Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Art imitates life

In the past few months, the boys' fine motor skills have really picked up. 

Dean, especially, is really taken with drawing, writing, coloring, cutting, creating.  He's always making something. Paper airplanes. Wall decor for the playroom. Little pictures to mail to Nana and Granddad. It's really very cute. 

Since we moved into the new house, he's drawn a lot of pictures of houses, usually with a chimney with smoke coming out (because we now have not one but two awesome wood-burning fireplaces! Holla!) 

This week, he drew a picture that was totally cute, of a house with a car parked next to it.

Isn't that little car the cutest?
He made it for Miss Arlene, our after-care provider, but I asked him if I could have it, because 1) It was the first time he ever drew a car on his own and 2) For some reason, it made me get all filled up.

I brought it to work and put it on my desk, where I've been thinking about why Dean's picture moved me so.

And I think it's this:

I once read somewhere that if you own a car, you are in the top 10-percent of wealthiest people in the world. 

Dean drew a picture of a house (likely ours) and a car (also likely ours) which means he associates the two -- a house and a car go together. 

I imagine that an average child in Haiti or Zimbabwe would maybe draw a picture of a happy yellow sun, some grass and a house, but probably NOT a car.

But Dean did. And it reminds me how incredibly privileged we are. 

Sometimes -- even with the new house and the promotions and the private schools -- I know I can feel poor. (Well, maybe that's because of the private I dream of more, more, more - better vacations, pricier summer camps, the (good ol') days when I used to get my hair done once a week. I think about the things I wish I had, as opposed to being grateful for the things I do.

For example, we went into credit card debt for the first time in our marriage to pay for some of the renovations to the new house. And because of that, we're not going on our beach trip this year. This not infrequently makes me sad. But HULLO -- you renovated a house, Tanika! You're not going to the beach this year because you installed soft-close cabinets and an induction range and office built-ins! Not because you make the equivalent of $2 a day like many, many people in this world. Also, it's the BEACH. Not a necessity. Get over yourself!

(I have to talk to myself this way sometimes. Tough love from me to me.)

The truth is we have a house - a modest, but beautiful, well-stocked, love-filled one. We have a car. We have two, actually. We are blessed beyond measure. We are rich in so many ways, figuratively and, compared to so much of the rest of the world, literally. It's an embarrassment of riches, actually. I mean, really, our cups runneth over.

My son's rudimentary drawing is a wonderful reminder of my blessings. It makes me think of the goodness of God and the arbitrary nature of birth. Why I happened to be born to educated, middle class parents in the wealthiest nation on Earth is beyond me. I didn't do anything to deserve it. But it happened. And I'm thankful. 

My children are growing up safe, comfortable, educated, loved (adored and pampered even). My children are free.

We are so very blessed. 

And I've got the picture to prove it.

(Thanks, Dean, for the reminder!)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Is it March? Can't be!

I honestly have no idea why I haven't posted here in 10 million years.

I won't even try to come up with reasons.

Here's what you need to know about what's happened (majorly) in the last 4 months.

We moved!

That's our new (to us) house! Sooo exciting!
Clair turned 3!

Look at my beautiful sweet pea! She makes my heart melt.
We had a Frozen themed party at Sweet Frog, a frozen yogurt place. On one of the coldest days of the year.
I got a promotion to Senior Director. Lester got a promotion to Deputy Chief of Staff! 

(No photos of that.)

(And somehow we're still broke -- more on that later...)

Lester lost like 50 lbs. I gained probably half of that weight, no kidding!

(REALLY no photos of that!)

And I promise to get back into the blogging game -- where I will explore all my thoughts and feelings about the move and the baby girl becoming a threenager!

Stay tuned! Or, rather, tune back in! I'm coming back!


Friday, November 21, 2014

A snapshot of siblings

On a recent trip to Dunkin Donuts, Cary took Clair's nearly whole donut when she wasn't looking.

When she screamed, "Nooo! That's MINE!" he split it and gave her back a half.

 Little sister smiled sweetly and said, "Look Mommy, Cary shared with me!"

I didn't say a word and just sipped my coffee.

Siblings have to negotiate their way through the world, with their brothers/sisters shaping the days. Who am I to stand in the way of that?

(And also, quiet trumps fair every day of the week and twice on Sunday.)


P.S. I am going to get back into regular blogging, I swear! We've been so busy! We bought a house!!!
I'll have to tell you about that in another post, when I come up for air! So busy preparing for the move, which should happen the week before Christmas. Christmas in a new house! Praise God!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I'm back! And I have photos to prove it!

I looked at the calendar and realized that tomorrow it will have been a full month since I last posted.

