Friday, May 31, 2013


All my usual walking partners were not available tonight ... so ... not expecting an affirmative response:
Me to Oldest Son:"Wanna go walking with me?
Oldest Son: "Sure"
Me: "Really?"
So we walked and talked for an hour. Mommy Heaven!

Then as I said good night to my 13 year old ...
Oldest Son: "Mommy, I had fun walking with you tonight."
Mommy Nirvana. Seriously, my heart sings.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Week with Commuter Husband

This Morning:

Youngest Son says with a look of surprise "Daddy, you are here?" 

Obviously, Youngest Son knows Commuter Husband is usually gone before he wakes at the beginning of each school week. But this week is different. Commuter Husband is taking a week of vacation at home in Dallas!

We have lots of end of school activities, ballgames, doctor appointments, events, household chores and preparations for our Summer travels. Although it has not and will not be a leisurely 10 days, we are excited to have Commuter Husband in the fray of our week days. It is oh so nice to have him helping with car pools, emails, general child care, etc.

And the Best Part? Sitting around the dinner table tonight after Youngest Son's and Oldest Son's baseball games eating Commuter Husband's savory roasted chicken with green beans, potatoes, onions & carrots and talking about all the stuff from our day ...

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Boys, Meet the Press

Opening Logo in 1947
Commuter Husband and I are socially liberal and electronically conservative. We are THOSE parents who have been purposely deliberate with the devices made available to the boys and the associated screen time (any kind of screen) our children are granted.

One impact of not having the television on at all during the week and very little on the weekends is that our children have never watched daily or weekly news programs. Thus, Oldest Son and Youngest Son have limited exposure to current events - main sources are us, events attended, reading, radio, school and our travels.

We have new factors in our family life. Oldest Son became a Quiz Bowler this year and one area of questions is Current Events. Oldest Son turned 13 and Youngest Son goes into Middle School next year.

It is time.

This morning we turned on Meet the Press and we will make this a Sunday morning ritual. I just ordered weekly delivery of the New York Times. We will proactively seek other sources to engage Oldest Son and Youngest Son.

So what happened this morning? Commuter Husband immediately started espousing his many political opinions. I sometimes agreed and sometimes did not (typical.) Oldest Son asked "What is the IRS?" Oh my gosh! I suppressed the urge to show my astonishment at his question and instead patiently explained to him what the Internal Revenue Service responsibilities included and why the IRS is important.

Yes, it is definitely time.

So we enter another phase of child rearing. The phase where we stop shielding the boys and instead expose and explain to them. Together we will try to make sense of atrocities, greediness and dishonesty. We will talk about tikkun olam, repairing the world, and how we share a responsibility to heal, repair and transform the world.

I am selfishly looking forward to this part of parenting. I always, always enjoy learning and spirited discussion!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Blasted Rocket!

The black circular part at the bottom is deceiving in its complexity to build!
Some things I try very, very hard to keep within Commuter Husband's area of responsibilities. One of those is Rocket Day. Kids love building and shooting their rockets and some of their parents do too. Two weeks ago Commuter Husband helped Youngest Son equip himself for today's rocket launch.

Youngest Son shot four blast offs before his rocket malfunctioned this afternoon. And guess what?  Youngest Son has a second Rocket Day tomorrow which means we get to build a new rocket tonight. Not part of my original plan, for sure.

Imagine overly excited kid and agitated Mommy who wishes Commuter Husband was home to help with the great rocket build. How did it go for Youngest Son and me?

  • I grumble
  • Youngest Son starts grabbing stuff and sticking glue on it & oh my gosh that is not right!
  • We yell at each other
  • Youngest Son burns his finger when he insisted on using the glue gun
  • We yell at each other
  • Youngest Son runs to neighbor house to borrow a different kind of glue
  • We yell at each other
  • Perhaps we laugh a bit at this point
  • The neighbor's glue is not the right kind
  • Oh NO ... we broke a critical plastic bit
  • Youngest Son cries
  • Well not so broken, I figure out how to fix it
  • We yell at each other but not quite as vehemently
  • I manage to get the awful glue gun to hold the parts together
  • Youngest Son holds his finger under cold water to sooth blister forming from glue gun burn
  • We start to smile
  • A piece is missing that was lost when Youngest Son tore open box between store and house
  • We yell a tiny bit more
  • Oldest Son joins the scene
  • We improvise for the missing piece
  • We are smiling
  • The rocket is finished
  • Youngest Son is supremely confident that the rocket will work tomorrow (I am not so sure)
  • Youngest Son gives me a sincere hug and we go on with our evening
Evil Glue Gun

Sunday, May 12, 2013

My Three Gems

Youngest Son and I have already had a little fruit with lots of whip cream at this point!
Mother's Day 2013 was wonderful with Commuter Family. It started with a watermelon fruit bowl, a smoothie and coffee (of course!) served in bed. Then I opened my cards. The homemade cards from Oldest Son and Youngest Son were simply remarkable. Each son showed his own unique heart in how each chose to express himself.

Oldest Son cut out a pink heart on which he wrote a simple message and also indicated he put his feelings "on a screen." As I ate my breakfast in bed, he whipped out his Acer laptop and ran a PowerPoint with inspiring images accompanied by bullet points to communicate his sweet and so thoughtful Mother's Day wishes for me. He both surprised and touched me with his creative effort. My 7th grader is growing up this year which is forcing my Mommy brain to think of him in different ways (it is that inevitable bittersweetness of parenting.)

