Posts tagged ‘nature’

August 22, 2011

right now I’m all about homemade soup, but I remember the workplace and BOSSYPANTS

I have a confession to make: I love being a mom. I love being a wife, even (in whispered tones) a housewife. I love staying at home. I love making dinner for my family. I love being in charge of my children’s day. I love showing my husband what they’ve learned.

I love the look in my husband’s eyes when he sees my 3-year-old zoom down the street on his bike–only a few days before that he had been so tentative, but I worked with him, I challenged him to let up on the brakes–pedal three times in a row, I said, then four, then five. My husband is impressed and looks at me, raising his eyebrows and questioning to see if I, too was seeing this for the first time or if I had something to do with it. I smile and he knows: I worked hard for that. Every time, every new thing, he gives me that eyebrow raise. Every time, I give him that smile. “Our boy is growing up,” I say. That was only a couple of weeks ago and today I had to take the bike away for going too fast, for not listening when I yelled “stop.” They go so fast–cycling and life.

I love family dinners, every night. Asking my son to tell his dad what he learned today. Not on a school day, but on a mom day.

I love it when I cook something good and my husband loves it. I love it when I cook something bad and he tells me the truth. I love paying at the grocery store, watching the fresh food slide by, knowing that our stomachs will be filled it it, knowing that I am taking care of the people that I love.

Sometimes I feel the need to defend myself. Writing a book, being a mom; neither are exactly financial success stories. Was my liberal arts degree really necessary to teach beginning bike-riding and supervise violin practices?) People who choose one job over another may think on their choice (sometimes my husband will wonder out loud why he’s a doctor and not a pianist), but this is more a mental exercise, a momentary imagining. It isn’t the emotionally, politically, and socially laden debate of the working versus not-working mother.

But working moms or not-anymore-working moms or moms who never worked or moms just starting to work–we have to think about our decision every day. (Or maybe we don’t? This would be news to me.) But I would argue (I am arguing actually) that society expects that we voice our decision out loud. Often. (And preferably with regret–regret at missed time with the kids if we work or regret at a wasted dream if we don’t.) If we work, we are supposed to justify it by saying “it keeps me sane” or “I’m setting a good example for my kids” or my personal favorite “a happy mom makes a happy family”. If we don’t work, we are supposed to say that it’s our “favorite job” as if it’s a job and not just who we are.

My husband works.  He works a lot. Way more than 40 hours a week. And he has two kids. And he loves them very much. And yet I’ve never heard him say that he does it to keep sane, to set an example, or to be happy for the sake of the family. He does it because he chose to be a doctor. And I’ve never heard anyone question that.

It really pisses me off.

Oh sure, I have professional goals. But that’s not what I’m talking about right now. Right now? If I’m being totally honest? I just want to go to the zoo, take car trips to the space museum and the aquarium, listen to really horrible-sounding violin lessons, teach someone how to draw the letter “A” or how to say “red” in Spanish, and make lots of really good, homemade meals. I want to feed my family, to keep them healthy and to support them. I don’t care if it’s cheesy or out-dated, I want to be the “wind beneath” everybody’s wings.

It’s important to note that I am using “I” statements.  By no means am I saying this is what everyone should do. (It’s stupid that I even have to say that, but I do. Read the news–any of it.) I, like most women who are tired of thinking of themselves as an issue to be debated, can get worked up about this. Which is why I like to have a good laugh about it all. And for this I highly recommend Tina Fey’s memoir about being a girl, a woman, and a working mom, Bossypants.

Title: Bossypants
Author: Tina Fey
Genre: Memoir, Humor
Age: Old

Review and Summary: Disclaimer. This is not a parenting book. The chapter on how she was running from working with Oprah on 30 Rock to a Sarah Palin impersonation on Saturday Night Live to picking out her daughter’s Peter Pan birthday cake was my favorite. Because yes, all three of those things are equally important.

October 22, 2010

For the families who wish they could winter in New England, or even those who do

This book makes me want to put on my hat, mittens, and gloves and walk in the snow, roll down a snowy hill, make a snowman, and then come inside for some hot chocolate.  I LOVE the illustrations and the tone/feeling that this book evokes.  I also love that its teaching my son about different kinds of animals and the different tracks they make.  It was a gift from great grandma, and we taped the card she sent inside the book–we will treasure this for a long time!

Title: Who’s Been Here? A Tale in Tracks
Author: Fran Hodgkins
Illustrator
: Karel Hayes
Genre
: Picture Book
Age: 0 – 7

Summary and Review:

A dog goes outside and find lots of different kinds of tracks.  The three-toed print turns out to be a turkey, the prints with long feet and short hands coming out of the compost bin are, of course, the pesky raccoon, and double hooves mark a deer and a moose.  But who do the final tracks belong to?  Unfortunately, Willy the dog goes to find out, and ends up sprayed by the owner, a skunk.

Possible conversations to have with your kids (yes, it’s Science time!):

The drawings of the tracks appear on the borders of the pages so the kids can see them clearly.  Ask your child to guess what the animal is before you turn the page to find out.  After a few readings, they will be proud that they can guess every time!

For older children, you can point out more details in the tracks.  The book’s text mentions some of them without slowing down the narration, and you can expand.  For example, some of the tracks look like paw prints, but others look different.  Why?  What makes the paw prints of different animals similar?  What makes them slightly different?  And how is a paw print different from a hoof print of a deer or the clawed foot print of a turkey?

Ask them to look at the pattern of the prints as they lie in the snow.  Which one do they think is the right foot and which one the left?  Why?  Can they tell the difference between the two footsteps that are together in one stride and the next stride of two footprints?

What about animals that walk on four feet?  How are their tracks different from two-footed animals?  Have your child walk on all fours and see where their hands and feet end up.  Compare them to the drawings in the book.

On the raccoon prints, the hands and feet are different–can they tell which is which?  How do they know?

Why do the kids run away when they see the skunk?  Why do they leave Willy outside?

🙂

P.S. The danger of mixing gorgeous picture books with 2-year-old boys is that they will get ripped.  This is NOT a reason to take them away, but to help kids understand how to take care of books.  However, some damage will occur, and hopefully you can write it off as damage in the name of education and growth.  One way to minimize the damage, though, is to take off the fragile paper covers and store those separately.  I learned this trick from a brilliant fifth-grade teacher I worked with who did this before lending books in her library to parents and kids to take home.  (Thanks, Daria!)