Tag Archives: growing up

Vines and Pipes and a Year Gone By

9 Sep

It’s been almost a year since I’ve written. 

No. That doesn’t do it justice. 

I couldn’t remember my username let alone my password to access my blog. 

I gained 20 pounds since I last wrote. 

My kids turned a new age. 

Parts of the roof blew off, the A/C needed repaired, the dryer that’s older than our marriage is on the fritz, Andrew and our friend Mitch fixed our deck, we had a road trip or two, fortunately had no major illnesses or injuries but got lice again (guess I never told you about that first time), the turtle and the dogs are swell, we’re still employed, still in debt, still running and still making the most of each day. 

Sounds about right.

Got me thinking about when I was little and didn’t have a worry in the world — except whether or not so-and-so talked to me. I used to stay at my Grandma and Grandpa Rafaiani’s house and explore the neighborhood with friends. Of course, that exploring would take us to places we were told not to go. The gully — where lonely vines begged us to hug them for a swing and large pipes that stretched across a deep valley dared us to crawl. 

We never thought about what if the vine snaps or what if we slip off the pipe. We just enjoyed and came out smelling like metallic pipe and nature on the other side of the adventure. I get a whiff of it every now and again on the kids or after a run on the trails. Still tempting but then that worry thing starts to happen. Maybe next time … 

One Thing

16 Jul

So many lists these days.

17 things to say to your daughter
12 things to explore with your son
5 things never to say to your daughter
7.5 ways to raise a son
10 life hacks to make things easier
14 things your kids should know before they’re teenagers
11 parenting FAILS
30 ways to have more energy

Too many lists.

I have one thing I want my kids to keep safe and keep always as they grow up through this crazy, overwhelming and amazing world we call life.

A sense of humor.

Not at the expense of others but for the well-being and sanity of others and themselves. Don’t take life too seriously. Don’t worry their hearts about the things they can’t control. Find a way to smile. Find the healthy memory in what seems like a miserable or sad situation and make a lighter heart.

Joy is something we can control no matter what we are going through. We can determine whether we mope or grumble through any given day. I’m not saying they shouldn’t ever be sad or mad or throw a fit, I’m just hoping that their humor finds a way through and lifts them up and out.

I see signs of their great humors now. They deliver lines to me that make them seem smarter than I ever was or will be (not in a smart mouth way, just their pure and light perspective).

It makes me feel so great knowing they get it — without a list to follow.


Parenting: Contents Under Pressure

21 May

“I am so happy when I just think about kid stuff!” The comment seem to dance around the living room by a little girl struggling lately with a range of different thoughts and emotions making her feel confused and worried.

WarningIt’s been an interesting (read challenging and stressful) few days for us. I couldn’t agree more with her exclamation. However, I sadly understand and pointed out to her that the other (less fun) stuff is indeed still “kid” stuff as well. Just growing up kid stuff.

From what I remember about puberty, it was different from all this business I’m hearing about from our oldest baby. Maybe because I blocked out the awkward? Maybe because I don’t remember such specific thoughts? Maybe because I wasn’t a parent on the other side?

I know one thing for sure – I certainly did not tell my parents everything Nia tells us. I’m sure I will miss her openness when she stops sharing her thoughts with me. I just think it would be better for all of us if she didn’t share quite so much. Some thoughts should stay private. I don’t even want people to know everything I think. I could be in big trouble if I told someone my thoughts when I thought them. I told her that so she knows she’s not the only one who thinks things she doesn’t want to or understand. I told her the thoughts are normal. It’s ok to have them. It’s the choosing not to act on them that matters. I stress to her that she’s a kind, caring little girl. She worries she has a “bad” part. Don’t we all?

It’s just tough to teach a child who wants so much to do the right thing that she doesn’t need to tattle on herself for every little hiccup of growing up. We’ve talked about it and talked about it (and talked about it some more) and I’m hoping we can find a way for her to best manage her feelings without feeling like she needs to confess or seek reassurance for all things. It’s a tricky thing to balance because I tell her I’m always here to talk about her concerns but then I say – we just don’t need to talk about all things. I’ve tried to tell her she’ll soon be able to distinguish between the harmless (although maybe a bit uneasy) thoughts that she’s a-ok to keep private and the thoughts/experiences she feels that could hurt her or others. Those are shareable.

Because I don’t want to mess this whole parenting thing up, I’m planning to get guidance on how I can best handle my responses and direct her feelings the safest way. I guess that’s what Nia does when she shares with me. From one confessing, worried soul to another, this situation is fragile.

Then Came Ten

27 Apr

Where did nine go? It was just here a sleep or two ago. The year was so fun, busy and marked with many changes for our (not-so) Baby Bean.

