Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dear Kids

Check the date. You'll be surprised to note that I'm writing you before any of you were even born. But you were thought of -- often. Now I'm preparing. I'm preparing to meet your father and preparing to be the best possible wife and mother I can be for my family. Sometimes the void in my home, arms, heart makes me think I'm impatiently waiting for people who will never come. I become distressed and depressed and I have to force myself to remember that there are many things in life that are within my control and many things in life where the lesson of patience lands me face planted into a brick wall time and time again.

I have yet to learn it, which means I would be unable to teach you. And I lack the compassion to forgive, which means you'd all be fighting with one another and I couldn't show you examples in my life where I had been wronged and decided to let the anger go. I sleep in -- til the afternoon when I can because I stay up so late and my body needs the sleep. Yes, I'm ready for you but I'm not quite ready for you. My time, my precious time is mine to squander and I need to start disciplining myself with it now before you arrive so that I don't feel overwhelmed with the endless responsibilities of motherhood. Yes, I'm ready for you but I'm not quite ready for you because I don't like cleaning up after people and I need to see the role of servant as a loving act of service -- which is not at all how I feel about it now!

Yes, I'm ready for you! But in the way that a 15 year old looks forward to having his/her driver's license. Teenagers view driving as freedom, independence, self-reliance. It's all of those things and a whole lot more. It's responsibility. It's not choking under pressure in the exact moment you need to perform well. It's being aware of every single possible danger and knowing how to respond accordingly. After a while, it's just an act we do from muscle memory and yet our minds still need to be focused on the task 100% because accidents happen. Driving isn't just about the license or the brand new (to me) car in the driveway on a celebratory occasion. It's about the pulsing anxiety that floods your body when you're driving on a six lane highway at 1 am and you're stuck between the median and a tractor trailer truck. And it's pouring. And there are people in the car -- not just you, other people you love. It's about staying the course even when you're so tense and afraid and you want to pull over and quit or stop and quit but you can't. Lots of things in life evoke these same kinds of feelings.

I don't envision motherhood the way a teenager would. I've matured enough to know that children take more than love than they ever give back. But I'm also smart enough to know that good parents learn and grow as much as their children do. But I also know, there's no way real way to prepare for driving in the storm other than lots of practice of driving when it's sunny. The confidence we gain from the tiny triumphs build up and we feel confident to take on the greater challenges. Which is why I feel ready for the next phase of my life even though it's quite clear God has not brought these blessings into my life.

Remember that. When there's something you desperately want. A career. A family. A driver's license. :) A boyfriend. A new pair of skinny jeans. A better life. Remember that they're all blessings from God. Remember when you start to fret about anything that waiting isn't the same thing as preparing. Remember that feeling isn't being. Remember me. Remember me at this point in my life where I'm faced with lessons of gratitude and patience so that I can prepare myself for motherhood.

(Not that you can ever really be ready for driving on the highway at 1 am in between two tractor trailer trucks during a hailstorm with a screaming baby in the car. But you can get pretty darn close!)


Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Special Post for the Birthday Boy

Allan turned 5 years old today and I'm bummed that I missed his birthday party. I also feel like a bad Titi because I was a little absentminded last week and completely forgot to shop for his gift. Luckily, anything I would have purchased would have paled in comparison to what his mommy bought him -- a PSP!

Allan is such a sweet little boy and I'm so glad he's a part of our family! Those two boys are so completely different from one another -- in every conceivable way. Allan is full of energy -- my mom says he's "wide open" and I never really understood how she came up with that one -- but it's definitely true. Sometimes I call my mom on Thursday or Sunday nights -- her grandma duty days -- and it sounds like there are two dozen kids running around the house, and not just two. Allan is also super smart. He picks up on things really easily and is genuinely interested in learning. He loves being destructive, like any boy that age I suppose, but he's also really into singing songs, practicing his ABCs, practicing his Spanish, and he loves when someone reads to him! Jay's the exact opposite! Even as a toddler and young boy, he didn't enjoy story time and tried to weasel his way out of it.

What I like best about Allan is -- it may be too hard to just fine one. Allan is really honest. Sometimes, I'll ask him if he's been behaving badly and he'll admit to it and then cry that he doesn't want me to yell at him or send him to time-out. But I love that he knows not to lie. (Although that may be because both he and Jay said when I'm angry it's really scary. That actually made me kind of sad and I thought maybe I was yelling, but Jay said it's not that I'm yelling, it's just that you can tell I'm really mad and I make really mad faces!) Allan also reminds me a lot of myself (when I was a newly turned 5 year old, that is.) He loves his big brother so much and looks up to him. I know what it's like to be the younger sibling and crave attention from your big brother/big sister. Hopefully, as he gets older he'll develop his own interests and friends and won't feel so slighted by his big brother. And hopefully, his brother learns to be more patient and loving with him.
Allan is by far the pickiest eater I've ever met, which is saying something because I'm pretty picky myself!

