Thursday, December 19, 2013

‘Tis the Season…Or ‘Tis It?

Well, I totally mishandled this whole Santa thing and now Amelia’s the class liar. 

I knew when she started public school that December would be rough. Even in a school that tries extra hard to “celebrate winter holidays” and “embrace the diversity of our community,” Santa Claus is a tough guy to put in a corner.  He’s everywhere – all over newspaper ads, the subject of the catchiest tunes on the radio, he’s standing outside the supermarket ringing a bell, posing for photos at the mall, decorating lawns and chimneys all over the neighborhood, and worked into the storyline of every television show Amelia watches. The big red-suited guy is here to stay.

Of course this was all true last year too. We drove by the same decorations on the way to preschool, and laughed when Amelia called Santa “that Christmas guy.” Because at her Jewish preschool, we knew that she was not making Santa hats or singing about good boys and girls getting toys. We knew that she would not feel left out, because at preschool she was not different. But this year there are only a smattering of Jewish students at Amelia’s school, and the season is chock full of Santa-appeal. And confusion.

Sharing our favorite lights with a buddy
So what to do? You can’t ignore Christmas, or deny all the fun and beauty that comes with it. We love holiday lights, so we drive around each year and check out our favorites, making special trips to a few over-the-top, set-to-music extravaganzas. Amelia’s friends are all anxiously awaiting Santa and the treasures he’ll bring. They talk about Santa on the bus, and compare notes on the whereabouts of their elves on shelves. We have no elf or tree, and we’ll probably eat Chinese food and go to the movies on Christmas. I’ve tried to convey that Christmas isn’t one of our holidays but it is beautiful and special for our friends who celebrate. And I thought we could leave it at that, at least for this year. 

But then there's Santa. We were watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on television last week – maybe we shouldn’t have watched but it’s fun and I loved it as a kid and turned out relatively fine and still Jewish. Instead of watching the television I watched Amelia. Watched her little brow furrow as the reindeer and the elves talked about the big guy bringing toys to all the good little girls and boys. Listened as Amelia explained to me how she thinks the reindeer fly even without wings, due to the magic powers of the fairy dust that Santa sprinkles on them. All of a sudden, it hit me: she believes. Just like she believes in the tooth fairy and the Disney princesses, she believes in Santa. And she’s good yet she knows he’s not coming.

No wonder her brow was furrowed. The injustice!

So I told her. I wanted her to know she isn’t being left out. I said, “Amelia, you know Santa isn’t real, right?” Oh, crap. I knew even as I said it that this was just too big a secret for a kindergartener to keep. So I tried to cover, with explanations of how Santa is such a nice idea and a good character, like in a story, that kids who celebrate Christmas believe in. The more I yammered the deeper I dug my own hole. Finally she said, “So Santa is just the daddies in a costume?” Right, I said, and the most important message – don’t ruin it for the kids who celebrate Christmas. Let them believe in Santa.

Except of course she couldn’t do that. The next day, when the whole naughty and nice and lists of toys conversation came up over snack, she spilled the beans. And it seems Santa has ardent defenders in kindergarten, because the other kids were quick to call my girl a liar. And I’m sure there were more colorful names for me from their parents once Amelia’s classmates were tucked into bed and the dancing sugarplums started. I’m still surprised I haven’t gotten any phone calls.

So to all the believers: I’m sorry. I do love the Santa idea. It’s just a little bit all-consuming and I haven’t figured out how to let Amelia enjoy it but keep it in perspective and avoid disappointment and confusion. So I told the truth and made her a liar.

I’m sorry. Is it New Year’s yet?

Want more Mess? Check out my blog over at Charlotte Parent, or drop by my Etsy store, Made by Mommy. Or better yet, leave a comment here! I'll respond, I promise!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Upgrading the Heart(h)

For years, we’ve talked about upgrading our kitchen. I have a pinterest board bursting with marble countertops and gleaming cooktops. We’ve replaced tired appliances one at a time as they’ve died, but we had yet to take the full leap. Until today.

