Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentine's Day 2014

Normally, Cara and I use Valentine's Day as a time to spend working together to come up with fairly labor-intensive crafts for her to give to her classmates. Last year, we made home-made Altoid-type candies and Cara put them in containers that she decorated herself along with a card that fit into the lid of the containers. The year before, we made salt dough into pins, magnets, bookmarks, and earrings. And the year before that, rolled out sugar cookies decorated with flood icing and personalized for each classmate.

This year, our February was less-than-typical and now Connor was going to be making valentines as well, so we decided to go an easier route. The kids and I visited the paint section at the Home Depot and grabbed a few dozen free sample cards. They both really enjoyed looking for colors that each of their friends would like. Some ribbon and a heart hole punch later, and the kids had made over 50 personalized bookmark valentines.
Another part of the Valentine's Day celebration at the kids' school is that the parents make a Valentine for their kids that will hang up in the classroom for the weeks leading to the holiday.  I had a lot of fun with these and I think they turned out fairly well.

Cara actually suggested we use Tae Kwon Do as the theme for her valentine. You may not be able to see all of the pictures clearly in this photo, but they are all documented moments in Cara's martial arts history: showing off a new move she had learned in class, sparring with the other students, practicing her flying side kick (the blurry pic at the top and probably one of my favorites) and being awarded her next belt. We are so proud of her progress and are happy to brag to her classmates about it.

I was looking for a cheesy saying to go on Connor's, but he actually requested that I write "I love you" on it. Since he's still okay with public displays of affection from his parents, I had to take advantage of what will probably be a small window of opportunity to do so. In addition to a neon sign displayed for all to see, he wore last year's Valentine's Day shirt.

I'm really glad that I get at least seven more years of valentine crafts to look forward to.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Retro Parenting

I take my role as parent seriously. It is my job to impart wisdom and reason, to teach my children the difference between right and wrong, to model good behavior, to show empathy and compassion to others so that my children will grow to be empathetic and compassionate people.  It is also my job to make sure that my children never utter the phrase "I didn't know that because that happened before I was born."  This week, I knocked the cobwebs off a few oldies but goodies to share with my children.

It started with Connor's request to tell him a bedtime story.  I tucked him into bed, snuggled up close, and began. "Now, here's a little story. It's about a man named Jed." I described the plight of this poor mountaineer who was desperate to feed his family. By the end of the story, things had turned around for Jed and Connor went to bed knowing that reckless abandon with a shotgun could end up getting you a swimming pool.

Another lyrically historical moment this week was when I chose to enlighten my daughter with the song stylings of one Mr. Bill Withers. Because, some times in our lives, we all have pain. We all have sorrow. But, if we are wise, we know that there's always tomorrow.

As a child, the Muppet Show was a gateway between the characters I loved and the actors/musicians that my parents were familiar with. Now that I have my own kids, I've used old episodes of the Muppet Show (yes, I do own the Time Life series as seen on TV) to enrich their appreciation of performers of the past (and sometimes present, too---who knew the Alice Cooper episode would be Cara's favorite?).  This week, I let Connor gaze on the wonder that was Dizzy Gillespie. Don't know him? Well, here you go. And you're welcome.

If I say the name "Willow", what do you think of? If it's not either Rosenberg or Ufgood, I just don't have enough time to tell you how sad your life is. Since Cara already knows of the first, it was high time she be introduced to the second. This weekend, we rented the 1988 Ron Howard/George Lucas movie starring Wicket the Ewok and an un-puffy Val Kilmer. Now, she may have laughed out loud at some of the special effects, you can bet that girl was glued to the screen, making sure that the little red-headed baby was safe and that the queen got what was coming to her. High-five, eighties! 

So far, I was winning parenting. And then I pulled a Kelley. That thing where the words go directly from my brain and out through my mouth with no filter at all. It was not one that I immediately regretted, though. This was like a slow-release tablet that very well is probably in the boy's system as I type this. I apologize in advance, Connor's classmates' parents. My son is now familiar with the law of He Who Smelt It, Dealt It. 

If four out of five is good enough for dentists, it's good enough for me.