Thursday, March 22, 2012

Athletic Kids

I am crazy competitive. Just starting from this point so you all know the springboard from which I'm springing.

And when I say crazy competitive, I mean ... I can even make Yoga a competition.

So, it kinda used to bug me that my first born didn't seem really all that in to sports. First off, she was kinda clumsy. Well, REALLY clumsy. One time, when she was like 3, she was sitting on that stationary toddler bike thingy that hooked to a video game on the TV. She wasn't playing, she was just sitting there watching TV and she fell off. Yep, nothing provoked this fall -- she just fell. In fact, she fell so much back then that she didn't even cry anymore when she did fall.

So, I continually thanked God she was just naturally built small (yielding shorter falls of course) and well, hopefully we won't have to deal with any significant weight issues as she gets older. But I wanted her to be really into sports. I love sports and I think team sports in particular are great for kids. We tried her in soccer and she did fine. But I can't say she was really IN to it or in to anything we'd proposed thus far.

Now I get that she's only 6 and it's way to early to t
hrow in the towel on an athletic high school career for Saylah, but again it was a little concern tucked in the back of my brain.

Then along comes Audrey. Who typically I'd say does hint at the propensity for sports. Partially because physically she is competitive -- okay, sometimes even aggressive. But of course ... she's 4, so really again, I know ... can't tell anything just yet.

And it's not that they HAVE to be great at sports. But I would at least like them to like it and to actually TRY when they play them.

But lately Saylah has really had it in her heart that she wants to be a Rock Star when she grows up. And I truly do believe it's in her heart. Which means, she has taken to not only watching but studying dance videos (appropriate ones of course) to capture the dance moves. And when I mean study, I mean

I caught her playing the DVD, stopping it and taking notes on the steps a couple of weeks ago. She is intense about it.

Yesterday she asked me if I knew the moon walk. Which resulted in my reply (chuckling), "yes I do, but how do YOU know the moon walk?" It was on the Kid Bopz Dance DVD of course!

Then we started her in gymnastics recently and wow does she love that. In fact, I had to get her down from the top of the swing set beam when just after three lessons she was getting ready to "try to do the balance beam!" (OK let's not "try" to do anything from 8 feet in the air!)

So, it occurs to me. That perhaps I just hadn't found the right kind of physical activity yet for her. Sure, none of these are really team sports, but they do require hard work and being fit. I'm just thrilled that her interests span beyond watching TV or coloring, into something active that will keep her healthy.

Speaking of healthy -- for those parents who have kids in elementary school. If the Right Track Challenge comes your way (alas, another fund raiser) participate in this one! We did it today with her school and it was so well done and awesome. The kids earn pledges for running around a course, earning money for the school for every lap the do. Not only was it positive for the school, it was awesome for the kids as they learned about the importance of being healthy and working hard to achieve a goal.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Okay, I admit it, I’m THAT Mom. You know the one … the one you always promised you wouldn’t be, but probably from time to time … are. Well, I was her this weekend. We took a little family stay-cation to Disney’s Riverside Resort to experience the Royal Rooms. (super pretty and totally Disney-class fun) And it occurred to me that these little stay-cations are anything but relaxing for me.

Yep, I’m the mom running around and grouching at the kids trying to prevent any itty bitty from getting lost, bones from being broken as they jump from bed to bed or drowning as they go three different directions in the pool. My heart stops every time they jump in the pool as we’ve already had one emergency room trip last summer because – little tip for you -- when little kids jump in a pool, well they like to jump tow

ards the closest wall (which is inevitably the one they are jumping from).

So here I am, wound like a tight cuckoo clock, sitting in a pool, freezing my toosh off in the only 80-degree March weather, basking in squeels of delight and glee from the kiddos and realizing that the last time I stayed at a hotel with the kids I felt the same way. Sigh.

Here’s the thing, I’m sure as they get older I won’t be as neurotic … I hope. But until they can all swim, understand gravity and are big enough to run away from a stranger, I’m pretty sure that my most relaxing moments as a mommy will be when they are all safely tucked in and asleep in their royal beds.

BTW – if you’ve not been to the Royal Rooms … the fiber optic fireworks as the headboards are so cool!!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Swahili Click

Maybe it’s because he’s my third; or he’s my final; or I’m just a darn good parent, but I tell you what, I have gotten GOOD at this baby interpreting thing.

Six years later I can really tell you what my baby means by something. With Saylah I totally made it up. Totally. With Audrey, I based it off of what I made up with Saylah. But with Isaac, well I’m an interpreting genius!

For instance, when Isaac smacks his lips together … he wants to eat. When he takes his Cheerios and throws them on the floor … he’s all done. And when he curls up his lips and scrunches his nose and eyes together … he’s fake crying. Yeah I said it ... interpreting genius.

But my very very favorite expression that I get from Isaac, one I’ve gotten from him for about 8 months or so is his Swahili tongue click. He is very selective on who he does this to. He started out with just me. Then I noticed he did it at Ben. Then I’ve noticed just a couple of others who have received the coveted click.

Why just today, while waiting at a red light, I heard a little tongue click. I smile at myself, then click back, turn around quickly to see his expression and swoon when his eyes light up and he gives me that knowing look and … click.

My heart melts. It’s Isaac’s way of saying “I love you.”

It doesn’t get much better than this. =)

What does your baby do to tell you how he feels?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

De Las Puertos …

I have NO idea how that’s really spelled, nor do I really know what it says other than something about the doors and keeping your hands out of them as the monorail doors close.

If you’re from Orlando, and non-hispanic speaking, you probably have also attempted to spew out this familiar and fun-sounding phrase. Most likely to no avail.