Let’s look back about ten years ago. I was living with a roommate in a tiny apartment outside Boston, MA. Some friends of ours with a much better apartment were moving, and we wanted their place. Like all good Boston real estate, so did at least three other people. And it was up to a mysterious board with undefined criteria to make the decision. So for a few days, we waited with fingers crossed. And as a just-in-case consolation prize, I bought a fancy shower curtain for the old apartment. One I knew we wouldn’t need in the new apartment. Within hours of bringing that non-returnable shower curtain into the old apartment, we learned we’d gotten the new one.
That pesky burner

Last week, the finicky front burner on our stove became especially finicky and I finally got frustrated enough to look into replacing it. Sure enough, for about $20 on Amazon you can buy a replacement coil that will probably fit and hopefully work. So I ordered one. Within an hour, the email came from Sears: All cooktops, ranges and wall ovens are 50% off!  Plus, bring all the assorted points and coupons you’ve ever accumulated from the other stuff you’ve bought with us! Come one, come all!  Come, Baron family!

It had to be a sign. I went to Sears, and three days later I’m spending the afternoon with contractors watching dust fly and sparkly new appliances replace all the remaining old ones.  Because Sears is no fool - once you’re in the store and there’s a big sale on stuff you’ll eventually buy anyway, you’re not just buying a cooktop.
Before - you can't do a stove and not the oven, right?

Amelia and my mother, hard at work
So this is exciting, but it’s also a little bit scary.  Growing up, my mother was always in the kitchen. She loved to cook, but I think she also just loved the kitchen. It was her domain. My mother hung out in there, irrelevant of mealtimes. She kept everything in the kitchen: notecards, permission slips, medical records, medication, a bag of bicentennial coins, broken toys, presents, wrapping paper, stamps, office supplies, phone books, lost pieces of everything, a needle and thread, magazines, and much more. Oh – and also food. It was chaotic, crowded, and she was in charge. Efficiency, jokes, big decisions, surprises, meals, homework help and banana bread were served in equal portions from that tiny kitchen. It was bustling, familiar, and open 24 hours.

The kitchen is the heartbeat of our house too. It’s not quite as crowded or chaotic as I remember from childhood, but it’s definitely the hub of activity.  It can’t be too fancy, because we live there. We spill glitter and carve pumpkins and paint in there. Amelia learned to crack an egg over the old stove. The old kitchen was comfortable, broken in. But also broken. So why am I suddenly feeling nostalgic about a finicky burner? Things change, and in the grand scheme of things, new appliances are not that big a change. Right?

Just to make sure, I made banana bread as soon as the contractors left. And Amelia and I made Halloween cookies after school. And there are meatballs simmering on the stove. Smells familiar.

Welcome home, new kitchen!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


I’ve become one of those women. I’m writing this post from a comfortable armchair in the lobby of the Jewish Community Center while my daughter takes an afterschool acting class. I’m the mom with an hour to kill. How did this happen, you wonder? How did I go from the mom with a too-dependent child in her lap or clinging to her leg or in her arms to the chauffeur of Miss (mostly) Independence? It happened in a flash.

just 'cited
Amelia started kindergarten two weeks ago. You were probably expecting a blog post and at least ten photos with a school bus in the background, and I was expecting to write one. But I couldn’t. It went too smoothly, she woke up early and eager, got dressed, looked adorable, jumped on the bus with a wave and a "nervous-cited" smile and came home with an ear to ear grin. I spent the day haunted by the feeling that a giant shoe was falling in slow motion.

It dropped. 

Don’t panic, I know Amelia will love kindergarten and school. Her teacher seems great, she’s always learning, and she’s getting used to her new routine. Which might be part of the problem – school IS the new routine. Two weeks in, the novelty is wearing off. We’ve entered a new phase, one with alarm clocks and rules and dress codes and homework. And she asked me not to kiss her at the bus stop anymore.

Until last week, I’d never met Amelia’s homeroom teacher. It struck me at curriculum night that the unfamiliar halls of the public school are where she spends the majority of her time, and I didn’t even know which classroom is hers. Or the route the school bus takes once it leaves our street. Or who drives it, or the names of the big kids on the bus and on the playground who are teaching her Taylor Swift songs and why it’s cool to sit in certain seats and not others. I took a photo of the class list on the door to help us both remember her classmates’ names. I’ll need that photo more than she will.

lifelong buddies
Last week was Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year. We celebrated with friends from preschool. The girls ran into each others arms like long lost twins separated for decades, not preschool buddies who were in camp together only a few weeks ago. And then I understood. They’ve never known school without one another. They learned each others’ names while they were learning to talk. For her life so far, these ARE her lifelong friends.

