Monthly Archives: February 2016

More on memories

First, thanks to all who have liked my Facebook blog page. I had to find something to do last night while I was waiting for one of my kiddos to get home from the middle school dance. I mean, really. What is a mom supposed to do when she normally goes to bed at 9pm but has to stay awake until (gasp) 10:30pm!

But the Skate World memories made me think back to other memories of my own kiddos when they were toddlers. It was such a hectic time. 2 kiddos 20 mos apart in age, while working full time with a hubby doing residency and fellowship. Sheesh. Some days I am just grateful we made it through that phase.

What I was not able to do then was appreciate those memories in the moment. So, I am trying to be more reflective and do that now. I showed the kiddos these pics today and they laughed at them, but I hope it helps teach them the importance of being reflective…if not always in the moment.

So, here we go.

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The day that I learned about Tangle Tamer.

Poor Samantha ended up with a mom with hair that would not curl even with chemical products. I remember lamenting to my mommy online group (because there was no time for real friends then) about how hard it was to comb those crazy curls each morning. One mom asked if I used “tangle tamer.” I had never heard of such a thing. But, wanting to be a good mom, I had to know about this magical hair product. It turns out that you can buy it at your local Harris Teeter… duh mom. Samantha was SUPER happy the first time I used it and exclaimed “I no longer have to be brave when you comb my hair.” Sigh. This parenting gig…live and learn.

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The day preschool Aidan tested out the new playground equipment.

I got a call at work from Aidan’s preschool director. She was worried about a lip injury and wanted to talk to me about it. Never a good sign when a seasoned teacher wants your input as a new mom. Aidan went down the brand new slide head first. He already had a chipped front tooth from a bathtub injury, and that tooth scraped his lip when slid down the new slide making a nice slice right across the vermilion border. Folks, this meant that his lip needed to be stitched up by a plastic surgeon. I did not want someone else determining what Aidan’s lip looked like 20 years later. I can still remember the ER nurse asking if we wanted sedation, or to have him strapped to a board. For real? It was his LIP, located right under his EYES. Oh, and he was FOUR YEARS OLD. We opted for the board. Just kidding.

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The visits to the little Croatian Park.

When the kids were little, Aidan was a bit of a mess. We used to joke that he had 2 speeds – high and off. The little wild child made it challenging to go places with both kiddos. We found this little fenced in park off of 15-501. We coined it the little Croatian Park because it kind of, no really, looked like an Eastern European park after war. But we loved it because of the fence, it was small, and I could keep an eye on both kiddos while they ran around and played on the old rusty equipment. I have to chuckle at the Aidan of now. His hobbies include playing guitar, video games, and legos. All sedentary.

And, this picture. No real story behind it. Just my all time favorite picture of my toddlers.

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Memories, folks.

Kristan

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Skate World then and now

Skate World was a popular hang out in my small North Carolina town when I was a kid, especially Friday nights. I would lace up my speed skates that looked something like this –

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Order up a Suicide. Come on fellow old folks. You know what this is, right? Here is a hint –

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Play video games, skate, and wait, wait, wait, hoping that when the slow song came on that *the* boy would ask me to skate. I think he did once, but nothing happened when we skated to the back part of the rink where adults could not see you. Sigh.

This is Skate World in 2016.

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It looks the exact same way it did in the 1980s, inside and out, although I do not remember the E and D being fatter letters than the others. I guess puberty distracted me from such important things.

I took my kiddos there 6 years ago and felt like I went back in time. Nothing had changed, not even the video games. Check us out. And, of course Samantha never let go of the bar… that’s my non trusting one. Trying to show off my speediness, I busted right in front of Aidan. I thought he was going to pee himself laughing so hard. The referee dude (what where they called again), you know the police type guy who made sure you did not skate too fast, came over to ask if I was ok. Sigh. And he called me ma’am. Sigh.

But the most entertaining part of the visit was the little kid who taught me how to play the video games without using a quarter. For real. Where was this dude when I was 12? He had a mullet, big ol’ Southern accent, and was super happy to teach us. Kernersville, or K-Vegas as we called it as kids.

Memories. Thanks to Melanie for these.

Kristan

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Aidan

Now that I am over the shock at what I learned at Samantha’s parent/teacher conference, let’s talk about Aidan. I will say that I am super proud of Samantha’s reflections of what happened, and her promise of how she will handle herself differently in the future.

Aidan still needs for me to help with homework and project check ins. Each year of middle school he has asked to be independent with this area of school, and we usually make it until after the holiday break before it becomes too much for him to do alone. This is not an uncommon issue for adolescent boys.

