Tag Archives: son

Family Adventures Creating Fun Memories

This blog was started 7 years ago. Time has gone by so quickly! Happily, my family has been busy and healthy. My son is now 10 years old and his interests range from history to video games so we do a lot of exploring and try a range of activities. A few will be recurring so you have a chance to try them for yourself!

The Collings Foundation brought a collection of vintage planes including a B-17 that took groups out over the Chicagoland area. Among the visitors at the airport were a number of veterans. This organization travels all over the country and offers a unique experience.

We got to take a walk back in time when we attended a World War II re-enactment in Rockford, Illinois. There is a little village built there with camps and battle fields nearby. You can meet up with civilians, as well as soldiers.

Tall ships came to Navy Pier in 2016. Navy Pier is a beautiful destination on a summer day and it has a calendar of events throughout the year. Ships’ crews brought people together from all over the world and it was an interesting mix of cultures.

More modern activity came into Chicago’s McCormack Place with the C2E2 convention. We met Supergirl, we saw every other super hero and many Star Wars characters there. If you cannot get there, you will have another opportunity when the Wizard World Comic Con comes to the Rosemont Center.

The Renaissance Faire provides yet another backdrop for fantasy. All outdoors, the family gets more active here while also watching knights joust and various performers (comedy, music, juggling and more) entertain. There is good food to try here and plenty of shops to explore.I’m looking forward to sharing more travels in 2017.

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Letter to my son as he turns 10

My son turned 10 and I just found the letter I wrote here when he turned 5. I cannot believe time has passed so quickly! (Yes, friends did warn me.) I am drawing, once more, from the inspiration that prompted me previously. My friend, Nevin Adams, wrote a letter to his son as he graduated from high school. I cherry-picked a few of his messages because, really, a 5-year old can only follow so much! 

Never miss a chance to tell someone “thank you.” This can be a friend, a teacher or anyone who you see helping others.

“What do you think?” is a great response when you don’t know the answer. We often do not have all the answers! AND, more importantly, asking questions is the smartest thing you can do to keep learning. Life will always be your classroom.

The hardest thing to do is quit while you’re ahead. 

The second hardest thing to do is to keep your mouth shut. Listening is much more important than speaking. Unfortunately, some people want more attention and make a bit of noise. That’s ok. Be well informed before you decide to take center stage.

If you don’t speak up, people will assume you’re happy with the way things are. It is acceptable to question authority and propose new ideas.

If you don’t love yourself, nobody else will.

Not everyone will become your friend, but be kind to everyone.

Civil discussions are important. People will have differing opinions but discuss your viewpoints without being disrespectful.

I just shared this with my son. He read both out loud to me. After going out and playing Pokémon Go this morning, I enjoy having a moment where we just talk. The next five years might fly by just as fast, so I will hold onto this day.

 

Bedtime Reading: Sharing My Love of Reading

I enjoyed reading to my son since before he could speak. I thought that we would begin that tradition and he would instantly love to read, too. However, in school they were assigned a reading log and have had to do it every night for a certain length of time.  When it was forced, he did not love reading so much. Our last teacher did not require the logs and the struggles ended. His tastes are definitely maturing and unique to him. At age 9, here is what keeps his attention:

“Captain UCaptain Underpantsnderpants” by Dav Pilkey – is done in comic book style. They have been illustrated in black and white but “The Attack of the Talking Toilets” was in Full Color! The main characters, George Beard and Harold Hutchins, came up with the super hero comics. I won’t try to come up with any educational value here—the stories make my son laugh.

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid” by Jeff Kinney details the daily adventures of a boy named Greg Heffley. He has two brothers and a best friend named Rowley. Life can be a challenge both at school and at home and he tells it like it is. Funny and awkward, kids can relate to his frustrations and the movies based on the books have been fun to watch, too! We have seven installments of the Diaries.

“And then what happened, Paul Revere?” by Jean Fritz was a gift from his third grade teacher. This started us on a string of biographies. This one, in particular, came from Scholastic Books and it provides a balance of reading, with illustrations and plenty of historical material. It was the launching point for a book report and he foWonderund additional books to round out the source material.

