trusted me to watch her dog.  How is my sister ever going to trust me to watch her baby if I can’t keep her dog safe?  My sister had trusted me.  Kona was my responsibility. Oh my gawd Kona is missing.  Kona is gone!

I call my neighbor.

“Kona is missing.  She is not in the yard!”  I say though heaving breaths.

“Ok.  I’ll text friends in the neighborhood.  We are awake and well get out there too to look for her,” she offers without hesitating.

“GIRLS!!  Time to go! Get in the car!” I shout.

In the car I finally lose it.  Thoughts continue to fill my head.

Whispering at me, making it all real…”She’s lost.  I lost my sisters dog.  We are never going to find her.  How will I face my sister. Oh my gawd how will I live with myself.”

Closing the door of the car I turn to Olivia and Francine trying to take deep breaths between the blubbering messy sobbing tears.  I manage to get out my words, “Roll down your window.  I am going to drive very very slow.  You need to shout as loud as you can for Kona and you need to look everywhere on your side of the car.  Don’t miss anything, in front of the house, the side of the house, everywhere on your side.”

“Ok mommy,” they say softly with big, wide eyes focused on me.

Breathing in and out I try to regain control of my emotions as we begin our search.

“KONNNAAAA…KOONNNNAAAA…KONNNNNAAAAA!!!!”

First street done. Nothing.  “We are never going to find her.  This is going to be impossible.  She’s gone.  Who knows how long she’s been out of the yard.  It could have been hours,”  negativity start to invade my thoughts again.

We start down the next block.

“KKKOONNNNAAAAA… KONNNAAAAAAA!!!!!”

Suddenly a tall slender gray-haired man appears in the street waving his arm over his head back and forth.

“Is he waving at me?…  He’s waving at me!… He’s waving at me!!!!!”

I roll down the passenger window and say to him, “We are looking for our dog Kona.  She is lost.”

“I have Kona,” he smiles, “She’s in my backyard,” he smiles holding his coffee cup.

Getting out of the car I am suddenly giddy. I fight back happy tears as I realize have no shoes on, I am in my pajama t-shirt and comfy shorts and oh my…my hair.

“I saw her this morning,” he explained pausing to noticing I have no shoes on,” and I didn’t recognize her so I called her over.  She came right to me.  She’s just been hanging out in the back yard.  She’s had a couple of treats.”

“Thank you! Thank you sooooo much!!!! I can’t thank you enough,” I blubber in shock that we found her..he found her.

“Thank you again. Thank you,”  I repeat dying to give him a hug and sob my thanks into his shoulder (don’t worry I resisted that urge.I didn’t totally want to freak out the guy).

Over come by happiness I smile as I take Kona to the car and put her in.  I turn to him and say, “Are you a drinking man?”

“Aren’t we all!” he smiles.

“What’s your drink of choice?”

“Coors Light”

Hundreds of deep breaths later and all of us resting at home, I sit down next to my girls on the couch.

“Olivia turn the TV off Mommy wants to talk to you. Come sit by me.”

“Ok Mommy!”

“Girls Look at mommy.  What that man did for us was incredibly kind.  He stopped and took Kona in so that he could help someone.  He did that to be nice for someone else.  You know when mommy asks you to be polite to other people, when I tell you how important it is to pay attention to others and be thoughtful to others?”

“Yes mommy.”

“Mommy feels very soooo very much that when you are a good person, when you are kind to others good things happen to you and others will do nice things for you when you need them.  Do you understand?”

“We do mommy,” they say in unison with a nod that tells me they really do.

That night, with a case of Coors Light on a kitchen chair next to me, I sat and wrote a thank you card to the man as a tears ran down my cheeks.  I thanked the man for not only giving us our Kona back but for showing my daughters that there are really truly good people out there, good people who will help complete strangers because it is the kind, thoughtful and nice thing to do and that I still could not thank him enough.

Photo Jun 28, 2 34 44 PM
back home safe and sound

My Husband Thinks I Cheer Too Loud

The sun warmed my skin. The weather  finally decided it might actually start to feel like summer. I tool off my flip flops and let my toes settle into the grass. Looking down to my left Olivia squints, smiles and looks up at me.

“How’s the blanket? Are you comfy?”

“Yep! Comfy mom!  How much longer until the game is over?”

“It just started Olivia,” I answer.