And their families are our lifelong friends too, sort of. I barely remember life before Amelia, and daycare arrived on the scene soon after she did. We’ve all grown together in this parenthood thing, we’re comfortable, we know and trust one another, and now we’re separating. We have to make new mom friends at new schools.

I expected a period of adjustment for Amelia, but I didn’t expect one for me. Lately I’ve seen a few articles about a new kind of mommy war.  Not the classic working moms vs moms who stay home, but different kinds of moms judging one another – sporty mom, crafty mom, healthy mom, successful mom, etc. Will the cookies I make for the first bake sale define me for Amelia’s school career? And so much for wearing pajamas to the bus stop.

But worse than other moms judging me, I can’t stop thinking that for the first time, strangers are judging Amelia. My funny, quirky, dress-wearing, pony-loving little girl. Will kids tease her? Will the teacher understand her sense of humor? Will she make friends? Will I embarrass her? 

Right now, peeking through the window of her acting class, she seems to be doing just fine in a room full of kids I don’t think she knows. She does a mean impression of a sheep, I hope the teacher asks to hear it. 

When that other shoe dropped, it landed on me.

Monday, August 12, 2013

I'm Over It

They say it takes as long to get out as it does to get in. Nine months to add the pregnancy weight, nine more to lose it.  It’s a round-trip theory.

It turns out the same logic applies to clearing your mind of a bad work experience. I started this blog around the time I was leaving a job that was a terrible fit, and I was miserable. I held that job for just over a year, and last week marked my one-year walking-out-the-door anniversary. I just re-read my posts from a year ago, and wow, what a difference a year makes. I thought I felt better right away. In hindsight I see that I felt both liberated and terrified. But I still had a lot of healing to do. 

How do I know? Here are a few changes since last year:

almost good as new...I think I'll add legs

  • I’ve let the stuff into the house.  There’s a shipping crate that I saved, because I thought it was a nice box that I would repurpose some day. And then I brought it home and wouldn’t let it past the back door. This week I brought it in, painted and upholstered it, and voila - the playroom has a new storage stool. Peeling off the shipping label with my museum address was like ripping off a Bandaid. Underneath, the wound is healed and the box is good as new.
  • Today I can read about the place I worked without emotion. Articles in the newspaper, online or on television used to paralyze me with anger. I’d read into every word or comment, digging for hidden meaning.  There have been a few articles lately, which I skimmed and moved on. I’m just not that interested anymore, and I haven’t got the time for hidden meanings.
  • The dreams have stopped. I used to have work-related dreams every few days. I’d wake up stressed and still tired.  And just the other day I realized I can’t recall the last time this happened. They slowed, and then they stopped.
  • I wore the dress. This one is especially ridiculous. Ilene Beckerman's book (and Nora Ephron's play) Love, Loss and What I Wore links life events and wardrobe, and in a stupid, superstitious way so do I. There’s a black dress hanging in my closet that was my go-to dress for much of this year. Forgiving fit, wrinkle-free, layers well, easy to pack…in a year marked by low professional self-confidence, this dress was as good as it got for me. Just seeing it hanging in the closet reminded me of a year of increasingly unpleasant encounters. Oddly, I didn’t get rid of it, but I couldn’t bring myself to wear it. Until last week. I met an old friend and new client, and needed a dress that would look good after a long drive. I put it on without a second thought, wore it all day and…wow, I still like that dress! It’s back in circulation.
  • And the anniversary passed with no fanfare.  Amelia and I are in the midst of Camp Mommy – a month of together time in between summer camp and the start of school. I know what day it is because we’re trying to fill them, but August 3rd came and went and it was only at bedtime that I saw the date and thought oh yeah, it’s been a year.  Interesting.

A few days ago I ran into a former colleague who told me nothing has changed. Same oppressive, stifling air. Same people running in the same circles. Same culture of secrets and games.  The conversation reminded me of reuniting with a bad boyfriend only to remember on the first date exactly why it ended in the first place. Because nothing has changed. 

But I’ve changed, and finally I’m over it.

