parenting

Letting our kids grow up

Children at school classroom

Hello, readers! Today I’m tackling a hairy parenting topic known as letting our kids grow up and find their way. I feel this is necessary after I witnessed a meet and greet with a new teacher this week that can only be described as a well intentioned assembly that went off the rails. Yes, it’s late in the school year. Yes, our school had to replace one of their teachers (who I previously wrote about here). Yes, we can do this.

If you don’t want to click the link for the backstory, here’s a brief synopsis of the issue. New teacher acts inappropriately many times. New teacher enjoys a great deal of “bathroom/locker room humor” with 10-14 year olds. Kids, of course, love said teacher because he acts like a peer and not an authoritative, adult teacher. Teacher not a good fit and leaves with seven weeks to go in the school year. I don’t know all the whats and whys behind the leaving but I trust the school did what was appropriate. Yesterday we got to meet his replacement, a highly qualified individual with a doctorate, and from what I could tell from his message to parents, many years experience with a variety of grade levels and sound teaching practices.

I don’t want to be disrespectful to the dissenting parents because I’m sure they come from an authentic place, motivated by nothing but pure love for their children and all the hopes for their successful completion of the school year. This is middle school, mind you, an important transitional period for our kids. I can attest to how painful this school year has been for us in dealing with peer relations, changing hormones and hearing on a nearly bi-weekly basis from one teacher or another about disruptive behavior being displayed by our beloved son. Whether we survive the year is yet to be seen.

However, I was taken aback by how some parent’s interpretation of being involved in their child’s schooling, rises to a whole new level. Some questions being lobbed. How come we didn’t get more notice there will be a test tomorrow? How can I help him/her study for this test with so little notice? Will you grade this test on a curve? I don’t have time to help him/her with the project you assigned. I don’t know about you guys, but it’s my goal NOT to be involved with helping my son with these things. For starters, I don’t understand much of what it he is learning because I already did all this myself, without parental intervention many, many  years ago. I do not want to do it again. If he doesn’t understand the material, he needs to speak with his teacher, not with his father or me.

The most guidance my son needs from me right now is navigating the trickiness of becoming a teenager. He is a major over-reactor and this scene from Father of the Bride always comes to mind for me when he acts out in an over-the-top way.

Basically, after he flips out over hot dog buns, George Banks sheepishly admits to coming from a long line of over-reactors. So too, does my son?

You know what is needed in times like these? Patience. Humor. Trust. A trust that we’ll all survive this. A trust that we’re doing okay if we’re not hovering over every move our kids make at home and at school. A trust that just like us, our kids will survive this year and the many to come just fine. I don’t want to get too involved but I want him to know he can always talk to us about anything, big or small. I will not solve his problems for him but I can share my experience in similar situations. One of his teachers recommended a book to us called The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey, and it reinforces the essentialness of failure in our kids growing up years so they can learn to make their own way. I’ll be giving it a read soon. I am far from doing this perfectly by I’ll keep trying to give my kid wings.

What’s your take? Are we giving our kids enough room to grow?

MC

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Life

The Philosophy of Kanye West

Kanye_West_at_the_2009_Tribeca_Film_Festival

Yesterday as I was perusing my Twitter feed and something weird kept popping up. Retweets of random messages from Kanye West. I am not a follower and I don’t subscribe to the whole Kardashian way of living so I was a little surprised by this.  How did these tweets make their way into my timeline? Why is everyone retweeting Kanye? Why did The Skimm’s top link today reference this tweet storm? Turns out Kanye is writing a book about philosphy. And guys, he’s doing it in real time on Twitter. I am questioning what kind of parallel universe I’m living in.

I like to go right to the source of things so I made my way over to his Twitter feed and clicked follow. Am I falling into a trap here? Thanks to my stint working in a newsroom, I think I have a healthy dose of cynicism skepticism and so immediately tried to discern a motive for his sudden interest in writing these brief tweets. Is Kanye’s philosophizing all about drawing eyeballs to himself? So he can sell more whatever? Albums. Clothing. Lifestyle. Page views. Some of the things he was saying seem to go against the entire grain of what the Kardashians seem to be about.

Here’s a quote I found from the article at the link above:

kanye.PNG

Does this sound like his wife much? Maybe I’m being harsh but Kim seems to have taken hundreds of thousands of photographs. Of herself. Selfies everywhere you go. How does this sit with the current iteration of Kanye West? Is it time to get rid of everything?

So Kanye had a tweet-storm of words yesterday and some of it even made sense.