“Can I go play at the park?” she asks.

“No, we are here to see your sisters soccer game. You need to stay and watch.”

“Finnnneee!!!” she says as if she is practicing being fifteen.

“LET’S GO FRANCINE!!!! GOOOOOO USA!!!!!” I cheer.  “FRANCINE GET THE BALL!!’ GOOD KICK JOHN!!! WHAT A PASS MAGGIE!!! WOOO HOOO!!”

“Sighhhh,” I turn to my right and look at my husband. He looks at the field pretending not to notice I’m looking at him. So I pretend not to notice he’s ignoring me looking at him.

“GOOD TEAMMMMM WORK USA!!!” I root.

“KICK IT TO EMILY…errr  MOLLY,” I shout… oops! Hope no one heard me get the name wrong.

“Sighhhh,” I hear it again.  So I turn and look at my husband.  He  looks at the field pretending not to notice I’m looking at him.

“I wonder how long he’s going to keep this up?” I think.

So I pretend not to notice he’s ignoring me looking at him.

“THAT’S IT FRANCINE.  NICE DEFENCES TEAM USA!  YEEEEEAAAAAH TEAM USA!  WAY TO GOOOOOOO!!!!!!”

“RUN RUN RUN FRANCINE GET THE BALL!!!  GREAT JOB MARK.  GREAT KICK MOLLY,” ooooo I got her name right that time. “GOOOOO USA!!!!” I shout and clap.

“NICE KICK JOHN!  GOOOOOOO JOHN!  GOOOO GOOOO GOOOO! FRANCINE GET  TO THE BALL!”

“Sighhhh,” I hear again!  I turn to my right and look at my husband again.  YEP!  He  looks at the field pretending not to notice I’m looking at him.

“OK! What’s with the sighing?” I say to him.

“Nothing,” he says with a let me pretend it’s nothing but really it’s something smug on his face.

“No really!  What is it!!” I say with a seriously tell me look. “What is it! Tell me.”

“You’re so loud,” he answers honestly.

“Other people cheer to ya know!”

“No they don’t,” he replies like he’s right.

“Yes, they do.  Besides, I like to cheer.  I get excited for the team and well…. I like to cheer for Francine.”

“Sometimes you get the names wrong,” he kindly adds.

“Yeah, hmmmmm ya heard that huh?!  Well I still like to cheer.”

“sigggghhhhhhh,” he replies.

“Should I stop?” I think.  And begin to think some more, “I really don’t want to make him unhappy.  I also don’t want to be annoying or obnoxous.  I REALLY don’t think I cheer THAT much more then anyone else.  Pishaw, he doesn’t know!   Plus, I like cheering for Francine and besides that’s what fans do!  I seriously can’t help myself.”

Then I decided…

“Gooooo Francine!!!  Run, run!  Get up the field,” I whisper.

“Nice kick Marc!  Get it!  Get it!” I whisper again.

“WAYYYYYY TO GO USA!!!!  GREAT DEFENSE!!!!” I cheer proudly.

Looking to my left I smile at Olivia.  “Want to come sit up here with momma?” I smile.

“Sure,” she answers with a shoulder shrug added so it looks like she’ll only enjoy it a bit.

“GOOOOOOO FRANCINE!  RUN RUN!! GET T…” I catch my hubs looking at me out of the corner of my eye.

I smile.

“Olivia, mommy cheers really loud!  If you sit with me mommy be ready for cheering.  Mommy likes to cheer A LOT!”

“Yeah you might go deaf,” my hubs pipes in.

I look at him and smile through grinding teeth.  Olivia looks at me and smiles.

“You might have to cover your ears if you sit with me,” I say looking at her.

“Yeah momma {giggle giggle giggle} you cheer REALLY LOUD!”

Meet My Muses and Fred too

“Mommy come color with me,” Francine asks after dinner.

“I’m sorry sweetie mommy has tons of chores I need to do.  You can color and I’ll come when I am done.”

I turn to see an understandably frowny, disappointed face.  My hands reach for the sponge and the next plate that needs to be washed.  The kitchen is suddenly silent.

“Mommy what can I do to help you finish your chores faster?” Francine inquires

After lifting myself off the floor in shock…

I turn to Francine and smile, “Really, you want to help Mommy?!”

“Yes, Mommy,” she smiles and says in the sweetest and most sincere five year old voice.