Youngest Son wrote a poem and made his card for me. He created pouches in the card to hold the gems he had collected as his own souvenirs on his school trip to Inner Space a couple weeks ago. His poem matched each of the precious stones unselfishly gifted to me. This child's soul is generous and sincere ...
Youngest Son gave me gems more valuable than diamonds - corny but true.
Commuter Husband concluded the card extravaganza with a naughty and hilarious (not kid appropriate) store bought card that had me literally laughing through my tears.

If the day had ended right there. It would have been enough. More than enough.

But we then hit the road early to arrive at the Scarborough Renaissance Festival and watch the "before the gates open" shtick. We started there at 9:45am and left at 6:45 pm. Fun. Fun. Fun. This was the boys' first renaissance festival.

Attending a renaissance festival with these boys means lots of time in the armories, engaging in competition, throwing things and watching shows involving weapons, magic and/or bawdy humor.

Oldest Son and Youngest Son in the Armory, of course.
Oldest Son, ME (yes ME in the middle) and Youngest Son about to spare with metal swords, for real.
See those 3 black balloons on our shoulders and head? Those are the targets and we are dead when all 3 popped! I was the first one dead and Oldest Son was the knighted winner.  
Oldest Son participating in the History of Weapons talk by a Scottish Highlander.
Youngest Son was beat by the chap in the kilt. Youngest Son put forth a commendable effort. 
My kind of day. I see the three gems bestowed on me by Youngest Son also representing My Three Gems: Loving Commuter Husband the Amethyst, Sweet Oldest Son the Citrine and Soulful Youngest Son the Fluorite. 

Oh so sappy I am this evening :)

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Calendar

Our Life
Our Commuter Family has a master Google Calendar. It is a regular rainbow of colors for the many calendars we use the track our lives - those we have created and those we feed in through URLs. Youngest Son and Oldest Son have access to all the Calendars. Oldest Son maintains his (mostly) and Youngest Son uses to know what is happening. Afternoon Nanny and Car Pool Buddies use some.

Long ago, I put a kibosh to the boys' whining about not knowing when something was going to happen or where it was happening. They are expected to look at the calendar. I finally refused to be the only communication channel. (In full disclosure, I do still populate most of the calendars.)

This week, Youngest Son observed on the Google Calendar that Mommy with Commuter Husband (me) had events I am attending without other family members. Then he realized there are outings that both Commuter Husband and I are attending without kids - our kids - him. His immediate reaction was "No fair!"

My reaction is a smile.

First, it is good for our children to realize the world does not revolve around them. We constantly fight the over-parenting paradigm of our generation. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we succumb. This was one tiny victory.

Secondly, Commuter Husband and I have been trying to carve out more husband and wife time. Time as a couple frequently shifts to a lower priority. If Youngest Son has noticed we are doing more adult stuff then we have made progress here too!

Sunday, May 5, 2013


I have had lots of reasons over the past year to consider my own hierarchy of happiness factors. Recent publicity around the famous Harvard Grant Study on happiness cited:

"That the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”
The Atlantic June 2009: What Makes Us Happy?

“The seventy-five years and twenty million dollars expended on the Grant Study points … to a straightforward five-word conclusion: ‘Happiness is love. Full stop.’ ”
The Atlantic May 2013: What Make Us Happy, Revisited

Here is the catch. Relationships do not just happen. Relationships require an investment of time.

Relationship possibilities are everywhere. There is the obvious love interest - your partner in life. Then there are grandmother, grandfather, mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin, son, daughter, nephew, niece, stepparent, step-sibling, friend, neighbor, teacher, mentor, work colleague, clergyman and more.

Friendships are particularly interesting because these are the people we get to choose to be our quasi-family. There is not enough ink for me to write about the friends I have that make me happy. Some of these friends I talk to multiple times a week, some multiple times a month and some just every once in a while. At some point, we have formed an unbreakable bond through growing up together or achieving adulthood together or working together or raising children together or just sharing a meaningful moment in time. I also have several important relationships found on unconventional paths.

Familial relationships can be tricky. Blood does not always equate to closeness and warmth. Life dealt me an early loss that had a ripple effect still felt today. However, the enormity of my feelings for my sons and my brother more than compensate. The Harvard study specifically called out happiness indicators of a warm mother and son relationship (a timely reminder as Oldest Son becomes a teenager) and loving sibling interactions (love, love, love my brother dearly.)   

The last year has brought on the most profound change with my life partner - my Commuter Husband. Our choices and fate have dealt us situations that would either cripple us or transform us. My April birthday present from Commuter Husband was not expensive or large or sparkly or elaborate. It was not the usual humorous store bought card . This year he wrote from the heart ... an excerpt below (with his permission) ...

"It is kind of like you are my favorite piece of art. I look at you again and again and I notice little details that I haven’t noticed before that give my favorite art a richness to it.  You are my art!  Every day I notice little things about you that I appreciate.  You are extremely passionate about what you spend your time on.  You are constantly imagining “what if?”  You are the best  friend anyone could ask for!"

So I heartily agree with the Harvard study. 
Relationships with people matter. Happiness is Love. Full stop.