Junior Fashionista on the Scene

I can’t say I wasn’t warned.  From the time my nine-year-old daughter was born, I have loved buying clothes for her.  To me, she has always looked like a pink, girly girl.  It was fun to buy things for her that were smocked, monogrammed, pink, and girly, and she never hesitated to let me dress her in them, or later, dress herself in them.  I remember a friend, who had also had a pink, girly girl, mentioning to me that I should be prepared for the day that my daughter rejects all the adorable clothes in favor of a style that just doesn’t make sense.  I didn’t want to believe her.  I do now.

My daughter has slowly, over the last year, moved away from the cute, girly look, to one that is, well, I’m not sure. I believe she is striving to be more fashionable.  I noticed this summer as we went through her clothes in anticipation for the fall, that her taste had changed.  Many outfits she had selected a year or so ago, no longer held the same appeal.  The problem for me was that these outfits still fit.  I strongly encouraged her to keep them in her closet, and make a point to wear them since they looked great on her.  Her response?  An eye roll, sigh, and a “maybe.”

I know this is a normal part of growing up.  I realize that she has a mind of her own that is working to express her authentic self as it develops.  She pays close attention to what other girls wear: her peers, older girls and girls in the media.  Sometimes I think she is trying to grow up too fast.  She steers as far away as possible from anything she thinks makes her look like, in her words, a “baby.”  She knows that it is important to always be appropriate for her age, but that doesn’t stop her from asking to buy things that she knows pushes the envelope. She also cares a great deal what her older brother thinks about her clothes, and often asks him what he thinks about her outfit for the day.  Even a slight look of question from him will lead her right back to her closet.  She has told me that he knows more about what is “cool” to wear.

I know this is but another stage for my daughter.  My son also went through this same stage.  He wore gym shorts and t-shirts for the last several years almost every day, much to my chagrin.  He wouldn’t have dreamed of wearing khakis and polo shirts, unless he had to “dress up” for an occasion.  Recently, however, I have seen a change in him.  He has worn, without prompting from me, polo shirts and khakis to school several days during the week.  I am happy to see the nicer attire, and see that yes, it does come full circle in time.

Maybe the turn-around will be sooner for my daughter.  Just this morning I encouraged her to take a look at one of the outfits she said she would “maybe” wear.  She decided to wear it, only with her Target brand Ugg-like boots…  she had to make sure the look was fashionable!  A nice compromise.  A start.

What we are reading:

Me: The Inner Game of Music by Barry Green

My son: Alex Rider: Crocodile Tears by Anthony Horowitz

My daughter:  Frankly Frannie by A.J. Stern

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Filed under Great Books for Children, Parenting

The Eerily Quiet Nest… A Preview of the Future?

My children left for a week of summer camp on Sunday.  Days leading up to their departure consisted of washing clothes, encouraging them to pack (they are old enough to take care of this task on their own–they even washed half of the clothes),  running last-minute errands getting little things that were on the camp packing list, and managing the anxiety from my daughter– it was her first year going to camp.   All this to say that the house was full of activity and excitement, with a little dash of nerves.  Such a stark contrast to what my husband and I met on Sunday afternoon.

After lunch on Sunday, we both looked at each other and said it felt weird thinking that they would be gone for the entire week.  The house already felt different.  Now it was quiet.  Really quiet.  It was only us and the dog.   I believe it was then that I realized they had both never been gone at the same time for more than one night.

The next morning was also strange.  I didn’t hear the normal sounds of morning in the house, realizing that most of them usually came compliments of my children.  Even our dog wandered around as though she was lo0king for her two-legged siblings.

That evening I caught my husband talking to our dog about something in a teaching tone of voice.  He sounded like he was sharing a teachable moment with her in lieu of our children being here.  To her credit, she sat very attentive and took in his every word.  She is a good dog.  I asked him if this is a sign of things to come in the future…

My husband and I realized that this is what our house will feel like when we have an empty nest for real.  Now, we do have several years ahead of us before that becomes a reality, but this week of having an eerily quiet nest has served as somewhat of a preview for us.  My husband mentioned to a colleague, that happened to be an empty nester,  that we had an empty nest for a week.  He responded that having an empty nest sounds like it is going to be great, but then you look in your children’s rooms and they aren’t there.  You realize then that it isn’t as great as you thought it was going to be.

I have never been one to rush my children into the next stage of life.  After this week, I definitely will not rush anything, but rather enjoy where they are each step of the way.  I think I really do like a house full with energy and noises that only come with children.  I am looking forward to seeing my children return on Saturday, and having a full nest once again!

 

What We’re Reading…

Me:  NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.  Check out their website at www.nurtureshock.com.  Interesting reading!

