Five for Friday

I don’t remember where I was when I first heard “Your Ghost”, by Kristin Hersh (with background vocals by Michael Stipe); but, to this day, that song generates some serious memories and warm fuzzy feelings. *blushes*

I’ve already talked about the power of a song, so I won’t repeat myself  . . . entirely. I continue to be amazed at the power of music and the power of a song. All week, our boys have been singing the songs on The Verve Pipe’s A Family Album. I sent off a Tweet to Kristin Hersh, wondering if she would do a kids’ album.

I was excited when I received a message back from Kristin, letting me know she recorded an album with her kids in the late 90s. The album, “Murder, Misery and then Goodnight” was not in my collection, but it is now. (Thank you iTunes!) And, don’t let the title of the album deter you from sharing it with the kids, after all the lyrics to the popular lullaby ‘Rock-a-bye baby’ aren’t exactly happy.

Psst… here’s her ‘Your Ghost’ song from ‘Hips and Makers’:

***

While busy doing everything and anything, with the exception of what needed to get done, I stumbled upon a website that sells watches for charity. Have I mentioned I love watches? Have I mentioned orange is my favorite color? Well, let me tell you now, I love watches, and orange is my favorite color.

So, when I stumbled upon HopeWatch, I was so excited. This was a perfect opportunity for  me to rationalize spending money we don’t have to give to the greater good. And yes, I did rationalize the purchase, and I encourage you to check out the HopeWatch website, and ‘watch’ as they give back to the communities in need.

***

When the boys started using the potty, I rejoiced in the fact that we no longer had to buy diapers. When the boys moved into real beds, I rejoiced in the fact that we no longer had to deal with cribs. When the boys were able to dress themselves, I cried.

Joe, when he was 2yrs old, holding Giraffey tight. Today, as a 5yr old, he holds Giraffey the exact same way.

When I was done crying, I was on-call and ready to jump into action, if they ever requested my help. (And, I secretly hoped (and still hope) that they would ask for my help.) I was happy this week, when Charlie asked me to help him get ready for bed. As I was putting on his shirt, it dawned on me: we are nearing the end of the ‘T’ stage.

My days of buying clothes based on their age are ending. *sigh* Joe barely fits into 5T, and Charlie is nearly maxed on his 4Ts. This is serious stuff, folks. I’m not ready for big kid clothes. Kindergarten in August – and now big kid clothes? At least Joe still sleeps with his ‘Giraffey’. I don’t even want to think about the first night he goes without it.

***

In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones says, “Why’d it have to be snakes.” Indiana Jones was not fond of snakes. Me? I love snakes.

This week, we spent one evening at our neighbor’s house. The kids had a blast having a water gun fight. Truth be told, the Dads had a blast, too. While the kids soaked themselves, my neighbor ordered pizza. When the delivery man drove up with the pizza, Noreen said to the kids, “Guys, don’t squirt the pizza man.” He thanked her.

We all sat on the driveway to eat our pizza dinner, while laughing and enjoying the evening. After dinner, the kids played for a bit longer, but the time came when we had to pack up and head home. I folded the chair I was using, walked into the garage to put the chair away, and noticed a very large – very large – Rat snake. Did I mention it was very large?

The kids gathered around to see the snake, and I was giddy with excitement. Long story short (too late), Rob and I were able to get the snake out of the garage. We watched as it made its way down the front yard and start ‘climbing’ up a tree. Which brings me to another snake story . . .

Two years ago, we were (again) hanging out with our next door neighbors. Jim, Rob and I were sitting on the front lawn, while the boys played. Suddenly, these critters start falling from the sky. Literally. We were started, and we did not know from where the critters were coming. One dropped right in front of me, and it started oddly and quickly crawling towards me. I screamed and stood up, quickly.

We soon realized what was happening. Flying squirrels. Flying squirrels were ‘flying’ and jumping out of a tree. It was the oddest thing. And, when a flying squirrel is on the ground running, it looks like a bat. Again – odd. But really, those critters are cute.

