Monthly Archives: March 2015

Activities

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Around here, most recreational activities that children can participate in have their youngest lot signing up at age four, which makes Norah eligible for nearly anything she’d like to try. Our first attempt to expose to her to the wide world of participation came last fall when we signed her up for the Mebane Youth Soccer Association. You may recall a post about this boasting a photo of a soccer loving little girl in shinguards and noting near the end that “Norah thus far seems to love it.” Though I’m not exactly sure at what point in the season that post was written, my guess is sometime around practice number one, and definitely before game number one, because let’s just say I was totally wrong. As noted in the post, it was indeed appealing for its newness, excitement, and accompanying attire, but when it came to actually playing soccer, Norah’s enthusiasm died faster than you can say GOOOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLLL! A typical game consisted of about 40 minutes of us begging, bribing, reasoning, comforting, scolding, negotiating, threatening, and fighting the urge to bicycle kick her into the farthest net (what?! we’d never do that), and about 10 minutes of her actually playing, during which time she looked sort of happy? It would be easy to say that she just isn’t into soccer, but deeper digging leads us to believe that a) Pete being her coach made her less likely to listen (go figure) and b) every other kid on the team was a good six months older than her and therefore faster and more experienced. It sounds sort of silly to say “more experienced” when speaking of little girls playing soccer, but we truly do believe that her inability to keep up dampened her enthusiasm. Of course our hope is that one day she’ll use this feeling of inadequacy to drive her to overcome the odds, but at 4 we are lowering our expectations regarding the power of adversity. We made it to the end of the season, but I won’t say the experience as a whole was a delightful one. That said, now that several months have passed, she has expressed interest in trying again, and we’ll gladly give it another go this fall, just with a team coached by someone else’s dad.

After the soccer season came the holidays which were plenty distracting from any efforts we might make to find the next activity, but as the new year rolled in and we had more space, we refocused on finding a class or team for Norah to join. The answer was quickly obvious as we observed the almost nightly hallway escapades to the tune of a series of Vevo videos of the latest pop songs – dance class! The Elder children (and parents) loooooooooove to dance, especially in our pajamas at home at night. I’m sure a number of passers-by have watched us through the undressed windows of our kitchen and wondered what fun was happening inside, as the height of said windows only reveals the taller two of us prancing and marching around, and our tiny dancers cannot be seen. Crazy neighborhood shows aside, a proper dance experience seemed timely, so I posted to the ‘ol Facebook asking for recommendations and quickly had guidance on the local scene.

We chose a studio in Graham that was favored by a few friends and offered a mini session for the folks that wanted to try it before they truly buy it, if you will. That’s not to say it’s free, but simply that it’s less money, less classes, less obligation, in order to get a feel for things before making the big commitment to what’s referred to as the dance “season.” Much to Norah’s disappointment, you don’t get the reward of a recital at the end of mini session, but she understands this is a stepping stone. During our discussions of such she politely requested that I find pictures on the internet of recital costumes so that she might pick the one she would like to wear when that day comes. I obliged on the photos and explained the small misunderstanding she had of the process, but she remained optimistic.

Then came February, the stupidest fucking month ever (except for the birthdays of all the people I love!!) and the first two of her classes were canceled due to inclement weather. Class number three happened while mom and I were away in Florida, and Pete opted to avoid the still icy roads, so once again, no class. On Thursday March 12th, she FINALLY got to go and from the moment I arrived home from work until the moment the door to her dance room opened indicating it was time to go in, Norah was over the moon excited about her new adventure. I quite specifically mention the moment that door opened because that was when she lost it. “I don’t want to go in without you. I’m scared. I’m nervous. I don’t want to do it alone. I’m embarrassed. What if I can’t do it? I don’t know how to dance!” This went on for a good ten minutes, her clinging to me, me balancing between comforting encouragement and frustrated forcefulness, the teacher trying to help, the other parents staring. Everything about it felt awful, but she eventually accepted her fate, and walked into the room. I closed the door and proceeded to sit on a chair with trembling hands and racing heart just waiting for her to come busting out balling. Minutes passed, the door stayed closed, I calmed down, I dared to go to the bathroom despite her plea that I stand right outside the entire time, and at 7:45 when class was officially over, a beaming 4.5 year old emerged from the room in her pink leotard and ballet slippers, full of satisfaction and pride. OMFG THANK YOU.