I guess sometimes wise words can come from unexpected sources. Is it original? No. One of his tweets is a direct shout out to this.

It’s a good reminder to live in the now. To put away your phone and tune into yourself. But I still think there’s an ulterior motivation here.

MC

Life

An Ode to TGI Friday’s

TGIFI haven’t been to a TGI Friday’s in years. I recently read something that Millenials are killing off these casual chain restaurants (like Ruby Tuesdays, Applebee’s and TGI Friday) with preferences for healthier food and it kind of makes me a little sad. I’m not sad people are eating healthier – we are all trying to do that. What I’m sad about is what TGI Friday’s meant to me in my young adulthood as the place to gather for happy hour (with free food which was definitely not healthy) and to catch up with friends while also scoping for potential love interests.

These memories are also a mixed bag but the one thing that sticks out for me is none of us had cell phones so our time together was all about face-to-face conversation and I think there is a lot to be said for that. Usually we started out in the bar area, grabbing a couple of drinks and playing trivia while we waited for others to arrive. We sat or stood around the bar area and caught up on our days. We would also note if there were any cute or interesting strangers in the vicinity and one of us might get up the courage to engage them in conversation (usually not me).

I recall meeting a couple of guys this way and having them lead to dates, but mostly TGI Friday’s was about friendship. My friend and I would invite others to join so it was an opportunity to meet each others work friends too. We’d have our girl’s nights here because food and drinks were relatively inexpensive and comfort food to our undeveloped palates. Conversations revolved around our day-to-day life (was this the precursor to Facebook?!). What movies we had seen, what concerts we were planning to attend, what other fun activities we could do. I’m pretty sure the idea to go skydiving was born here. Also celebrations: birthdays, engagements, work promotions.

There is so much sentiment attached to this era of my life that if you promised me a genie could grant me three wishes, traveling back to this somewhat innocent, social media-free time might be on my list. To unabashedly be able to indulge in the pot-stickers, mozzarella sticks, chicken wings and strawberry daiquiris that were ever present at our table would be a small slice of heaven.  Of course I might do a few things differently but in the scheme of things I realize you get to where you are in life by the path you took, twists and turns, ups and downs included.  Should TGI Friday’s fail due to waning interest, it will make me more than a little sad.

MC

 

 

Uncategorized

The people at the airport

When I’m flying solo, the experience is significantly more enjoyable for me (click here for exhibit A), particularly for an early morning flight as is the case today. I arrived at the airport earlier than I needed to be because I overestimated how quickly I’d be ready and we live about 5 minutes from the airport. Plus, I can never sleep the night before a flight as I have a deep seated phobia about missing my flight (this has happened twice).

The airport is prime people watching territory. There are business flyers, families, solos and there looks to be one group of ladies trip flyers (this group grew significantly and looks like a large group of college kids going on spring break!) Of course I’m curious where everyone is going and what they are doing at their end destination. My flight is going through Baltimore and Phoenix with a final stop of Santa Ana. Some of these people will likely be changing planes at any of these destinations.

I have honed in on the group of ladies because they are hard to miss (boisterous). Most of them are standing (even though we don’t board for another 30 minutes) so they can remain in their group just slightly across from me. Looking closer, a couple of these ladies have a similar look so they may be related and one of them looks like they could be a mom. Bachelorette getaway?

I also notice how people dress for an early morning flight. There are many leggings in the group. Businesss suits. Jeans and blazers. Sweat clothes. I used to dress strictly for comfort (gym clothes) when I flew but try to make more of an effort these days by making my flying outfit chic and comfortable. The shoes must be comfortable too. I always spy at least one woman with 4″ heels and I just don’t get it.

Then there are the announcements about things left at security. A tube of bacitracin? A cell phone? A driver’s license? I will not cast any stones after last week’s flight from Costa Rica (see the link referenced above).

From here we get to the boarding process. I’m flying Southwest so everyone will stand when they announce it’s time to board, even if they are in group C. There is the shuffle at the numbered area as you try to jockey for your place in line. Speaking of, we’re ready to board!

MC

travel

The Time Zone Challenge

jet-lag-tired-dog-1

I am in the midst of writing a post about the last leg of our Costa Rica journey, which was my favorite part of the trip! The weekend was all about catching up on laundry and cleaning and here we are at Monday again. Back to work. And I am exhausted! I’m not sure if it’s due to the time change but it’s leaving all of us sleepless (except my husband, Jim, who can sleep anytime). I had trouble sleeping on vacation too and I think it’s catching up with me.