He pretty much only consistently likes grits and cookies. Can't say I blame him. Sometimes my sister will call and I can hear her begging him to eat a chicken nugget or to take one more bite of pizza before he has cookies. Or sometimes I'll call and not know they're in the middle of a meltdown because my sister baked cookies and Allan wants to eat them ALL. Again, can't say I blame him -- but maybe he'll start to like new things as he gets older and his taste buds change. It didn't happen for me -- but we can all hope.

It's great having two nephews. I'm forced to love them differently because they're so different. Jay's generally really introverted and likes to stay home, so it's nice that we've bonded over movie nights and cooking meals together. Anytime we've been outside, other than a park, it's been because I initiate taking a hike or going for a swim. I have a feeling, Allan would much prefer to be the kind of boy who wants to be outside roughing it out. It's these relationships that make me change my expectations for all interpersonal relationships. It's not that I don't have expectations from either of my nephews -- because I do. I expect them to be obedient and kind, generous and thoughtful, respectful and loving-- oh and hardworking. Anything after that kind of falls into the category of not important. Do I want either of them to grow up to be neurosurgeons? Nope. I want them to grow up knowing that the world is full of endless possibilities and that if they work hard and cultivate a passion for their work, then they can make whatever dreams they have for themselves come true. I want them to take the best of their relationships with their parents, siblings, extended family and try to give that very best that's in each of us and give it back to the world somehow. I hope they'll be be loving and attentive fathers someday -- when they're much much much much much older (and married!) I hope they'll be respectful and loving to their wives, that they'll practice what we've been preaching for the past 5 (and for Jay 10 years).

Love you, Al!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Grade 4

Hey 4th grader!

I know today was your first day of school. I'm a little weepy because I can't believe you're old enough to be in the fourth grade. I think I'll get over it because we have at least nine more years before you go off to college and leave us!

I'm sitting here with Chewy enjoying the slow morning in Boston and hoping you like your teacher (and that he or she adores you -- how could anyone not?) I hope you've been practicing your multiplication tables, learning about the U.S. Presidents, and writing in your journal in your free time.

Here's what I wish for you for your fourth grade year:

1. A great attitude
2. The desire to do well in school and the work ethic to make sure you do
3. Many friends
4. Teachers who get you excited about learning
5. A good amount of homework that challenges you but doesn't drive you or mommy up the walls
6. Amazing field trips
7. The cutest picture day picture
8. The ability to voice your frustrations without letting it get the best of you
9. Kindness, service, and honesty both in and out the classroom (and most especially with Al)
10. Focus. Your brain is super active! Try your best to focus on the lesson so you can learn as best as you can!
11. Hugs! Everyday, hugs.

I figured I'd give you ten wishes for ten years but I got a little carried away. I know I speak for everyone when I say we're super proud of you and can't wait to hear about all the cool things you'll learn this year.
I'm giving you an air hug right now.



( me a favor and write in your blog about how your first day of school went! I'd love to read about it!)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Saying Goodbye

Friday morning my sister woke up before 7 am and consequently everyone else had to wake up too. But that's a good thing because it means we made the most of our time.

A few pics before we left for Winthrop.

 We're both sporting our Harvard T's!

 What a great nephew! I'm so lucky!

These two look just alike.

First stop was Winthrop Beach which I absolutely love. It's close, it's not too much of an attraction because there's no "boardwalk" like at Revere Beach and I love the little pockets and coves there. We had breakfast at a tiny breakfast place there. Bacon, egg, and cheese on bagels and we all had coffee drinks, even Jay because they had extra of the frozen mocha drink and I said he could have a little taste. He loved it! He's been asking for coffee since NY when his aunt let him try some.

 There were hundreds of hermit crabs. We got there at the peak of low tide so we couldn't even walk to the water without stepping on them.

 Jay was holding a hermit crab here and refused to look at the camera. So we both said, "JAY! Look at the camera." Guess we didn't tell him to smile though.

 Jay letting his mommy rest on his shoulder. Ain't he the sweetest?

 My partner in crime -- we even have our own dap greeting.

Me and my sister -- all smiles because I don't know yet that I've been towed.

It's almost over...

Jay's mom flew up Thursday night and the two of them returned to North Carolina Friday afternoon. Six weeks have since passed since I went to pick him up in New York. Feels like he's been here much longer and it also feels like we didn't have enough time.

Wednesday we went to Castle Island for one last Boston funsie. My GPS couldn't find Castle Island and I only knew that it is located in South Boston. So I drove around and finally found it after about 25 minutes of cruising around the city.  We stopped by the ice cream shop there and got a couple of soft serve cones. I picked vanilla (my favorite) and he picked chocolate (his favorite --along with strawberry). The amount of ice cream they gave us was honestly downright ignorant. I scooped two thirds of each cone onto the ground (no trashcans) and Jay held a mini memorial service for his dessert. I don't think he knew I was going to discard so much but even after all of that, neither one of us finished eating what remained.

