Thursday, January 27, 2011

State of our Union I'm a day late and a dollar short. What's new. I started this post a week ago, when the title would have been timely and clever. Now... not so much, but all the same--

January is a wonderful time to take stock, look back on the year that has just ended, look forward to the events to come in the months ahead. I love the full, blank calendar at the beginning of the new year - the possibility it holds, the potential for fun and excitement and unforgettable memories. I love dreaming of warmer months, penciling in plans six or eight months from now, coloring this month's squares with cheerful designs, cordoning off the time to be spent with friends and family. (Of course, the realist in me always looks at the blank squares and knows that some of them, too, will be filled with sadness and frustration and unexpected events as well....)

President Obama's State of the Union address got me thinking - what is the state of our union?
In short, it's pretty great. Life is good. As much as I love the baby days, life with a toddler is more predictable, a little bit quieter, and not so much grasping-for-a-life raft. I estimate that my
SPN (sleep per night) hours have doubled since this time one year ago. (All credit goes to the fantastic Jeff Carter, as well as the kid-free weekend getaway to NYC in November with my mom, my bestie, and her mom...) I could probably stop right now in my address - well rested mama = happy family.

Pax is endlessly amusing to us all. Even in his mischief, we cannot help but laugh. Leave it to Pax
to end our streak of never having walls or carpets colored on by children - in the midst of the heyday and chaos one morning, the stealthy boy grabbed his panda face stamp (that he is quite adept at using, all thanks to the instruction from his older brothers) and gave the family room rug a complete makeover. I've got nothing against panda bears, but they simply do not match
the decor. When I "scolded" him, he looked right at me - and cackled! He is one of the most skilled communicators I've ever met, yet his vocabulary consists of precisely one word: Mama. It is the delivery that conveys his every want and need. "Mum mum mum mum" with a fist opening and closing repeatedly is his begging request - "I want that. NOW!!" "[?]ama!!" means
"I'm excited to see you, whoever you are!" (Everyone interprets this particular variation to mean that Pax is calling them by name. "He just said Dada, did you hear it?" "Was that Grandma I just heard?" "Yes, that's right, it's Grandpa!" And the one that needs no interpretation at all - "MAAAA MAAA!!!!" "I'm hurt! Help me, my brothers are tormenting me! I'm bored silly, come
here, get me out of this crib!!" But there is one that is truly just for me - "MAma." Delivered with a huge grin and what I can only imagine is a full heart. Everyone knows exactly what he means when he says it this way.

Leo is four, fully four. His birthday party, a Dinosaur Extravaganza, was great fun. The young paleontologists who helped him celebrate hunted for dino bones, ran in a dino dress up relay race, made Brachiosaurus top hats, and even got to explode a volcano. I made a Stella Stegosaurus cake - probably my most ambitious cake to date - and she turned out quite well, despite the duct tape I eventually used on her head....
Leo is in that delicious world of magical thinking. His imagination knows no bounds, and he revels in the opportunity to dress up in a different costume - or seven - every day. Currently, his go-to outfit is the Superwhy costume from Halloween. In his words - "You want to know why I loooove being Superwhy? Because I looove wearing these green tights!" He has an ear for music and loves to sing. I had a "driveway moment" the other day - he was singing along to the radio, that very sweet love song with the refrain "You are the only exception..."
(Paramore) and there was Leo, lost in his own world, tenderly singing on pitch and carefully enunciating every syllable. I watched him through the rearview mirror, watching my exceptional boy, not wanting the song to end.

Aidan is my scholar, my boy who loves school to the point where he was crying that there was no school last week due to wintery weather. His schedule dictates much of the family's life right now, and that's okay, because there's so much fun and joy to be had. He has been taking karate since August, and the discipline of the art has been wonderful for him. He recently joined a different cub scout den, one that is much larger and with boys who are very committed to Scouts, and he is particularly excited about the upcoming Pinewood Derby. He is taking a music class through the Saturday Enrichment Program and loves it. His sketch book is filled with very detailed drawings of all sorts of instruments, as well as pages and pages of quarter notes, eighth notes, and rests. He's convinced he wants to play the drums... so of course, Jeff and I are regaling him with the wonders of smaller, less noisy instruments.... (like the French horn, perhaps). We took the kids to their first ever symphony to hear Peter and the Wolf performed by a local high school orchestra. It was very full-circle for me - watching a high school group, remembering being on that stage myself, but now being in the audience with my very own kids. Aidan is entering the world of big kids now, and while I am slightly sad to see that play-doh no longer holds much appeal, I am so very excited for him...

Jeff continues to love his job as a nurse, and seems to be exceptionally good at it, considering the number of "love notes" he receives from patients and the higher-ups at the hospital alike. Although I don't wish a stay in the neuro unit on anyone, I can't help thinking how lucky they would be to experience Jeff's compassionate, healing care. Jeff has started training for two races we're going to run together - the 10 miler and the 10K that I did last year. I'm really excited at the chance to be his coxswain again - er, to run with him, I mean! It should be great fun.

....and I am at the very beginning of what will likely be the hardest and most stressful semester of school to date. I am taking one very hard class, Reading Disabilities, and won't pretend that I'm not intimidated by the 9 Ph.D. candidates in my class. I'm also taking a writing class, which I think I will enjoy quite a bit, but it is still a huge commitment of my time and my mental resources. I hope that my blog writing will not suffer as a result of all my school work, but a gentle nudge to get back on track will be appreciated, if necessary.

I fear my State of the Union address holds more resemblance to a Christmas letter than anything else - but sometimes, you gotta have a little bit of a "catch up" in order to move forward. In short, the State of our Union is pretty terrific. Indeed, 2011 will witness the 10 year anniversary of this Union. Hip Hip, Hooray!

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