Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dear Brahm,

Here’s my initial offer:

1) You lose your [eye] teeth then write a note asking me to bail you out.

2) I give you “lots of money,” but you keep the teeth. However, I will own a percentage of them, which I hope to sell later to cover my initial investment.

3) Let’s say you give some of the money to your brother, mom, and dad as “retention bonuses.”

4) I respond by taxing back 90% of aforementioned bonuses.

5) You thumb your nose at me.

6) As a result of your actions, now ALL of your family loses their teeth. And I run out of money.

7) Everyone starves (but are toothless and can’t eat anyway).

8) You blame me.

So, if you’re good with that scenario, then yes, you can keep your teeth and I will pay you “lots of money”.


Ye Toothe Faerie

Monday, March 23, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

This Week's Top Ten

(in no particular order...)

1. "Henry Poole is Here" starring Luke Wilson. (Loved him first time I saw him in X-Files episode playing buck-toothed vampire sheriff. What's not to love about that??) Rent it at Redbox.

2. Brahm (after I nuzzle his face): "You have a scratchy chin."

3. Oliver rescued from under two-ton cast iron bathtub by father. Got stuck doing dusting chores. Mother callously snaps photo for blog.

4. Jacuzzi soak after Saturday's long run.

5. Arrival of three chicks to backyard farm. Welcome Buffy, Fluffy and Ozymandias (Ozzie for short).

6. iPod died. Covered by extended warranty Brooks had foresight of purchasing. Yay!! Target gift card arrived in mail today. No more boring workouts.

7. Inadvertent combination of magnet and fridge reminder:

(Prize for best caption.)

8. Sleeping in on weekends. Brahm old enough to forage for breakfast! (note to son: Bozo-stained smile gives away Crystal Light packets. Try odorless, colorless cold cereal instead).

9. Buy-One-Get-One-Half-Price coupon from The Philadelphian hole-in-th -, I mean, "restaurant". Lunch date, Matty?

10. New Nathan Fillion dramedy on ABC. Move over, Lost! (Sawyer - I'll call you, OK?).

Friday, March 6, 2009

So, It Finally Happened

Deciding when and how to bring the facts of life to your children's attention is always a delicate issue. If it's too delicate for you, then you can skip this entry. If not, read on.

Don't be mislead by the title of the entry. It's been a couple of years since Brahm and Oliver found out the mechanics of human reproduction. That's not what we're talking about here. Having those conversations was not as confounding as how to bring up the subject of pornography with them. It's tricky because you know they are going to see it sooner or later - there's nothing you can do about that - so the question is how to prepare them for when that happens. Just how do you do that without describing exactly what it is they are supposed to be avoiding? After consulting some parents who've been in the business longer than I have, I decided on a simple approach.

"Guys, if you ever see pictures of naked people, look away and come tell me and Dad about it."

Look, it's not airtight but it's a good place to start. Yes, we had some false-starts while perusing art history books or watching public television but overall it seems to be a pretty sound rule of thumb.

Last week when we had parent-teacher conference, the principal discreetly took Brooks aside to tell him that Brahm and a friend had come across a catalog of adult toys in the school yard. He didn't know how explicit it was or if Brahm had seen much of the contents but apparently Brahm took it to the yard duty and she relayed what had happened to the principal. He just thought we would probably want to know.

In the car on the way home Brooks opens up the dialog with, "Hey, the principal told me you did a really great thing on the playground last week by bringing that magazine to the teacher on duty."

I love this about Brooks. He's so subtle and nonchalant about a topic that could have other parents really nervous or worried. I also notice that he makes it a positive thing by praising Brahm on his actions, making that the focus of his statement. I was surprised that Brahm opened right up and told us all about it in a matter-of-fact way, like he could have been describing class lecture on war heroes or something. I find his attitude interesting and conclude that kids don't really have the overlay of taboo and social implications about the issue unless it's been given to the by their caregivers. In other words, if in the beginning Brooks and I had approached the boys with a fearful attitude about the subject and had overreacted in regards to the affects porn can have, Brahm might have interpreted the incident with more of a negative filter and perhaps it would have impacted him more in a harmful way. As it was, he didn't seem to give it much thought beyond what we talked about in the car.

Or so it seemed. There's a lot of different directions exposure to pornography can take a child. I'm well aware of all the statistics out there and being a mom of boys, this is a subject I worry about, of course. It's just that I've just decided that fear is not one of the parenting tools I want to use beyond its natural usefulness when we talk about things of this nature.

