Dr. Seuss Reinforces Respect

I have always loved reading.  I still have copies of my favourite childhood books and enjoy nothing more than being immersed in a great story, the characters becoming friends as you turn the page and lose yourself in another world.

Reading with my kids was something I started to look forward to as soon as I knew we were expecting.

Jackson and I used to have book time where we would lie on his bedroom floor reading, signing and looking at the pictures. Unfortunately,  Lily and I didn’t have quite the same quality of one-on-one reading time because, well, she had a two-year old brother.

I remember looking forward to Lily growing into her big-girl bed, thinking that I would finally have my special book time with her.  I had dreams of us reading together, laughing and cuddling until her heavy eyes would finally give in to sleep.  But, dreams are made to be broken and my little girl, who went to sleep without a peep in her crib, became the Beast of the Big Bed.  The time we could have spent reading and solidifying our mother-daughter bond was spent in a stand-off of gnashing teeth and primeval grunting until one of us fell into a heap of sweating desperation.  Ok, so maybe it wasn’t all that bad but it wasn’t the rainbows I’d hoped for.

It’s been a couple of years since our nighttime battles and I now have the story-time I’d dreamed of — most nights, anyway.

Last night I was reading Sneetches by Dr. Seuss to Lily and was shocked when Jackson asked me to read it to him as well.  Usually Jackson and I will sit together to quietly read our own books so I jumped at the chance to go back in time before anything other than a chapter book was too ‘baby’.

At the end of the story I looked at Jack and told him that Sneetches was one of my favourite Dr. Seuss books, “I think it’s a really important one too, especially right now.”  Without a second thought he replied, “Yeah, it doesn’t matter if we’re different from someone else, we should always show respect.  So what if one Sneetch has a star on their belly, right?  You should respect everyone.”

With that, I thanked Dr. Seuss for giving us stories like A Wocket In My Pocket to just have fun and be silly with while also offering books like The Sneetches and Horton Hears a Who that are still fun, but, should we decide to, can be used as a springboard for much bigger conversations.

It makes me happy to picture my kids, years down the road, looking at their own bookshelves, seeing The Sneetches sitting there with its spine torn and ragged from years of reading.

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Spring Has Sprung

March Break is over and I have to admit I was a little sad to see the kids go back to school.  But, their being home with me each day last week renewed my appreciation for these quiet days where I can get work done, uninterrupted.  Of course, the weather is so beautiful today, the contradictory urges to both spring clean and frolic outside are tugging at my pant leg like an impatient toddler.

Spring has arrived so early that I feel unprepared:  I was going to be organized this year.  I was going to have my backyard garden planned out on paper and seeds planted indoors just waiting to be lovingly moved into their own little plot of organically fertilized soil.  My house was going to be free of clutter, cobwebs and the dust-ogres that tend to accumulate over the winter.  And, I was going to make sure that I was ready for the warm weather just as I wanted my house and garden to be.  I was going to confidently shake free of my sweaters with more pep-in-my-step, all achieved through a delicious, perfectly portioned, veggie-filled eating plan and exercise.

Okay, so I was a little overzealous.

Instead, I’m trying to find the right spot to transplant a lilac bush that still sits in the middle of my garden while I research what plants bees like best.  I have no seedlings started and, honestly, I don’t even know if I should have by now.  My house is slowly getting cleaned but, I had a small setback while organizing my dining room when I brilliantly decided it would be a better use of my time to start sanding and refinishing one of our cabinets.  What little progress I made on myself has been long-lost because I fell of the exercise wagon awhile back and, well, I’m not a good cook.

So not ready for spring.

I wrote a long time ago about finding my cool and, I’m saddened to report that almost two years later, I still haven’t found it.  Truthfully, I’ve given up looking because I’m pretty confident it was never there to begin with.  I’m totally okay with that – I’m learning to love my inner dork.  But, this early jump into spring has focused my mind on all things unfinished and unachieved, much the way New Year’s does for other people.

I will continue to remind myself that I had a lot more fun with the kids this past week playing and visiting with family and friends than I would have staying home to clean, but, I’m also promising myself that I will begin the baby-steps for summer preparation.

Tonight I will write a list of fruits and veggies I want in my garden.  Tomorrow? I exercise.  Wish me luck.

Are there any lingering to-do’s on your list before summer?

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Twenty-one hours

It seems to have become a bit of a new year tradition for us to pack the car and say goodbye to the snow as we drive to South Carolina.

Yes, that’s twenty-one hours in the car. With two kids. And, we’ve been doing it for the past four years.

This year, we loaded my phone with movies to help pass the time for the kids, but, to our surprise, they watched one movie in twenty-one hours.  To my horror, that left more than nineteen hours that I needed to fill.

It was a last-minute trip this year so I didn’t have time to do much planning.  We played car bingo which the kids had a love/hate relationship with (we’re still working on patience and delayed gratification).  The front-seaters got a little tired of the ‘when are we going to see a dooooog?? When are we gonna see an airplaaaane??’ whining from the back-seaters.  I found a fantastic website for mazes and games that kept the kids busy as well as introducing Jackson to the world of Sudoku.  Everyone’s favourite car activity though was a little something I threw together just before we were leaving.  I’m a big fan of imagination so I made a few pages with random shapes for the kids to turn into art.  They loved doing the same sheet over and over to come up with something new each time.  One of the sheets had a circle and stars at the top which I was sure would be turned into a moon but in the four versions they did, never once did those stars become part of a night sky.

