Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Thrill...of Defeat

It was like watching an emotionally charged movie....the kind that brings out the elation of laughter and then later the belly-aching sadness of tears.  The thing about our happened in less than five seconds.  It should have been accompanied by dramatic piano instead of the cha-chinging clang and bell- ringing of the surrounding games.

As the ridiculously large claw dragged the pink dolphin out of its resting place, then moved it, in slow motion, across the clear box, I was completely unsure how to feel about it.  One of my children, the birthday girl, was willing the dolphin to the hole, standing on the stool with unbridled joy in her eyes.  Her little sister, the one who had been trying longer, stood dumb-founded and increasingly slumped with the movement of the claw.  Then it fell right into the hole.  From my left...enthusiastic jubilation.  From my right...agonizing disappointment.
So there we were.  Ecstatic birthday girl hugs heroic daddy and traumatized sister finds little consolation from mom.  We tried the big claw again...and then it stopped working.  Ingenuity took over and I took the happy one, and my husband took the sad one.  I talked with my mature middle kid and we discussed how she would have felt if they had stood on opposite sides of that moving claw.  She agreed to work with us to support her sister overcome the sadness. Dad took Little Sprout to a smaller claw game.

We found them, just as Little Sprout found her cheering legs.  I could not be happier that I married a talented claw-driver.  The small claw latched  too, and out came the newest member of our stuffed animal family.

Delayed gratification did its work, and both girls were generally pleased with how events unfolded.  We don't go to places like this much, and I am glad our kids are not desensitized.  I'm glad they felt joy and angst.  I am glad they are not among the mindless game-players who sit for hours in the same place acquiring a pile of tickets that gets to be shin high.  I am glad that while watching each other, they feel something still.  The littlest will learn to cheer for the success of those around her, but what happened to her yesterday was part of the learning process.  I hope someday I'll capture her in a photo like the one below...genuinely excited for the achievements... that are not her own.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thank You Summer!!

For the festival and fairies and time enough outside. For dirt that covers Little Sprout and siblings side by side.

For four generations together... at church and on a hill
Tranquil, peaceful setting... except for Little Sprout's will.
 For Colorado swimming...some time spent on the side
It is what I remember from my summers spent outside.
For hail storms to run through... and helmets for the boys
For girls who need for store-bought toys.
For slip n' slide and barbecue, for playing in the sun
There is nothing quite as joyful as simple, summer fun.

For random fruit to climb upon, and walls too steep for some
For swings that are the joy of youth... for never-ending sun.

For all of this I'm grateful... for all of this I smile
Summer... I am glad you're here, and I hope you'll stay a while.

Friday, July 23, 2010

No Soup For You!

I realized I was in for a fight, right about the time the bright orange stuffed animal flew past my head and collided with the inside of the passenger-side windshield.

"I know you need to eat, but you'll have to put your seat-belt back on before I drive you anywhere," I calmly explained to my irate four-year-old.

"I WANT TO EAT IN OLIVE GARDEN!!!" She screamed at me.

In annoyingly calm mommy voice, "I'm sorry sweetheart.  You are screaming too loudly to be able to go in the restaurant today."

The hysterical crying started to wane and she sat herself down on the floor in front of her booster seat.  In silent protest to my parenting, she crossed her arms and hid down beneath the seat in front of her.  We were in a stand-off.

It all started in church a few hours before.  Wriggling with frustration, Little Sprout and I made one exit to get her calmed down, but it was a struggle for her to contain the welling emotions.  I knew they were coming, I just wished she hadn't needed to blow her cork that day.

We had gone with my mom and my grandma to the Mother Cabrini Shrine, just west of Denver.  It was a trip my grandmother had been hoping to take to celebrate the 60th anniversary of her engagement.  Perfect time for Little Sprout's emotional release!

We made it through mass.  With some of her pent up energy, she sprinted up the 375 steps to the statue of Jesus.  I am sure she reflectively pondered the stations of the cross and prayed appropriately at the places for meditation.  I just didn't see her because she was miles ahead of me.

We slowed to a jog on the way down, and I did catch her following her brother's lead to kneel at one of the crosses.
They all dipped their hands in the natural spring, and you would think with all the peace and tranquility, at least some of it would rub off on Little Sprout.

