Sunday, June 28, 2009

Field Trips

I don't like school field trips. In fact, I think I'm allergic to them. I usually have nightmares the night before a school field trip and I stress about it constantly during the days prior. What about if my kids get lost? How about if they get hurt? If the bus crashes, it will be my fault for letting them go! I know, it's insane and dark but that's just the way my brain works! I have tried to work on this fear for a long time but I couldn't even bring myself to chaperon the field trips - I would do the next best thing: send Daddy along to watch! I don't think I've ever accepted out loud that I have a "field trip" phobia but now that I've confessed, I feel a lot better :-)

Things have changed for me (apparently!) since we moved to Seattle. Hey, I'm the one without a job (yeah, right!), so it's assumed that I'm the one going on the field trips with the kids....besides, I'm a "stay at home mom" so I have nothing better to do and apparently no other choice either! Well, my take on the field trip experience has changed a bit (still have nightmares) because the nature, and I say NATURE again, of the trips here are related to nature (parks, beaches, lakes) and are in nature, well, a learning experience for children and adults alike. In the past year and 1/2 I've been to a water processing plant, observed birds in the wild, pulled blackberry plants out of a field, visited a pumpkin farm, played at the park (s), visited an "urban pond" and checked out the low tide at the nearby beach. For a city girl, this is quiet a record for "nature" encounters. Let's not forget also the very evolved experience of watching the Nutcracker Ballet with a preschool class (at a real theater) - impressive!

On that note, let me clarify that Victor IS, by far, the king of field trips - not only does he go once but twice sometimes (he is in the same classroom with two different groups - loooong story) - and he leads the way for the rest of us in enthusiasm and excitement over the adventures each trip represents for him. Of course, Frankie tags along to most of Victor's field trip and he's become the "class mascot" at this point. He went from being Victor's little brother to being recognized as Frankie by both classes. They welcome him to join the group and actually expect his company. It wasn't until a couple of weeks ago that the tables turned and it was Victor who joined Frankie on a field trip with his preschool class. Frankie was delighted to bring his brother along and show him his teachers and his friends. Victor became "Frankie's Big Brother" to Frankie's classmates and he did act like such, following Frankie around and making sure he stayed out of trouble. We played in the playground and had lunch together and at the end of the field trip these two were now on equal terms - Frankie had allowed Victor to join HIS adventure and it was a fun experience for all.....including me.

Victor and Frankie exploring the low tide at Richmond Beach

Victor and Frankie playing at the park during Frankie's recent field trip.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Super married, noodles and the moon

Victor told me today that "super married" people usually eat spaghetti together and end up kissing each other. But only if they are "super married." Of course, while I am trying to make sense of this statement with him, I am picturing the Lady and the Tramp in my head.....

But then again, I am a girl. Victor had something else in mind.....

He was talking about a Pucca episode he had watched earlier. I don't even like this head hurts when I try to make sense of it and it's beyond me why my kids enjoy it at all. Well, the story goes something like "the lady and the tramp" (figures!) but they eat noodles, not spaghetti. Then there is the thing about the "super married" as opposed as to just "normal married" and it has to do with the full moon. Victor made sure to tell me not to worry, I was not super married to dad, we were just "normal married" but this is BETTER! See, we have not been affected by the full moon at all and that's a positive.....this is the funny stuff I would have probably missed if I would be in a office from 9-5; I find it hard to believe that I would have given Victor the time of day with some crazy story about the moon, noodles and married people. There you have it, the conversations at lunch time with the kids are just priceless to me. I might have missed their first steps, their first smile and many "firsts" but life has given me another chance at it and I am now appreciating what it brings along.

I will be sure to let Raci know not to worry about the moon affecting our marriage and making it a "super" one - we are just normal married and that's just fine....

The good news is that we don't need to eat noodles for kissing!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Capri Sun and the joy of caring

God is in the small things. Indeed He is - even in a bag of Capri Sun.

More than milk and eggs and cheese, Capri Sun juice is a "staple" at our house. We can run out of bread but not of Capri Sun bags, no way! Capri Sun bags go into lunch boxes, come along in picnics, go to the beach and to the drive-in movies, and pretty much are the snack of choice in our afternoons along with some cheeze-it too! Those handy-dandy juice bags have helped us make the transition out of the "sippy cup" stage and have given our kids the freedom and independence to help themselves to a drink (out of the fridge), without the help of mom or dad. Furthermore, they have empowered them to make choices without prompts or coaching, enabling us to see the fruit of our labors. Thanks to a bag of Capri Sun, delivered by our youngest, to his big brother, we had the chance to confirm that our kids care for one another. Frankie didn't ask Victor if he was thirsty, instead he figured if he was thirsty, chances were his brother was thirsty too. He marched to the fridge, got a bag of juice and went back to watch TV. Before he got back to the family room, he stopped, as if he was remembering something and then turned back and grabbed another bag and then offered it to his brother. All those times we taught him to offer, to share, to ask his playmates (therapists) if they wanted to share his snack or would like to have a drink, I thought we were teaching him to be polite, to fit in this society but I never pretended that he would learn something else along the way: true caring. We have always thought that Frankie is lucky to have older siblings that would be there for him, once we are gone, to care for him and to watch out for anything the future might bring for Frankie. Now, I'm sure that Frankie's older siblings are lucky too because Frankie will also be there to take care of them as well.

Caring is a two way street in our family and I trust that Capri Sun bags will be exchanged among us for many more years to come!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fish Tea

The best tea ever is fish tea! You can't buy it at Starbucks but it's easy to make; just throw in a few plastic fish inside an oversized plastic tea pot and fill with water from your bath tub - there you have it, FISH TEA! My kids stumbled over this great beverage by pure chance this evening while taking a bath in my roman tub - a weekend-only treat, the mess is huge! To make the experience more special, we have gone from bubbles to water guns and lately the bath tub has become a lake full of fish that are waiting to be catched by my two fishermen. I never saw the whole "tea-thing" coming when I threw this plastic tea pot in the water; I figured they would use it to pour water over each other's head...they had some other plans for it. I almost fell off the border of the tub when Frankie offered Victor some "tea" and Victor cheerfully answered "sure, sure, pour me some fish tea, please!" Frankie was laughing so loud, it was hilarious to watch them doing their very dignified tea routine...with fish inside the pot. The situation was so funny in so many levels that I had to blog about it! I have to admit it's been weird to have the boys play with "girlish" toys in order to help Frankie figure out social behaviors, like caring for dolls, using cooking utensils with play food/plates, etc...The plastic tea pot came with a set of cups and saucers and other pretend stuff and I just kept it lying around...hellooooooo!!!! It's got pink handles! After the boys came up with the "fish tea" I sure don't have any worries; boys will be boys, no matter what they play with....only a boy will enjoy drinking "fish tea," while naked and serve it with a good laugh on the side!