The following week she was an old pro – not a moment of hesitation when it was time to go into class and zero signs of anxiety – just straight up swagger like I got this guys (Pete and Cros came too), just make sure you’re here in 45 minutes to drive me home. I’m relieved and proud and excited and just plain happy! She’s pretty darn proud of herself as well, and given the emotion surrounding this simple six week session of trying dance, I can only imagine the explosion of feelings we’re in for over the next 15 years as she and Crosby take on (and BEAST) the great wide world of activities.

XO.S.

Migration

I was born in Southern California, Mission Viejo hospital to be exact, and when I was seven we moved to South Florida, where I spent the next 11 years of my life. Needless to say, I grew up warm, and my concept of cold meant someone was blasting the AC a bit too much. In high school I wore flip flops every single day; in the “winter” it was jeans and flips flops with an occasional hoodie, but still, flip flops, because I could, because 60 was our freak out temperature. When I showed up for college in Gainesville it was August and hot as balls, hotter than South Florida even, no ocean breeze and all that, just stagnate, disgusting, drenching heat, and so my wardrobe was still appropriate and all was right with the world. Then fall came and suddenly I realized how absolutely unaware and unprepared I was. The only closed toe pair of shoes I owned were trainers (that’s British for running shoes; of course I’m not British, I just told you I was born in California). Sweaters? I’m not even sure they sell those in Boca. So here I was, spending a solid several hours a day outdoors between waiting for buses and walking to classes, and seriously lacking the appropriate attire to manage anything more than a brisk breeze. Oh, and I was poor. Like ramen noodle poor. Dear Mom – please come visit me and provide assistance with my mission to avoid freezing to death. Hyperbolically speaking of course. The forties are considered frigid in Gainesville, so it’s certainly not threatening snow or anything winter legit like that, but I certainly wasn’t wearing flip flops either.

Now I live in North Carolina, still very much “the South”, but not in any way the South I grew up in, and with winters that feel far more North in my opinion. Indeed our winters are laughable to folks in places like Buffalo and Cleveland, but to me they’re 100% valid and just about the limit of what I’m willing to endure. Come February each year, I find myself bordering on depressed over the bleakness of our daily forecast, but I’ve survived 11 years of it and intend to be in NC for as far into the future as I can see. And every February of that future I intend to enter the same sad state of complaint over snow and ice and terrible temps, and I’ll surely spend a good 30% of every conversation on the topic of “Is it spring yet?”

Enter the annual mother-daughter trip which kicked off two years ago when I decided to surprise my mom on Christmas with a planned weekend away in Asheville. It was always my intent to continue the tradition beyond that first adventure, and part of the plan was to have said adventure within a couple months of actual Christmas. Guess what happens a couple months after Christmas? February! As in it’s freakin’ frigid everywhere within a reasonable driving distance and given our budget minded nature, we’re never too keen on flying for this trip. This year, however, I had a fancy Southwest voucher, and so I came up with the grand idea to pick a destination from one of Southwest’s many fare sales and get us way out of town. Of the ten or so places one can fly from RDU “on sale”, there are two that tend to cost less than $100 per person, per leg – Baltimore and Fort Lauderdale. I’ll allow you a quick minute to ponder the likelihood of me going to Baltimore in February (or ever)… all set then? Fort Lauderdale or bust!

So technically we went in March, but it was super early March which might as well be February, especially given the sleety mess that occurred back home while we were gone. I’ll summarize the trip by saying that it was exactly what it needed to be – an escape from the doldrums of winter to spend relaxing time in a tropical climate with my favorite mom. I’ll also say that I would not recommend Fort Lauderdale as a vacation destination to anyone really, unless you find yourself in a situation similar to ours where you need a cheap flight to somewhere with a beach and you have zero expectations about doing anything other than beaching (or pooling), and I’ll end my FL-FL hating right there to spare you any boring rants and also avoid the impression that the trip was anything less than great. We talked, we walked, we ate. We explored and took pictures and read books. We enjoyed hammocks by the pool, at least one proper tanning session on the beach, and a whole heap of chill time and together time, neither of which I get very frequently. On our last day we ate some badass Cuban food and avoided kidnapping by declining a ride from a stranger, we people watched the heck outta some Broward County transit regulars, and we witnessed a drunk guy at the airport make his wife cry and get escorted away by the police. What else is there?

