Friday, February 27, 2009

An Interview with Aidan and Leo

*I got the interview questions from another site, and when I posed each query, I modified the wording slightly (i.e. to first person for Aidan).

Aidan, age 4 1/2 and Leo, age 2

1. What is something mom always says to you?
A: Clean up your room
L: Mama!

2. What makes mom happy?

A: A smile! When I make funny faces.
L: Cookies

3. What makes mom sad?
A: (shrug) I can't think of anything
L: Cry

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
A: When she makes funny faces and silly faces
L: Blue

5. What was your mom like as a child?
A: Kind of small.

6. How old is your mom?
A: 96!
L: 2!

7. How tall is your mom?
A: 5 elephants long
L: 2!
8. What is her favorite thing to do?
A: Cook things
L: Draw

9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
A: Vacuum, go to school
L: Cry

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
A: You do lots of really cool things like you do magic.

11. What is your mom really good at?
A: Cooking dinner.
L: Laugh

12. What is your mom not very good at?
A: You are not very good at golfing because you haven't done it.

13. What does your mom do for a job?
A: Goes to school

14.What is your mom's favorite food?
A: Ice cream
L: Pizza

15.What makes you proud of your mom?
A: When you make things

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
A: Curious George

17. What do you and your mom do together?
A: Cook banana bread

18. How are you and your mom the same?
A: We have the same eyes and the same hair.

19. How are you and your mom different?
A: I don't wear earrings but you do.

20. What does your mom like most about your dad?
A: Juggling. And that he earns money.

21. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
A: With me to the children's museum!
L: Gym!

22. How do you know your mom loves you?
A: Because you do so many good things like help me and make banana bread with me...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cork and Choo Choos

Pictures above: Aidan and Leo riding on the Metro; the Carter and Mayn swimmers (Aidan, Leo, Myra, Erin, and Lauren); Taking in the view overlooking Tyson's Corner; the finished room.

Gah, I've fallen behind again. If I were a student in my classroom, I would be earning an F+ right now... and in order to push the plow forward on the literacy farm, I must take a few steps back to catch up.

Adventure Weekend -
After 5 1/2 years of wear and tear, the carpet in our family room begged to retire to greener pastures (or at least a green trash can.) We decided to "go green" and replace it with cork flooring. In order to save some of our own greenbacks, we decided to do it ourselves - and when I say "we," of course I mean "we husband and father." As "we" were discussing all the necessities of the installation process, another brilliant idea was hatched - my mom and I decided to take Aidan and Leo on an "adventure weekend" in order to stay out of the way - and create a memorable and adventuresome memory for us all! It was a terrific plan all around. Jeff dreamed of one night of uninterrupted sleep as I dreamed of not having to see just how messy my house would get...

The weekend was, indeed, memorable and adventuresome. Highlights included:
  • Riding the Metro. This was everyone's favorite! We started in Vienna and rode (just!) six stops in, to the underground station at Clarendon. The train was filled with people nearly as excited as Aidan and Leo (for the Caps/Red Wings game in D.C.) It's hard to say who was the most excited, but the feeling was contagious, and soon the whole train was infected. When we debarked the train in Clarendon, we heard the chuckles of a few who knew our sole purpose in the train ride - riding the train to ride the train.
  • We ate lunch at The Hard Times Cafe. Great food, great atmosphere, great company.
  • Our hotel included a very nice - albeit very chilly - indoor pool. We swam until our lips turned blue, and then swam some more with our friends the Mayns, who met up with us at the hotel for a dip and dinner.
  • Although this was not Leo's first time in a hotel room, he apparently did not want to miss a single moment of the time we spent there. He barely slept a wink, rejected his (familiar) pack n' play, tossed and turned on the large, comfy, lovely beds, and protested during every bit of it. Yeah.
  • On Sunday morning, we worshipped at "the sweet little church" (to quote Aidan) where I spent many happy years in high school and college, and one particularly happy day when we were married. The church is over 200 years old, huge, impressive, and gorgeous. The organ is massive and powerful, the aisle long, the carpet, bright red. I was a proud mama watching my two boys walk down that same aisle upon which our official start as a Carter family had begun. I was a proud mama watching them attentively listen to the children's meditation and receive grapes after communion, charming the hearts of so many in the congregation by their seemingly immaculate behavior and manners, not to mention their (genuine) brotherly affection. (Leo set the record straight, though, afterward when he howled and squealed and screamed on the floor of the narthex - just for fun.)
  • We marathoned out to Ikea "on our way" home, and bought - what else? - a new rug, throw pillows, and tchotchkes for the new room!
  • We arrived home, exhausted, hungry, spent, to find the worker bees laying the last piece of cork on the gorgeous floor.
Our floor has been in nearly a month, and the room is transformed, changed, beautiful. A new paint color, an updated look, beautiful floors - a room that I finally love, that feels like a family's room. The best part? The family room integrated with the family who made it a room - in their presence and in their absence, too.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mommy Peaces

Sitting in Panera recently with my mom and my two very squirrely children, I couldn't help but notice the other moms sitting around me with their munchkins. (The battle to keep Leo in his seat/keep Leo near his seat/keep Leo in the vicinity of our seats/keep Leo in the restaurant definitely garnered their attention to me as well.... not to mention the ensuing Leo behaviors, none of which included actually eating lunch....) One mom had remembered to bring absolutely every "essential" with her to lunch, so that her only child was sufficiently protected from high chair germs, table germs, germs from her hands, germs from the air, and germs from the germinating plants hanging in the window. Her daughter was cozily nested inside the protective high chair cover and eager to try any new little thing her mommy offered her. The sippy cup, appropriately BHD-free or BVD-free or DVD-free or whatever those toxic plastic letters are, was filled with organic milk, and there were enough toys to keep Little Miss occupied for the next four meals, if necessary. I looked at that mom and thought, what a good mom.