“OOOOOkaaaay.  You can start by helping make the lunches.”

As I rinse the last dishes, move on to the load of laundry that needs to be washed and the other one that needs to be folded Francine puts pretzels into sandwich bags.  I send out reminders of what to do next from the laundry room.  I pick up my pace, working faster to get these chores done so I could sit and color with her.

With time left to spare and a couple of chores left for later, because seriously how can I possibly let down a little girl down who is willing to help Mommy with chores.  It was time to color!

I still never know what is going to happen when I craft or color with my girls.  I am constantly inspired by them and blown away by their imaginations.  This night at the table was no different.  After taping together and coloring two cardboard toilet paper rolls and a paper towel roll (don’t ask… she’s five… it’s her vision. I don’t ask)  we did some free drawing.  After doodling a bit the pink crayon called for me.  My mind took me back to a note I had made for myself months ago.  My hand faught me.  I had never been any good at drawing with crayons.  Before I know it the crayon is in hand, obeying my movement and Fred was born.Fred1

 Fred has dreams…big pink accessorized, leotard and legwarmer dreams.  Dreams of toes pointed, tutus and twirls and pirouettes…

FredDancesBallet

. . . . .

My daughters inspiration does not end here…

I seriously can not tell you how incredibly..oozing with excited I am for the coming weeks.  My daughters… Olivia 7 and Francine 6 are going to start joining me here!   They are going to take their picture, drawings, stories and life experiences and start to share their words here too!

I can hardly stand the wait… the wait for Olivia to share her words with you.  Her  illustrations will take  you to fantastically magical worlds that intertwine her life’s experiences with creatures, superheros and magical worlds of her imagination.

Olivia2
You can even follow all things Olivia on
Twitter by following the hashtag #OliviasWorld

Francine is also excited to share.   A little of this, a lot of that and who knows what else?!   She loves to help me cook and bake, but dislikes almost everything she helps me make. She can even show you which exact tooth is her sweet tooth.  She is colorful, crafty and is always looking for the next thing to make out of anything she can find.  I really never know what fantastically crafty, imaginative creation she will cook up.

Francine
You can follow Francine on
Twitter by following the hashtag #FrancineCooks

Creativity is oozzing!  We have so much more to share!

 

Learning The Steps

Walking to the birthday party from our car Olivia shared with me how excited she was to go to a Hip Hop dance Birthday Party.

“I’ve always wanted to try Hip Hop mommy!” She smiled and skipped as we walked into the building where the party was being held.

“Quick quick Olivia. We don’t want to miss too much.”  I urged her.

Walking down the stairs to the dance room I could feel her happiness to be with one of her very best friends on her special day.

The party had started. We were late.Ten seven year olds sat in a circle doing their predance stretching.

“Go ahead Olivia. Go find a spot.”

“No mommy,” she said taking my hand.

“It’s ok Olivia. There’s a spot right ….”

There wasn’t an open spot for her to just jump right in.  I scanned the room trying to make eye contact with one of the girls that Olivia would know.  She knew no one. Just the birthday girl.

“Go ahead Olivia. It’s time to stretch.”

The dance instructor got the group up and began to have them do steps to loosen them up.

“No mommmmmy. I want to go!” she urged.

Tears began to stream from her eyes.  She grabbed me tight and buried her head in my side.

My plan was to I was to just drop her at the party and then go to the local Starbucks to write.  I wanted these two hours.   Suddenly my wants became secondary.   It wasn’t going to happen.

“I want to leave mommy.”

I knew that instant we, I had to stay.

“What if we just sit here and watch.” I encouraged her.

“Ok.” she answered.

I scanned the room again for someone from the party that could come over and welcome her in.   The birthday girls mom came in the room.  I sighed in relief.

“Ohhhh she could help,” I thought easing my stress.

A quick break in the action happened and Olivia’s friend came running over to her asking her to come dance. Olivia buried her head in my arm and just could not do it.

“What was I going to do?  Was she going to sit with me the whole party?  What would this mean for other parties?” I worried and wondered.

Suddenly I felt a calm come over me.  We came late.  She only knows one or two girls.  How many adults could walk into a room of strangers and just join in dancing in front of strangers?  I couldn’t.  How could I expect Olivia to.  So we sat.  We watched and I softly spoke to her about what I saw.