Want more Mess? Drop by A Crafty Mess at Charlotte Parent, or visit my Etsy store, Made by Mommy. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

She Lost It

The tooth. She really lost it. It’s been over a week, and still no sign.

In my last post, I wrote about how that thing was hanging on by a thread. How we were waiting for it to fall out with both anticipation (Amelia) and dread (me). But when it happened, nobody noticed.  Maybe because I was distracted by another sign that Amelia is growing up right under our noses. 

Amelia and our dog Bentley have an affectionate relationship. We call Bentley the President of Kissing because if he isn’t sleeping he’s probably kissing somebody, usually Amelia.  So there they were kissing and laughing and snuggling on the living room floor, and all of a sudden Amelia says:

“Mommy, Bentley is kissing me in French!”


What are they learning at big kid camp? It’s bad enough that she’s learned the words to Taylor Swift songs (and thankfully still prefers My Little Pony) but she’s also heard of French kissing? From WHO??

So of course, I stammered something about Bentley being a French poodle and tried not to make this a big deal. But in my head it was disturbing enough to distract me from Operation Tooth Watch until at least an hour later, when Amelia just didn’t look quite the same.  I asked her to open her mouth and there it was – or wasn’t – the tooth was GONE.  Not even Amelia had noticed it falling out. 

And so we searched. All over the house and yard. No tooth. Amelia was devastated because she wanted to see the bottom of the tooth. Sentimental me of course wanted to save that sucker in a little box with the lock of hair from her first haircut.  Yes, I have that. Don’t judge. And of course, we had to turn something over to the Tooth Fairy.

So Amelia wrote the Tooth Fairy a sweet letter of explanation. And the tooth fairy forgave her in a return letter and delivered some good loot and very authentic fairy dust, which proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that she was indeed in the room, dropping dust from her wings as she hovered above the tooth fairy pillow. So all’s well that ends well, and Amelia still believes. 

But what of the tooth? Yeah, Bentley probably swallowed it while they were making out. 
Please let’s talk about fairy dust again.

Want more Mess? Check out A Crafty Mess over at Charlotte Parent, or visit my Etsy store, Made by Mommy...or better yet, leave a comment here. I'll respond, I promise. Or maybe the Tooth Fairy will.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Hanging On

Toothy treasure
This morning I made a very significant transaction at the bank. I withdrew 10 one-dollar coins. That should hold us for a while. 
Because as I understand it, a dollar coin is the going rate for lost teeth.  This tooth fairy's got the goods.

But this mama isn’t ready for any of it.

A lot has changed in the last month.  Amelia graduated from preschool. She started “big kid camp,” which she loves. She rocked her ballet recital. She can carry the dog without (my) fear of (him) falling. And just yesterday she announced that she'll be taking showers instead of baths, and she will not be needing my help. 

There were a few tears at the graduation, but otherwise I think I kept it in perspective. Proud mommy, a million photos, visiting grandparents, celebratory lunches and hovering outside the bathroom door notwithstanding.

The next milestone is one I don’t know how I will handle. It’s that damn tooth, just barely hanging on, wagging around and taunting me every time Amelia opens her mouth. She’s so proud of it, so excited. She’s expecting that when it falls out, she’ll be able to do all kinds of tricks, like stick a straw through the space and drink milk with her mouth closed. Look out, she might sell tickets at camp.
I’m expecting that when that tooth falls out, a big one will replace it. An adult tooth. My baby’s whole face will change. She’ll have a big kid smile. She’ll chew her wedding cake with this incoming tooth. It will still be with her when she’s an old woman. She didn’t even grow her first tooth – coincidentally, the one about to leap - until she was more than a year old, so they’re still white and so cute and barely used. All they’ve ever chewed is pasta and cheese, let’s keep them a little longer!

I know it’s crazy, she’s growing and she’s excited and she should be and I’m proud of her. So I’m going through the motions. I made a tooth fairy pillow with a little pocket, so the tooth fairy can retrieve it, conveniently hanging on her bedpost, without waking the slumbering (ha!) Amelia. I smile when she wiggles it. I make up stories about the tooth fairy and her house full of teeth. I tell her about losing my own teeth. And today I went to the bank. The tooth fairy appears ready.

But I’m hanging on more tightly than the tooth.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Go Fry an Egg!

