Simple Sunday – Cookies and Cheese

This weekend Carter wanted to bake cookies with me. He decided on peanut butter with chocolate chips.

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After all the ingredients had been carefully measured and mixed – well, as carefully as an impatient eight-year-old boy can be – Carter picked up an empty 1 teaspoon measuring spoon and blew kisses into it. He tipped the final ingredient into the bowl, gave it one last mix and declared that it was ready. The cookies had been officially made with love.

Cody was not involved in our baking project as he was deeply engrossed in creating an Excel spreadsheet. He is a big fifth grader, and one of his elective classes is computers and technology. They have been working with spreadsheets recently. And so it was that Cody decided to meld his love of gourmet cheeses and spreadsheets. Apparently I agreed to purchase expensive gourmet cheeses, one every couple weeks, for us to sample. Cody will be documenting the date of purchase, cheese type, location of purchase, price, size, and each family members’ opinion of each cheese on a scale of one to ten. I rather love it.

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The first cheese he chose was a Havarti with caraway. We will be tasting it this afternoon with our lunch. And having cookies for dessert.

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From the top of the driveway

We emptied a container of salsa during dinner this evening.  As I was walking back from the recycling bin at the top of our driveway, I stopped and looked down the drive, my eyes traveling the road leading away.  I could hear the boys in the backyard.  They were hollering and exclaiming as they jumped into and out of puddles left behind only moments ago by a brief monsoon storm.  The substantial gray clouds were already distancing themselves from us, not ones to linger in any one place too long.

For some reason a thought lodged itself into my head as I continued to look past our driveway and onto the road leading into our neighborhood.

In ten years…

In ten years Cody will be 20 and Carter 18. If I am lucky, I will have seen them grow up and mature.

In ten years Husband and I will be in our fifties. I will have been a teacher for 14 years.

Maybe. Or maybe not. Nothing is certain in the march of time. But I do hope I will be around and that I will take a moment to pause, my ten-year older self, and reflect on what has come and what will still be before me.

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Diarrhea and Diabetes

It started with an arm fart.  You know the noise.  The one that is produced when lips blow onto the skin of the arm close to or on the crook of the elbow.

It was a juicy one.  Produced by Cody in the back of the car on our way to school and work.

carter:  EEEEWWW!  It sounded like you had diarrhea.

Long pause…

carter:  or diabetes.

me:  Welllll, diarrhea and diabetes are two very different things.

Short pause…

me:  But they can both kill you.

cody:  choking on his laughter – diarrhea can kill you?!?

Insert here a lengthy – too lengthy, perhaps – discussion on various ways people can get chronic diarrhea, diseases such as Cholera, and the necessity for Cholera cots.  (Believe it or not this same subject has come up in the past and I have written about it here – but be warned there is a picture in that blog post that cannot be unseen (and another, maybe even more horrific picture if you click on the Cholera Cot link).

We got to the stoplight and turned left.  We were almost at their school.  I felt it only fair to attempt to allow Diabetes the same amount of time under the spotlight as diarrhea, but time was running out (and to be honest, my background in Microbiology provided me more knowledge and talking points about diarrhea than it did Diabetes.)

The boys had lost interest.  The arm farts in the back of the car became more and more infrequent.

We pulled up to their school and in a moment they were off, backpacks in place, with friends to meet and play equipment to conquer.

I was left alone for the remainder of my drive to work, shaking my head over the Diabetes and diarrhea conversation.

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Letting Go

I was fully planning on being one of those parents, the ones who read parenting books in a (what I now know is futile) attempt to arm themselves with answers, to better understand the role of a parent.  Husband and I even bought the obvious, What to Expect When Expecting book and I think I started reading it when pregnant with Cody.

Then Cody came way too early and the emails from the pregnancy website I had subscribed to that told me what size my fetus was by relating it to various fruits, was painfully irreverent.  The parenting books, pregnancy books, and birthing books were angrily and intentionally thrust into a dark corner of my closet.  I hated them.

I hated those books.  I could never have what those books cheerfully walked you through.  I could not follow along with the age appropriate milestones an infant and young child meets – the lifting of the head, tracking objects with eyes, pincher grasp with thumb and forefinger, reaching across midline, pulling themselves up, rocking back and forth as a precursor to crawling, scooting, finally walking – no, Cody met none of those goals at the age appropriate time.  And I was painfully aware of it.

Of course much time has past since then.  Cody just turned ten and Carter will be eight in a few weeks.  I have never found myself in want of a parenting book.

So last week when I was at the library with Carter I surprised myself.  I was pursuing the best seller and library picks shelf, a quick place to grab a book for myself before we left, and I found in my hand a parenting book.  It was the title that drew me in.  Once I recognized it for the genre it was, I almost flung it back onto the shelf, in my haste to put space between it and me.

