A Choice Between Thing or Cat

Cat in the Hat

Hey, look at that! It’s the Cat in the Hat!

The day was quite windy, and the trees were all swaying

When Young One brought home a note clearly saying:

A birthday for someone we’ll soon celebrate.

This person is special. He simply is great!

To parade around school, all the kids should be dressed.

This called for a costume, but not one like the rest.

So many choices.

Oh! What what would she do?

A Lorax or Horton?

Or maybe a Who?

All her girlfriends, they begged her, “Just do what we do.

You have to come dressed as Thing One or Thing Two!”

To lead or to follow? The choice tore her apart.

Her momma’s advice was, “Just go with your heart.”

All night sat her momma awaiting the news.

Oh, what will she do today? Which will she choose?

“They want me to be someone who’s simply not me.

The leader is someone I’d much rather be.

So I have decided,” she said as she sat,

“I’m going to school as the Cat in the Hat!”

Five Minute Friday*Today’s post was brought to you today by Five Minute Friday, the word “Choose” and the birthday celebration of the great Dr. Seuss. My personal favorite from the creator of The Cat in the Hat is Dr Seuss’s ABCs. I read it so often to The Older One that even 20 years later, I can still recite it without opening the book!

What’s your favorite Dr. Seuss book or character?

Picture It Tuesday: Brother

One of my favorite stories about my daughter’s adoption is not so much about how she found her way into our family, as it is about how my son learned to be a brother.

He came home from school not long after I ended a phone call with our adoption coordinator confirming the court date to finalize the adoption. He sprawled himself on the middle of the living room floor and told me about his day. The school year was winding down, and he was excited to no longer be a high school freshman. His world was full of summer plans and football camp.

I let him tell me his news, and then I hit him with mine. “You’re finally going to be a big brother. What do you think?”

He was quiet for a moment, then sighed, “I wish I could tell you I’m excited, but I’m not.”

When I asked him why, I thought his answer would be pretty obvious. He had been an only child for 14 years. He would be completely justified in his hesitancy to share his parents this late in the game. He shocked me, however, when he finally put words to his worries. “I’m just afraid I’ll do something wrong.”

I smiled and reassured him I would help him learn the way of all things baby, thinking about diaper changes and basic baby sitter skills. Almost six years later, I can look back and realize he didn’t need much help stepping into his new role of big brother.

He was a pro at coloring inside the lines as well as encouraging self-expression with a little color outside too…

coloringHe knew and eagerly shared the art of the perfect snowball…

snowballHe helped her see she could have just as much fun building a castle out of sand…

sand castle…as she could building a tree house out of Legos….

Lego…and after the hard work was done, he showed her how to kick up her feet and take a break….

relaxationMost recently, he has mentored her as she learns to turn up the pressure to take down her virtual opponents….

video gamesand how to be stealthy when real ones are lurking behind the corner….

Nerf battleMost of all, through all the coloring, the video games and the Nerf blaster battles, he’s taught her how to be a sister and what it means to be part of a family….

sisterHe has given her something no one else can–a brother, and in doing so, he has done everything right.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Three

Although the weather has been conspiring against them, the Young One’s classmates finally celebrated the 100th day of school. To commemorated the occasion, each kindergartener was asked to design a poster using 100 items.

Once given the assignment, the Young One and I brainstormed what 100 things would be best to display. Stickers? No, everyone will do that. Buttons? No, too boring. Shoes? No, too expensive.

While touring through Target in search of the perfect thing, we spied the Valentine’s candy aisle and settled on Hershey’s Hugs and Kisses. We glued them to some flashing cardboard, added some marker detail and placed it on the dining room table to dry, quite pleased with ourselves for finishing the project three days early.

Flash forward 24 hours…a quiet house, no doggy supervision to be seen and the smell of chocolate wafting through the house.

We came home to find a trail of shiny red and pink foil wrappers from the living room to the kitchen to the dining room. First came shrieks of horror followed by shocked silence. The pretty shining poster was now a scene of carnage with only 40 neatly arranged candies where once had stood 100!

The dog, the Furry One, had eaten the Young One’s homework!

Epilogue: Furry suffered no ill effects from his chocolate binge. The Young One relayed the story to her teacher who laughed and asked her to write a story about it. She read it to the class who also laughed. We fixed the poster, added new candies and set it atop the highest surface in the house until we could safely deliver it to the 100 Day celebration.

* This post was inspired by the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Three.

She wasn’t being rude

Stiletto Momma:

A beautiful story of compassion and the unconditional love of a pet with a lesson we can all learn.