We wondered why the squirrels were jumping and flying from their home, so we walked over to the tree. As we got closer to the tree, we saw the source of the scurry. A long, black Rat snake had made its way up the tree and close to the hole, where the flying squirrels lived.  Who knows, perhaps the snake we saw this week was the same one we saw two years ago. Clearly, based on its size, the snake has done well for itself.

***

And finally, today, the boys and I bid adieu to Michelle, their swim teacher. Joe and Charlie had their final swim lesson today. *sigh* Yet another stage in life has come and gone.

Joe, Michelle (the swim teacher) and Charlie

The boys and I have truly enjoyed the past four weeks, going to swim lessons Monday through Friday. From watching the initial fear of swimming change to a confidence and ability to swim to the car-ride conversations and singing of songs, we had a great time.

Both the boys and I had tears in our eyes, as we drove away from Michelle’s house one last time. However, we quickly recovered, listening to “Wake Up!” (Track 1 on The Verve Pipe’s Family Album). See?! Music has power. May your weekend be full of fun and music. Be sure to make time to sing a little song and do a little jig. Why not start your weekend off right by listening to this:

Swim Little Fishies

I love Infant Swimming Resource (ISR). More importantly, my boys love ISR. Well, my boys love it after a day or two; initially, they didn’t much like going under water.

We have an in-ground pool in our backyard, and the boys have been in our pool several times. Though, last year, we decided to close the pool for good, because it was too expensive for us to maintain. Anyway, backyard pool or neighborhood pool, accidents can happen. Making sure the boys took swim lessons was important to me. See, when I was a little over 1yr old, I fell in our family pool. My Mom, who just stepped away for a second, heard the splash and came running out to find me at the bottom of the pool. She pulled me out, and well – clearly I am fine. OK, whether I am ‘fine’ may be debatable, but I am alive and well.

When I am around pools with my boys, I want to be confident they know how to swim to the side of the pool and get themselves out of the pool. I knew of YMCA swimming lessons, as well as a local aquatic center near our house. Still, I asked friends for other referrals. I was interested in finding out about one-on-one lessons. My friend, Andrea, mentioned ISR. She had her daughter take lessons through the program. After accessing the website, I checked to see if there were any ISR teachers in my area. And sure enough, I found someone who was close enough to take the boys.

Of course, I found this woman late last year, after outdoor swimming lessons season. Even with no lessons, we still enjoyed the pool and our trip to the shore. However, the boys were in their life vests at all times. I was excited when Michelle contacted me in February, letting me know she was starting to schedule swimming lessons this year. I felt like a little kid, as I anxiously awaited for the last week of April and the first week of swimming lessons.

Our first week of swimming lessons has been so much fun. As I said earlier, Joe and Charlie were a bit hesitant at first, especially when instructed to go under the water. But, with each passing day, the boys have done better and better. By Wednesday, Joe was eager to go under, swim to the steps and float on his back. Though Charlie cried when getting in the pool, he quickly calmed down and was smiling as he swam to the steps and floated on his back. My husband took the boys to swim lessons today, so I could head to my boss’ house. I hate that I had to miss even one lesson. Rob said that both Joe and Charlie were eager to get in the pool and swim. Charlie did not shed a single tear. (I am sorry I missed it.)

One of the most amazing parts of taking the boys to their swimming lessons is seeing the infants learn to swim. Joe and Charlie are 5yrs and 3 1/2 years old. The little girl who has her lesson before the boys is only 14 months old. And, the little boy who has his lesson after the boys is around 6 months old. And, when Michelle puts these ‘babies’ in the pool, it is incredible to see their natural swimming instinct kick into gear. I watched as these two babies literally moved their arms and kicked their legs in order to get to the steps. Amazing.