At least that's what I'd like you to think about me. The truth is I worry and fret about a long list of things in regards to my boys and I know it comes out in my communication to them. "Don't go outside the fence without telling me first!", "No, you can't go to the park by yourself.", "Are you clicked?" ,"Don't ever answer the door by yourself, OK?", etc.

Overall I'd like to think that I balance the fear with all the reasons why it's fabulous to be alive. One of the hidden treasures of parenting is that it's almost always an impetus for self-improvement: the more I feel at peace with the world, the more they will, too.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Abbreviated Miscellany

• Parent-Teacher-Conference today for Brahm. I have great kid!!

• Discovered via article olive oil good make-up remover.

• Wind storm knocked out power before lunch. Oliver distressed. "No computer? No TV?"

• Bought Pilates band for lower body workout. Shnikeys! Effective.

• Hot tea w/soy milk before bed delish! Tonight: Celestial Seasonings' "Bengal Spice".

• Spring not kind to Brooks' hayfever. Sniffle sniffle.

• Loved Lost. Want to love Lost again. Sawyer still hot.

• Checked out stack of exercise magazines from library. Recession money-saving effort.

• Rescued homeless sweater from DI. $8 well-spent.

• Visual interest: wry husband.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Untitled for the Time Being

Visual interest for today are some store-bought tulips I put in the bathroom window. Can I just tell you how much life they breath into a room? I think I can manage to squeeze $5 a month out of our budget for this kind of mental boost.

OK, two things:

First, Brahm, Oliver and I biked to swimming lessons last week. Brahm was on his own bike and Oliver rode the trailer bike that attaches to mine. He knows how to ride a bike on his own but when we go through traffic, I feel safer if he is with me. So before we got there, Oliver's chain popped off twice. This is irritating to me for two reasons: 1) I like to be on time and having to stop to put it back on slows us down and 2) it pops off either when he shifts too fast or doesn't pedal correctly in conjunction with the shifting. Not knowing which it is keeps me from helpig him correct the problem. This frustrates me to no end (plus I'm a grumpy mom anyway) so I say in exasperation, "Well, I guess you'll just have to take gear-shifting lessons from Papa." Though I try to mask it, I'm sure he picks up on the irritation in my voice and I feel bad. Kids miss so little.

Yesterday we biked to the pool again, this time just to swim for fun. Right out of the gate I'm having problems pedaling and I look down to see that my chain has come off my own bike. "Daaaah!" I shout to myself but Oliver is already tuned in. "Well," he chimes in cheerfully, "looks like you'll have to take gear-shifting lessons from Papa, too." Touche´, my friend.

You know, the thing about parenting is that either I think I know what I'm doing or I think I should know what I'm doing (even though the evidence to the contrary for both is continually mounting). That's what makes parenting so hard. If two little lives weren't at stake here, it would be easier to take my job less seriously. What I mean is, maybe I wouldn't feel so much pressure to make sure they turn out right if it weren't so important. At the same time, parenting is a paradox: yes, being a responsible parent is crucial and no, it doesn't all depend on me (and Brooks). Kids are who they are and the further along I go on this path the more it seems to me that my job is simply to cultivate the little seed that landed on my doorstep the day they were born. It seems so easy when I write it — what makes it so hard in practice? I guess it's expecting that I should always know how to coax the seedling along and remembering not to trample on it in the meantime.


All right. Well, the second thing happened yesterday as well. I told the boys when we came home from swimming that I had a surprise for them. At dinner they reminded me about it. Not only had I forgotten what they surprise was, I couldn't remember telling them there was one! Sheesh. Does dementia start this early?? I remembered it this morning, though, and here's what it was:

When the basement was dug out, we put it very shallow window wells (about six inches) around the newly enlarged windows. In the eleventh hour of fall, I decided to plant some spring bulbs in them with some help from my friend Matt. I didn't tell Brooks or the boys because I wasn't sure there was enough soil there for them to grow in the first place but if there was, I wanted them to be surprised by the blooms in the spring. Just a couple of days ago, I noticed some green shoots appearing above all the dead leaves that had collected in the wells over the winter. It worked! I was so excited.
Part of the delight for me is that right inside the window of the boys' bedroom we have created a reading nook. I imagine them all nestled up with a good book on a cold day where they can see the bubs in progress right through the glass. It would be a reassurance to them that warmer days are just around the corner. And on these kind of winter days (whether they are in January or June), I could use this kind of reassurance myself.

As I write it, it seems that raising kids and planting bulbs aren't that different from each other. Both require a certain degree of belief — belief that if I just do my best, God will take it from there. Seeing hope manifest itself in the spring season after season is a good reminder that that, like the bulbs, my boys are ultimately in Good hands, too.