I can't let a whole month go by. That's ridic.

But I still don't have time to post! Too much going on at work since I took on as the lead for that client in Maine, and another of my bigger clients has a big event this month that needed lots of promotion and communications help. So much work!!

So instead of really posting, I'll just post photos. I promise to get back into the swing of things when things at work slow-up just a bit.

We went to Scarlet and Gray Day at the boys' school...
Matty came with us! Hiii, Matt-Pat!
... and Clair had her first taste of a Baltimore favorite: a lemon stick.

Cutest little peppermint stick EVER.
Now she's a true Bawlmer girl!
She loved it! But Dean loved it more. He loves all things minty -- peppermints, "candy cans," even toothpaste. Yes. My boy likes the taste of toothpaste.

We went to the creek at Herring Run Park and explored! We threw sticks in the creek and pretended to fish, saved a caterpillar from drowning, saw two baby deer peeking at us and learned what a "clearing" is.
I love living so close to a park with a creek -- even if it is polluted. Clair calls the woods behind us "the wild." As in, "Mommy, we can't go in there. It's the wild!"
We celebrated my Mommy's 60th birthday and our 7th wedding anniversary by having brunch and visiting wineries in the Shenandoah Valley! It was a perfect October Sunday afternoon - and one of the best memories I think we'll have of our shared milestones.

Happy anniversary to my very best friend! Ain't life grand?
 It's hard to see that picture of my handsome husband in that montage, so let me zoom in for ya:

Hello handsome!
He's so GQ! See why I've kept him around for 7 years?

We went to a pumpkin farm, went on a hayride and picked apples -- oh so many apples. I still have a bag of apples sitting in the dining room. My co-worker sent me a recipe for an apple crisp that requires two sticks of butter! Ding-ding-ding! Sounds like the right answer to all those apples to me!

Clair's first time apple-picking. She loved it!
Dean, of course, turned the picking into a competition. He might be the reason why I have 1 million apples in my house.
How cute is this happy face?
 And the boys had a day off from school, so Lester helped them carve a pumpkin!

Cary: "Dude, where is the CANDY?"
What else? Hmmmm.

Oh -- I went to my girlfriend Shreya's Girls' Dinner -- the one where her husband cooks a four-course meal for 45 women??
That's my gorgeous, brilliant, hilarious, stylish, generous-to-a-fault, kick-ass friend Shreya!
It was awesome. As usual.
I am so honored that I get a seat at this table every year!
 And I looked pretty damn good.

Not as good as my husband, who has lost 46 lbs!!! since May (damn him!) But pretty darn good, thanks to some Spanx and high boots.

And I had my second column run in the Sun, which prompted someone to comment:

Positive comments on newspaper stories? This almost never happens!
This woman, whoever she is, seems like someone I'd be friends with -- kinda like many of the women I've met through this blog! See how writing brings people together?

Life is good!

P.S. I have other news to share, but I can't share it just yet. A few more weeks, tops! But I'm JUST BURSTING TO TELL IT!! Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Oh the irony - a post about haircuts and spankings

My Mom and Dad went to New York this weekend to be present at the very, very small wedding of my Dad's cousin, Johnny. It was so small, that with the addition of my parents, the total people present at the wedding - including the bride and groom and pastor -- was 5.

On the way back, Dad and Mom stopped at our house for breakfast. Lester made pancakes from scratch. I made cinnamon apples. We ate until we were stuffed, and sat around the table talking about the latest NFL scandal involving a football player who "disciplined' his 4-year-old by beating him with a switch until he tore the skin and left marks that were visible three days later. This turned into a debate about spanking vs. not spanking.

While we were debating, the kids were entertaining themselves, sometimes watching TV, sometimes playing with toys, sometimes running through the house making a lot of noise. We pretty much ignored them, because we keep trying not to hover quite so much -- "benign neglect" for their benefit and ours. And the discipline debate was pretty passionate, so we also kinda forgot about them. (Just being honest.)

And then Dean decided to play barber shop and cut two huge chunks out of the side and back of Clair's hair:
This is more hair than it looks like, because her hair is so tightly coiled. Today, my poor daughter has a combover -- a look she will be rocking for many months to come.

I posted this status message on Facebook about it:

Parents and grandparents downstairs at the breakfast table, passionately debating old school vs. new school ways of disciplining children. To make the discussion less hypothetical, my helpful boy decides to cut huge chunks out of Clair's hair. Grandparents leave after breakfast -- smug.

