Tooth Fairy IOU

The six year old lost his first tooth today. And we’re both a little bummed.

The thing had been hanging on by a thread for several days. Last night, the hubby and I tried, in vain, to pull it for him. But our little guy was a little freaked out by the whole thing and had little patience for our amateur dentistry. When he didn’t loose it by breakfast, I packed his back pack with an envelope and instructed him to bring it home for the tooth fairy if he lost it at school.

Sure enough, he came off the bus this afternoon and announced he lost it. Followed by, “I swallowed it.”

It was an accident and from what I gathered just fell out of his gums and slid right on down his gullet without his knowledge. He’s pretty torn up about it, despite the fact that the tooth fairy would accept an explanation note under his pillow if the tooth was missing.

I tried to focus on the excitement of it all, but part of me is feeling a bit sad about it, too. This was a first for both of us. I remember the bumpy edges of that little tooth first breaking through his pink gums when he was 10 months old. I watched it grow and change his little gummy smile, watched as it was joined by others until he finally had a mouthful of little, pearly chompers that peeked through smiles and bit through new foods.

Now it’s gone. I’m not entirely sure I would have kept it after the tooth fairy picked it up, so it’s not that, but I do feel a bit of sadness that I didn’t get to hold that first tooth in my palm, marvel at its smallness and say a final goodbye to his babyhood. He’s growing and changing so fast. He’s reading and smart mouthing and doesn’t want to crawl into my lap nearly as much anymore. The fact that he’s passed another milestone only solidifies that the ride is going too fast.

But life isn’t perfect, right? Sometimes you swallow the tooth or mess up the proposal (points at self – story for another day) or burn the dinner, but it doesn’t mean you can’t still have the magic of the tooth fairy, the engagement or the impromptu takeout.

Tonight, I will still sneak into a bedroom and slip something beneath a pillow. Another first for all of us. Then, tomorrow, I’ll try to get used to his new smile with a little hole in the middle. Just another piece of his fading babyhood.

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30 Days of Thanks

Back in 2008, after a crazy, week-long road trip with the two year old, I felt the need for perspective and embarked on a month-long journey of being thankful. I titled it 30 Days of Thanks. The following year, our second child was born and a friend took up the task. I tackled it again in 2010, the same month that I also challenged myself to NaNoWriMo. That was a month of crazy. Last year it appeared to morph onto Facebook statuses and this year, I see folks I’ve never met quoting 30 Days of Thanks all over walls and twitter feeds. My little idea has gone viral.

Which only makes me feel even more guilty that I haven’t even attempted to participate this year. Not at all. Not even a little bit.

Not that I’m not thankful. Goodness knows I have so many things in my life that I am grateful for and should take a moment to recognize. The only problem has been that this particular November has been jam packed full of work deadlines, school commitments, birthday parties and Thanksgiving hosting duties. All sound like weak excuses and all the more reason to stop and smell the proverbial roses. However, part of my rule of threes and attempt at single-tasking is giving myself permission sometimes to not participate. Not to participate in worry. Not to participate in every activity. Not to participate in petty arguments. And not to participate in one more task that instead of allowing me to feel thankful, would probably just make me feel more pressure to complete another task. Not really the point of the exercise at all.

The good news is that I find myself with a strange Sunday afternoon where I don’t have laundry to do, the groceries have been procured and put away, the house is finally quiet after a holiday of out of town guests and the hubby has taken the boys to a playground. I am taking this moment to look back on all that I do have to be thankful for this year and knocking out 30 Days in one go. Please indulge me for a moment…

1. My kids – I never knew that something that can cause such frustration and angst could also deliver such profound feelings of love, laughter and joy.

2. My husband – I don’t tell him enough how much he means to me. But without his steady hand, there is no way I’d be able to do/be/see/love as much. He’s the real deal and I’m a lucky lady.

3. My sister – She embodies strength every day, even when she’s feeling her weakest. Not to mention we can laugh until I’m crying and she’s wheezing like a smoker simply by looking at each other.

4. My parents – They are two of the toughest, most selfless people I know and they would walk through fire for my sister and I.

5. Real Housewives – Before I get too serious, let’s be thankful for those moments when I don’t have to pretend like I’m making it work and can watch a bunch of crazy, catty ladies who appear to have everything and yet are completely f’d up in ways I can’t even fathom. Thanks for making me feel normal again, ladies, and so entertained at the same time.

6. My health – This summer has had its share of medical drama and I’m pleased to be on this side of it and eager to move beyond it.

7. Calendars, iPhone reminders and color coded sharpies – without them, I’d be more of a mess than I already am.

8. Room moms – Because I don’t think I have it in me, I am so glad that these ladies do and make it look so easy while doing it.

9. Peppa Pig – My 3 year old now calls his grandma “Granny” and pronounces tomato “toe-mah-toe” thanks to these little British piggies. Truly adorable.

10. New Friends – It’s so fun to watch my boys navigate new friendships in the new school year and find new interests as a result. Not to mention all the new moms and dads we get to meet.

11. Old Friends – I have a wonderful group of people around me that I can reach out to for a play date, advice, a movie date, book recommendations, trips down memory lane, laughs, or a shoulder to lean on.

11. Work – As complex as it makes my life sometimes, I truly enjoy the people I work with, the work I’m doing and the challenge it presents.

12. Water – There is something so soothing to my soul about being near the water, whether it’s a lake, the beach or a river. I am so thankful to have had time at the beach this year to reset.