He thrived in his yearbook design elective. He took the lead, yes Aidan, on learning the software to create newspaper type articles and was quite good at it. Another strong course was Mythic Worlds. And, I was super proud of his presentation in Spanish as Art. Presenting is not a strong area for him, but his teacher gave a detailed handout with expectations, and he went into to the presentation prepared. I am keeping this handout for future projects since it worked for him.

Check out this free write he did yesterday. Maybe another writer in the house?

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Shadows of you can look disfigured.

They can be silhouettes of memories, like your pet that has died can be remembered as a dog’s dark silhouette following you in a memory.

Shadows always scared me up until the age of 5 because they took your look away and made you look like a monster.

I started liking them for how they change and still be recognized for what they are actually supposed to be.

Aidan continues to need to grow in the area of persisting on non preferred tasks. A life lesson that some adults never master. Don’t we all do our best work on tasks that are preferred?

Socially, he is doing great. He has friends, loves his advisee group, and still has a crush on a special girl. Last Valentine’s Day, with the help of an older friend in his advisee group, he gave his special girl a small teddy bear and a box of chocolates. He reported that she said thank you and then ran out of the room. Note: she is SUPER shy.

This year he polled his Instagram pals for gift ideas….sigh…. and decided on a bracelet from a craft store next to where he takes guitar lessons. Here it is. His pic, not mine, so sorry about the quality.

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When I casually asked about how things went this year, this was his reply: “well, she said thank you like last year, but this time she did not run out of the room when I gave it to her.” Progress in young love my friends!

All to say, happy with both of my middle schoolers. I love their school, which makes helping navigate these adolescent issues so much easier. But, I will still need highlights to mask the parenting grey hair that is popping up these days 😉

Kristan

 

 

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being creative

I spent the day working on the edits of my first picture book. I already have a contract to publish it, but I want it to be amazing. After all, it will be my first. And the message is super important to me. I have gotten some good feedback from the 12×12 Picture Book Challenge, and based on a recommendation from this group, I started reading Big Magic. It’s Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book. For those who have been living under a rock, she is also the author of the bestseller Eat, Pray, Love. Here is a quote from her book.

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The message of this book is to own and celebrate living a creative life. I can relate to a lot of it already. Don’t feel guilty for being creative, own it when it comes to you, and keep writing.

I often feel guilty for writing. It makes me happy, helps me solve problems, but it is not a “real job” (at least right now).

So imagine my surprise when I took a shower after dinner and came up with the topic for my second picture book. Seriously, while I was washing my hair. Elizabeth says to celebrate these mysterious moments, and so I did. I shared my idea post shower and immediately started working on the book idea.

Writing is teaching me a lot. I am a planner, do not like surprises, want to know exactly what to expect. But writing contradicts all of these things. Embracing them and learning from them means I am continuing to grow as a person.

And writing makes me feel connected to my mom. She was terrible at solving problems with words, probably because she had terrible role models. And probably why I do what I do. But she was a great writer. Her thoughts and ideas on paper were so thoughtful and insightful.

Right now I am feeling super grateful that  I have carved out a life where I am afforded the ability to be creative. It makes my brain and heart happy.

Kristan

 

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30

That is the number of bales of pine straw that went in our front gardens this weekend. Sorry for folks in N Chatham. I cleaned out the stock at the Ace Hardware and then moved on to Southern States in Carrboro. Check out my hard work.

I am going to need a delivery for the back yard. But I am determined to save money and do it myself. We are entering the tricky time of year at our house. We owe taxes (for 2015 and estimates for 2016) and we have to pay for school tuition for the upcoming school year. And…. this is the time of year where I am not working (my programs stop in May). I am looking, looking, looking for something to supplement my Friends TALK income, but it has not been easy. I was asked to join a private practice last fall to do some ADHD coaching, but that practice is one person and she does not work a lot, which means no referrals for me. I am still writing, but that is for professional growth,  not school tuition. Hoping it will all work out. Fingers crossed.

The kids both had friends over to hang out today. Rahul at one point today asked if Aidan and his friend were still here b/c we had not seen or heard them all day. Ila was out of town last week, so Samantha was missing her in a BIG way. They were reunited today and spent the day fixing up their craft loft (AKA the S&I). I love that these 2 are such good friends.

I am signing off now so that I can eat the amazing pork that Rahul cooked all day on his Big Green Egg. Best investment ever!