By the time we got back to the gift shop, she had lost her ability to maintain composure.  The volcanic activity commenced.

Our sweet, precious Little Sprout has incredibly physical tantrums.  She was like a bull in a china shop as she gave way to the Tasmanian Devil tendencies.  Nothing seems quite as inappropriate as watching a path of destruction in the Mother Cabrini Shrine gift shop.  She started her second time-out on the bench just outside the shop and then came screaming and running into the store.

I carried her screaming, kicking and swinging at me to the car to get to lunch.  Our ride down the mountain was full of:


I explained to my grandmother that she was going to be going in to lunch with my older two and my mom, but that Little Sprout and I were going to have to stay in the car.  Trying to communicate that calmly, over the continuous screaming out of the back, was tricky.

Little Sprout had calmed a bit by the time we arrived at the restaurant, but the consequence had been set.  As everyone else climbed out to go in to the restaurant, I told her she was going with me to get something else to eat and we would be eating in the car.  She took off her seat-belt, made a beeline for the door, and I caught her by her arm just as my mom was able to get the door closed.

So there we were, in our stand-off in the Olive Garden parking lot.  My mom brought out my salad and breadsticks while I waited...twenty-five minutes...before Little Sprout finally climbed back into her booster and clicked her belt.

What I learned about Little Sprout that day:  She needs lots of sleep! She misses her dad.  She is angry she isn't able to see him as much as she had expected before we came.  She holds in emotion well, but eventually can no longer contain those ugly feelings.  She has patience and stamina (something I am sure will challenge me through the years) and, she's got a good arm (she threw that stuffed animal from the third row in my car).  Thank goodness she cannot aim all that well yet.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bra Blog

It has been months since my last girly-girl transformation update.  I have moved too little on the scale to report much.  That is...until now.

For my loyal and committed readers (mom) you may remember my conversion from tomboy to-do-list

Number two on the list was to buy more feminine clothes and number three on the list was to buy a fitted bra.  Just adopting an "I am not repulsed by a trip to the mall" attitude has been a challenge. I still get annoyed by some parts of shopping, like in-your-face marketing, and the feeling of inadequacy that overwhelms me when I realize I don't even look the part of a legitimate shopper.  I do enjoy time with my girls, though, and I am sure that mall trips will be a part of our time together as they get older. The quest to transform continues...

So, we did it.  I loaded up the girls for a day at the mall.  I knew in my head, the short list of items I needed for a feminine outfit, and it started with the acquisition of a good bra.  My girls are only seven and four, so I did what I could to prepare them.

"Now girls, I have some things I need to buy, and one of the stores we will go in, I am going to get a bra."

Cue giggles and twitters. 

"Are you guys going to be able to handle that?"

"Oh, mom, I'll be fine," my seven-year-old said calming herself.

"Yeah, me too!" Little Sprout followed suit.

We started the mall trip with a stop at the girls' favorite doll store.  If you have daughters, you know exactly which one I mean.  They spent some of their allowance on accessories and we moved to store two.  I bought an outfit, with expert and enthusiastic advice from the girls.  After lunch and some rambling through the cool parts of the mall, we had one stop left.  We all knew what I needed (it helped that the girls reminded me every other minute or two that I needed a bra)

The pleasant-smelling pink store was the destination.

Little Sprout kicked things off by saying, "This store is inappropriate mom!"

"Honey, it's not inappropriate.  All ladies need bras and underwear.  You'll need one someday too, and this is a nice store to get them."

"I like this store mom!" Middle Sprout encouraged.

The girls stayed relatively composed, that is, until the attendant had to measure me for my bra.  I spent all my energy trying to seem completely comfortable.  Their laughter could not be contained, and comfort was out the window for all of us.

I changed the subject (kindof).  "Hey, should I get an animal print bra or a fun pink one?"

"Leopard skin?  That's funny!"  As we filed through the exotic drawer.  If I was going to spend the money on a nice bra, I wanted it to be fun.  I tried on a few.  Some that changed my shape so much I thought I was going to poke holes in the wall, and the giddy laughter from my stall was entertaining in and of itself.  I moved past discomfort and relished the fun we were all having. It REALLY was fun.  I hope when it is time to take my girls shopping for their first bras they will be able to tap in to the sort of enjoyment we had that day.