November 2012

November 2012

You sprouted like crazy. At the end of your Third Grade year, you were frustrated how the older kids would say you looked like you were a Kindergartener. Now, you may likely challenge some of those kids on inches. You are catching up to mine, now almost up to my shoulder. I had you sit on my lap the other day and almost cried. You will always “fit” there (love-wise) but it was then that I realized, you don’t fit there (size-wise) anymore.

Bean Sprout

Bean Sprout – April 2013

A braver Bean also started forming this year. “I’m auditioning to be Elfis in the class musical “Elfis,” you informed me. Out of your shy shell, you put on the costume, rocked the Wii guitar and sang in the microphone in front of three audiences of all ages. You memorized your lines and delivered them in character, getting giggles from the crowd. It was wonderful watching you on the stage and not even flinch when a child yelled out, “That’s a girl! My dad told me!” You even made one boy slap his own face when he discovered you were a girl hiding under that Elvis wig. What a moment.

In Character - December 2012

In Character – December 2012

The year of Nine had you caring about how you did in Gym Class for the first time ever. Each year, they offer medals for how many Phys.Ed. challenges students pass. They are handed out at the end of the year awards ceremony, along with the academic achievements. You always get “gold” for great grades and behavior but you’ve never earned a medal for athletics. You worked hard at this. You came home and practiced volleyball. You practiced stretching for several nights so you could improve your reach test. You succeeded. This athletic spirit also started showing when you ran in Mile Fun Run races. You pushed yourself and earned a place medal. Get it, girl!

Brother First | Sister Second

Brother First | Sister Second

Nine will also be known as the year when you began being ok with saying goodbye to your Barbies and dollhouses. I thought this would be a more gradual process but you made up your mind and started piling the dolls in a box. You gave eighty dolls to bring love to another child. It made room for a zebra-striped reading bean bag and a desk that will take you through high school or longer. You also want to paint over the princess crowns and castle lining your wall with a big purple stripe. However, while you are working your way to “older” things, you still find room in your heart for a few things from your “younger” years.

Annie and Nia

Annie and Nia – January 2013

Your interests also started expanding this past year. Your daddy introduced you and Nate to Star Wars and you couldn’t love it more. You watched all the movies and then watched all the movies again within a few weeks. You know more about the characters and events of the movies than I do and I’ve watched the movies more. The love of the movies has made you love all things Star Wars. Your Angry Birds Star Wars drawing is a great example of that.

Angry Birds Star Wars by Nia

Angry Birds Star Wars by Nia

You are such a considerate and caring person and it really showed this year. You have a helping heart and I’m amazed how you can easily play with children of all ages. Your patience and selflessness with younger children is beautiful. You also genuinely worry about others. You have a compassionate sense of right and wrong and try to protect people from being hurt. That includes yourself. When another student tried to hurt your feelings by calling out your “unibrow,” you calmly replied to her with, “I know I have one. So?” I know this is tough for you because you are a sensitive soul. I am so proud of you and often think of you to remind me how to react to things as well.


Protector Bean

Helping Bean

Helping Bean

This year also meant taking boys more seriously. Well really, “boy” more seriously. You’ve had the same “boyfriend” since Second Grade but you never really blushed when you talked about him until this year. Now, things he says to you or gifts he gives you are very special. You keep them close and let us know about things that happened that day around him. All of this is comfortable for us because you are both sweet kids and you tell us EVERYTHING. Seriously, everything. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining because I’m glad you share things with us. I know there will be a time when you will stop sharing. Thank  you for letting us into your world and trusting us with your heart.

Gift from a Special Someone

Gift from a Special Someone

Your heart also has so much room in it for your little brother. You love him dearly – even when you are nah-nahing each other. He looks up to you too and is proud of you. When you told us about your possible gold medal in P.E., Nate was the first to praise, “Great job, Nia!” I hope you two will continue to be each other’s biggest fans. I can’t explain how happy it makes me to see you showing unconditional love for each other.

Little Brother | Big Sister

Little Brother | Big Sister

It’s difficult to capture the beauty of your heart, Bean, but I hope when you read this it gives you a glimpse of the amazing young lady you are. You are a treasure to everyone who knows you because of your attitude, kindness and hope to bring happiness to others. One example of that is how you love to make up jokes to make us laugh. “Why is my coat on the floor? It’s tired because I wore it out.”

Silly sweetheart, I love you so much. Happy birthday, 10-year-old.

Room to Grow

14 Dec

A few weeks ago, I started writing an unfinished blog about how it’s been tough for me to give my kids room to grow. I’ve been worried that I’m suffocating their free spirits by not letting them play outside by themselves more – or stay over more friends’ houses – or let them walk the block to the bus stop without supervision. I see children playing outside in our neighborhood with other kids, no adult in sight. It looks as though they run this place. Confident and carefree, growing into their own. My kids, meanwhile, are sheltered.