But then I cautiously plucked it up again, allowing myself to read the back cover.  I ended up leaving the library with it riding in our reusable bag between a Diary of a Wimpy Kid and other such thrilling reads.

The book is It’s OK to Go Up the Slide: Renegade Rules for Raising Confident and Creative Kids written by Heather Shumaker.  It was the word confident that I kept coming back to as Cody struggles with being confident and I struggle with finding ways to help him.  I have no idea if this author or the book is well known, nor do I really care.  But I am finding myself agreeing with a lot of what is in the book.  Some topics I skim, but others have given me pause.

And one has changed the way Husband and I walk the dogs.

Shumaker discusses in her book the lack of free play children get, unstructured and unencumbered by lurking parents ready to pounce into the scene whenever it looks like help is needed.  Now, Cody and Carter get a healthy amount of time to play and use their imagination, but I am almost always within eyesight or earshot.  I try to let them sort things out, solve their own problems, but I’m a teacher and a bit of a control freak, so I am not very good at this (I can’t believe I just admitted that).

A topic that has come up in the past several months between Husband and I is at what age we could leave the boys alone for brief periods of time, or let them go the the park by themselves.  I jokingly suggested never, but Husband felt it was close to time, if not time now.  Reading this parenting book gave me a different perspective on the subject and helped me to visualize how to ready the boys to go independently to the park – to ready myself too.

After dinner I asked the boys if they wanted to go by themselves to the park and play on the playground while Husband and I walked the dogs.  Carter yelled out, “Yes, that sounds AWESOME!” and Cody was unsure.  Once he found it he would be with Carter and it would be for a short time, he was all in.  What followed was a casual discussion with the boys on what helpers look like (look for parents – they are used to helping kids), and the importance of staying together.  Then we tried it out.

Husband and I, each with a dog, and the boys, Cody riding his bike and Carter walking, left the house at the same time.  We went up the street and crossed the road, then they went one way, off towards the park, and we went the other, into the neighborhood.

In total we were separate for about 20 minutes.  It was easier than I thought it would be although I would be lying if I told you I did not quiz myself on exactly what they were wearing in case we needed to file a a missing child report.

We have done this two times so far.  The kids love it and Husband and I enjoy the time kid-free together.  It might just become a thing we do.  They are older and more independent.  The park is close and they have each other.  I think this is what letting go feels like.  It is scary and liberating all at the same time.

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Need some Milk to go with that Bowl of Red Blood Cells?

Breakfast conversation:

It started with bran and our ignorance on the subject.

Lately Cody’s favorite breakfast cereal is All-Bran.  I know.  It is a strange cereal to be declared anyone’s favorite cereal, much less a ten year olds.  I think part of it is because we are mean parents and do not allow our children access to the sugar laden, ultra-artificial neon colored, talking animal promoted cereals that are shelved at kid eyelevel in the grocery stores.

The kid likes All-Bran.  But what is bran?  Husband looked it up and a discussion ensued regarding the various sections of wheat and those various sections nutritional values.

Yeah, it sounds boring but it really wasn’t.  Maybe you just had to be there.  Anyway, I will not prattle on about our findings on bran; you can look it up yourself if you are so inclined.

It was during our bran research and discussion that Carter decided he was being left out.  He does not like All-Bran (nor does he like being left out of conversations).  He does not like any cereal, unless that cereal is named Cheerios.  The boy could live on Cheerios, yogurt, and apples – but mostly Cheerios.

carter:  I think Cheerios are made of wheat too!

We mostly ignored his comment, deep were we into the topic of bran.  I may have mumbled a, “Oh, that’s nice sweetie.” or something like that.

He tried again.

carter:  Cheerios look a lot like red blood cells.

What?

Yeah, Carter who is rounding the final lap of his second grade year, equated Cheerios to red blood cells.  It was cool (and a tiny bit creepy).

I asked him how he knew that and he said, “Oh momma, I read it in a book.  The pictures were in black and white and red, but they looked like Cheerios.”

Carter reading Microbiology

I nodded and said something  about the picture he was referring to was probably an image using epi-fluorescence microscopy.  It made total sense that he would have come across such an image because about a month or so ago I cleaned out our garage.  In one of the boxes I came across my old college text book from my Microbiology days.  I was planning on getting rid of it but Carter insisted we keep it.

He lugged that book around for a couple weeks and was often found reading it (Momma, I don’t understand any of this!), but I did not know he was actually getting anything out of it.

So, yeah I would have to agree with Carter.  Cheerios do look a lot like red blood cells.