I chose a light pink bra with black polka-dots.  It fits well and puts things back in the places they were before kids sucked the life out of them.  I have told Middle Sprout, the one who remains most interested in this fascinating womanly adventure, that we can have a code word, and she'll know I have it on.  She walks past me in the morning and simply says (with shifting eyes), "Polka dot?" and I confirm with a nod, if she's right.

Next stop on the list...make-up.  I am sure the girls will enjoy that too, but likely with much less laughter.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

How to Mark Growth Through Hiking

Every summer, the sprouts and I hike a local rock.  It's an annual tradition that has become more than just a little something we do.  It is the first hike we take every summer and the last one we do before we leave.  It is a really easy climb that quickly takes us high enough to see the front range including all the way down to Pike's Peak.

We started to do this hike when Little Sprout was less than a year old.  She rode in my hiking backpack and I struggled with the weight of her while trying to help navigate the path of the other two.  There are a couple steep parts (especially for small legs) but overall it is a really friendly family climb. 

Little Sprout made it the entire way this time, even joking about the tantrum she threw last year.  When she was three, she screamed the entire way down.  This year, I had to tell her to stop running.  There is definitely no hiking backpack for her anymore!  What used to be the pinnacle of our hiking adventures is truly just a warm-up now.  It helps to get us acclimated to the altitude, and it is the first in a series of hikes that  Big Sprout will take, this year, in preparation for his first 14,000 foot climb.

Similar to the door jam in a house, this rock marks the growth of our children.  The lizards, chipmunks and rabbits still evoke excitement, but the discussion then moves to the importance of the ecosystem.  They no longer hesitate when playing around the bottom of the rock, they climb higher and higher every year.
Castle Rock is important to us.  It is the grounding spot that gives the kids comfort.  We may float from one living arrangement to another every summer, but Castle Rock remains.  It is the tangible reminder that summer in Colorado has started.  It also marks the passing of yet another year.  The seemingly immovable rocks of Colorado change only minimally from year to year, but the bodies that climb them are grown and different.  I love that we can mark their growth this way.

As you can see in the two photos below, the path is similar, but the kids are moving. It is appropriate that the first photo, the 2009 descent, has the kids in the closer foreground.  In the 2010 version, they had made it quite a ways down the path before I was able to get out my camera to capture it. They are moving quicker, and I just have to remain on solid ground as I watch them go.

I know we won't be able to do the Castle Rock hikes as a group forever, so I'll enjoy them while they last. It's the growth I must mark in myself, with each passing year.

Friday, July 2, 2010

What the Blog? You Want a Weinie?

I shouldn't be writing right now, but it is the zen in my chaos.  I should be waking the children, getting their little bodies bathed and battening down the hatches before we head out of town, but instead I hide in the solace of my keyboard and procrastinate.

What the Blog? Little Sprout (our beautiful 4-year-old girl) tells the big sprouts that she wants a weinie?

The big sprouts came in howling from the garage yesterday (obviously focused on speeding up our packing)

"Mom!!  Mom!!! Little Sprout said that she wants a weinie."

"Oh really?!" My carpet comment for most of the things my kids say.

In walks Little Sprout, most obviously beyond exhaustion (usually the state we get the best humor and stories from her).

"Hey, Little Sprout, tell mom what you were saying!!"  The big sprouts were jumping they were so excited.

"I want a weinie!"  She smiled looking at the reaction she garnered from her big brother and sister.

"Why?"  I asked, immediately regretting giving her a reason to keep going with this line of thinking.

She cupped her hands near her danger zone, started waving them back and forth and replied, "Because it goes jingle jangle!"

They all ran howling back into the garage to do some of their own procrastinating.  She then asked later that night (while watching old home videos), "Where am I?"

"Oh, you weren't born yet."

"Was I in your tummy?" she asked.

"No, not yet."  I replied.

"How did I get in your tummy anyway?"

I told her I would save that story for another night.  We were all too tired for that one!

I am confident that this summer will be one of least for Little Sprout...she may not be focused on chores to pack, but she is definitely focused on something.  This should be fun!