It’s not that I don’t trust my children. I don’t trust others and situations outside of my watch. It’s been like that even for sleepovers at friends’ houses. Nia just had her first “alone” sleepover at a friend’s this year and I was worried the whole time. I woke up in the middle of the night. I checked my phone. She was fine and I felt like a mess. What’s my problem? I played outside until the street lights came on or until I heard the yell from home base. I had sleepovers and adventures sans adults. It’s just so tough for me to let them walk barefoot in the grass because I feel like when I do, they get stung by a bee.

What I need to remember is that the bee is really out of my control. I didn’t see it there as I sat and read my book. The kids didn’t see it there as they giggled and chased each other. Moments of bliss, interrupted with pain and tears. Mom and dad are there to make it better though. Scoop them up with hugs and kisses – medicine and a bandage. Don’t forget the ice cream. Still, we are able to be the protectors. Always the protectors. But what happens when you can’t be there to protect or comfort?

The heartbreaking tragedy that happened in Connecticut today captures that fear for me. Each day, we send our children on their merry – or cranky (depending on their mood that morning) – way to school and we head off to work or to whatever routine we have on the schedule. “Love you! Have a great day!” Words of caring we exchange to each other as they walk toward the bus or building. “See you later.” Because that’s what’s supposed to happen. See you later.

Sometimes, the hurt that happens when they are away from us isn’t permanent like the violence of today. Hurt feelings or worry in their hearts because of bullies, a fight with a friend or boys saying rude and inappropriate things. (That last one happened to Nia today.) For the most part, that hurt can be healed with an end of the day hug and talk with mom and dad. They feel better. They have some options on how to handle things if it happens again. They know teachers will be there to help because mom and dad talked with them. But still, I couldn’t keep them protected at the moment of their pain and I need to absorb that I never will be able to do that. They are not hurt-proof. None of us are. Mere mortals. Breakable. Perishable. Fragile.

Thinking about what happened in Connecticut today, my heart hurts for all those facing “What now?” and it hoards fear about “What if?” I am telling myself to allow my children to savor more barefoot in the grass and sleepover moments – especially for all those innocent little ones who now cannot.

A Change in Seasons

15 Oct

I can’t believe it took me this long to notice. Well, maybe I did but I just didn’t want it to be happening so quickly. Other people mentioned the change to us. “Wow! Nia is getting so tall!” “She’s really growing!” “Nia had a growth spurt over the summer!” I just kept looking down at you, holding your small hand in mine, kissing you on your forehead – now level with my ribs.

Sure, I kind of noticed when I cleaned out your closet. To me, those 6X’s still fit you but in reality the ankle-length leggings were capris on you. I folded each younger size and hugged a few pieces in memory as I stacked them on your bed. I didn’t want to move them aside but I knew it was necessary to make way for the clothes that really fit you – and are the style you want now.

All the signs were there including how you’re now able to reach the cups in the cabinet without a chair and how you excitedly point out that you’re getting as tall as me. Heck, sometimes you would stand next to a friend who once towered over you and you’d meet them eye-to-eye. Still, it didn’t register to me like the slap in the face it should have. No. It took a moment of accomplishment for you at a corn maze festival to make me really see.

You climbed the netted tower all the way to the top and you made it look easy. Last fall when we went, you couldn’t pull yourself up to the second level. I watched you struggle and sweat and try so hard to make it to that next layer of net. You were so tired when you finally exited through the entrance. Maybe next time. And you sure did! You climbed it like it was nothing.

Top of the Tower

And then, if that feat of size, strength and determination wasn’t enough, you really showed me how big you are now. Never able to flip over on the bungee ropes before, you gave it another go this time. Of course you flipped. And flipped. And flipped.

Not to be out done, Nate wanted to flip too. I could see his stomach muscles working to try to pull his legs over his head. I was tensing mine as well, trying to zone over some strength for him to succeed. Just when we thought his time was up and no flip was in his immediate future, he gave it one more shot.

Finally, a flip!

I get it already. You’re both growing up. Show offs.

(I wouldn’t want it any other way …)


Why Is Nine Afraid of Seven?

29 Apr

Because eight was so great.

Department Store Catalog Pose featuring her Fashion Creation

I know nine will be too, I’m just going through the typical parent emotion of watching the years fly by. To see Nia’s sweet, smart and caring spirit adapt to and try to understand different experiences as she figures out how to respond and feel. To see her become her own person, create her own sense of style, humor and thoughts. It is wonderful, but wild.

Trying to be serious during a fit of giggles.

Her eighth year was full of firsts and new emotions. Riding without training wheels; keeping her Barbies in the drawer and, instead, spending more time with the door to her room closed to sing and dance to the latest pop music; watching less cartoons and more human-acted TV shows and movies; falling in love with Grease (and even seeing it live as a play – thanks, Aunt Ree!); and wanting to put a little more distance between her mom or dad as she plays outsides or explores a store. (I never let her out of my sight!)