This is probably not the best time to be traveling to the west coast for a work conference in which I’ll need to adjust to another time change before I’m back on the east coast late Friday night. Hopefully I’ll have time to finish my post about northern Costa Rica during the week. I’ve also asked Liam (the eleven year old) to write an essay about the trip and if he’s up for it, I’ll post it here. It will be interesting to see what he deems important from the trip.

Today will be a bit of a rush catching up on work from the past week and a half. And then packing to leave for the trip west tomorrow morning. This will be my first visit to California, so even though I’m a bit travel-worn, I’m really looking forward to it. I’ll also have a large bed to myself for a few days which will likely help my sleep issues.

MC

Uncategorized

Procrastinating

I am sitting in the library and thumbing through magazines. My mind wandered back to the prompt of the day, inchoate, a word I had to look up because I’m unfamilar with it. I don’t believe I’ve even seen it written or heard it spoken. I’m still unsure of it’s use so I decided to check in with other blogs to see what they did. It is not an unpleasant way to spend one’s time.

The house is an utter disaster, the contents of our luggage is spread from kitchen, to living room, to bedroom. There are piles of unfolded laundry and dishes in the sink. You can see why I’m at the library!

A message just came through. Jim is wondering where I am. Time to go and clean.

MC

travel

The final haul, a travel story with plot twists

The alarm started buzzing at 2:30 a.m., just I was diving into the big sleep. The traveling home phase of vacation was about to begin. This was not the energized, adrenaline fueled leg of our trip that began in the wee morning hours of March 29th. The days of sightseeing, jungle walks, horseback riding, hiking and ziplining caught up with my body and I was achy, tired, sore. It was time to go home and the thought of my own bed at the days end was all that prompted me along.

We arrived at the airport at 3:45 a.m., collected our luggage and made our way to check-in and patiently waited for the airline to open. Thirty minutes later the line began to move as travelers were being checked in. This part was fairly painless and we were soon off to the gate to wait for boarding. Nerves were frayed. A lack of sleep was catching up. My family nearly imploded as we sat in stony silence after a meltdown that left me with tears streaming down my face. Why did I think we’d make it home without a big to do? Why did I put makeup on at 3:00 in the morning? I could feel my eyeliner and mascara pooling under my eyes.

By the time we boarded, over an hour later, we had declared a shaky truce and were looking forward to a bit of sleep while the plane made it’s way to Miami. But this is where an uneventful travel day took a turn. A turn for the worse.

As we were making our way to customs at the Miami Airport, Jim paused to wonder where the passports were. We needed them as we boarded the flight in Costa Rica, everyone holding their own, and I vaguely remembered putting them in the top part of one of the backpacks. I only came up with two, mine and Jim’s. Where was Liam’s? We tore through all our carry on’s but came up empty. No one remembered if Liam gave his to us after we boarded. Liam and I hiked back to the gate but they wouldn’t let us on the plane and an attendant called into the plane to see if anyone could locate the passport. It was just after noon and the next flight was going at 1:10 (this was the only time noted on the boarding pass).

Panic began to set in. We were about to come loose again, the clean slate declared after the early morning meltdown was in danger of busting wide open. I texted Jim they were unable to locate the passport and we’d have to formulate a plan B. A security attendant gave us instructions to go to an information desk and just as he was about to take us through, Jim received a call that the passport was located. But he had to return to the gate through many corridors to retrieve it, Liam on his heels. I waited in the customs line as I watched the minutes tick away.

With 30 minutes until the next flight, Jim and Liam finally came into view but I was nowhere near the front of the line where we had to enter our information into a bank of computers to pass through customs. I was frantically texting the friends we traveled with not to let the plane leave without us. When the three of us were together again, I asked another attendant to help us but she said she’d have to find someone in an orange vest. Several minutes passed before she pulled us from the line and sent us to a customs agent line that was five deep, all foreigners who needed fingrprints and photos. The time ticked away and the line moved s-l-o-w-l-y. It was 20 minutes until takeoff.

By the time we made it through customs, there were about 15 minutes until we were to depart. I texted our friends we were almost there, relieved we would make the connecting flight. We sprinted to baggage claim, collected our bags and dropped them in the area to be loaded onto the next flight. We rounded the corner to another long line – security again! We have TSA clearance but I couldn’t find a line that would express us through to the gates. I flagged another security attendant where I exlpained our flight was leaving in 12 minutes. She let us jump ahead to the document checker but from there we were giving no further assistance. I looked on as they brought through a group of disabled passengers to express through our line. Tears were just below the surface. I pleaed with another attendant to help us but he remained stony faced and said we’d have to wait. The tears bubbled up as a traveler ahead of us said we could go ahead.