Originally posted on dogtorbill:

My receptionist Ericka was in tears. The caller had said some pretty mean things, and she’s sensitive to what people say to her. She thrust the phone towards me, and pleaded for me to deal with it, “She doesn’t understand we don’t have any appointments available and, anyway, we’ll be closed in 45 minutes.” Some lady’s dog hadn’t “eated” in 4 days, and so she thinks she’s really pretty sick, and what was I gonna do about it? On such a hectic afternoon, I was glad to take the load off the front desk, and proceeded with the best defense being a good offense. “So he hasn’t eaten in 4 days? Wow, you rushed right in! What makes you think it’s serious now” The colloquialism of her words and accents made it difficult to understand, even for a small town Missoura hick like myself, but I did make out something…

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The Fun In Between

I’m finally having some fun!

I’ve been between jobs for a little more than three months now, and while the Hubs likes to say I’ve had a three month vacation, my opinion is a little different. I would agree if I thought the definition of vacation was waking before dawn each morning, making sure the Young One’s belly is full and her hair is brushed before taking her to the bus stop and then coming home to log onto the computer and starting the job hunt, the interview research, the contemplation of an uncertain future.

Sure, I’ve spent my downtime blogging and learning how to do it better. That’s been highly enjoyable except for that nagging bit of guilt when I let myself think about how my family actually depends on me to help out with the finances. That thought inevitably turns around to ponderings of what happens when the severance period runs out. Worry and doubt have no place on holiday.

If I were truly on vacation, I wouldn’t set my alarm. I would wake only when my body starts craving that first hit of caffeine. I would brew a cup of butter toffee Keurig coffee, grab my Kindle and a sunny spot and stay there until I had a desire to do something else.

Maybe exercise would call me next, and because vacations are always sunny and warm, I’d lace on my running shoes and hit the pavement. I’d crank the volume on the iPod and let Katy Perry set the pace while she tells me I’m a champion. I wouldn’t worry how long I stayed out circling the neighborhood. I’d just look at the clear blue sky, feel the warm breeze and be happy to realize I had absolutely nothing better to do than be in this moment.

When my legs finally felt like rubber, I’d find myself back home in search of lunch. I’d probably reach for the Kindle again as I ate, getting lost in someone else’s world and letting the food go cold. Then I’d remember how I left a hidden objects adventure in limbo last night on the iPad, and I’d give it a little of my brain power.

An hour or so later, I’d think about how I want to capture this relaxing day, and I’d power up WordPress. I’d put some words on the screen, add a pretty picture or two depicting my favorite vacation day, click Publish and be happy.

It sounds like a perfect vacation day….It sounds a lot like today.

I have a job offer I’m excited about, and I have little doubt in my ability to pass the drug screen and background check. In 10 days, I’ll be employed again. I’ve unsubscribed to the job search emails. I don’t check LinkedIn every day to see who’s looking at my profile.

I have no more doubt, no more uncertainty, no more reason to feel guilty about doing the things that make me happy.

In 10 days, I’ll wake up early, fight traffic, sit in meetings and work at a desk that is not directly off my foyer. Until I punch in on day one though, I’m on vacation, and I intend to have a little fun in between jobs!

**Inspired by The Daily Post prompt: Nothing But a Good Time.

Picture It Tuesday: Journal

I am currently reading a very frightening horror story helpful parenting book entitled Little Girls Can Be Mean: Four Steps to Bully-Proof Girls in the Early Grades. With each anecdote from the authors, I flash back to elementary school and remember that time when Friend A stopped talking to Friend B and how friend Friend C and I had to pick sides. The social pressure was intense…in the fourth grade!

I don’t want my daughter to have to stay awake at night worrying over which friends she’ll still have in the morning…or *gulp* how to avoid the classroom bully. I certainly don’t want to find out that she IS the classroom bully!

So when I ran across this book, the title called to me, and I jumped at the chance to learn those critical four steps: observe, connect, guide and support to act. Half-way through the first chapter, I had found the perfect strategy to start both me and the Young One down the path of social crisis management when the authors recommended journaling as a way for daughters to express their emotions. Even kindergarten daughters, like my own, can journal, they said–their journals just include more pictures than words.

“Perfect!”, I thought, and off I went to my favorite discount store in search of a Kindergartener journal. First stop: Office Supplies, where I was surrounded by a plethora of notebooks, diaries and planners.

After a brief distraction from the cutest shoe-clad notebooks ever made…

My Notebooks…I moved on, bypassing anything floral or pink. (The Young One has no patience for anything as frilly as princess pink posies.) I finally settled on a bright chevron patterned yellow spiral bound notebook complete with zipper pouch….

