Tree Time

Little Liebchen contemplates snow.

Little Liebchen contemplates snow.

I admit it, having kids makes me ready for Christmas the minute Thanksgiving is over. Our advent calendars are ready to go. I’ve started my shopping. And thanks to Google, I’ve also figured out the dates of Hanukkah (Dec 16-24, meaning the holidays will run seamlessly into each other), so that I can remember to light the candles, give my kids a present, read The Hanukkah Mice to them, and fry up some kick-ass latkes. Seriously, I may not be much of a Jew, but I am a hell of a latke chef.

Little Liebchen eats snow.

Little Liebchen eats snow.

Today was tree-tagging day for the Husband Hausfraus. Remember last year, when we cut down our own organic Christmas tree at Hopestill Farm in Sherborn? And then we had a grasshopper infestation, which was actually a praying mantis infestation? And we tried to save the insects but they died and we were sad?

Good times. Seriously, good times.

 

So today we went to tag our tree (which basically means we staked our claim so we can drive out to Sherborn again next weekend and acquire said tree). Clearly, people are catching on to the awesomeness that is Hopestill, because a lot of trees had already been claimed. Don’t worry, though. We found our tree.

Much like last year, I wasn’t inspired to select the  perfect tree. Last year’s tree did look amazing once we got it home and decorated. Can’t wait to see how this guy turns out.

Herr Husband tags the tree. Actually, this is a dramatic recreation as I was too slow with the camera.

And here the children and I pose in front of the tree we selected. Not sure if I watched Charlie Brown's Christmas Special too many times as a kid, but I'm drawn to melancholy, offbeat trees. Maybe I'm just a fucking hipster.

And here the children and I pose in front of the tree we selected. Not sure if I watched Charlie Brown’s Christmas Special too many times as a kid, but I’m drawn to melancholy, offbeat trees. Maybe I’m just a fucking hipster.

 

Here, the children frolic against a backdrop of more traditionally attractive trees.

 

Will we have praying mantises this year? Only time will tell…

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Treasures from My Aunt’s House

1) A pic of me as a little girl. Which kid looks more like me?

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2) A card I made for my grandfather in 1985 or so. It’s of my cousins and me (except my yet-to-be-born youngest cousin). I’m the second child pictured from the right

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Thank you, Nini, for the wonderful treasures and especially for the amazing weekend!


Family Fun

-late night gab sesh with my aunt.
-uncooperatively early wake-up by the children
-lots of coffee
-viewing of Christmas trains at Snows in Orleans
-family birthday party for my eight-year-old niece
-children asleep by 8
-another wine gab with my aunt
Thanksgiving weekend=good.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

We had a lovely holiday with the Husband family! Das Big Boy had the honor of being the stuffing tosser (sounds possibly dirty, but is actually a tradition in which a member of the family throws a wad of stuffing at the wall. If it sticks, it’s done.). It stuck, and DBB loved it. The throwing, I mean. The closest he got to Thanksgiving dinner was a turkey hot dog. But he did eat that, at least.

LL loved playing with her aunties for the first time as a toddler rather than a baby.

Now we’re undertaking our road trip from CT to Cape Cod for a little time with the Hausfraus.

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Happy Thanksgiving to you all!


Gratitude

We’ve all internalized enough Oprah to know that one of the best ways to feel happy is to practice gratitude. Appropriate in light of tomorrow, obviously, when I’ll probably write a quick post from the car with pics of my kids at Thanksgiving.

Family bliss.

Family bliss.

So tonight, I’ll try listing some things from today that made me grateful. Please note that I tried to teach Das Big Boy the concept of gratitude. I told him I was grateful for him, his daddy, and his sister, then asked what he was grateful for, explaining that he feels grateful for the things he’s really glad he has.

“I’m grateful for my trucks,” he told me.

“That’s definitely true,” I said. “What are some other things or people you’re really glad are in your life?”

“Mommy,” he said. Good boy.

“And…” I prompted.

“And Daddy and [Little Liebchen].”

“Those are wonderful things to be grateful for,” I told him.

So my list from today:

I’m so incredibly grateful for all the positive feedback I received on my Ferguson post. Thank you all. It feels good knowing that so many people from so many different facets of my life are on the same side. Gives me the tiniest sliver of hope.

LL at school, beloved bubble in her hair.

LL at school, beloved bubble in her hair.

I’m grateful that my parents watched Das Big Boy this morning so I could take Little Liebchen to our adorable parent/child class, where she sits as close as possible to the teacher and hangs on her every word, except when she’s trying to get me or one of the kids to play chase.