A few minutes later, our bags were on the conveyer to be x-rayed, and we watched as they monitored the bags going through thinking we’d be making the final dash to the gate soon. They stopped at one of our bags for several seconds as they eyed a cluster of balls they found suspicious and pulled the bag aside. The magnetic balls we’d purchased for Liam at a gift shop the day before. My heart sank. We were so close but the clock had now arrived at 1:10. Not knowing what else to do, I sent Jim and Liam ahead while I remained with the bag. A fleeting thought came to just abandon the bag but I figured that would only lead to more trouble and it contained all of our souvenirs and the Costa Rican coffee we’d brought home with us. The bag was examined and I started running to the gate. Our gate was number 5 and I was at 25. The gate was a half mile away but I couldn’t keep up the pace and started walking as briskly as my tired body could go. I had already contemplated having to find a new flight home. This would be an added complication because our group of six had a car service meeting us at JFK to take us on the final 150 miles home. I passed gate after gate, looking for a security cart to whisk me to the end but the few that I saw along the cooridor were abandoned, no personnel in sight. As I closed in on gate 5, I pictured the gate area empty, doors closed, plane pushing away from the gate. I blinked to see Jim and Liam in line to board. The plane was not anywhere near it’s final boarding pass. Relief washed over me as I let my overheated body finally relax. We made it with time to spare. Our flight was at 1:40.

MC

Daily prompt: haul

travel

A Walk in the Jungle

Today is already day six of our Costa Rican adventure with two very full days left. Yesterday was a very long day of travel from the eastern Caribbean coast of Tortuguero Nation Park, where we explored the jungle, to the northern area where we are staying at the base of the Arenal Volcano. You know how you get a butterfly feeling when doing/seeing something awesome and new? I’ve had that fluttery feeling so many times on this trip. And we have yet to do zip lining which I imagine will be a new level of flutteriness (and fear).

I have to say, I’m not adjusting to the two hour time difference well. I’m wide awake at 4:15 every morning but not too tired until late evening which is good. It gives me time to lay in bed to reflect on our time here and how blessed I feel for the life I have. We have passed through many poor looking towns on this trip and have seen some of the hard physical labor that goes into harvesting bananas from the soft, air conditioned seats of our tour bus. It gives me pause. Today we have a tour of a coffee and sugar plantation which will likely be eye opening too.

Our visit to Tortuguero was quite interesting and a little different than what I had in my mind as a rain forest. We have been so lucky with the weather and while it was fairly hot directly in the sun, the jungle allows many opportunities to find shade. It is humid, though, and when I went to unpack at our next stop last night I found much of my clothing to be damp from the humidity. I realize I also didn’t pack enough clothes as I was taking a couple of showers a day while in Tortuguero. Fortunately they have a laundry service at the Arenal hotel and I could get a few things washed.

I was kind of hoping for rain in the rainforest. I have always loved listening to nature sounds, especially rain. Our accommodations would have been perfect for an evening rain shower – with a long rooftop porch and comfortable rocking chairs, surround by palms, flowering trees and grasses. White headed (capuchin) monkeys have been as prevelent as our northeaster US squirrels, but much cuter in my opinion. We took a canal tour and a jungle walk and while we saw a variety of wildlife, the sloth, disappointingly, remained difficult to spot. There were lots of weird spiders and beetles and yours truly dained to try a termite as if I were on Survivor. My report is they are minty.

The jungle walk we went on was paved and highly civilized which was not what I was expecting. We saw more wildlife walking around the grounds of Evergreen Lodge where we were staying, so that was a little disappointing. On our way back to the boat, near the pool of the resort where we took the walk, we saw the biggest Iguana I have ever seen and the boys were estatic!

This has been a fantastic adventure for the eleven year olds. They still have that unending sense of wonder, playfulness and energy that starts to dissipate as they head to their teenage years. It has been wonderful to watch this experience through their guileless filter. Of course there have been moments where we’ve wanted to throttle ours for his sarcasm and moments of insouciance. I try to remind myself it’s the hormones.

In addition to the sugar and coffee tour, today we’re also going on a long horseback ride through this part of the country. Hopefully I’ll be able to walk tomorrow!