Which makes the irony of it all seem kinda funny. Oh, kids -- they sure have good timing. Ha. Ha. Ha. And I suppose I can see how at a certain point, it will be funny. But believe me, as I combed through her hair and more and more curls kept coming out into my hand, I was almost in tears.

Here's my dirty little secret: I wanted to spank Dean. I really did. I wanted to yell and scream and really punish him. I felt like he needed to know how serious what he did was. I could totally identify with that parental urge to make him understand his crime, and instill in him a fear of repercussions that would make him never, ever do that again.

But I didn't --WE didn't, Lester and I. Instead, we made him go to his room and lie down - separated from us, his grandparents, the TV and the cinnamon apples. He stayed there for three and a half hours (he fell asleep).

If I had not just been arguing with my parents about my belief that we can raise our children to be well-behaved, respectful and good decision makers without spanking them, would I have chosen that way of punishing him? I think I would. I hope I would. And here's why:

Aside from the obvious arguments about respecting a child's personhood, and about the hypocrisy of teaching children not to hit when we, ourselves, him them, I just don't believe in my heart of hearts that spankings work. I think they make children fearful, yes, but not of the thing parents hope. In fact, I think they only serve to make them fear YOU.

I don't want Dean to fear me. What I want is for him to learn to better regulate his impulses. I want him to try harder to remember that scissors are for cutting paper and paper only. And that he is not supposed to even handle scissors when an adult is not around. We've told him these things many times, but I believe this kind of learning takes place over time -- not by dealing a swift blow to knock it out of him once and for all.

I don't want my children to fear me. I want them to love, respect and trust me.  And that won't happen if they think I will hurt them.

Cary, Dean and Clair: I will not hurt you, my littlest loves. I will love you and guide you and teach you and, yes, discipline you. I will make mistakes, that is a guarantee. But I will try my absolute hardest not to ever hurt you. Even when you do ridiculously stupid things like CUT YOUR SISTER'S HAIR, WHICH TOOK THREE FRIKKIN' YEARS TO GET LONG ENOUGH FOR ME TO ACTUALLY STYLE!!!

P.S. Later we found out that Cary was in on the cutting game too; he snipped a little bit of fabric out of Clair's prettiest pink tutu. (Clair was far more upset about that than she was about her hair). By the time the full story unfolded, I was too tapped out from having to put my money where my mouth was to really grasp what happened. Thankfully, Lester had his wits about him and sent Cary to bed too. So when the boys woke up at 3:30, they both had missed lunch. It was too early for dinner, and they both wanted snacks. But I held my ground and didn't give them anything, and I patiently explained why: They missed lunch because they had to go to bed while the rest of us ate, because they both did something very bad. And now they had to wait until dinner to eat. Let me tell you -- this was probably the best punishment I could ever have dreamed up. These kids love to eat -- snacks especially! So I think they got the message. I hope so anyway.

I didn't have to spank them; their little growling bellies were pain and suffering enough!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Full circle living: I'm writing for The Sun again

Six years ago this month, I quit my beat at The Baltimore Sun to come work in PR.

I never regretted my decision, but I did miss the buzz of the newsroom, the excitement of learning something new on daily assignments, and the thrill of being in the mix of things. But mostly I missed writing.

So I started this blog (thanks to Laura Case, who is no longer blogging. Boooo!) It satisfies in ways I never imagined -- ways I've talked about here before. I love sorting through my thoughts and feelings about motherhood, wife-hood, chocolate-addiction and life. I love getting down on record important  and not-so-important moments in my kids' lives -- and being able to look back on those moments and reflect on their growth. And I love the support, advice and encouragement I get from the wonderful people who take the time to read this blog. I truly feel like I've expanded my community. And that's a really good feeling.

Writing feels good. I realize now that it's something I don't just like to do. It's something I need to do.

So when an editor at The Sun (with whom I'm also friendly) asked me if I wanted to have a monthly parenting column in the very newspaper I left six years ago, I thought for like two seconds and said, "Hells yeah!"

So I'm back to writing for The Sun!


It's just once a month; I don't get a press pass, and I make about .000010 percent of what I made when I was on staff there, but who's counting? (Only the mother of three children in private/parochial school..ahem.) But I'm writing again - so yay!

Anyway, here's my first column, which is online today in the Maryland Family section and will be in Sunday's print paper.,0,6393521.story

The editor sent me this note just a few minutes ago: "Hey check this out! I just put this online and it's already the most popular thing on our site!"

Whoo-hooo! Hopefully, I'll have something interesting to say every month. Do you think the Baltimore region wants to read all about Clair's love of the paci? Or Dean washing the dishes?

I'mma need to step my "parenting" thought-game up. Hahhaha.