I’m grateful that today I had lunch with my kids, parents, and 101-year-old grandmother.

I’m grateful that Mo [college roommate bestie] came over this evening, and embraced her role as beloved auntie to my children. I’m glad Das Big Boy crawled into her lap as if she were here every day, ate a TURKEY (not beef) hot dog for her at dinner, and even let her wash his hair. I’m glad LL decided Mo wasn’t a babysitter and flirted shamelessly with her. I’m so grateful that Mo fits right into our family even though she lives 3000 miles away.

I’m grateful that Herr Husband manned the fort so Mo and I could go to dinner at The Farmhouse (of course) and talk about work, life, kids, men, communication styles, dietary restrictions, and high-waisted jeans (Hers looked amazing! Look for some on me ASAP!).

I’m grateful for family and friends, for good food and shelter, for health and healthcare, for passions like social justice and literature and frivolities like fashion, for growing older and wiser but for still feeling like I don’t know what the heck I’m doing some of the time. For this tiny patch of the universe on which I can spew my thoughts, both silly and profound. And for wine. Especially that Montepulciano from dinner.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Let’s keep putting that love and gratitude out into the world. With a little bit of that fight, too.


Here’s the Thing…

I hate that my Ferguson post has to be short. You may hate that I’m writing one at all. So we’ll call it even.

A lot of things break my heart about the fact that an eighteen-year-old young man was killed by a police officer, and that said officer doesn’t even have to stand trial for his death.

But this is, for better for worse, mostly a mom blog. So I’m going to look at this as a mom. A mom whose heart broke for Trayvon Martin, for Eric Garner, for Tamir Rice, and of course for Michael Brown. And for so many more. And for their mothers.

Because here’s the thing. We all worry about our children. A lot. I may even worry about my son more than most (and it’s not a contest, but I can tell you that I worry more about him than I do about my full-term daughter. His start was scary, and I may never get over it.).

Of the five women with whom I became close while Das Big Boy was in the NICU, four were women of color. Two of those women have sons. I know they poured every ounce of worry and love into their sons just as I did into mine. I know they worry to this day. But they have a worry I don’t. Because their sons are black. And that’s an injustice that really, really pains me. They have to worry that some people may respond to their sons with fear or aggression just because they are black. And that sucks, because we moms, especially we preemie moms, have enough to worry about.

I’ve broken some laws in my day. I needn’t detail them here. But if you went to college with me, you know what I mean. And my sole brush with law enforcement illustrates perfectly the concept of white privilege, that unearned privilege that my children will inherit from me unless our world changes.

I was twenty-two, recently graduated from college. A friend from high school and another friend’s ex-boyfriend and I took a cab home from a Boston bar to a Wellesley street in an effort to find the first friend’s ex-boyfriend. My friend may have vomited in the cab. I may have offered, in the ultimate act of lady chivalry, to wear her pukey shirt so we could spread out the stink. We may have changed clothes in the street. Someone (wisely) called the police. Surprise! The police did not even chide us. They drove us home to our parents’ respective mansions with friendly banter the whole way. Not a word about keeping it down at 2 am, nary a suggestion to lay off the booze, not even an allusion to any puke stink. How do you think that would have gone down if we’d been three black young adults in Wellesley, (a town where for every 1000 residents, 110.3 black people are arrested while only 9.4 white people are arrested)? And that, people, is white privilege. It doesn’t mean that all white people are overtly racist (although some of them are). It means our social structures benefit white people.

So what can a mad white mom from the suburbs do? How do we raise children who will work for justice and equality, who will reject their privilege or extend it to everyone?

I don’t have big or great ideas. I have little ones. But I’m going to try them and hope they help. And I hope you’ll share your ideas for teaching our children as well.

1) Read children’s books with black protagonists. My community is pretty white. My son has one black classmate. My daughter thinks the African-American baby on the diaper box is Rudy (daughter of our friends the Huxtables, who are South and East Asian). But I’m a big believer in familiarity being possible through art, too, and in that familiarity building understanding. So I’m going to get my children five books for the holidays that feature black protagonists. When I’ve chosen them, I’ll share the titles.

2) Give money to an organization that advances racial and social justice. It’s holiday time, when we all pick our charities. I’m always nagging you to give to preemies and lungs and hearts. This year, I also gave to The Southern Poverty Law Center.

3) Start talking about race and justice with my children early. Earlier than may be comfortable. I heard on NPR once that the average age at which black families start discussing race with their children is three, whereas in white families it’s thirteen. Because for black children it’s a fact of life and experience, but for white children, it’s an external, even intellectual exercise. It’s why kids can describe black culture but not white culture. White privilege again. But clearly the hippie love stuff–we’re all the same, yada yada–that we white liberals (or me white liberal) have always been fond of doesn’t work so well. We need to have conversations about race from an earlier age. I’m going to research this one, too. But if you have ideas, let me know.