If you have little ones and have considered swimming lessons for your little ones, I strongly recommend you look into an ISR certified trainer/teacher. You’ll be amazed, and your little one(s) will become pool and swim safe.  I am finding this to be a great and fun moment in the boys’ life, and I look forward to taking them to their lesson tomorrow.

The Myth of being Balanced

I confess, as I become stressed while embarking on the journey of putting my oldest in school and prepping for the financial sacrifices that are ahead of us, I just ate an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food. Seriously. In one sitting. Yes, I just finished eating an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Some folks exercise when they are stressed. Me? I make quick runs to the grocery store, sing Richard Marx songs and eat ice cream (among other items of the junk food family). Oh, and I cut my hair. I am so glad I am normal. Or – wait. Is it abnormal? Whatever.

Entering this new phase of the school years is yet another balancing act of life. Of course, In my opinion, balancing is an ‘act’. It is a literal act that plays out on one’s stage of life, complete with lights and cameras. Aside from balancing a ball on your nose or finding balance while walking a tightrope, ‘balance’, as it is referred to by multi-tasking Moms and Dads, does not exist. And, trying to find the mythical ‘balance’ only makes one feel more out of balance. (Oh. Eating an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream puts your body out of balance, too. Sorry, I digress. Again.)

My life is pretty sweet now. I find I have time to tackle the tasks that need to be tackled. Ironically (not), I seem to lack the motivation to tackle the tasks. Moreover, when I tackle the tasks with little to no scheduling conflicts, it is easy to buy into the myth of being balanced. However, throw in some real life consisting of last minute changes, impromptu doctor visits, spontaneous car mishaps and a case of the Chicken Pox, and it becomes clear that the thing called ‘balance’ is best used when talking about ball or circus tricks.

Next week, and the four to six weeks that follow, will surely solidify my belief that the term ‘balance’, when applied to multi-tasking Moms and Dads, is a myth. While working, making it to various appointments, keeping the house stocked and cleaned, I will be taking my boys to swimming lessons 5 days a week for the next four to six weeks, depending on how fast they learn. Their classes are 10 minutes long, starting at 11:10 a.m. and 11:20 a.m. Though the time at the pool will be short, relatively speaking, it will create a ripple effect each day, which will make the next several weeks increasingly challenging. A prep for the school year, perhaps?

The days and time I work at my boss’ house will be altered, with me working later than normal. My later hours will require my husband to alter his work schedule, ensuring the kids are picked up in time from daycare. And, because my days and hours will be altered, the time at home to tackle chores will be discombobulated. None of the above discombobulations (new word) are earth shattering, but the discombobulations will leave me feeling out of balance. I mean, hello?! Where on earth (or in a closet) will I find time to consume a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream? When will I have time to eat a bag of Pirate’s Booty chips? And, when will I have time to cut my hair out of stress?! Seriously, folks. Next week, the mythical beast called ‘Balance’ will be blown to smithereens. [With the assumption that ‘Balance’ is a girl, I insert ‘A Girl Like You‘ or ‘Behind the Wall of Sleep‘ by the Smithereens here.]

As I brace for the impact of next week, becoming more involved in this new phase of life, I wonder how my family and I will keep it together. How often are you suppose to change the bed sheets and bathroom towels? Is it OK to recycle your underwear, as the laundry becomes backlogged? How dark can the ring around the toilet bowl get before it is considered gross? And, I have to attempt to find balance? Really? Not going to happen. Searching for ‘balance’ only leads to frustration. In fact, I think finding the Loch Ness monster would prove to be an easier find than balance. I hear Scotland is quite lovely this time of year; however, I won’t try to fit that trip into my schedule. After all, we have money to save, tasks to tackle and junk food to crave.

P.S. I have another pint of Ben & Jerry’s in the freezer: Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream. Look, it was on sale 2 for $5. I had to buy two. And yes, you’ll find me eating the entire pint in the closet tomorrow, after having just registered my son for Kindergarten.