About that same time, I noticed another mom whose daughter was sitting directly behind Leo in her own carefully cushioned, germ-free high chair. She was dining with her mom and what I assume was a close friend; both Mom and Friend ignored the apples on their salads in favor of the Apple of their Eye sitting between them. Not a crumb (whole wheat, whole grain, preservative-free) was spilled on her pretty dress; not a dollop of yogurt (organic, hormone-free, probiotic) stayed on her chin long enough to drip on her striped tights. I looked at that mom and thought, what a good mom....

And then Leo also noticed Miss Thing. He promptly stuck out his tongue and made spitting/raspberry noises at her. Horrified, I quickly quoted literature to Leo (From No Biting! By Karen Katz: "No Spitting! When do we spit? When we brush our teeth!") but to no avail. My attempts at manners seemed only to fuel Leo's refusal to acknowledge them. Miss Thing was not the least bit amused, and stared at Leo with saucer-shaped eyes, horrified. At first, I think the Mom was slightly amused. But as Leo continued, and she witnessed her daughter draw back in fear and loathing, I saw Mom's humor seep right out of her funny bone and land on the floor.

I made my escape as quickly as I could, averting my eyes from the admonishing glances (stares?) of the other moms... and yet I still thought that they were good moms, and realized how much nicer it feels to engage in the "Mommy Peaces" instead of the "Mommy Wars." Does this mean I'll never again judge the shopper mom who has a poopy kid with no diapers or wipes nearby? Snub the beach mom who didn't bring a single sand toy? Watch in horror at the exhausted pool mom who yells at her kid to stop yelling and walk faster? Scoff at the frazzled mom in the mechanic's waiting area who only brought a single toy (to share!) for the hour long wait? Probably not.... but it does mean that I'll try harder to wage the peace, because I've been That Mom in every situation, and I'll be That Mom in a million more. And so begins the Mommy Peace.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

First Visit from the Tooth Fairy!

On February 2, 2009, Aidan officially lost his first tooth. The Tooth Yanker, aka Grandma, deemed him very brave, as the tooth was still holding tight in one corner. Two yanks and it was out! Aidan was very excited for the Tooth Fairy's visit. He carefully tucked his (extremely tiny) tooth inside a napkin, then pushed it deep into the "tooth pillow" Grandma made for him. Alas, the Tooth Fairy made good on the deal, to Aidan's unending delight and amazement. (She came at approximately tooth-thirty, by the way). Several days later, he noticed that the tooth next to the hole was slightly wiggly. "Oh, man. Here we go again!" he exclaimed.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Your undivided attention, please...

January 20, 2009 was the most historic of all inaugurations, when Barack Obama officially became our President. Listening to Dr. Martin Luther King's "Dream" speech the day before, on MLK Day, I was struck by one particular line that made so clear the significance and importance of both days; their juxtaposition next to each other was poignant and beautiful. As King is warming up to his most famous lines of that speech, he asserts, "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." Hearing those words and with the inauguration imminent, one more part of Dr. King's dream was actualized. The strength and power of that moment - connecting that hot summer day in 1963 to that cold winter day in 2009 - made my eyes well with tears and my skin cover in goosebumps.

[I am compelled to add, however, that I am still waiting for my personal dream to be actualized, when "we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all people are created equal" - and I have a few women in mind who might just make my dream come true.]

Any high school senior in government class can tell you the many different hats a president wears during his time in office. In my lifetime, Presidents Carter, Reagan, Daddy Bush, Clinton, and W. Bush have presided over our government, yet not a single one of those men was able to wear a hat that, while not required for the job, is certainly valued and admired: serving as a role model to young American families. Barack and Michelle Obama are raising children who appear to be respectful, proud, intelligent, assertive, fun, and who have the potential to be citizens who make enormous contributions to the world around them. As I watched footage on the television of the Obamas with their daughters, read magazine articles featuring the family, and flipped through countless campaign, election day, and inauguration photographs, I was struck by the single repeated image, that of President Obama leaning in to his daughter, giving her his undivided attention even amidst the chaos and importance of the world around him. If the President of the United States has the time and the wisdom of granting his children his undivided, full attention, might each of us find a little bit more undivided time with our own children as well?

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Preview of What's to Come...

It's been almost a month - disgraceful! My guilt, on its own, was a nagging voice in my head, reminding me that I needed to update the blog, but the kick-in-the-pants message I got from a certain reader was the real motivation I felt to get this ball rolling again.

Ironically, one of the many things keeping me from blogging recently is the pressure to finish my teaching proposal for the summer camp at UVA where I usually spend my summer mornings. This year, I'm proposing to teach a class called Can't Remember? Blog Your Memory - a course designed to teach kids how to create, maintain, and enjoy their very own blog. One of the fundamental goals of the class is to foster the sense of responsibility students will have to their readers to publish regularly....

So here is a preview of what's to come:
  • Reflections on the most historic of all inaugurations, and musings on the Model First Family
  • The Mommy Peaces
  • The Tooth Fairy visits Camp Bearwood!
  • The Cork Floor Adventure Weekend
  • ...and finally, my new theme song. Here's the anagram for one [slightly abridged] line from the song:
Be Teenier Mouse Spy

(puzzle it out and you have the first clue!)