4. Don’t stay quiet. I’m not saying I plan to get in a flame war on Facebook or a throw down at Thanksgiving dinner. But I do have to say that most of the people responding to Ferguson with dismay on my FB feed last night were either a) people of color b) sociology graduate students/professors or c) superpolitical people (and I DON’T think this is a political issue). But I know more of us care. We can share our thoughts without getting into fights. I’m going to try to do so.

5. Put more love into the universe in general. This is a goal toward which I’m always striving. Be kinder. Less gossipy. More tolerant. More patient. I’m trying to teach this kindness and generosity to my children, too. I’ll write about those strategies on another day, because I don’t want to detract from today’s goal of doing something about racism, however small, in my own white suburban mom way, in my own white suburban family.

Peace. Really, I mean it. Peace.


Bedtime for Bonzo

A lot of parents hate bedtime. It’s odd how something that we so love and long for as adults, and so need as children, is pure anathema to the under-twelve set. But actually, my children, who stink at plenty of things–one won’t eat fruits or vegetables in solid form, the other would rather concuss herself than put on a jacket no matter the temperature–have historically been fairly agreeable at bedtime. Yes, in his early toddler days, Das Big Boy required lots of rocking and singing, and on most days Little Liebchen still weasels her way into our bed in the early morning. But they’re pretty good about the act of going to bed. After our bedtime routine (potty, jammies, teeth, books, “best part of the day,” songs), Herr Husband takes the recently nursed Little Liebchen to her crib, then returns so we can both say goodnight to Das Big Boy. And until recently, that was the end of the story. Yes, Das Big Boy would play in his bed for a while, but he’d stay there.

Then all of a sudden he had that realization that children have repeatedly until adulthood: adult authority is a myth if you don’t give a fuck. When I was a teacher, some colleagues would express bewilderment at students who didn’t come to school. Frankly, I was amazed that so many of them showed up. I mean, nerds like I was, yeah, of course they would come. But I was truly stunned that the bad ass kids who did drugs and got into fights and yelled at teachers came to school as often as they did. To this day I find it profoundly moving that they did so.

Anyway, bedtime is a social construct, and Das Big Boy suddenly wasn’t having it. I feel like a lot of kids go through this when they first move to big boy/girl beds, but he was quite good about staying in his bed unless he really, really needed something. He was still much more likely to holler for us.

And then suddenly, about two months ago: Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me. He was out of bed. He was playing with his toys. He was in our room. He was blaming his stuffed animals for the loud crashes we heard. I didn’t climb on the shelves to get the jellyfish; Clifford did it.

This is a dramatic recreation, which Das Big Boy found very amusing. I was just summoned to give him a drink and take him to the potty, and afterwards, I said, let's do that thing where you get stuck halfway out of bed and I'll take a picture of it. He was eager to see it. Pretty sure this did not help my go-to-sleep cause.

This is a dramatic recreation, which Das Big Boy found very amusing. I was just summoned to give him a drink and take him to the potty, and afterwards, I said, let’s do that thing where you get stuck halfway out of bed and I’ll take a picture of it. He was eager to see the results. Pretty sure this did not help my go-to-sleep cause.

We tried putting desirable toys “to bed” by hiding them under blankets. We taped down the light switch and told him the light was sleeping. On one particularly ugly evening that I caught him making book towers, I told him that if he did it one more time I would take every single book out of his room. And then when he did so, I had to honor my promise, practically spitting with rage as I dragged probably two-hundred books out from every corner of his room. It was not my proudest parenting moment.

But I think we’ve finally hit on something that works. His current nightlight is very dim, such that he wants us to leave the door open so he can see his books (yes, I let him take books to bed. I was a sneak-reader and I feel like there are worse things to be) by the hall light. The deal is, if he gets out of bed, even once, the hall light goes off.

This leads to some squeals of, “Help me! Mom, I can’t reach it!” as he tries to keep his feet on the bed while reaching for a book and gets trapped in a sort of wheelbarrow pose, but the stakes seem just high enough to keep him where he belongs.

Until he realizes, “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me,” and starts turning his own light on again, probably so he can do things like remove all of the clothes from his drawers or color on the walls.

It’s bound to happen.

Edit: Just read that the grand jury decided not to press charges against Darren Wilson (ugh), which makes my use of “Killing in the Name of” for my suburban mom blog seem a bit too cute for tonight. Apologies for that.