We had a week away in a beautiful place where the weather was perfect.  We saw nature, ate well (honey almond ice-cream = going back next year ) and played, yet, some of our favourite memories are of the drive.  There’s something to be said for being stuck in a confined space together with no choice but to make the best of it.  Okay, to be honest, the drive home is never fun.  There’s nothing new and exciting to look forward to at the end so everyone’s nerves are a little more prickly (yes, by ‘everyone’ I mean ‘me’).  For the last five hours of every drive home my husband and I commit to flying next time…

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Poor Goofy

Last night we watched a commercial for a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse special featuring Minnie Mouse.  Jack, who hasn’t watched Clubhouse in years, exclaimed “That’s not fair! Minnie Mouse is taking over and it’s Mickey’s show!”

“I think it’s a special Valentine’s episode.”  Pointing back to the screen I say, “See, there’s Mickey – he’s still in it”

“Why would she be in the Valentine’s episode?”  A look of realization crosses his face, “Minnie isn’t his sister, is she?”

“Nope.  They love each other.”

“They’re boyfriend and girlfriend?”  he says as he mentally works out this new reality, “So then, Donald and Daisy? They’re not brother and sister either are they?”

“Nope.”

Jackson says with a sigh, “Well, that’s really sad, then. Goofy doesn’t have anybody.”

We decided poor Goofy seems happy enough, regardless.

 Valentine’s is coming quickly, I hope your day is filled with hugs and laughter. 

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Heart? Exploding.

The ring of our home phone pulled me away from what I was working on.  I grumbled as I looked at the call display thinking that I would have to head to school to pick up a sick child – my solitary work time done for the day.

My daughter’s senior kindergarten teacher was on the line, but she wasn’t asking me to pick Lily up.  Instead she was telling me, obviously very excited, how incredible the improvement that she’s seeing in Lily and her ability to recognize letters.

Happiness exploded from my every pore.

Lily has worked so hard through her speech delay and subsequent difficulties with letters – I can’t put into words the pride I felt talking to her teacher.

After school, the kids and I were playing in the backyard.  Lily went into the house while I gave Jack one last spin on the snow-covered swing.  He made a big-brother-seven-year-old-boy comment about how he could beat Lily in a fight.  I smiled knowing that Lily would be able to hold her own in his imaginary fight.  Still smiling, I leaned down and kissed his nose.  Nodding towards the house I quietly said, “Don’t dismiss your sister.  You should never dismiss anyone but it would be a big mistake to dismiss that little girl in there.”  It was obvious from his expression that he didn’t understand and didn’t want to discuss it any further.  And, I knew he wouldn’t grasp that my words had nothing to do with his being physically stronger.

Maybe it’s because I felt the sting each time someone tried to force words from Lily that she wasn’t able to say yet.  I would deflate with her as I watched her withdraw, not wanting to try for fear of getting it wrong again.  I held my breath when someone said ‘huh, you can actually see her personality now that she’s talking a little’ when Lily was more than three years old.   Maybe it’s all of these things that made me want to scream from the rooftop, ‘do not dismiss my kid!’ after a five minute phone call with her teacher.

Don’t dismiss anyone – each one of us is capable of boundless amounts of awesome.

I have a hard time getting through this video without getting a lump in my throat – this two-minute clip illustrates the vast capacity for awesome we all have.

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The Reluctant New Year’s Post

The first post of a new year – it’s a lot of pressure.  I wasn’t going to recognize the ringing in of 2012 at all since many people have done it so well already but none of the posts felt natural without mentioning it.  So, here it is:

It’s a new year and, it’s going to be a good one.

I picked up our local paper the other day and was shocked at the doom and gloom contained within it.  For a few moments, I’ll be honest, my stomach lurched as all of the potentially disastrous scenarios played themselves out in my mind, but, with a shake of my head and a folding of the paper I tried to put them out of my head.

I won’t bore you with a resolutions list (I don’t have one), but, here’s what I want 2012 to look like for me.  I am going to remember and share the kindness and beauty that is still present in everyday life, even if it’s missing from much of our media.  I might share videos like this (nature is amazing) or this (seriously I tear every time – it’s ridiculous) or perhaps this (I love this series ‘move’, ‘eat’ and ‘learn’. They make me smile every time).  I will remember that for every person who nearly knocked over one of my children while we were out this holiday season, there were five others who were kind and had nothing but smiles to share.  These are some of the things I will focus on in 2012.

I don’t know what’s in store for this year.  I’m going to do things a lot differently with mocobabies – I don’t know what it will all be or how it will turn out, but, that’s the fun of it.  It’s going to be a year of trying new things –  not just thinking about them.

Ups and downs are an inevitable part of life, but the doom and gloom doesn’t have to be.  I’m going to do better, try harder and live happier – it’s going to be a good year.

To start it off, here is a colouring page for the letter A that I will post on Facebook and twitter – print it, colour it and have fun making the airplane sign and noises!

Do you make resolutions?  Do you revisit the list at the end of the year?

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Bits of Awesome

My Christmas season roundup of the little bits of day-to-day awesome. 

A stranger handed me a coupon for twenty percent off the poinsettia I was about to purchase.  So kind.

My brother-in-law and sister-in-law graciously took over Christmas hosting duties for us  when we weren’t able to clean up some house repairs in time.

And, finally, we received the sweetest note from a neighbour about our sweet dog who passed away this summer. Molly died five months ago and our friend’s note letting us know how much she was still missed gave my husband and I pause to remember and smile.

What little bits of awesome have you experienced lately?

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