13. Family – Taking the kids to my extended family’s haunts in New England this summer was a highlight I will not soon forget. Clamoring on stone walls, playing in the pond, pool games, cousins, great aunts and uncles, chowder, chocolate cake, brotherly bonding.

14. Chapel Hill – our home away from home.

15. Clean house – it doesn’t happen often, but when it does, boy does it make me feel good.

16. Playgrounds – My boys love playgrounds. I love that they love to be active. I love that on a playground I can play as much or as little as they need me to. Some days they want to just run around with their friends. Other days, the little guy and I can play pretend games in a deserted play structure.

17. Cousins – I love that my boys have a built-in group of friends for life because they have cousins.

18. Babysitters – Cause when you can’t find one, you realize how dependent you are on them.

19. Leftovers – Not just because it’s Thanksgiving and I haven’t had to cook a meal since Thursday, but leftovers always make the next day so much easier, don’t they?

20. Books – Even when I’m busy, I love having a book to read. A story can take me to so many places. When I don’t have a book, I feel unmoored, a little lost, a tad bit lonely.

21. School programs – I love that we’re finally in Kindergarten and have Thanksgiving sing alongs, Halloween character parades and other programs to attend. They are so silly and predictable, but seeing my first born up there participating in these rites of childhood is so fun.

22. Quiet afternoons –  I am so thankful for this afternoon. It is so rare to have a quiet house to myself and the freedom in my schedule to know that there is nothing that HAS to be done right in this moment.

23. Not having to travel this holiday. It’s always nice to not be in the car driving down I-85 for an entire afternoon.

24. Board games. Yes, I’m a dork.

25. Ice skating – even if the boys didn’t quite get it yet this year, it was still fun to be gliding out on the ice for a little bit.

26. Home town fun – I love living in Atlanta and all that it offers. Museums, the zoo, the Botanical Garden, parks. There is so much available to do, if we want to.

27. Pie – yup, Thanksgiving is still on my mind, but pie is just perfection.

28. Sweaters – A nice cozy sweater on a cool day is just so comforting.

29. Tickles – There is nothing that makes my day more than the sound of my kids laughing and, when I need a little pick-me-up, I have been known to resort to a bit of tickling to hear it. They never disappoint.

30. Jumping in puddles – Because life needs to be silly, and those are the moments that I am most thankful for.

Multitasking Myth

Multitask – vb, to work at several different tasks simultaneously. (courtesy dictionary.com).

As a mother, I thought I was the queen of multitasking. Soothing kids while making dinner, rocking babies while writing blog posts, nursing while going to the bathroom (yes, I managed this a couple of times). When I started working last year, I assumed multitasking was the way to go, answer phone calls at the playground, sending media advisories while the kids are playing, cleaning the house while cooking dinner and playing Chutes & Ladders. No biggie. Right?

Wrong.

The last few weeks I have come to the realization that multitasking is a myth. The more I stretch myself between tasks, the less effective I am at completing them, or completing them well. I have tried to make a conscious effort to focus on one thing at a time. Whether it’s finishing up one work task before picking up the next, or dedicating time to household tasks, or spending time with the kids.

Sure, multitasking happens. There was getting the boys involved in the birthday party goody bag prep that ended up being an enjoyable joint activity while also getting something checked off the list. There was the cleaning the house while the boys had friends over for a play date (hello, distractions). And, of course, there was the taking a conference call while at a child’s birthday party with the 3 year old who, of course, had to make a trip to the potty. Thank goodness those editors had no idea what was going on on the other end of my muted line.

But if I’ve learned anything from these flex schedule work arrangement and mothering gigs, it’s that things always get done. Maybe not right when I want them to, sometimes late at night, but they always get done.

I’m learning to cut myself some slack and focus on one thing at a time. It’s a subtle difference to how I approach my day, but seems to be working.

Like right now. I’ve been typing this in the early hours while the kids are snuggled up beside me watching a little vacation morning TV. Think I’ll hit publish and join them under the blanket.

Time to focus.

The Day After

I had the privilege of volunteering in my son’s kindergarten classroom today. My job was to go over an election work sheet and help the children cut out and paste answers to questions about what happens on election day, who was running, where the president lives, etc… Pretty benign.

I was surprised when some of the children started volunteering who their parents’ had voted for. Per my earlier rant post, I did not share with my kids whom I voted for, despite the 6 year old’s continued pleas. But the children were all pretty cute today, telling me about going to the polls with mom or dad and laughing when I told them the president’s office was shaped like an oval and about the stickers they received.

And then…

One very adorable, sweet little girl pointed to the picture of one of the candidates, made a disgusted noise and said, “Ew! He’s the bad man.” I’m sure my mouth hit the floor while I tried to play if off.

“Sweetie, he’s not a bad man. Both men want to help the country very much.”

“No! He is a bad man. I’m going to color an X over his face because he’s bad.” And she vehemently went to work on just that.

As parents, we need to be so careful about what we say in front of our children. Whether you’re talking about the presidential candidates, a neighbor, your in-laws, your boss, our children hear everything. If you speak in judgmental tones, so will your child. How sad that this little girl will now think that our presidential election was about good guys and bad guys when, quite honestly, anyone who wants to volunteer for the most thankless job in the world is worthy of respect regardless of whether you agree with their ideology or not.

Honestly, I am very saddened by this. Sad that it’s come to this. To kindergartners repeating hateful words about people who deserve our respect. How can our country come together to solve our problems if we’re raising our children to perpetuate it?

It was a wake-up call for me. I’ll certainly be watching what comes out of my mouth. You never know where it will be repeated.