Being originally from Missouri, the immersion of multi-culturalism in Orlando was quite new for me … and for my visiting family. Sure you expect to hear Spanish at Disney, but to see it on billboards, have your neighbors speaking it and even the school producing a Spanish version of the monthly newsletter – now that was weird. I remember when I was in high school my dad being upset with me because I took French instead of Spanish. Being the know-it-all teenager that I was, I informed him that the likelihood of me needing to know Spanish in Missouri is about as probable as needing to know French. (I was a bit of a smart alec.) Not that I corrected that error in college – where I opted to learn Japanese. Not your most commonly-needed language tool in America – though the skill does offer a good “stupid-human-trick” for parties from time to time.

Mid-americans live sheltered lives, sprinkled with the interactions of a a few minority folks here and there. We pretty much only hear Spanish in a Spanish class or perhaps the neighborhood Mexican restaurant. It’s from

this neck of the country the phrase, “you’re in America now buddy, speak English” probably matriculated. And whereas there may be some truth to that somewhat rude statement, I love the fact that everywhere I go, rest-assured, I will hear someone speaking a language different than my own, at least one time during my experience that day.

Knowing the difference of being raised where there were a few black kids in my school, that were bussed in from the inner-city in St. Louis to now we have black, Hispanic and white neighbors is awesome for my kids and their perspective on America’s true melting pot.

But up until this year, I always wondered when exactly kids started recognizing the difference in cultures. I remember at 2, Saylah saw a woman and mistook her for her friend’s (who is black) mom. It was funny mostly because the woman was like 60 and her friends mom was suredly NOT! Then at 4 her best friend in preschool was black and not once did she mention a difference in color. But this year, upon the introduction of Kindergarten and public

school, it seems that Saylah started realizing a difference.

At dinner one night she told me she was friends with a little girl who was different from her and that was good because not everyone wanted to be friends with people who looked different than them. GASP! I was not amused. Of course not because she was different than Say, but because Saylah thought it was okay to give this girl a pity friendship simply because she was different. It was like affirmative action friendship. Yikes. Plus I was a little taken aback that she even knew that concept because we don’t typically talk appearance in our family. Well, not beyond personal appearance: teeth brushing, hair combing, keeping clothes clean, that type of stuff.

Even though her heart was in the right place, I didn’t like where her mind was. I thought about it for a minute and decided to take it to a God level. “Saylah what do you think God thinks about people who don’t want to be friends with someone who looks different from them?” She thought about it a moment and decided, “I think He thinks its okay.” Dangit! That didn’t work. Hmmm, okay, let’s just tell her the right

answer. “Saylah, God says He loves us no matter what we look like. And that we aren’t friends with people because of how they look or don’t look. But that we are friends with those we’re meant to be friends with.” Or something like that. We talked about being a good friend, and what we look for in a friend. All the typical mommy-mumble-jumble. It seemed to work.

But, I wasn’t satisfied. Again, her heart was in the right place. But I felt like the conversation fell short of it's potential. As grown ups we often shy away from acknowledging differences, and I didn’t want my little in-the-box speech to imply I thought that way too. Being black, white, Hispanic or otherwise is not cause for hushed-toned conversations. And I was afraid Saylah would get the impression I didn't want her to recognize that people are different from each other, which they ARE. Being different is not wrong and should be embraced. And if it's noticed, let’s chat about it, respectfully.

So in our family we try to embrace differences by talking of skin color, languages, cultures or whatever when it comes up. Not only does it feel like a good parenting approach, I will admit, we have some fun conversations. For instance:

One day shortly after the different-than-me conversation, Saylah asked if I could braid her hair like Ja’nayiah’s. She promptly instructed me there needed to be several braids and they needed to stick up. She thought that looked pretty neat. Imagine her disappointment when I told her that I could put braids in her hair but she might look odd with as many as Ja’nayiah had and even if I did put that many, they would not stick up, as her hair didn’t do that. She conceded ... though I’m pretty sure she wasn’t convinced.

Or, just recently:

Audrey was singing Jesus Loves the Little Children

Jesus loves the little children …

all the children of the world,

yellow, black and brown and white,

they are precious in His sight …

Jesus loves the little children of the world!

She finished and looked up quizzically and asked, “Mommy, who’s yellow?”

... Anyone else ever thought about how non-PC this song is btw?

I did NOT say Asian btw, I thought that might still be rude. I instead made up an answer about needing another color to make the song work. (Yes I copped out, but that was too hard to explain to a 4-year-old.)

But, the fact that my children are surrounded in a culture that is in fact the true testimony to America’s melting pot is awesome to me. Only in Central Florida when my 13 month old decides to have a mommy-seperation-melt down will I get the nursery teacher soothing him in the sweetest slurry of Spanish I’ve ever heard. I sincerely have NO idea what she is saying, but it made Isaac feel better and quite frankly sounded way nicer than anything I’ve ever said.

I think as grown ups we take for granted the different people and cultures we get to be around. I mean, the biggest conversation I ever have about it is when I wonder with my gal pals, just what are the nail ladies saying when we get our pedis?!

I love that the different languages that I hear around me every day will be common-place to my kids. That instead of (like me when I moved here) being awe-struck and intrigued by all the accents and languages, that for a vast part of their life, they will not even notice the difference, because, quite frankly, its nothing different to them.

Since preschool they’ve had Spanish classes. We’ve had black friends, white friends, Asian friends and Hispanic friends. And I love it! I guess it still tends to yield that the majority of their friends do look like them, but have you asked your child what color she or he is? Mine usually say peach or pink. And think its kinda funny that people call us white.