A few weeks ago, I heard Lenore Skenazy speak. If you don’t know who Lenore Skenazy is, search Google for “world’s worst mom” and you’ll learn all about the New York City woman who let her 8-year-old son ride the subway home from Macy’s all by himself. He asked to do it, they studied a map, and practiced the route. On the big day, they said goodbye in the handbag department and he went on his way with a subway pass. He made it home, couldn’t have been more proud of himself, and she never looked back. Until her blog post about this little rite of passage went viral and she became the World’s Worst Mom, exposing her son to all kinds of stranger dangers, germs, and death by giant subway rats. When the dust settled, she wrote a book called Free Range Kids and has become a national superhero of courage to banquet rooms of moms like me who are terrified to let our kids out of our sight.

So last week, when Amelia asked to make her own egg, I thought about Lenore Skenazy. 

What’s the worst that could happen? It’s an egg in our kitchen, not a Manhattan subway. So I gave her an egg and a bowl, and clearly I’ve made her terrified of breaking an egg, because she tapped it about a dozen times so gently it barely made a sound, let alone crack.  She finally whacked it harder, and surprise! Fingers in the eggshell.  Salmonella?  No, I told myself… let her keep going.  She proudly and carefully separated the shell and slid the yolk into the bowl.  Phew!  She did it right. Actually, she did it exactly as she’s seen me do it about a million times.  Hmmm.  
number 6 is Amelia's - ready to cook?

But back to the salmonella…go wash your hands twice, with soap. 

Only we weren’t finished. She also wanted to drop the egg into the pan and watch it sizzle. OK. We positioned a stepstool in front of the stove, and I placed a pan on the burner to heat. She climbed up, duly warned about NOT TOUCHING ANYTHING.  Raw eggs were no longer the biggest danger in the room, now we had EXTREME HEAT and I didn’t want to mention the potential for PAINFUL BURNS.  From about 2 feet away, she poured the egg from the bowl into the pan and got a satisfying sizzle. And that was it. She wasn’t interested in watching it cook, flipping it (thank God!) or anything else. She was off to play until it was safely on a plate on the table. 

Well, that wasn’t so bad. 

Before I had a kid, I read an article about having difficult conversations with children. It said to answer only what the child is really asking – so “where do babies come from?” for a preschooler is probably a pretty direct answer, without all the discussion a teenager (doesn’t) want.  Tell the truth, and be ready for her to change the subject.  Crack an egg, then go get the My Little Ponies.  Amelia’s growing up, sure, but this 5-year-old still has the attention span of, well, a 5-year-old.

She’s asking to do the things she’s ready to do, and I’m glad. Because coming up are a bunch of things that I’m not ready for her to do, so we’d better ease in. Things like ride a school bus by herself to kindergarten. Buy (and choose!) her own lunch. Go on playdates without me. Well, maybe that last one is OK.

So for now, when there is an egg to be cracked, Amelia is in charge. She hasn’t dropped one yet.

Thank you, Lenore.  You’re not the world’s worst mom. In fact, you're a lot like my own mom. Thanks, mom. And Happy Mother's Day!