My son and daughter:  Will update when they return from camp!

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Dad’s Failure Inspires Junior Chef

My daughter has been obsessed with cooking lately.  While she has always enjoyed helping me cook, her interest has grown to a whole new level.  I am thinking that my husband’s recent failed attempt at making biscuits (see post from July 9, 2011, Guest Post From Perfectionist Biscuit Maker) has something to do with this desire to cook more.  She commented that she could cook better than Dad, and wanted to prove it.  A week after the failed biscuits were served, she asked if she could use the same recipe that Dad tried, and make some “good” biscuits.  She experienced great success!

Superior Biscuits!

Now most mornings she comes downstairs and announces that she is making breakfast.  Then she scours the fridge and cabinets for inspiration.  On occasion she has asked for a little help, but generally she just calls us to the table when breakfast is ready.  Pretty impressive for a 9-year-old!

Added to her breakfast regimen is now a desire to prepare dinner.  Not just help with dinner, but prepare ALL of dinner, several times a week.  Just last night she prepared a delicious Roma tomato, fresh basil, and parmesan egg noodle pasta, complete with olive oil, sea salt and fresh ground pepper. She beamed as she served her meal.  We all beamed as we ate it!

I love that she has the interest, independence, and confidence to stretch her culinary skills.  It is interesting to me that she was seemingly inspired by her Dad’s “epic failure” with the biscuits.  Or could it be that she has an inherited competitive streak?  Most likely it is a combination of the two.  Whatever the reason(s), she is excited to cook, loves the challenge, and is having fun.  Isn’t that what learning is all about?

ADDED FEATURE:

At the end of each blog post, I have decided to share a list of what books my children and I are currently reading, as well as a link to the author’s website so you can learn more about him/her.  I am hoping that this feature will provide book ideas for your children, as well as grown-up books for you to check out.  I would love to hear what your family is reading as well! I always love new book suggestions, and don’t think you can spread good news about good books too often!

What We’re Reading…

Me:  The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  Great book!  Check out her website at www.thehappinessproject.com.

My son (12):  The Big Field by Mike Lupica.  This is at least the third time he has read this book.  Check out Lupica’s website at www.mikelupicabooks.com .

My daughter (9):  Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary.  Check out Cleary’s website at www.beverlycleary.com .

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Filed under Cooking, Great Books for Children, Parenting

New Cell Phone Bumps up Maturity Level… Who Knew?

My twelve year old son has been begging for a cell phone for well over a year now.  He tried every possible angle to convince us that he should have one.  He even told us that everyone in his middle school (52 kids– he goes to a small school) had one except for him.  He later corrected himself and said that he wasn’t the only one, he just felt like the only one.

Many friends encouraged me to hold out as long as possible.  I just couldn’t imagine who he needed to stay in contact with so much, especially since he saw so many of his friends at school each day.  He got an email address a year or so ago, and that seemed to satisfy his need to stay in touch with friends outside of the school day.  However, it seems that as things go with youth these days, email is apparently a dinosaur, and texting is now the way to stay in touch.

My sister-in-law actually changed my perspective on the situation a few months back.  She told me that it was actually a good sign that he wanted a phone to stay in touch with his friends.  She said that it was normal for his age, and that I should worry if he didn’t want to pull away from us and connect more with his friends.  The more I thought about her comment, the more it made sense.

Finally, we decided he was ready to have one.  He understood that it came with a few stipulations, most important, a $10 a month bill (he also paid for half of the phone itself).  He has to be reasonable with how many texts he sends each day, and the phone can’t be a permanent appendage (after a reasonable time for him to enjoy the “newness”), but he also needs to figure out how to manage his first monthly bill.  He is confident that he can manage this responsibility.  He is volunteering to help with plants and mail for vacationing neighbors, and is doing additional jobs around the house.  He appears receptive to requests to do laundry and dishes, whereas weeks ago there would be a lot of grumbling before accepting the duty.  All in all, his level of maturity seems to have bumped up a level.  I have also noticed him being more respectful and attentive to his family.

Is this change due to the fear of losing his new phone if expectations aren’t met, or is it due to the his sense that we felt he was responsible and ready for this move up the social ladder?  I know that most of the time children rise to expectations, and they respond to being treated more maturely.  It is undoubtedly a change for us all, but one that, so far, has the makings of all things positive!

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Guest Post From Perfectionist Biscuit Maker

I have a story that is just too good not to share.  My husband is known as quite a perfectionist, and rarely does anything wrong, at least from his perspective.  After you read the story, you will understand why this is such a treasure.  It also didn’t help my husband’s position that he bragged about how his biscuits were going to be so good, light and fluffy.  I loved the fact that our children noticed each of the mistakes as they were made, and kept whispering to me what they saw.  They have been learning how to cook since they were very young, and wanted so badly to tell him what was going wrong.  But alas, we watched, chuckled, and waited for the proof on the plate.  And what a plate it was…  Got to love his effort and enthusiasm!