If you’re up on my Instagram feed you already saw a smattering of photos from this delightfully luminous getaway, but as I’m sure you’ve been anxiously anticipating, there are a bajillion more! It was grand and I’m pleased as punch to have had this experience with my mom. Gallery time…

XO.S.

the somedays

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I decided today – possibly a little too late, but better late than never – that I’m going to start keeping track of all the somedays that Norah solicits and I agree to. What is a someday? It’s anything that Norah asks to try/see/do/experience/acquire that for some reason or another she has established is not likely or appropriate for the immediate future, and so with eyebrows raised in contemplative curiosity says “Mama, someday can I (insert thing to try/see/do/experience/acquire here)?”

This happens a lot. Several times a day in fact. And I tend toward the affirmative in my response. There’s the occasional maybe as well, as I don’t believe in empty promises, and I actually do take the time to carefully consider her request and gauge its feasibility before responding. Most of her somedays just happen to be quite reasonable and so rarely do I find myself saying any form of no. What I do find myself doing is trying to make some sort of mental note about said someday so that I can actually deliver on my agreement because, well, I love that little girl more than furniture (her comparison, not mine) and I want to make her super happy (when doing so is safe, affordable, appropriate and workable).

Do you know where mental notes in parent brains wind up? Neither do I. Maybe where the other sock from the laundry goes, or maybe where my red J. Crew or black Madewell cardigans went (I’m really good at losing somewhat pricey button down sweaters). Where they don’t go is to any place accessible or locatable, so anything that my darling daughter asked for before today is off in the ether with the rest of the things my mom mind has eschewed in the interest of leaving space for more pressing things, like asking Crosby if he needs to go potty every 12 and a half minutes so I don’t wind up with a puddle on the floor.

Finally accepting my failure at capturing these sometimes important and sometimes silly requests in any referable way, today, when Norah came to me in the kitchen with her latest someday, I opened the notepad on my iPhone and made a legit, locatable, accessible note…

She asked for taffy, just a piece. Taffy is one of those things I refuse to give to my children at this age because I value their teeth and feel they should only come out of their heads at a time that’s decided by growth and nature. I accept that there are good kinds of taffy that are less likely to cause dental damage, but the kinds encountered by the Elder children to date have been the terribly hard and sticky (cheap) versions that wind up in Halloween buckets or sent home with preschool party bags. Pardon me while I put on my judgy pants – why, why, why, why, why of all the candy out there would you choose that for a holiday party at a preschool? I’ll add to this the fact that apple slices are always the last thing to be signed up for, with cheesy poofs and cookies quickly claimed, and say one big WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THIS WORLD?!!??!?!??!??!?!, before stepping off my angry mom box.

Where was I? Taffy – when it comes home to Elderland, it goes in the trash, along with tootsie rolls, airheads, and that fun dip crap. I let my kids have treats, no doubt about that, but I maintain some sort of control over these treats. I explain to Norah that the taffy is too hard and isn’t very good anyway, and I offer her something more kid friendly and enticing like ice-cream. Today, however, she politely inquired as to whether or not she could try a piece of taffy someday, adding that she’d be careful not to bite it, but would just suck on it like a lollipop so it didn’t bust her grill (okay, maybe she said hurt her teeth, but I think I might teach her to say bust my grill). I sighed and obliged, but with the caveat that I’d like to get her a good piece of taffy to try, and now it’s here, in writing, and I won’t forget, and we’ll call this the kickoff to Norah’s someday wish list that I intend to satisfy as wholly as possible. I mean I’ve got like 50 years right? Easy peasy.

XO.S.