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Some of Everything

Can working mothers have it all?
I’m writing this from our living room couch, while Amelia watches My Little Pony before bed. The dog is snoozing at my feet, dishes are in the dishwasher and the laundry is mostly folded. Jeff is across the room, reading. It’s kind of a postcard of suburban domestic bliss. But maybe I’m supposed to be in Pittsburgh. 
Today is the second day of the Association of Children’s Museums’ annual 3-day conference. I’ve attended this conference almost every year since 1995. It changes locations each year, and I’ve been going so long that I remember the last time it was in Pittsburgh. It’s a professional development and networking event, and since I’m officially a freelancer again, networking is key. It’s also an annual gathering of old friends and colleagues, an opportunity to stay up too late in the hotel bar talking about exhibits with a bunch of people who love them the way I do, without spouses checking their watches. Last year at this conference, I was at a career turning point and the solid advice, unwaivering support and valuable perspective of my ACM friends gave me the confidence to make a change I desperately needed. Last year I was a mess, and this year I’m better. I was looking forward to going to this year’s conference to say thank you, check in, and pay it forward.
But last night was New Parents’ Open House at the school where Amelia will start kindergarten. And my decision to freelance full time was all about priorities. 
A few months ago, I saw a job posting that sounded great. I inquired about it, and it sounded even more interesting. I was definitely qualified, and strongly encouraged to apply. But I kept hesitating. Finally, my husband ran out of patience. Look, he said, I can’t keep having this debate. I will support you either way, but do you or don’t you want to meet the school bus?
Wow. That’s easy. I do want to meet the school bus. It’s what I’ve always wanted. But I also love my career and we sure do spend my paycheck. So I looked around. I have two interesting, challenging, rewarding freelance projects that will keep me busy through the summer. I have two more pending for the fall. There’s no reason to think there won’t be more after that. So at least for now, freelance work is a viable option with a lot of perks. Not only can I have the joy of meeting the school bus, but the fact that Amelia is ON a bus at 3pm means she doesn’t have to go to after school care. If I can earn a living and also avoid 11-hour days for my 5-year-old, well, any other option just seems selfish.
Have I found the elusive work-life balance that mothers everywhere dream of? If so, it’s still not perfect. There are choices and tradeoffs, because doing both means you can’t give everything to either one. Working for myself means the time management decisions are mine, and there isn’t time “reserved” by an employer. I can watch ballet class, but I will be up very late writing. If I go to parents’ night, I’m also deciding not to go to the ACM conference. 
But here’s the thing – there will be another conference next year. In fact, missing a year is a great incentive to call some of my ACM friends and catch up one-on-one in the coming weeks. Those relationships are intact, and networking can still happen. But Amelia won’t be starting a new school next year, and I’ll never have a rising kindergartener again. I’ve missed enough milestones already, and now that time management is up to me, I've chosen to meet the school bus.  
So I think you can have it all, you just can’t have all of it. Tonight, I see from the photos on Facebook that I’m missing a great time in Pittsburgh. But this year I belong here, on this couch, with my family.  I’ll see you next year, I promise!

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Testing the Limits

My daughter is probably crying. Or she will be soon. What’s wrong, you wonder? Nothing at all.

Amelia’s never been much of a crier – a talker, yes. She argues relentlessly about issues she believes in.  Like whether or not princesses go to the potty, and the nuanced distinctions between ponies, flying horses, and unicorns.  She argues with remarkable logic, reason, and WORDS.  Not crying.

But suddenly, something has changed.  If her favorite dress is in the washing machine she gets all choked up.  Macaroni and cheese in the shape of shells instead of spirals is a crisis. Or if we insist that she stop singing in bed and JUST GO TO SLEEP at 10:30pm, here come the waterworks. I feel like this lady, who photographs her toddler in all stages of meritless meltdown.
But Amelia isn’t a toddler and I’m not taking pictures. I mentioned this new crying habit to some mommy friends the other day, and they all nodded in sympathy. The same thing is happening with their 5-year-olds. Amelia is testing me, and she might be winning. She’s wondering just how far I will bend the rules in order to stop or avoid the tantrum. Guess who is wearing sparkly party shoes instead of sneakers today to her tennis class? Call me lazy, blame the dentist appointment we were already late for, but I just wasn’t up for the fight this morning.  It’s not like she’s Serena Williams.
And I kind of understand. I’m testing limits too, wondering how far I can push before there are consequences. You might remember that in January, I started a 6-week Biggest Loser weight loss challenge. At the end of 6 weeks, I’d lost 17 pounds and won a hat.  A few weeks later I was down 23 pounds…and I went to a Bar Mitzvah and ate some cake.  Guess what? It didn’t matter. I still lost weight that week. So I had some ice cream. And I still lost weight. It felt like I ran a red light and didn’t get caught. 
And now, after nearly 2 solid weeks of “tasting” chocolate, pizza, frozen yogurt, and anything else I’ve wanted, I’m afraid to get on the scale. How much exercise will it take to hide bad kitchen behavior? How bad is the damage? I know what I need to do, and I know I’m not doing it. I found the limit, and I might have to cry.  Or pick myself up, tie my running shoes, and get back to the gym. I wondered how far I could push, and now I know. 
So Amelia, grab a tissue. Next week you’re wearing tennis shoes to tennis class.

Want more Mess? Check out A Crafty Mess over at Charlotte Parent, or visit my Etsy store, Made by Mommy

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Home at Last?