And now… my husband’s guest post:

Last weekend my mom visited and told my wife and kids about the delicious biscuits I used to make when I was in the 7th grade. Amused by this revelation, they asked my mom to send us the recipe (40 years old, in my own cursive handwriting) so I could re-create my legendary biscuits.

With great excitement (and cameras documenting the historic moment), I took charge of the kitchen. Amid unexplained snickers from my wife and kids, I confidently gathered the ingredients and began preparing my delicacies. In hindsight, I should have read the recipe a little more carefully. That was my first mistake . . . and it only got worse from there. Apparently I added unnecessary ingredients to self-rising flour, I didn’t really know what kneading was, and I got a little aggressive with the salt.

Unaware of the impending disaster, I proudly removed the biscuits from the oven, only to observe that they seemed a little flat and disc-like. As my 9yo daughter cautiously took her first bite, she lovingly stated, “The inside tastes like flour, the outside tastes like ocean, and overall it’s as hard as a rock.” My 12yo son succinctly summarized the tragic project in two words: “Epic fail.”

Dad's Inferior Biscuits

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Touch the Sand

On a recent vacation with my family, I noticed a little girl playing on the beach.  She was adorable, with bright eyes and a permanent smile.  Her mom told me that she had just turned one, and was all about exploring the world.  Several days later, I watched the little girl as she walked down the beach holding her father’s hand.  She walked along the water’s edge, squealing each time the water gently lapped her feet.

As they walked, I noticed that the little girl constantly reached down and tried to touch the sand.  Each time she came close, but her father, unaware of her efforts, gently pulled her little body upright and continued their walk.  Determined, the little girl continued to reach, each time being pulled away.  Two things struck me with this scenario. First, the little girl kept that sweet smile on her face the entire time, and second, she never gave up trying.  She was curious and wanted to touch the sand.  Her dad, however, was oblivious to her intentions, and continued along with the walk.  He never looked down at her to see what she was pulling towards.

When the two returned to their beach chairs, the dad dropped his daughter’s hand and joined the rest of his family in conversation.  I watched as the little girl instantly dropped her body so her hands could finally delve deep into the sand that she had so diligently tried to touch.  Within seconds she was squealing with delight, and playing with the sand as though it was the most exciting experience she had ever had.  Still, the father or any other adult around her never noticed.

This  reminded me of how the world viewed through our children’s eyes is much different from our own adult perspective.  Children recognize the beauty and excitement of the simplest things.  They aren’t deterred by a simple “no” when they are drawn by their curiosity to explore or experience something new.  They are naturally filled with joy and appreciation for the world around them.  How quickly we, as adults, fail to realize this and pull them back into our “real world” and on to the next task.

My takeaway from this was to step back and allow my children to touch the sand, literally and figuratively.  If we all did this, maybe we could also have a permanent smile on our faces and live a more joyful life.  Let’s all try to view the world, if just for a few moments a day, through the eyes of a child.

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Raising our Children to Strive for Greatness like MLK

Today is Martin Luther King Day.  My husband has always considered Dr. King one of his heroes, and admired all that he did for our country.  I didn’t know this about him until our first year of marriage.  First thing in the morning on Martin Luther King Day, my husband emerged from the home office with a book and began reciting, in full theatrical mode, the “I Have a Dream” speech.  After being momentarily perplexed, I listened.  Although I had heard it many times before, to hear it in this manner definitely gave it a different perspective.

After my husband’s presentation, we discussed Martin Luther King, Jr. and his thoughts on how King impacted our nation.  Although I had always admired the man and what he stood for, I had an even better appreciation for him after adding my husband’s insights as well.  Each year since then, we laugh about my husband’s annual oratory, but all of us listen and inevitably a good discussion ensues.

Today as I anticipate my husband’s presentation, I think about Dr. King and the true impact he made on our society.  His life was short by today’s measures of time, but the difference he made was equivalent to those twice his age.  I also think about how I can truly make a difference in this world, and how I can instill in my children the desire to do so as well.

As a parent, I feel if I can raise happy, healthy, moral children that have strong values, treat others well, and strive to do good things in this world, then I will be a success.

On Twitter this morning, I read a tweet from Education.com that had a link to ideas of things to do with children to help celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr..  I invite you to take a look at them  http://bit.ly/gvlgIt .  Who knows, maybe you are raising a son or daughter that will one day make as much of an impact on our world as Dr. King.

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Filed under Parenting, Something to think about