“Wonder” is a book by R.J. Palacio about a boy in the fifth grade that begins at a new school. The twist is that he has a facial difference that had kept him from attending a mainstream school. So he is dealing both with entering a new situation but also being different from the others and tells how he copes. My son wanted to get it (and the accompanying “365 Days of Wonder”) because they were reading it in class. I’m going to read it myself.Civil War Soldier

“You Wouldn’t Want to be a Civil War Soldier!” by Thomas Ratliff has been a favorite because my son really loves history. There are more in the series—about being a colonist, a pioneer, and a pirate’s prisoner—but they look a bit grim. I will share that this is not for younger kids—there are some realistic details about medical treatment included along with battle information. That being said, it contains a glossary of terms so vocabulary development will definitely be a bonus.

Time Passing…

Background: I started writing this a year ago, then I did not post it. I came upon it and another draft that now I’ll be posting so it has been two years since my last published post.
My son just turned 8. I had intended to write in time for his birthday. Being slightly compulsive, I thought the deadline would help me get back to writing. That did not happen but as we are now into his 8th year, it does provide me an opportunity to reflect.
He has made me proud so many times this year.
We had a parent-teacher conference and his teacher shared that she relies on him to help new students ease into the class. He has good leadership skills but also has a nice manner with younger kids (it was a first and second grade split class).
We watched a movie about the Tuskegee Airmen and he heard some language for the first time which prompted us to talk about racism. As we explained it, he said it made his “heart hurt.”
He actively decides on items to donate to a local domestic violence shelter. We’ve taken clothes, toys and books of his that he has outgrown. I also have given them furniture and other household goods. Recently he asked if he could give some money that had been given to him, too. He has learned to share and he realizes that he has been blessed with quite a bit.
He also makes me smile a lot. For Mother’s Day he filled out a form in school about my traits and among them he said “She always knows what to say when I’m sad.” And, he listed a hobby of mine was shopping for clothes. For the record, I tend to shop for him! He also thinks I “know his every move.” I hope he believes that for a while.
He turns his head when couples kiss on tv. He lets me cover his eyes if something violent happens in a show.
A fun area of connection for us is music. We seem to have similar tastes, which are mixed: The Fray, Maroon 5, OneRepublic, Bruno Marz all have had recent songs that we both enjoy.
I have them saved to a playlist, so that makes things easier. We listen to music mostly as we are in the car. And, we gave him a record player so a visit to a store selling vinyl makes for a good afternoon. He’s gotten a decent mix of old and new, including Michael Jackson and KISS. He’ll have interesting tastes when he gets older.

Little Moments

002I recently read a blog post by a friend, Tina Seitzinger; she shared some memories of her childhood. Then she shifted to wondering what her boys might remember from their family life. It got me to thinking about how motherhood is full of surprises and lots of small moments. There were times from when my son was really little that he will not likely remember. I used to dance with him in my arms to music videos. Mary J. Blige was an early favorite of his. Now he enjoys LMFAO and Maroon 5, among others.

The Tooth Fairy visits have been good. We’ve done brunch with the Easter Bunny and Santa and have taken photos, so those events should stick.

I have randomly taken him for donuts before school where we’ve sat together enjoying breakfast dates.

Sunday mornings our family often goes out for breakfast and his order is always Fruity Pebble pancakes.

“Movie nights” happen spontaneously—all it takes it some popcorn and dimming the lights in the living room. We have amassed a huge library of movies. Someday I hope to be able to get back to my regular viewing habits but I mostly get to all the G-rated and some PG-rated family entertainment these days. I think my son appreciates it.

My husband has been responsible for us venturing to places like the farm that our park district runs, or the Renaissance Faire that is open every summer. Our son’s fascination with knights and swords ensures we’ll be doing this for a while. We also caught a Civil War reenactment recently. It was complete with a battle and cannons.