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday. 

We’re Jewish, so Easter doesn’t generally involve looking for eggs in the garden, or church, or much of anything really. This year it coincides with the end of Passover, so we’ll be unceremoniously dining on the broken sheets of matzoh left at the bottom of the box.

But Easter Sunday has a special meaning for us. Eight years ago, we first saw Charlotte, North Carolina on Easter Sunday. Jeff and I were newlyweds from Boston, and we used all our frequent flyer miles to come here, chasing a job. I’d been following the development of ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center for over a year, and had finally landed a job interview. A phone interview. I knew I’d never be hired if I didn’t show up in person, so we flew south, uninvited.  And a few weeks later, we drove south, with a U-Haul-It.

So fast forward eight years, and here we are. We’ve added a kid and a dog. And a house. And more stuff than we’d ever want to schlep in a U-Haul-It again.  And the job? It was even better than I’d imagined and completely worthy of the chase, but if you’ve been following this blog you know I’ve made a few career changes since.

Coincidentally, I’m working on a consulting project in Boston, which brings me north every few weeks, usually with just enough time outside of meetings to have dinner with old friends. Who all want to know when we are coming back “home.”

Good question. Where is home, anyway?

Is it where you start, where your extended family lives, where people knew your grandmother and remember you as a kid?

Or is it where you go, where your new family plants roots and grows, where your children are born and everyone knows who you’ve become?

For the first seven years, we had an easy answer to this. Home is where our jobs are, so we have to stay in Charlotte. But at the moment, we’re both portable. We just like it here.

So for now, can we stay home? 

Want more Mess? Check out A Crafty Mess over at Charlotte Parent, or visit my Etsy store, Made by Mommy

Monday, February 25, 2013

One Week at a Time

This morning I drove to a big building and signed some forms. And just like that it was over. Amelia is registered for kindergarten.  

When she was born, people told us time would fly by. I secretly cursed these people, sure they were just taunting the sleep-deprived new parents with the impossible promise of a walking, talking, sleeping child right around the corner, one who would dress herself and handle her own personal hygiene.  

Five years later we’re still not sleeping, but otherwise it was true. She knows more than I do about the ipad, dresses herself, puts herself in the car, helps herself to a snack, and continues to grow like a weed – proof that time does indeed fly.

The passage of time isn’t lost on Amelia.  In fact, she’s pretty obsessed with it lately.  She counts down days until birthdays, playdates, trips, even a new episode of Princess Sofia. That songabout the days of the week – sung to the tune of “The Addams Family” - has become part of my subconscious playlist. I don’t even remember the original version, it’s all about “there’s Sunday and there’s Monday”…you get the idea.  And if you have an almost-kindergartener you’re snapping your fingers and cursing at me right now. 

Anyway, this last year of preschool is all about getting ready for kindergarten, and that means the days of the week – and the schedule they dictate – are very important.  So we made a dry-erase schedule chart. 

Really it’s just a fancier version of a dry-erase office calendar, but instead of the date of the month, this one features the day of the week. I’ve seen versions of this on pinterest and elsewhere over the years, so when I came across a 5-opening frame missing some glass in the clearance bin at Bed Bath and Beyond I knew exactly what to do with it.  Buy it, sneak it into the house, and finish this project before Jeff could question the purchase of a broken frame!

Fixing the frame was easy, I replaced the glass with glass from another one.  Next, Amelia and I went through our basket of fabric scraps and picked out five patterns we liked. The key here is to choose patterns that are not too dark or too busy to serve as backgrounds for your dry erase marker.  You could do this with paper too, but we have to use all that fabric for something!

We wrapped the backing from each frame with fabric, taping it tightly on the back. And then we re-inserted the fabric-covered backgrounds behind the glass.  That’s it!  We used sticker letters to add the days of the week (snap, snap!), hung it over the row of hooks that hold all of Amelia’s school bags, and filled it in with her schedule.  If we were really fancy, we’d hang the ballet bag under the ballet day. But we’re not that fancy.

So we’re ready. Bring it, kindergarten. What day does school start?

Craving more crafty fun? Check out additional posts of A Crafty Mess over at Charlotte Parent. Or stop by my Etsy store, Made by Mommy.  Or better yet, leave a comment here...I'd love to hear from you!