Saturday, August 24, 2013

Outcasts and Girls with Ambition.

I am extremely proud of my daughter, Mason.  I get so much joy witnessing her growth. From birth, she has amazed me with how quickly she learns.  As an  infant, she loved to play with foam letters.  Before her 1st birthday, she could put them in order from A-Z.  By 3 years old, she could identify and name every U.S state on a map.

More importantly, Mason is not a girly-girl.  She cares not for frilly dresses or hair accessories.  She is more interested in learning absolutely everything.  From birth, she has wanted books, not Barbies; Sesame Street, not Spongebob; Weather Channel, not Wa Wa Wubbzy.  She is so different than I expected: a thinker! I knew it would be a challenge for me to provide her with constant cognitive stimulation, but I promised her I'd do my best.

And I've kept that promise.  Within Mason's first year, we started reading readiness.  She learned letters.  During the second year, we focused on letter sounds and memorizing small words.  By 3 years old, she could read board books independently.  Now, at 5, she knows hundreds of words. She can, and does, read my blog with very little help. She just 'gets it' and she's blessed with an affinity for numbers too. For fun, she makes up mathematical word problems, ie. "Mom has 8 slices of pizza. Dad eats 5.  How many slices of pizza does Mom have left?" She can count to 1000.  She could go higher; she chooses to stop there.

Mason has dreams for her future.  I have dreams too.  I know she can do great things.  Amazing things.  Make-the-world-better things.  I encourage her to dream big.  She once said she wanted to be a firefighter.  I told her that firefighters are brave and wonderful and the world needs them.  But I encouraged her to think bigger. "What if there were buildings that couldn't catch fire and they were cheap enough for common people to afford them?  What if there was medicine or an operation that could completely remove severe burn scars?  Think science and engineering, Mason!"

And then she dresses like this, tackles her brothers in the living room, and I think, "to Hell with science and engineering.  This girl was born to roller derby!"

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Take One Last Look Before it Passes By. Before it Passes You By.

Summer...over....where did it go?  School started yesterday.  My daughter, a brand new Kindergartener, entered her school full of excitement for the new year.  Summer, and all the incredible things we did, are but a memory to her. The End of the Summer. We're moving on.

It's so easy for kids to just move on, isn't it?  Carefree.  Ready for the next grand adventure.  But I can't do that.  I need time to marinate in the wonderful memories we made.  I need to reflect on everything we did, be proud of myself for surviving a summer with 3 kids, and even pat myself on the back for providing so much fun all summer long.

Last May, Masie came from pre-school and said, "Summer stinks.  We never do nuthin'."  I was blown away because she used a double negative and that drives me crazy! because we do lots of things.  She takes piano lessons, and swimming, and gymnastics.  We go to fairs, the zoo, several parks, the library!  Certainly, these are something.  I tried to remind her of all the things we do, without boring her with my own sob stories about how, as a child, I didn't have the opportunities she has. (Although that was in the back of my mind the whole time.)  She rolled her eyes at me. Rolled her eyes. *Gasp*

I love Pinterest.  I had noticed many pins of lovely summer 'to-do' charts that awesome Super Moms make for their kids prior to summer starting.  These charts typically outline what Super Mom and Super Children wish to do over the summer.  They're great!  And I was inspired.  But I'm a Survival Mom. I can't plan the entire summer.  Our lives just don't work like that.  So, rather than plan the summer, I decided to take a plain piece of poster board, add the title, "Our Great Gano Summer" and fill in it with things we did as summer progressed.

There is it, folks.  Our summer, neatly (as neat as we get) displayed on a sheet of posterboard. It seems so miniscule compared to the mammoth dreams I had for this summer.  Like Judy Moody, I wanted my kids to have their own, "Not So Bummer Summer."  It's almost sad to see three entire months reduced to 22"x28".  However, when I read over the individual events, I see that we spent hours and hours and hours together, having fun, enjoying summer, living.

We went to the library almost every Friday!  We celebrated the twins' 3rd birthday with a Fresh Beat Band themed party, complete with inflatable guitars, vented sunglasses, and a stage! We rode Thomas the Train!  We went to the drive-in movies 4 times!  We hosted a cookout for the 4th of July and sat on our front porch that evening, marvelling over the beautiful firework display some stranger let off nearby. We enjoyed 3 visits from my niece, Drea! We went to T-ball games and Vacation Bible School. We picnicked at Tuscora Park every Monday in July.  We saw hot air balloons light up in the night. We visited every park nearby and discovered some new ones too.  WE WENT TO KENNYWOOD!!! And, as you can see, lots of other things too! We did more things than we could even fit on the chart. This was so far from being a bummer summer.  It was amazing.

But now it's over.  It passed us by.  Time to move on...and dream of the adventure that waits for us next summer.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Stop This Train.....I Can't Take the Speed It's Moving In.

John and I married in 1999.  We were so young (19! What were we thinking?) and crazy in love. AND determined to NEVER have children.  I mean, who thought there was a real need for little Johns and Aprils anyway?  We didn't...until I turned 21.  Things changed for me.  Suddenly, I had a hole: a giant vat of emptiness and sorrow, that just couldn't be filled with anything.