My husband has also been good about getting involved in the t-ball practices while I was more into his one attempt at soccer. All in all, I like the balance that 001we’ve had in our participation. We’ve both volunteered at his school for some events, most recently, helping with a community garden.

Then, there have been ‘firsts’ like the first outing on a beach. It was Half Moon Bay, California.

What are some of your favorite family moments?

More Bedtime Stories I Enjoy Reading

Charlie Cook coverI am constantly looking for new books for my son. We’ve made the transition from me doing all the reading to now he reads to me (mostly). Since he is in school, he is supposed to complete a “reading log” to show he has spent at least ten minutes per night reading. Does anyone else have this to do daily? His tastes run toward Star Wars. I like more variety. I decided to share a list of books (in alphabetical order) that I don’t mind reading over and over again, that have captured his imagination, too. I have included some that are holiday-oriented. I figure we can all use new suggestions, so please use the comments section to provide titles you enjoy, too.

“Charlie Cook’s Favorite Book” by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler details the adventures of a boy named Charlie Cook who likes to sit in a big armchair reading his favorite books. There are pirates, a knight and a dragon, a crocodile, and a ghost, among others, who also enjoy books. I’m not too subtle as I try to instill a love of reading in my son!

“The Duckling Gets a Cookie” by Mo Willems is really simple and yet it gets some big laughs from my son. A duckling has a cookie and the pigeon wants it. He gets it. Turns out the duckling prefers them without nuts.

“I Can Read with My Eyes Shut” by Dr. Seuss is one of a number of Seuss books we read. It contains a rather obvious lesson: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

“Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree” by Robert Barry shows how Mr. Willowby shares his huge tree with his neighbors, including the Bear, Fox, Rabbit and Mouse families. Nothing goes to waste and everyone’s homes are made more festive with their new trees.  Mr-Willowby

“Room on a Broom” The pair of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler again offer some fun illustrations along with poetic language: “Over the reeds and the rivers they flew, the bird shrieked with glee and the stormy wind blew. They shot through the sky to the back of beyond. The witch clutched her bow—but let go of her wand.” And we are taken on an adventure with an unlucky witch and her passengers. We have 6 books written and illustrated by this duo and all are very entertaining.

“We Are in A Book,” I think we have more than half a dozen of Mo Willems’ works involving Piggie and Gerald as the main characters. They live life and tackle problems together. At some point, they come to the realization that they are being read. It is funny when they start to address the audience directly.

Tragedies and Loss of Innocence

In December, I was at my desk working while I kept an eye on Twitter. I started to see posts about a shooting in Newtown. I opened a few stories and realized something very bad had happened. But it was a photo of children being evacuated that rocked me to my core. Even thinking about it now brings tears to my eyes. The photographer captured a moment of sheer terror. Those little faces were so close in age to my son, as I sat there I started to imagine the scene unfolding in my neighborhood, I lost it.

photo from NY Daily News
photo from NY Daily News

I decided I needed to get to my son. I packed up and got to my car and then I realized he was still in school. So, then I t occurred to me I might upset him if I disrupted his routine. OK, new plan, run errands until he would be settled into daycare. It was better that I had an opportunity to think and plan. I realized we needed to keep network television off to avoid news coverage and limit his shows to On Demand, videos, etc. By the time I did get to him, his daycare was in the midst of a previously-scheduled party. All the kids were blissfully unaware of the day’s events. We managed to limit his exposure to tv for the next week and I communicated with his teacher so she was aware that in our household Newtown was not being discussed. Interestingly, the school district had recommended that we address the matter with our children but I decided not to follow that direction.

