A Day to Celebrate Motherhood

5.24.2016

This month has been a whirlwind... Work has required me to attend numerous events--retirement parties, award banquets, commencement, and the like...  Then my son, of course, has been keeping me busy with rollerskating lessons, swim lessons, Cub Scout outings, and birthday parties.

Three weeks ago, May became further eventful when Lewie accidentally spilled a glass of water all over my laptop.  My first reaction was to think the computer would be fine after it had a chance to dry.  Not so.  Although I still have access to the internet, half the keys on my keyboard don't work.   I was forced to buy a new one, which should be arriving, finally, in a few more days.  It has been a long three weeks without one--and a long three weeks without blogging!

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Mother's Day came early this year, and so there was some last minute running around to buy gifts for my mom and mother-in-law.  The weekend was cold and rainy.  Still, the sun came out in time for us to have dinner at our favorite restaurant--The Hopkins Inn.  The past two years we were able to enjoy their beautiful patio overlooking Lake Waramaug.  This year, the patio was closed (due to the rain), but we still enjoyed eating in their very charming dining room, which dates back to the 1800s.

Although the restaurant is somewhat formal, our dinner conversation was the usual--lots of laughing, potty humor, and the typical jokes that entertain a seven year-old and forty-five year-old husband equally.  Heck, my mom and I enjoyed ourselves just as much.  "You can dress us up, but you can't take us out," seems to be the slogan that describes us best.

After dinner, we visited the Hopkins Vineyard next door, bought a few treats, and then returned home in time to start preparing for the work week once again.








Flowers from my "boys."

Going to the Hopkins Inn has now become a tradition for us for the past four years; it's an opportunity to treat my mom, family, and myself to a fancy dinner, and quite honestly, I wouldn't want to go anywhere else.  Still for me, Mother's Day is just a day because I feel loved and appreciated by my son all year long.  At age seven, he still gives me daily hugs, kisses, and "I love yous."  He asks me to play with him even if there's a group of friends nearby; he requests me to tuck him in at night; and he's overjoyed when I tell him I'm getting out from work early so we can spend the day together.  Yes, motherhood can be exhausting (and even a little frustrating when a computer needs to be replaced), but my days are now filled with meaning and purpose, which makes it oh so worth it!

An Awesome Day of...Bike Riding!

4.24.2016

Last week, my husband took the training wheels and pedals off of Lewie's bike.  Then, for several days, Lewie started walking and gliding with it to gain his balance.  He was getting there--I even posted about it. 

This week, I took Friday off to spend time with Lewie on his April vacation.  We brought his bike out in our driveway, and he practiced coasting from the top of the driveway to the garage.  On his fifth try, I saw a transformation.  The kid that was once using his feet to steady himself was now coasting with feet up--fully confident with his new skill.  "Let's try again," I'd say, excited to watch his progress in such a short time. 

On Saturday, yesterday, I instructed my husband to put Lewie's pedals back on:  "You're probably not going to believe this, but Lewie's ready to ride. I just know it."  I had Lewie demonstrate his new skill in the driveway, and then we went to our town's rec center where he would have more room to pedal.

At first, we started out in the grass.  We'd push Lewie as his feet were on the pedals, and Daddy would run with him, holding the back of his seat for support.  After a few tries in the grass, Lewie was ready for pavement.  After a short while, it was clear that Lewie was riding on his own, but my husband just wouldn't stop holding onto the back seat of the bike.  "Lew, let go!" I commanded.  I repeated myself again and again.

Then, my husband, tired from all the running with Lewie, wearily let go of the bike;  Lewie was, in fact, riding on his own!  "Look, you're doing it," we cheered to Lewie.  "You're riding on your own without any training wheels!" 



It was a magical moment.  So magical that we didn't want the riding to stop. 

There have been many milestones in Lewie's seven years--first word, first step, first day of school, etc.  In these milestones, we cheer.  We get excited.  Sometimes, we even brag.  Then, for a brief moment, we also lament.  This new skill is another step toward independence--another action that doesn't need Mommy or Daddy.  It's scary to "let go."  I know what my husband was feeling..."What if I let go and he falls?"  "What if I let go, and he doesn't need me anymore?"  Both thoughts are terrifying.  And yet, that's what we do as parents.  That's what we must do.  Our job is to give our children wings...

Yesterday was one of the most gratifying days of my life because I gave Lewie the tools and the confidence to succeed, and yet tears are dropping on my keyboard as I write this.  I'm happy Lewie learned how to ride--I'm already daydreaming about bike trips, boardwalks, and trail riding.  Still, I cry because Lewie is growing up.  This is the great paradoxes of parenthood I suppose.  And life...well it rolls on!

One happy boy!!

Practicing...

4.19.2016

Lewie loves riding his bicycle with training wheels.  He rode all last year with them on, but they, of course, didn't teach him how to have balance. 