NotebookUp next: writing instruments. The Young One’s art supply box runneth over, but she has yet to discover the joy of gel pens. A set in rainbow colors found its way into my shopping cart…

PensMy new favorite self-help authors recommended stickers as a creative way for the youngest of journalers to express themselves, so off I went in search of a set of stickers that would foster her creativity without breaking my bank. I finally found them in the Party Supply aisle (yes, party supplies)–a pack of 340 stickers for less than a penny a sticker!

StickersI took my finds home and set about packaging my gift of expression…

Journal with pensThen I waited nervously for her to return from school, hoping she would find excitement at my gift instead of boredom. I also kept my fingers crossed that she had absolutely nothing of a social crisis nature to document within its pages. I hadn’t gotten far enough into my anti-mean girl lessons to know how to respond.

Finally, the time had come. As we drove home from the bus stop, I teased, “I have a surprise for you.”

I could feel her bouncing in the seat behind me as she squealed, “Oh! What is it? What is it?”

“Don’t get too excited,” I warned, “It’s not a toy.” I didn’t need her hopes up for a Power Ranger action figure and then find out I only got her paper.

Inside the house, she eagerly followed me to the desk where with two hands, I presented the spiral bound notebook.

“This is a journal,” I said, and at her quizzical look, I added. “It’s like a diary.” One of her favorite episodes of Full House features the wealth of secrets stored in big sister DJ’s diary.

“You can put anything in it you want. You can draw pictures and decorate it.” I turned the cover to the pouch with her new journaling supplies.

She drew in a breath. Her eyes grew round, and she started bouncing once again as a smile bloomed across her face. “A diary? For me?”

I suddenly felt little arms wrapped around my middle. “Oh! Thank you! Thank you, Momma!”

Seconds later, she was deep in thought on the staircase…

…scribbling stick figures, applying stickers and sharing her desires.

“Look, Momma,” she said with a pat of my hand. “This is me,” she pointed to the figure on the right, “and I’m turning into a Ninja to save the world!”

NinjaWhew! Now all I need to do is figure out what to say when the bad guys turn into mean girls.

I’m Sorry I Broke Your Heart Today

balloon

My giant Valentine!

My Dear Sweet Girl,

I’m sorry I broke your heart today. The day started out so sweet with giant heart-shaped balloons, flowers, candy, a red Power Ranger costume and an unexpected snow day. Then I had to go and put a dash of tears in your day.

I’m sorry.  But I needed to be the one to tell you about the phone call I got yesterday…before your daddy said something or someone hinted that things were about to change. I needed to be the one to say it.

I sat down at the computer to write a Valentine’s Day post to you like I did for your brother yesterday. I was going to write about how much fun we had making Valentines for your grandparents and your big brother. I wanted to write you a beautiful letter about how “un-romantic” love was just as sweet as the romantic kind.

I wanted to tell you how at age six you may be dead-set against marriage but one day your heart may change your mind. Boys won’t always have cooties, and sometime in the near future you will understand you can be a superhero, a wife, and a mom all at the same time.

I wanted to remind you how your daddy and I loved you before we met you and how even though you prefer watching Die Hard with Dad to Say Yes to the Dress with me, I still love the strong girl into which you’ve grown.

But then you walked into the office wearing your brand new red Ranger suit and chattering about the Disney vacation I’ve been avoiding discussing for the past two months. I knew it was time.

“Sweetie,” I sighed, “It’s going to be a while before we can go on vacation.”

Your face fell. My stomach sank.

“We need to talk about something.” I sat with you on the step, wrapped my arm around your shoulder, and pasted a smile on my face. “Guess what happened yesterday!”

You saw right through me. You knew my excitement was as fake as my smile.

“I got a new job.”

And then they started…the big fat tears on your cheek…and on mine. I’m sorry

“Why?” you sobbed. “I don’t want you to work.” I’m sorry.

I’m so, so sorry. Just hold on to me. We’ll cry together. We’ll think of memories we made… waves through a yellow bus window as you pull away and the tackling hugs when you return…car rider privileges on special days…snow day sled riding.

I’m sorry.

For as much as job loss is traumatic, job offer is even more heartbreaking. I hope one day you understand how devastating this is for me too.

I’m sorry.

I love you…more than you’ll ever know.

Happy Valentine’s Day. Let’s go bake cookies and make some more memories.

I’m sorry….

20 Things to Tell My Son About Love

Every time I think about my son, I have to remind myself he is a young man. A thought brings him to mind, and I see a little boy crawling into his daddy’s BDUs or a little football player struggling to stand straight in full equipment. I have to quickly brush those images away and replace them with those of the 20-year-old who wears his own Army uniforms and talks about his future in terms of car loans and marriage.