Flash forward to April and the bombing in Boston. As the photos of the suspects were shown on the news, it occurred to me it was time for my son to see that evil can come in the form of some average-looking young men. If he has experienced lockdown drills at school, it seems fitting to understand that bad people may appear in unlikely places. It is not a lesson I expected to approach with him just yet but I felt that he needs to be better aware. It would be great if we could preserve him in a bubble of innocence but I’m not sure that will serve him well. Unfortunately one of the victims was again a boy his age so that also drove the point home. I took to the Internet, to Twitter, to find out how others have approached these topics. There was no uniform answer. But it was helpful to gather some insights and professional opinions about how these events might impact my son. I felt mentally prepared to handle it. My husband and I are both first-time parents and with our one son, all our attention has been focused (for better or worse). I was grateful for my social network.

Life Happens

bowlingWhen I began my blog I was newly-unemployed. I decided to split my available time between my son, embarking on a job search and expanding my social media skills. It took ten months to secure a new job. During those months, my son and I went on various outings (bowling, library visits, swimming, and the zoo, among others). I was able to walk him to school every morning as he started Kindergarten and I assisted the coach for his first soccer team. It was a success in many regards.

I got this blog launched and networked with better-established bloggers. I did not have a rhythm going but I did manage to produce some decent content. The new job stalled my best intentions. Life happens. My son is completing the first grade and we have been to Disneyland. Soccer was replaced by t-ball. And the tooth Fairy has made repeated visits to our house.

Last weekend, I attended a conference and Chris Brogan was a presenter. He talked about distractions and suggested if we “stopped doing stupid shit” we could get more accomplished. With that in mind, I am resuming my writing. It is a time I can carve out for me. Let’s begin…

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My Life Interrupted

The goal or theme of writing this blog was how I intended to make sure my life was balanced. I started a new job in October and as a result I have not been writing. I have been very busy at work and learning a great deal, and I did not have much more to give of myself when I got home. My son started kindergarten and we’ve been surprised to find we had homework every night. My priority was to help him with his assignments and by the end of the night I’ve been spent. Happily, we are seeing all sorts of progress in his reading and writing skills, and how he can illustrate his thoughts. We’ve also had our first two parent-teacher conferences. We’re watching him develop before our eyes.

I have a neighbor who is facing health issues and her husband was recently laid off from his job. As a result, she and I have discussed our mortality. We’re close in age and had our babies within two months of each other, so our lives have been on parallel paths. In recent days, there have been announcements of the deaths of a few famous people that also struck a nerve in me. The most stunning was a news story that Wall Street Journal author Jeff Zaslow died in a car accident. Aside from his newspaper work, his book, “The Last Lecture” was a favorite of mine. I found so many life lessons in it and felt the connection he had made with his subject (professor Randy Pausch). lastlecture_bookcvrHis writing was powerful. Then, to read that he was the father of three daughters and had just published another book made me stop short. We all go through life knowing it will end eventually but are rather blissfully unaware of when that might be. We presume we have decades but what if it turns out there are only months (or less) left for us? Would we do things differently?

I’m planning our first Spring Break vacation and it will be a trip to Los Angeles. A visit to Disneyland is on the agenda. My husband and I are hoping to surprise our son. We’ve seen those ads where kids are told about the destination and they go nuts. I’m not sure if we can hold out that long but we’re going to try. There are six weeks to go and we’re weakening. We have all this anticipation building for us and we do stop periodically because we want to remember to enjoy it as it happens. Taking too many pictures or having too many expectations may make it less fun in the end. But, it might just be magical.

Part of the fun of the So Cal trip is that I can hopefully see some friends who I have not seen in years. A former co-worker, college roommate, business associate—I hope we can squeeze them all in. Through social media, email and Christmas cards, we’ve managed to keep track of one another for many years but it would be really great to see people in person. Like the ad…we will be creating memories.

 

 

I love Fall! (and so does my son)

This post will be more photo-heavy than most. We live near a pumpkin patch. We visit it annually and our son has a good time there. I love taking photos. Here is one from maybe three years back as he was looking for the perfect pumpkin.


My husband introduced him to leaf piles. Yesterday a neighbor invited him over to play soccer then proceeded to build a huge pile of leaves that became the goal. I think my son spent more time in the goal than the ball.

It was raining leaves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then he got buried (like at the beach).

 

Then he emerged!