“Look at those girls dancing.  Not all of them are doing it perfectly, are they?” I whispered. “Looks like everyone is just trying their best, dancing to the music.” whispered some more.

Slowly Olivia’s tears began to dry and her grip of my arm lessened.   She watched.   She smiled.  We clapped to the music and she began to enjoy being there.

“Water break!” the dance instructor shouted.

Like magic Olivia’s friend (the birthday girl) and another old friend from preschool appeared.

“Come dance with us Olivia!” they said to her.

Olivia looked at me.

“It’s her birthday Olivia.  Do it for her,” I whispered gently.

With her eyes locked on me she smiled and nodded.

“Ok!” she said holding her friends hand and walking onto the dance floor.

The birthday girls mother sat next to me.

“Did you do that?” I asked.

“Yes” she smiled.

“Thank you so much.”

Olivia walked onto the dance floor.   The dance instructor smiled at her, came to her and warmly welcomed her giving her a high five.  Olivia was front and center, in minutes,  learning the dance moves to the big dance number.    I sat there I soaking in my momma pride.  I hadn’t pushed.  I didn’t yell, get firm or try to hard.   I took a step back and tuned into where Olivia was at.  I respected her and her feelings.  I gently made sure she learned that she could feel this way and still be brave enough join in. Finally, after many, many moments of stepping on each others toes, missed steps and disastrous numbers Olivia and I had finally gotten all the steps right. What a beautiful number we danced…together.  You should have seen her dance!!

studio-3

Bad Word, Bad Word, Bad Word

My daughters and I had just finished a shopping trip to Target.  Items were bought and not too much money was spent.  Sooo hard to walk out of there without a super cute had to have it it was on sale shirt, jewelery and shoes… aka $50-75 later.  The girls each bought something from the fabulous dollar section with their allowance and I had a new pair of earrings.  Coats we zipped, mittens and hats on… we were ready to brave the freeze and head out to our car.

“Hands please,” safety first ya know.

A quick walk across one lane of the parking lot and we were at our car.

Parking1

“Girls lets be quick getting in it’s cold out here,” I urge them… cause seriously it was brrrrr. Continue reading

Saying Good Bye to The Whining Monster

Around these parts Saturday morning means two cups of coffee, a couple of lazy hours on the couch, tweeting with a back ground of Phineas and Ferb and …. cleaning.  When 10:30 rolls around the iPhone gets put down, the Leapsters get put away and the TV gets turned off.

As quickly as my thumb clicks the power button on the remote the sighs, the awwwww moms and the Oscar winning whining begins.   Now I have to give the girl credit… well me credit and Olivia (7 years old) too… just last month we finally had a break through in cleaning.  Break through as in cleaning without her driving me crazy with insistent whining and discovering ways she can delay having to actually clean and seeing how long can she can keep it up before she gets enough of  toys taken away to stop…let me tell you it is exhausting.  She exhausts me!

This particular Saturday the girls had only one chore to do.  They needed to clean the toy room (control you laughing… only chore + cleaning toy room= cleaning a room that looks like a tornado has struck leaving a path of toys covering every space of carpeting).  I told them I would help them today, because it was a big job (and because it was easier then running up and down the stairs as a 7 year old and a 5 year old cleaned a toy room together trying to refrain from complaints, whining and tattling).

We walked up stairs, our spirits high as we giggled and talked about how we were totally going to rock this toy room clean up. We bet on how long we thought it we could get the room cleaned.  We excitedly told each other what we were going to do after we were done cleaning.

The three of us stopped in our tracks at the doorway to the toy room.

“Ugggggg!” I thought,  “That’s a lot of freckin toys!”

“I’ll clean up the food mommy!!!” (aka plastic toy kitchen food) Francine sang as she jumped right in to clean.

“Ohhhhh moooommmm thatttssssss tooo mmmuuchhh to cleannnn!” Olivia whined.

“Olivia we have been through this before…. {insert mommy lecture}… You were so good last week.  Lets work together and get this done!”

“Ok mommy!”

{mini-mommy happy dance in my mind} “Go Me!” I say to myself in disbelief.

After several minutes of whine-less, blissful cleaning (Did I just say blissful cleaning… I really need to raise my standards!)

I hear, “Ohhhhhhhh mmmooommmm thhissss issss tooo muchhhh.  I just cannn’t dooo it anymoreeee!”