I was so terribly sad, perhaps a little depressed and insanely jealous of anyone and everyone who ever had a child.  I had a serious case of iwantababyitis and, despite my best efforts to keep busy and take my mind off having a baby, nothing filled the void.  It was Christmas 2000, I had just graduated from college (early!) and all I wanted was a baby.

Getting pregnant is the most natural thing, right?  I was so sure it would be easy.  Surely, this loving, devoted young couple would quickly conceive, have the perfect brown-eyed son and all would be right in the universe.  That was the plan. Plans are easily made, but I've never been real great with following through.  (This is the part where I don't bore/horrify you with 7 years of infertility.)

During those 7 years, John's family popped out kids like rabbits. At a rate of 2 (ok, so it's not rabbit-pace, but you have to admit that's impressive) new babies per year, I was so jealous...and his well intentioned, yet not-so-helpful, family tried to appease me with, "But, April, it's their time.  Your time will come."  Please, ya'll, never EVER say that to a woman trying to conceive.  It denotes punishment or an unworthiness that we already feel.  It was 7 long years of Hell.  I told the world, "there are mothers and there are others.  I am an other."  I made peace with never having a child....and then this happened.

What you're looking at is the most beautiful, perfect baby ever born.  I got my Christmas wish 7 years after I asked.  Born on December 21, 2007, my grandma's 79th birthday, Mason Grace filled my void. Not the brown-eyed boy I dreamed of, but instead, a blue-eyed girl, and absolutely everything I never knew I wanted.

I spent 7 long years begging for her.  Those years seemed to drag. One miserable Christmas followed by the next. On and on.  Until she was born.  Then time sped up. Weeks felt like days; months like weeks. Seasons blurred by. And it was Christmas again. Suddenly, my baby was a year old. Walking.  And then time passed at warp speed.

That brown-eyed boy arrived, along with his twin brother, when Mason was 2 and a half. She grew while I was too preoccupied to notice.  When I caught up with her, she was 3 years old.  Time accelerated, but my ability to see her age diminished. I mean, I know she's older.  I threw her an awesome 5th b-day party.  It's just, when I think of her, this is how I see her.

3 years old and completely in love with Elmo.

But that's not her.  Not now.  She's a big kid.  In 10 days, she begins Kindergarten, where attendance matters and assessments begin.  It's the real deal, ya'll.  She takes piano lessons, and gymnastics, and is learning to swim. She rarely asks for hugs or affection.  With every passing day, she becomes more independent.

But she's still mine. Somewhere between little and grown.  The Survival Mom's only daughter. I have so much to teach her.  She needs to know that her best is the best, that there is never a reason to compare herself with another person.  I want her to truly feel that she is beautiful, and perfect, and wonderful in her skin, no matter the size or shape. So please, time train, slow down, before she's too grown and I've missed my chance to teach her.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Let Me Show You a Few Things

Bedtime.  I hate bedtime.  Super Mom has her children all neatly tucked into their beds by 8pm. She leaves the room and they all fall asleep, on their own, while she freshens her face to look gorgeous when Super Dad arrives home from work.  Survival Mom, however, barely gets through bath time without losing it. She hurries through brushing teeth, reading books, tucking in, someone has to pee, retucking in, laying on the twins' bedroom floor until they fall asleep or they will be all over the house, screaming, crying, if-you-get-out-of-bed-one-more-time, gah! Apparently, my twins were born to be suck-tastic sleepers. Before they arrived, I was super, crazy smart.  My IQ...154; nothing to laugh at.  But that was then.  Now, I'd be shocked if it was over 135. And the following proves that point.

What do you do when you can't sleep?  First, let's get one thing straight:  I HAVE NO TROUBLE SLEEPING.  I am an excellent sleeper.  If sleeping was a sport, I would be professional level, baby.  But THEY don't sleep which means I don't sleep . NOT EVER, unless, of course, it's one of those rare occasions where they actually stay over at Grandma's and sleep all night for her.  And she loves to brag about it and I want to beat her over the head with a club thank her for keeping my children so I could have uninterrupted sex with my husband sleep for once.

Tonight, they're not sleeping, so I'm not sleeping.  I'm surfing the web.  I clicked on a picture of Justin Timberlake.  I never thought much of him.  I didn't go crazy for boy bands. 'NSYNC was stupid. Backstreet?  No thanks. The women JT (this makes me giggle for entirely unrelated reasons) dated in the early years were sleazy. I had no interest.  But I clicked on a recent picture and it was hot. HOT. I had to find out how/when this happened.

Remember this? The year was 2000.  And this was so not hot.

Then there was this. 2001. Dear lord, no.

Fast forward to 2006. Still looking a little creepy.  The hat needs to go.

2007...come on already.  End the love affair with the hat, man.

Oh wait, what's this? 2009. Motherlover, you say? Hmmm.

2012.  The hat no longer bothers me.  In fact, he sports it well.

Suit and Tie? What? What is this? Yes. Yes. YES! YES!! YES!!! Oh, 2013, you are so beautiful.

And that, folks, is how I passed the time waiting for the boys to go to sleep. Oh my. Who can sleep now?