Little Mall Shopper

Now, as she starts on her ninth year, I hope she handles her new adventures and challenges with the same thought and heart that she has shown so far. She tries her best, loves a good joke (which I attempted for her with the title), knows how to laugh at herself and how to make others laugh, and most beautifully, is caring to all.

Sharing the love while she sleeps.

Thankful for Lady Gaga

24 Jan

She is nice to him and he bashfully describes her as pretty. She stole his heart on a day near Halloween when she walked in his class dressed up as a Kindergarten (G-rated) Lady Gaga.

Nate was so enamored with Little Gaga that he announced to the class during a Thanksgiving lesson that he is most thankful for her. (His teacher emailed me about the sweetness.)

Turns out, the feeling is mutual. Her mom tells me that she “just loves Nate” and that she recently put him as no. 89 in her “Favorite 100 Things” book because there are 89 different reasons she likes him. She also saves every drawing Nate gives her and has them hanging in her room. This one was the first:


Nate will reassure us that they are not boyfriend and girlfriend. “I’m too young for that,” he maturely states and then turns his head down to the side to hide his grin.

I smile too, remembering a note to her that said, “I love you because you are nice to me.” So pure. So important. Such a beautiful reason to love someone. I hope he always thinks about that when it comes to his future “real” girlfriends. Loving the inside as much as the Lady Gaga.

A Lesson in A-S-S

5 Oct

She asked and I told her – over and over and over again. It felt like I said the word ass more during that ten minutes talking to Nia in the car than I’ve said in the past seven years.

It all began when she asked to listen to Pink’s song “Get the Party Started.” Her dancing class plays and she wanted to continue rocking out to it after class. The difference is, the version her dance class uses is probably G-Rated. The version I played had the lyrics: “I’ll be burnin’ rubber, you’ll be kissin’ my ass.”

Nia: What does that word mean, momma?
Me: Um, well, it can mean a few things. Some say it as another word for donkey to mean silly or stupid. They say jackass instead of donkey. Like, that person is a jackass. But that’s not nice and we shouldn’t say it. It’s also used as a not nice way to say bottom or butt. (Clear my throat.) Ass. We also shouldn’t say that.
Nia: How do you spell it?
Me: Why?
Nia: Just ’cause I wanna know.
Me: Well, you spell it a-s-s but you don’t need to spell it or write it or say it. Ok?
Nia: Ok, but can I tell my friends I know what it means?
Me: No! I mean, no, because they might not know what it means and their moms and dads won’t want them to know yet. You let their moms and dads tell them like I told you. You shouldn’t say the word because it’s not nice and you’ll get in big trouble if you say it. Your school will probably call mommy and daddy at work and you wouldn’t want that, right? I’m telling you what it means because I’m teaching you so you know and know not to say it. Ok?
Nia: Ok. How do you spell it again?
Me: Nope. I think we should be all finished talking about it because I said it way to many times just now and we should just be finished.

And deep breath. Did I do the right thing? I have no idea. I suppose I could have just said, “You don’t need to worry about it or say it and that’s all you need to know” but I want to be able to talk with the kids and not hide things from them. I also really appreciate that they come to us with questions and I hope it stays that way – pain in the ass or not.

Tooth Watch

12 Feb

For the past few months, Nia has been experiencing loose-tooth envy.  The way she tells it, every one of her friends either has a loose tooth or proudly sports a holey smile.  She would ask us why she didn’t have one yet.  When will she?  Can I push on them and make them loose?  She would also routinely think she finally had one and ask us to check to see if she was right.  We would touch the suspected tooth and respond with disappointing news.  Nope.  Not yet.

That all changed last week.  She finally felt her first real wobble!  She was so excited as I picked her up from after-school.  She came running down the hall holding the prized pearly white between her two tiny fingers, “I have a loost toof mommy!”

Now, she’s constantly asking us about it and preparing for the big day –

“When it will be ready to fall out?”
“What can I do to help make it fall out?”
“Can we pull it yet?”
“Why will that hurt?”
“It hurts now.”
“Will it bleed?”
“After it falls out I will have 19 teeth.”
“If I don’t brush my teeth will it fall out faster?”
“I can’t eat that because my tooth might get lost in it and then the tooth fairy won’t come.”

Which leads to the big payoff –

“The tooth fairy is going to bring me two dollars.”

We have no idea where she got that dollar amount.  To me, you can’t put a price on something so precious.  Our baby girl is growing up so quickly.

Now on to worrying about how the tooth fairy will make the “exchange” without waking up the princess.  Sometimes I’m in awe about how our parents pulled it all off.

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