I take a breath and pause to contemplate my next course of action.  Suddenly, I catch Olivia studying me.  As I open my mouth to lay out the law and give my usual if you don’t do this you will loose this line, the corner of Olivia’s lip curls into a smile.  Gears turn in my head.  The world slows to a flashing halt.  Visions flash through my head reminding me of all the things Olivia has done lately that I thought she couldn’t do.  The fog has lifted and fireworks go off in a blaze of sparking aahhhhh haaaaaa.

I close my mouth, stand up and walk over to Olivia.

In my firm mommy voice and a n extra stern mommy face Isay, “Stand up!”

With a what the heck is she going to do, how much trouble am I in this time look she stands and worriedly looks up at me.  I make a fist with my hand and bring my imaginary bugle to my mouth. I begin to loudly hum Taps.

“daaa daaa daaaaaaa daa daa daaaaa daaaaa da daaaaa da da daaaa da da…”

Army

I put down my imaginary bugle and place my right hand over my heart.  I look down at the floor and hang my head with a frown in imaginary sadness.

I say, “Today we put to rest the Whining Monster.”

Olivia looks at me studying my face.

“After years of fake whining, award winning acting and scamming mommy, today we bury the Whining monster.

Laughter fills the room as Olivia and her sister comprehend what I am doing. Her hands cover her face as she grins and belly laughs in disbelief and surprise.

“We are sad today to put it to rest.” I continue, “We will miss the Whining Monster.  You  brought us insane amounts of whining, drove mommy crazy and tried to avoid cleaning.  Today I declare Olivia is a big girl.  A big girl that can do way more then she lets on to mommy.  No more scamming, no more whining for today we know what she can really do!  We will not miss you! Good-bye Whining Monster Monster.”

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As her belly laughs slow into giggles, I look at Olivia to watch her reaction and we smile at each other.

As I begin to walk back to the spot I was cleaning I see Olivia slowly drop her head.  Her lips make a frown and I hear her mumble,  “Awwwwww man!  Now I am going to have to actually clean!”

 

Her First Trophy

Francine and I giggled and smiled as we shared chicken nuggets and french fries with “dip” (ketchup).

“Can we sit here?” he asked

Looking up at the familiar voice, “Of course!  Please sit.  There’s plenty of room!” I answer.

Six and seven-year olds giggle in between silly jokes, funny faces and the smiles of being with their teammates.  With stomachs now full it was time to hand out the trophies.  Trophies were accepted with shy smiles as the coaches words filled the air and made each parent and soccer player  proud.  Shiny, star topped trophies awarded, it was time for ice cream.  Giggles and chatter stopped briefly as proud soccer players clutched their trophies in one hand and tried to lick their cones fast enough to keep drips from running down their arms.

“So did Olivia enjoy soccer?” he asked with an eager smile.  “Will she play again?”

I paused in between bites, smiled at him and paused to think…

Fall soccer had been Olivia’s first venture into team sports.  Very quickly she learned that soccer was not the summer park district kick the ball around, play some cutesy games and run a little bit soccer she thought it was.

“I hope my team loses!” she growled to her dad her first game, “I’m not playing!”

Each Saturday morning, each Tuesday night practice brought new fierce and meaningful words.

“I don’t want to play!”

“Who’s idea was it for me to play soccer anyway!”

Each pre-practice shin guard and cleats lace up was joined by growls and more words to ensure our understanding.

“When exactly did I say I wanted to play soccer!”

“I don’t ever remember saying I wanted to play soccer.”

As the weeks of what we thought would be a season of learning fundamentals, hard work, learning the enjoyment that comes from being active and the great fun that comes from being a part of a team became my seven-year olds very first lesson in finishing what she started.

Looking at her coach I smiled some more and continued to think.  Do I lie, tell him she learned so much and had a good season or tell him the truth, hell no not if you payed me a million bucks (ok maybe a million bucks) would I be signing her up for soccer again any time soon or subject myself to ten weeks of torture again.

“No, she’s not going to play soccer again.  She learned that this really isn’t her game.”

Taking a moment to check on Olivia I look over my shoulder.  Her six-inch star topped imitation gold winked a reflection at me.  Her first trophy was not simply one of many that will pack the shelve in her bedroom, this trophy will forever represent a life long lesson that my husband and I hope that will stay with her forever engrained in her character.

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