Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The End of Harry Potter

Newsflash! My middle son has finished the last Harry Potter book tonight. He proclaimed it the best ever, and said he wished it went on and on and on. He is hoping JK Rowling comes out with a new series. He is excited and dejected at the same time to have finished.

Hard to believe this is the kid that didn't like to read until about the middle of third grade last year. To all you parents of boys who are struggling with reading in second grade: patience!!

Now if only I can take my own advice.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Reminders of the Past, or Been There, Done That

I haven't posted for a week. No, I didn't have the flu like just about everyone I know (I've been washing my hands every 15 minutes).

I've been out of town. My kids had last week off school, a relatively new holiday week called Ski Week. Sadly, it is not called Hawaii Week, at least not in my family.

This last week of vacation had me thinking of the past more than a few times. It started with a visit to my husband's sister and her family in the Seattle area.

I watched my sister-in-law in the role of potty trainer and human Kleenex. I forgot about that stage when a child finds it much more convenient to wipe their nose on a parent passing by rather than locate a tissue. My niece and nephew shared toys, basketballs, bikes, the fish Gloria and Crystal, a computer, scatological humor (I forgot how irritating this can be to a parent), a family birthday party at the bowling alley, and especially a drum set with their cousins. The neighbors amazingly did not come over at 7:00 am (or 8 or 9 or 10 . . .) to complain about loud drum playing. My mother-in-law made for her son (my husband) his favorite comfort food meatloaf, my brother-in-law served me kona coffee, a glass of wine and stayed up late to talk. My father-in-law took eleven people out to a wonderful dinner because one grandson (my youngest) wanted to share a bucket of clams with him.

A great visit with family: one that leaves you wishing there was just a bit more time, even though several people were falling victim to a bad cold/flu and the kids left socks laying all around the house and the practice-pads for the drums kept getting lost.

After the visit to my husband's family, we parted ways. My husband and boys got on a plane to Jackson Hole Wyoming for the ski part of Ski Week, and I got on a plane to visit my very good friend who lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. There was a very touching moment at the airport, when I said goodbye to my boys, that my middle son got teary-eyed and gave me a hug that squeezed just a bit more than usual. For the first time, I wasn't joining the ski trip as the snow-fearing non-skier, I was able to go on my own adventure. How nice to know that I'd be missed just a little.

My friend in New Mexico has a red-haired toddler and is pregnant with her second child. Staying with a 19 month old, I was reminded how much the day rotates around and is consumed by feeding a toddler, an almost constant activity. I forgot about the joy of spinning in a circle or chasing a ballon around the house just for the fun of it. I was lucky enough to be able to go to an ultrasound appointment with my friend and get a sneak peak at her little boy before he is born. Why is it that I was pregnant three times, and it really wasn't that long ago, and I can't clearly remember exactly how it felt and the thoughts and emotions that went through my head? It was a state that I wish I enjoyed more at the time.

Wait a minute, now I remember why I didn't enjoy it. Oh that's right. I felt terrible and threw up at least once a day for months on end.

A souvenir of my ski week trip: A Magic Matchbox Shrine with the image of a drum. Inside it contains two worry dolls, healing dirt from New Mexico, turquoise for protection, and an Anasazi bean for strength and wisdom. It brings blessings and good luck. I'm going to send this to my sister-in-law.

Then another reminder of the past, even further back. I had recently run into a friend from high school, one I've not seen or been in contact with for more than twenty years. She happens to live in Santa Fe, so while I was in New Mexico I was able to meet with her and catch up. Memories of high school are fuzzy for both of us, but we agreed that it was really OK because high school sucked. We are both much more interesting people now.

It's not easy to remember to enjoy where you are right now. Sometimes looking into the past can make you ever much more thankful for the present you are living in the moment.

Unless you have the flu. Got to go wash my hands.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The First Valentine's Day That Really Matters

My oldest son has a Valentine.

He has always liked girls, but this is different.

She is not Lauren, the little girl he liked to hold hands with in pre-school.
She is not Dallas, the little girl with waist-long hair, who in kindergarten could make him happy with a smile.
She is not Katie or Emily, girls he admired in second and third grade.

No, this is a girl he really likes, and who likes him back. A girl he has actually asked to be his Valentine (via email). A girl who said yes of course she will be his Valentine and signed her email "love u." A girl he has actually talked to on the phone (for about 40 seconds). A girl he wrote this note to: "For some reason I was thinking about Valentine's Day! You are so going to be my Valentine. You're an awesome friend. Could we be boyfriend/girlfriend super secretly? Please!"

Gulp. This the real thing. A real crush.

This is the girl who, he says, he wants to give something more than "just a card" to on Valentine's Day. He asked me for some suggestions. We pondered flowers (too embarrassing to bring to school), something sweet (chocolates, homemade cookies?). Thank goodness the conversation did not veer off into jewelry. I left him to decide on his own. I could tell this was something that needed to come from his own heart.

Taking into account that he would need to go through some elaborate measures to make sure that he could secretly deliver his Valentine presents to school, he decided on a cupcake from a special local bakery, and a DVD of the movie Shrek 3. He happily spent almost all the money he has, earned by doing yard work, on these gifts.

Seeing evidence of a romantic side in your son is a really touching experience. How innocent and thoughtful he is. And how fleeting that innocence is, I can't help thinking. For the first time in our house Valentine's Day is not all about candy and the chore of making cards for all your classmates (at least not entirely).

It is about that thrill of a first real crush reciprocated.

Ever watchful, the two younger brothers observe everything with a shrewd eye. What do they think of this special Valentine? Interestingly, they don't tease their brother. The youngest rolls his eyes. The middle brother comments, "I think giving her Shrek 3 is kind of weird. I'm glad I don't have anyone to give a special present to." I say to him, "Maybe next year." And he replies, "Yes, probably next year."

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Harry Potter Effect II

My nine year old has still been reading Harry Potter obsessively. In the car. While eating breakfast. While doing homework. While he's supposed to be sleeping. He was closing in on the final chapters of the fifth book, exclaiming it was the best book so far, when unbeknownst to me he started thinking ahead.

He came home from school the other day and told me he had a problem. While my other two sons tell me this kind of thing all the time, it is rare coming from him. I sat down and gave him my full attention.

"You know Alan at school?"

"Yes . . ." Alan is the head maintenance person, the football coach, and the physically imposing carpool and traffic autocrat at the school. In the chain of command at the school, I'm almost certain he is in the top three or four. He is not exactly a chatty person. He is however very fond of the children at the school. At least I thought he was . . .

Thoughts raced through my mind. What kind of problem could my son have with Alan??

"This is a big problem." My heart starts pounding. "Alan has the next TWO Harry Potter books checked out from the library."

Monday, February 4, 2008

First Signs of Spring

Yes, spring is on it's way. I can tell.

Not by the weather warming up (it isn't).
Not by the flower buds appearing (not yet).
Not by the bees buzzing around (too cold still).
Not by the butterflies fluttering through the yard (haven't seen any).
Not by the fact that Target is now selling 4th of July decorations (might be but haven't been there).

No, it is the lovely sound of a baseball hitting the side of the house


that truthfully tells us that spring is coming. It might not be real close yet, but it's coming.

That's right. Little League practice is already starting.