Cheerios vs Red Blood Cells Collage

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Simple Sunday – Poster Making Day

Last Sunday was poster making day at Casa de Shoes on the Wrong Feet.  Carter had an All About Me poster to complete, Cody had his massive tri-fold Science poster to put together, and I had my small tri-fold Informational Poster to create to use as a model in my classroom.

Carter presented his poster to his class on Thursday and it is currently hanging in the classroom.  Cody’s poster was on display along with all the other fourth grade posters last week and was available for all to look at during their school’s spring showcase and open house.  (And not to brag, but his won an Honorable Mention ribbon).  I presented my poster to my class last week as an example of what their poster could look like.  I won no awards, but my students were quite impressed with it and it feed into their excitement on the act of creating their own poster, which they will start this week.

Poor Husband was the only one who did not get to make a poster.

Poster Collage

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Simple Sunday – 10

Yesterday Cody turned ten.

The big one zero.

The full two hands.

Double digits.

Wow.

Every year, I go back and reread the first post I wrote about his birthday and every year it gives me chills.  Those of you who have been with me awhile and have already read (and perhaps even re-read) it, I’m sorry for repeating myself.  Those of you who have not read it, feel free to do so.  It provides for you a picture of a moment that has shaped and continues to shape my life.

Cody’s birth was scary and traumatic and everything I did not want it to be.  It was followed by many, many months of worry, of fear, of guilt, and loss – an emotional tearing within me.  There were days when I was terrified that he would not live.  And there were days when I was terrified he would.  And the guilt that came with both.

The rawness and intense panic in which we lived, still resides within me.  And if I allow myself to think on it, to really stop and take it in again, I am reduced to a throat tightening, eye-welling state; a precipice of panic.

And then I look at Cody, and I smile.  I am in awe of him.  He is kind and funny.  He is inquisitive and quirky.  He is everything I wanted him to be, and more.

Happy birthday to my sweet and wonderful child – happy birthday Cody!

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Simple Sunday – Taking Flight

Before the Arizona rains came and the boys did this,

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we saved a morning dove from much distress and perhaps even an early death.

Husband and the boys had taken the dogs for a walk while I stayed home and lesson planned.  I met up with them as they were nearing the park.  The sky was graying and the clouds were tripping over each other.  Carter, always the one to take the path less traveled, was trolling through the desert brush at the edges of the park while the rest of us took the more traditional sidewalk.

Suddenly from the depths of the scrub brush, Carter called out, “Momma!  Momma!  Come quick!  There is a morning dove stuck in a bush!”

Husband and I looked at each other.  He handed me the two leashes and slowly picked his way around cactus and ducked low hanging tree branches.  I stayed near the sidewalk with the two dogs and my flip-flops.

Apparently the poor bird had become entangled in some discarded fishing line (there are a couple ponds in the park, in case you were wondering why there was fishing line in the middle of Phoenix).  The fishing line was wrapped around her neck and each end was caught in the bush, leaving her to wildly flap but get no where.  Awful!  It took a few tries but Husband was able to catch her and untangle the line from the bush.  He could not get the line, however, undone from her neck.

So with bird in tow, we headed back to the house:  Husband, myself, two boys, two dogs, and a morning dove.

Using scissors and great care we were able to relieve her of the line.  The boys each gave her a gentle pet and then Husband let her go.

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She took flight, a bit wobbly at first, and then disappeared from sight.  Into the gray layered clouds.

The boys are planning to make up some posters to hang in the park with the picture of the bird, reminding people to properly throw away their fishing line.  I am proud of the boys for the concern they felt for the bird and for the steps they are taking to keep it from happening again.

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Simple Sunday – Suddenly Spring

After loosing all its leaves during a cold spell, our Mesquite tree finally got the message that it is Spring.

Mesquite tree

Sasha plays peek-a-boo.

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And I enjoy some New Age (my new favorite warm weather wine (and lets face it, it is almost always warm weather time in Phoenix)) while Carter reads some Curious George to me in our backyard.

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Smooth Talkin’ Seven Year Old

I am not one to splurge, especially on myself.  But today, I did.  It wasn’t much of a splurge as far as splurges go, but it made me very happy and it was inexpensive.  It was a bracelet, four stretchy bands threaded with small turquoise pebbles of varying size and colors.  I cut the tag off it right there in the store and put it on my arm.

I was admiring my new purchase later in the day.

me:  This bracelet makes me feel pretty!  I feel like I now have a piece of “real” jewelry, even though I know it didn’t cost much but…”

carter:  Oh, momma!  You always have nice jewelry because you are a jewel!

Sigh.  Watch that boy, he is going to be a real smooth talker when he grows up – heck he already is.  And he sure melted this momma’s heart.

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