This year, I'm determined to teach Lewie how to ride.  I learned when I was his age (seven), so I figure we can keep the age a long running family tradition.  When I was first learning, I remember countless days of trying to ride while my mom ran with me, her arms balancing my handlebars.  Then, on one sunny afternoon, it just clicked.  I put my feet on the pedals, rolled down our driveway, and voila, I was riding!

After watching some advice online, my husband and I decided to take off Lewie's training wheels and pedals, so his bike could be more like a balance bike.  We first went to our local park where he practiced on a flat track around our softball fields.  "Push, push, glide," I commanded.  We practiced for a good hour, but then Lewie spotted his favorite cousin Sarah playing tennis with one of her friends, and the rest of the day was history.

On Sunday, I decided to take Lewie to the college where I work.  Since our college tends to function more as a commuter school, I knew most of the parking lots would be barren, and there's hills too.  We practiced pushing and gliding, but we also practiced coasting down some inclines too.  Sometimes he appeared to have his balance, and sometimes he relied on his feet the whole time.  We practiced for several hours, and we did get one step closer.  (Plus, there were no kids [or cousins] around to distract him.)

This week, being spring break, we're determined to get more practice--either in our driveway or at my college again.  I'm looking forward to reporting some exciting news soon...





Lewie sitting in Mommy's big office chair after some major practicing.

First Friend (that's a Girl!)

4.04.2016

Lewie has made a number of friends this year in first grade.  He has his two friends from Cub Scouts, Brody and Hunter; his friends from school, Justin, Aidan, and Erik; and his friends from previous years, Ryan, Patrick, Landon, Kirsten, etc.

Still, he has the friends he has made (because Mommy happens to be friends with their moms) and the friends he's made because well, he's actually "clicked" with these boys on his own.  Lately, however, Lewie has been mentioning a girl he likes in class too. 

Lewie:  "Mommy, I let her cut me in line all the time, and she tells me, 'Lewie, you are such a good boy!'"

Me:  "Oh, well that's a very nice thing to do."  (Is that how I'm supposed to reply?)

Lewie:  "Mommy, she makes my heart so happy."

Me:  "That's sweet."

Lewie:  "Yes, I'd like to have a play date with her."

Now, there have been a few rare occasions when Lewie has actually asked to have a play date with someone (boy or girl), but usually it is a fleeting request that happens once and is never asked again.  This time is different... and this weekend, I had the chance of meeting this little girl (and her mom) at one of their classmate's birthday parties. 



So far, I must say that my son has good taste.  This little girl is a sweetheart, and her mom and I have already become fast friends.  I suspect that a future play date will be in the works...

Happy (belated) Easter!

3.29.2016

Easter came early this year--so early that we didn't get to color eggs or make special birds-nest cupcakes like we did in prior years...  Still, we had a chance to go to mass and then go out to eat with our family (which becomes smaller and smaller each year).

Just as the Easter season elicits both the sentiments of sadness and rejoicing, our holiday felt the same way.  My father-in-law died back in September, and my husband, of course, is still grieving.  For him, he didn't just lose a father--he lost a best friend, a confidant, and "the man of wisdom" in his family.  Celebrating the holiday without him was tough.  And quite honestly, these past few months have been tough.  My husband's sadness and grief have turned into feelings of anger, despair, and depression.  He wakes up in the middle of the night sobbing, and although our faith teaches us that there is more than just this little life of ours, he still can't shake the feeling that his dad is "gone," fearing that he'll never have a chance to speak with him again...

It's at times like these and during holidays like Easter that we are called to "keep the faith."  We are reminded that there's an after-life with God and our loved ones and that our mistakes on earth are forgiven with God's great love.  I remind my husband that he will see his dad again--that his dad is most likely watching and protecting him now as we speak.  Still, for my husband, there's a void and an emptiness that is shaking both his faith and hope for the future.  We're seeking therapy, and I'm praying for him.  I desperately want to stop his emotional pain and suffering, and yet, even as his wife, I am still nothing more than a bystander, a mere onlooker, in this process.  Nothing that I say or do works...

The joy of this Easter, of course, was celebrating this wonderful holiday with Little Lewie.  My mom and aunts spoiled him with candy and presents as usual, and of course, the Easter Bunny paid us a visit too.  He's been grieving the loss of Papa in his own way too, but I make certain that we talk to God and Papa all the time, so he knows that they're close to us.  Believing is a gift; it's the gift of Easter.  Now if I could only wrap this gift up and give it to my husband. 

It looks like the Easter Bunny may have hid some eggs...

My annual Easter photo of Lewie posing in front of our church sign.

Lewie and "Aunt" Karen

Lewie with "Aunty Kiki" (and his Thomas the Train gift)

My mom and Lewie

Our family


Trying to cheer up my husband...

Posing in front of the Connecticut River

Happy (belated) Easter from our family to yours!

Homework!

3.17.2016

Everyone told me there'd be homework in first grade.  I laughed.  What?  A few fill-in-the-blank sentences, a ditto of simple addition problems, maybe a seek-and-find word search. 

