Thursday, February 04, 2016

Dear Jorge, at 9

Oh, Jorge.

Last week was your ninth birthday.  We celebrated a little at home on the day and then had a bigger celebration (and bigger cake) on the weekend.  As always happens, everyone was sick/snowed-in/busy so the celebration ended up with Aunt Judy as the only additional person but we do quality over quantity.

You're nine now!  Third grade, assertive, ambitious. You want so much to be treated as a mature, responsible kid without any actual expectations of maturity or responsibility. You're still solidly in the habit of throwing screaming fits for hours when your emotions just completely overwhelm you which can happen for anything as simple as saying there's no dessert this evening or that you have to put your clean laundry away sometime this afternoon. But when you're in control of yourself, you're a pretty great kid to be around.  You like to build and cook--anything that requires a lot of steps to get an impressive result is appealing to you as long as you have the patience not to rush through it.  You are a great big brother to August and you spend hours and hours with Katie.

You love to swim and ice skate and snorkel and bike and really anything that involves movement.  You also love to read and draw and write stories and research space and history.  Anything Star Wars, GI Joe, or Lego is top notch.

You're a good student when you take your time but you are nearly always focused on "finish" and "next" instead of "doing" and "now".  This leads to endless frustration for you as you have to re-do sloppy work, fix silly mistakes, or be reigned in from tearing the house down.  We are constantly reminding you to slow down, do it carefully, check your work, and focus on the task at hand.  We could save ourselves a lot of time if we just put those on a repeating loop.

But you're you, and you are great.  You have strong commitment to your beliefs and you work hard to help anyone you see that needs help. Just, please, slow down and enjoy the days, buddy.  The weeks and months go so fast; there's no need to rush them. Be nine. Stop wishing the days and weeks and months away until you're the age Katie is today so that you can have whatever it is you think your life is missing, or you'll actually miss your own life.  When you remember this and just live in the moment, your joy for life is incredible.  And that's all I want for you.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Sunday, January 10, 2016


August this morning, describing how he ate breakfast and  used his hands for something:

"...because I'm not very good at forks."

Other aug-isms that are adorbs:

Lemonade: Lemolade
Electricity: Electrisiky
Harden: Hardinate = I had to let the glue sit so it could hardinate.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

No See-Ums

A few weeks ago all the kids had pediatrician appointments on the same day.  You'll forgive me for not writing about it at the time because it took a month to recover from that drama.

Of the few useful things that came out of that day, we were told that August has horrible vision. Today we followed up with the eye doctor and...yep: 20/100.  That means what most people can see at 100 feet away, Augs has to be 20 feet away to see well.  That's in his weak eye; his good eye is 20/30 or so.

So today Augs got fitted for glasses and a patch to wear over his good eye to force his weak eye to stay active.  No pictures yet as the glasses should be in next week.

Monday, January 04, 2016

My soapbox for casual dating

I read this article years ago and came back to it today. Skip the courtship section and read "The case for traditional dating". Can we all collectively agree to just change the culture of dating? As a teen, I remember feeling pressured to be "in a relationship" the minute you went on a single date. It was emotionally exhausting. One date = dating, which meant if that date wasn't stellar you had to "break up" before you could be interested in someone else and then if you thought you'd give it another try with someone because maybe you judged too quickly you were either now in a complicated on-and-off relationship OR you were getting in deeper with someone and it was just so much freaking pressure. God forbid you date more than one person in quick succession because now you were either a whore OR you were in some soap-opera worthy web of torn hearts and broken dreams.
LDS (i.e. Mormons) have a similar many-and-casual view and I love it.
I'm not endorsing hook-up culture (i.e. all physical and no emotional relationship); I believe in keeping the physical and emotional investments in pace with each other. When I was a teen it felt like the expectation of both emotional committment and physical committment were way too high immediately and now there are three camps: all physical and no emotional (hook-up culture) or all emotional and no physical (courtship culture), all of both (immediately exclusive and intense and then when it almost surely isn't perfect break-up and move on=hookup-and-breakup). Where's the reasonable balance of "a little of both until something is interesting enough for a little more of both"?? And it's really not about a religious view (though both of these links are)--I think it's just a LOT healthier emotionally and mentally.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Expectations are always high for New Years and we always fail spectacularly.  It's the major holiday in Ukraine since the Soviet era basically squashed all religious holidays and so the people moved all gift giving and family celebrating to January first.  The religious holidays are back now, but they don't have the festivities that we associate with them here in the US.  

So...New Years is "supposed" to be super fun with lots of fireworks and partying until 3 AM and huge gifts from Father Frost or Winter or something like that. Think Halloween and Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July -- very kid oriented and family oriented and fun fun fun.  There's an enormous feast expected featuring no less than 13 specific dishes.  There's non-stop celebrating.

America's idea of New Years seems to be: if you're under 21, just go to bed because there's nothing for you to do.  If you're over 21 get trashed by 11 and go to bed by 1 AM.  Sleep all day on January first.

So, you can imagine the mood here.  Surprisingly decent, really.  

I spent 7 hours cooking yesterday and today and prepared the feast of feasts.  We went to the church's New Year's Eve celebration which ended in sulking off angry teenager, but everyone else had a blast. 

Once home, we read our 2015 predictions (nearly all failed) and wrote our 2016 for the jar.  We made a fire and toasted marshamallows for s'mores.  We fired off confetti poppers and did a toast with bubbly grape juice.  

Today we did the feast.  And eventually everyone went to bed.  And no one had a meltdown.  So...successfull start to 2016.  We keep the bar low here.


Rob: All good.  He topped his 2014 sales on his etsy page which allowed us to make a great donation to NHFC and support several families in hosting.  He might be teaching in the spring semester but we'll find out about a week before classes start.

Julie: Tunure decision starts being made in January.  I've reached a state of zen.  If it happens, wonderful.  If not, next chapter.  I got positive news on a paper earlier this week so I'm feeling moderately optimistic.

M (17): There are way more good days than bad, but there are still challenges, resistence, and general adjustment hurdles. School is going well with mostly A's and B's except the two classes she's building advanced topics onto almost zero foundation (math and science) so we're trying to figure out what to do there. Friends, driving, a social life, and more family time are all big improvements.

K (10): Still our sensitive perfectionist with high anxiety.  She's struggling to balance the expectations of her friends with her own interests and I'm always so proud of how she stays true to herself while being kind. She excels at anything she sets her mind to; but also only sets her mind to things she quickly masters so there's some comfort-zone pushing to do there.

J (9 next month): When he's good he's very very good and when he's bad ....  ooof.  He's had more meltdowns this month than anyone can tolerate, but he's also hyper-helpful and kind when he's not impossible.

A (5): Never ever ever stops talking, hugging, loving, kissing, climbing, asking, doing.  His apnea is a little better now that he's been on the nasal steroid for a few months. He's learning math and reading at an incredible pace and his writing is getting a lot better.  He's making cards for everyone these days.