During his most recent visit home, he spent just as much time at his girlfriend’s house as he did at his own. He rang in the New Year with her and just a few short weeks later, they spent a long weekend together celebrating 500th Night on the campus of the US Military Academy–a formal event marking the occasion of the cadets’ last 500 nights at West Point.

500 Night

Love is helping each other be your best.

My little boy, always too focused on sports and school to give much attention to romance, is getting serious. So on this eve of the chocolate and flower covered celebration of love that is St. Valentine’s Day, I feel the need to help him understand just how serious getting serious can be and how to make it last if she is serious about being serious too.

Sweet Boy, here are the things you need to know about being in love.

  1. Valentine’s Day will come, and Valentine’s Day will go. But when your true Valentine finally comes to you, it’s your job to never let her go.
  2. Don’t let a date on the calendar determine when you say, “I love you.” If you’re being honest when you say it, you’ll want to say it all the time, and she’ll want to hear it.
  3. Be generous with your time. Relationships don’t stop blooming once you say those three little words. Sit with her. Laugh with her. Be with her.
  4. Talk often. Love’s foundation is built on communication. Without it, you stand on shaky ground.
  5. Listen. Listen. Listen.
  6. Learn everything there is to know about this woman who will share your life. (See steps 3 – 5.)
  7. Master the mundane. Do the dishes. Fold the laundry. Cut the grass. In the long run, those little acts of kindness are the things that make the difference.
  8. Share a thing. Find something you enjoy doing together, and do it…together. Swimming, hiking, reading, watching paint dry. The thing doesn’t matter, but the sharing of the experience does.
  9. Be comfortable in the silences.
  10. Make time for yourself. The best parts of the couple are the individual people who make it. Don’t lose what it is that makes you you.
  11. Let her have time for herself too. Let her be her.
  12. Empower her to stand on her own two feet. With your career in the military, you will spend days, week, months apart, and she will need to be Army Strong.
  13. Be supportive. She has her own dreams. Let her know they are important to you too.
  14. Don’t let others make decisions for you. This is your relationship. Friends and family mean well, but they don’t have your heart. In some things, only you can decide.
  15. Never let an opportunity to say “I love you” pass. Don’t ever assume she knows it.
  16. Tell her you love her without saying a word…a quick smile, a secret glance, a private joke shared between best friends.
  17. Share your secrets.
  18. Share your dreams.
  19. Nurture a dream together.
  20. Always, always, ALWAYS remember your momma wants only to see you happy. I am the girl who has loved you the longest. From the second I heard your first cry, I have held your heart with gentle hands, please pass it on to someone who will take good care of it and who will make it beat strong and joyously. Love is a precious thing. Mine for you grows stronger every day, and my wish for you is that find your own true love, nurture it and share it. This is serious.

Love you forever,

Momma

***This post was inspired by the Weekly Writing Challenge prompt “My Funny Valentine.”

Picture It Tuesday: Snow Days

When I lost my job last fall, countless people assured me everything happens for a reason. At the time, I thought they meant a better career opportunity was on the horizon or that the time off would help my body recover from two surgeries and a record-setting number of doctor’s visits.

However, in the wake of the eighth snow day of 2014, I’m pretty sure the reason I’ve been granted these stay-at-home days is so I can take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to brush up on my snow shoveling technique. My resume now boasts of snow removal and a 100% salt-free ice elimination…

drivewayMaybe the producers of Survivor will soon be calling. This wintry mix has given me ample opportunity to improve upon my fire-making fundamentals. If I ever find myself in reality show peril, I am now confident in my ability to provide for my tribe…as long as I have a source of natural gas and a wall switch starter…

FireplaceOr perhaps, I’m meant to hone my problem solving skills with the knowledge I gained upon finding an ice-laden obstacle blocking my puppy walking path…

Icy treeMaybe I’m meant to become a world-renown fashion blogger, and my first post will be a glowing review of these snow boots, which I find keep my tootsies toasty in even the deepest of snow drifts…

snow bootsThen again, maybe the reason for my extra free-time is more abstract. Maybe, I’m meant to enjoy the wonder of Mother Nature…

Icesicles…and to marvel at the beauty in my surroundings…

shining iceOr maybe I’m just meant to be carefree and fun-loving. After all, it’s been years, maybe even decades, since I built a snow fort…

snow fort…slid down a snowy slope…

sled riding…and built a snowman tall enough and strong enough to lean on…

snowmanBut for all the times this winter I may have wished for a job other than snow engineer and ice chipper, yearned for a pair of warm, dry socks and envied the view from the inside…

puppy in the window…I wouldn’t trade these precious snow day smiles for anything…

sledding…and that right there, is the reason.