In the beginning, Lewie's homework was exactly how I described it above--simple.  However, as the expectations grew, and I was informed my son's reading and math skills were not up to par, homework became challenging.  Now, along with the ten-minute dittos, there were books to read, flashcards to drill, and math facts to memorize.  Then, of course, the projects came too--make your own boat, make a gingerbread man, create a Leprechaun trap.  (If there's one thing I learned from Pinterest, it's that I have not been blessed with a creative gene, and my son takes right after me in this department too.) 

The creative projects, it seems, take the most  time for us, and my son and I both lose patience when a piece of tape doesn't want to stay in place, too much glue spurts out all at once, or an idea for a trap door seems to work perfectly in our heads but not so well in real life.   Convincing my son these projects are fun and useful is another challenge. In today's age of technology, my son would rather learn how to design a boat using Photoshop on a computer than glue a bunch of popsicle sticks in real life.

I'm not complaining.  Homework is designed to teach important skills, lessons, and facts.  Still, this new "homework chapter" has changed our carefree days of play into days of discipline and structure.  This weekend, for example, was reserved for completing our geography fair project and Leprechaun trap.  "The weekend went by too fast," my son complained when Monday came around.  I agreed. 

It's necessary, and yet, I'm not a big fan either.  After coming home from an eight hour day of work, I open Lewie's book bag; sift through a sea of papers about upcoming activities, permission forms, fundraisers, and theme days; mark my calendar accordingly before the information eludes me; and then plot out our time to do work.  What activities do we have tonight?  Is there time for dinner?  Can we manage to read a book or two before we go out the door?  Oh darn, it's bath night. 

The plain reality is that I/we have at least another eleven more years of this routine.  I'm hoping my son will become more independent with his school work as he gets older, but for now, we've entered the age of "homework."  Boy do I miss those carefree toddler days when we could spend hours just running around acting silly at the playground.


Lewie's Leprechaun trap. 

The idea, of course, is that the Leprechaun will be so mesmerized by the gold and the rainbow that he won't recognize that he'll be falling right into a carefully covered-over "pit of doom."

Lewie's older cousin showing off her geography fair project.


Our final project about Beacon Falls.

Lewie-isms - Age 7

3.09.2016

I started this blog when Lewie was only a year old; now he's seven.  Time is going by faster, it seems, with each year.  There are days when I literally wish I could freeze time. 

Lewie - 18 months old

Lewie - Seven
I remember when I was seven years-old.  I loved going outside on the swings in my backyard, playing with Barbie Dolls, and going to tap-dance lessons each week.  I didn't like school.  I didn't like my teachers, and I'm pretty sure I was behind in both math and reading.  My parents divorced when I was five, so there was still an empty feeling inside our house too.  I became my mom's buddy, and in my mind, school kept me from being with her.  (By then, I was also a master conniver--I knew how to play sick in the nurse's office, so I could go home!)

I look at Lewie now and often wonder how his life is different from mine.  He loves the swings (and his trampoline) but would prefer to play video games all day if I don't force him to go outside.  He loves swimming, roller skating, playing with LEGOS and computers; he recently asked me how to use PowerPoint, and he's good at it.  He doesn't like school.  He very wisely tells me how our weekends should be three days or four days long.  Like me, he's a little behind in his reading, but unlike me, his math skills are excellent.  He's also quite the conversationalist.

Only three short years ago, I was worried that Lewie might have a speech impediment; now talking, quite honestly, is what my little boy does best!  Here are some of my favorite "Lewie-isms" at age 7.

-"To be honest to you..."  (Instead of saying with you, he says to you.  Ex.  "To be honest to you, I really like this Iron Man Super Suit." )

-"Well actually...basically...apparently..."  (I don't believe I used any of these words until I was in college, but Lewie uses them all the time.  Ex.  Well apparently, Mine Craft has a new mod where the animals can talk.")

-"That is interesting to me." - Interesting is pronounced "in-tres-ing."

-"I'm sad.  It's a Monday.  Why can't there be more weekend days?"

-"Mommy, can you go to CCD with me?  It's too much like school."

-"I never have time for videos."

-"Mommy, don't ever sell Tigey!"  (Tigey is his stuffed animal tiger that goes to bed with him at night.)

-"Why can't I sleep in bed with you and Daddy?"

-"Mommy, can we talk more about heaven?"  (Lewie is still sad about losing our dear Papa in September.  We talk about God, heaven, and angels.  I'm not sure what I said, but now Lewie has told me he wants to be an angel because they have superpowers.)

-"Mommy, I think God sent me to earth to help people."  (My son has become quite the spiritual seven year-old.)

One of my favorite moments happened a few weeks ago.  I had to be away for a weekend (our College is searching for a new President, and I was on the screening committee).  When I came home, Lewie asked to sleep in bed with me.  Before we fell asleep, he whispered, "Mommy, I just want to stare at your face all night long."  I jokingly told my husband that Lewie is the now the new "romantic" in the house. 

Here's to wishing I could freeze this age for another few years...  Thankfully, Lewie won't be eight until August.