Until next time…

MC

travel

Hola from Costa Rica

We are on day two of our Costa Rican adventure and while everyone is resting in the rooms, I decided to run downstairs and hop on the computer for a bit. I absolutely love our hotel, Hotel Presidente. It has a great vibe, is very eclectic and there are a bunch of little sitting areas in the lobby to just sit and enjoy the atmosphere. The computers were in use so I’m sitting on the coziest of leather sofas while I type this on my phone.

After a busy day, this is the kind of relaxing I like to do. There’s great jazzy music in the background but when I tried to find out what it was through Shazam, nothing came up. Today we visited the Irazu Volcano a couple hours outside San Jose. The weather was perfection. The forecast called for rain but we saw only clouds and blue sky. The roads here are bumpy and sometimes circuitous but our driver, Eduardo, handled them beautifully. As you can imagine, the ground around the volcano was ashy. We were at 13,000 feet elevation and the air took a little getting used to. The walk wasn’t long but by the time we headed back to the bus, my lungs were desparate for a break. After all the running I’ve been doing to get into shape, this felt a bit like a betrayal to me. Once back in the van, I was able to easily recover.

From there we wandered through a couple of towns. Easter week is a major holiday here and we saw a couple parades celebrating The Passion and it was very moving. We went into the Bascillica of Our Lady of Los Angeles to say a prayer since we are missing mass this week due to heading to the jungle tomorrow. Then we were on our way to a hot spring for the afternoon. It was beautiful and relaxing and they fed us a wonderful traditional Costa Rican meal. Not sure if I’ll be able to eat again today.

Better go check on the troops! Adios until we meet again.

MC

Life

A Quartet of Decisions

decisions

First, I let myself loose in Sephora last night. This is not a strategy I would suggest if you don’t have loads of time to kill. I went in specifically to buy a travel sized bottle of this magical stuff and also a small eye shadow palette for my trip. I expected this to take five minutes. Have you ever been in and out of Sephora in five minutes? Right.

I decided now would be the time to investigate a new facial moisturizer. This is an impossible task. At Sephora. I tried on so many moisturizers, lopping one on top of another until my face was shining like nobody’s business. I was also not in the right frame of mind for such an assignment as I couldn’t see past the lines, the tired eyes, the pasty skin. You definitely need to be at the top of your confidence game to take on such a task as you are creeping into your 50’s. An hour later, I went to the register with the two items I went in for. I had been excited that the eye shadow was $10 off but then forgot to look at the receipt until I got home and saw they didn’t give me the sale price. I think that’s part of the Sephora mystique. Confuse them with all the products so that by the time they are at the register, they are completely unfocused about how much everything costs.

Secondly, somewhere along the way, I lost my hearing aid. I didn’t notice this until I was leaving Sephora and panic set in! I did a quick look around the circuitous route I took in the store but didn’t see it anywhere. Do I tell someone in the store I lost this tiny little thing that will be impossible to find or go back to where I was before coming into Sephora (getting my brows threaded) to see if I left it there? I didn’t want to make any undue fuss so I hiked back to the threading place. It was lodged in the seat and the confused lady who did my brows was explaining that two other customers probably sat on it and hoped it would be OK. It was. Relief was palpable because I was already running scenarios in my mind about how I could get a replacement in less than 24 hours. It would be impossible.

Thirdly, I decided to get a pedicure. This has been a rare event for me the past couple of years because I keep losing the nail off one of my big toes. That is a whole other story that involves my toenail rubbing against the top of my ski boot. One of my big toenails is currently light purple so I wanted to get a color that would go over it before the trip. I chose a shade and made my way to the pedicure chair. The salon lady did not approve of my choice and sent me back to the varnish display insisting I go for something more spring-like so I chose a pink shade. Apparently it wasn’t springy enough because she went over and chose something herself and since I was brain-numb, I went with it.

Fourthly, I get very panicky about having something to read on the plane before I head on vacation. To save on space, I’m only bringing my Kindle and I just finished a page-turning book that would have been perfect for the trip. It’s really not easy to find page-turning books, especially ones that would be available to check out from the library at the last minute. While I should have been getting my beauty sleep, I spent a good 90 minutes scouring the library e-book site for books that would be easy to get into before I leave. I ended up downloading five e-books and one audiobook but was not satisfied they would be sufficient and so I scooted over to Amazon where I debated about buying a book I wanted that was on Kindle Unlimited (which I used to subscribe to) or to re-subscribe to Kindle Unlimited. I decided to re-subscribe since there were a few books that looked interesting. Do I  have a page turner? I do not know.

I’m trying to keep my decision making light today since I still haven’t finalized my clothing choices. This is also something I overthink. every. time.

MC

Daily prompt: quartet