Kristan

 

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Dads on Doody – Everyone Stand Up

It is Friday on Wild Azalea Lane, and I need to cook dinner. I have no excuse on Fridays since I do not work on this day of the week. Thankfully, my friend Rachel started a blog about how to eat gluten free (she was diagnosed with Celiac Disease as a grown up last year). I try, try, try to eat gluten free but beer and bagels are my vices. Fast forward to tonight. I had to cook and check out what our back yard ladies have given us this week.

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With all these eggs, I attempted gluten free quiche. Check back later for more on this dish.

While I was cooking, I decided to listen to the most recent podcast from Dads on Doody. One of the dads is a college friend of Rahul’s. For whatever reason (duh, I am not a dude) I love listening to the weekly podcasts.

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This week’s episode was not the norm for the podcast. Most are super light and funny, but this week they tackled an important issue: female victims of assault on the Baylor University campus. I learned the HARD way last year about discussing sensitive issues with friends and neighbors, so I am not addressing the Baylor topic. And, if you really think about it, the issue should be addressed WAY before any situation like this arises. The dads even say this early on in the podcast. So, here are my thoughts on this issue as a mom and an educator of young girls.

Humor is often used to mask insults. We talk about this at Friends TALK. Just because you say “just kidding” after saying something mean does not make it ok.

Doing things “like a girl” should be praised, not laughed at. Click here to check out the message I shared with girls in my program last year. This Always campaign #likeagirl is such a great message. I think this message is a good first step in changing perceptions, but we need to do more.

Another topic in the podcast was how males have a tendency to avoid confrontation. I would argue that most individuals try to avoid confrontation, and as females, there are definite negative connotations to being “bossy.” But being a bystander, male or female, when females are marginalized means that you condone the behavior. We talk about this, as well, in my program. What kind of message does that send? Instead, you should be an upstander and stand up for your friend (or girl). This is not an easy stance to take, and I am sure as a male, it will not always be accepted. Which leads me to my last thought.

I think Chris mentions at the end of the podcast that he hopes for an organization to help women, like the ones in the Baylor scandal. But I would argue this type of organization would be too little, too late. We must teach girls and boys at a young age to be true to who they are, stand up for what they believe in, and celebrate what is unique and special about themselves. This type of thinking is incompatible with the types of behaviors that lead to bullying, oppression and rape.

We have a long way to go on this topic, but it makes my heart happy that at least 2 dads are talking about it, doing their “doody” and want to impact change with their own children. So, Chris and Will….keep on doing your doody!

Kristan

 

 

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jaw dropping moment

This morning I had the second trimester parent/teacher conferences for the kids. More on Aidan tomorrow. Tonight I need to write and process what I learned about Samantha.

Academically, she is good to go. Still a few pockets of skill deficits from 3rd grade with regard to math, but nothing that a little supplemental help at home can’t fix. After academics, her advisor then wanted to move to social issues. I piped up that I had no concerns with Samantha around social issues. Cue jaw dropping moment. Apparently there was an issue that was addressed at school and I did not learn about until this morning.

It involves excluding.

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I was shocked that Samantha would be a part of anything like what was explained to me. I tried to put on my best poker face for the rest of the meeting (I am sure I would be given a C+ for these efforts) and left the meeting feeling defeated as a parent and a teacher. I have devoted the last 3 years of my life to teaching girls to stand up for themselves, not to exclude, and be true to who you are.

Thankfully I was set to take my friend Courtney and her sweet Mabrey lunch today. Courtney has some serious autoimmune issues going on and has not been able to get a good diagnosis and treatment plan in place. Her symptoms are complicated, but they leave her limited in her ability to leave the house other than just routine mom duties. We always talk on the phone at least once a week, so I could hear her need for adult interaction when we talked last week. The fact that she has a 3 yr old makes her isolated, but add in the health issues and that makes life super hard for her.

The friendship Gods must have known that Courtney and I needed to be together for lunch today. Mabrey was flushed, whiney, wanting extra attention (go me). And Courtney, over Moon Asian Bistro take out, was blunt with her thoughts on Samantha. I am paraphrasing but it went something like this…. it is so obvious that she would rebel in this way. She has been so involved in your Girls TALK, serving as a positive role model, etc.  She is testing and trying out new things in a way that seems safe to her. Being the good girl and postive role model is something that she has excelled at. This other world is new to her. Folks, that is what we call perspective. Super grateful for that.

Samantha and I had a LONG conversation and she wrote this really good reflection about the issue. I know that she is amazing lady, and all of this is a part learning to be the kind of person you want be. I just need a better poker face.

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