Castle Island is beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that Jams and I are going there after we rescue her car from the tow lot and have breakfast. Fort Independence is on the island (or what used to be an island) and it's a pretty cool location. Other than the fort, there's a playground, and the flight path of landing airplanes at Logan Airport. The backdrop of the city across the harbor provides the most magnificent view and depending on when you get there, how far you go out, and how keen your eyesight is, you could find lots of crabs.

 The sky was so blue and the sun was so bright that I had to take a picture. Magnificent, isn't it?

 We found baby crabs! Or baby something. It certainly looked like a baby hermit crab but with a completely different shell. Maybe they outgrow these shells and find much uglier rock looking shells for adulthood.

I wasn't really going to drop that crab down his pants. I just wanted to hear him scream!

 Jay learned how to skip rocks and is really excited about going home to skip with his dad, uncle, and cousins. I'm hoping he teaches Al, too.

 Staked his claim at the fort. Now the property of Jay and Titi. Not that I mind. It might be cool to live in a fort. Not so cool to have tourists playing in our backyard though.

He looks ridiculously grown up here.

I miss him so much already. I can't wait to see everyone again in November.

Thursday morning we drove out to Rockport, MA. A really good friend of mine who lives in VA has a family vacation home there and we went up for the day. We arrived just before noon and didn't leave until 830 pm (not at all in enough time to pick my sister up from the airport but she didn't have to wait too long.)

We went for lunch in the downtown area -- ate the freshest crab ever. The kids played on the beach for almost three hours and Jay's little Southern blood managed to stay in the freezing ocean for most of that time. I was absolutely shocked! But it was great. My friend and I were able to catch up because we hadn't talked in a really long time but it was so easy to jump back in into the swing of things. Then we went home, showered and walked back into town for a quick dinner and ice cream. No pics. :(

Rockport is beautiful. I'm absolutely going back again THIS summer. There's no way that little piece of wonder can be only 35 miles away from Boston and I miss out. I love quaint towns with charming shops and really friendly people. It's expensive to live there I'm sure -- but it absolutely reminded me of Bar Harbor. Especially the ice cream!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

And I was starting to think it would never break 100 degrees in Boston

We were supposed to go to the zoo but it was over 105 degrees one day. So instead, we played in the spray bed at the park and painted watercolors!

This one is mine. I love it. I'm a little disturbed that the only image I truly captured is Chewy. But to give myself a little credit, I don't walk around with an image of myself in my head all day. I do, however, see Chewy because he's literally always in my face. I think Jay's photo looks a little like him. His face isn't quite so round and it's a tad bit longer IRL. That figure on the left though? Not at all any resemblance to me. A little sad that I couldn't capture my own likeness.

Jay's rainbow. Really nice. I love the use of almost all the colors. I especially like what's going on around the rainbow tornado. Like is it also raining blue and red? :)

Jay moved on from his first watercolor [not yet pictured] to the one above and finished with this number. Meanwhile, I was still working on my one and only. I love the purple here. And I'm drawn to the deep red in the center. Maybe someone has a natural talent.

Not really sure what was going on here. Maybe that's the ocean. Who knows. But he wrote our names (in watercolor) on the picture so it might represent friendship.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Day in Maine

Friday morning Jay and I headed up to the Bridgton Lake region in Maine and spent a lovely day (yes, only a day) with my dear friends. Sadly, I didn't take any pictures. Jay took a couple of pictures from the car but deleted them to make room for this video.

I think what's happening here is pretty classic. Jay and I treated ourselves to candy bars because I was falling asleep somewhere on the back roads of New Hampshire when I stopped to get gas. Chewy took a nap on the plastic bag and melted his Hershey bar into a type of matter that I won't bother to describe. My Baby Ruth went unharmed. Well, kind of.

I usually take Route 1 to I-95 N but decided to avoid the heavy weekend traffic and opted for I-93 N through New Hampshire and we had a nice long road trip through the White Mountains. Spectacular.

But I'll back up because our morning out was a little rough. I had to finish a load of laundry which already had me behind schedule. So imagine my frustration when I hop out of the shower ready to go when Jay reveals that he has yet again stepped in dog poop while taking Chewy for a walk. Since I wasn't waiting at the door like last time, I wasn't able to stop him dead in his tracks and prevent him from tracking the mess all over our living room and kitchen. Needless to say, I was livid. And it took me a while to understand that he didn't really mean any ill harm and it wasn't that he wasn't thinking -- just that he was thinking only about cleaning his shoes so that I wouldn't be angry. It obviously backfired because he cleaned the mess in the kitchen sink!


He's such a wonderful child. He played so well with my friend's four daughters and was really sad to go. I hated to only spend one night and day with the Reed's but Jay has his duathlon tomorrow morning and I reasoned that it made more sense for us to drive back Saturday night than early Sunday morning.

I think we maximized our time there as much as anyone could. Friday evening we had dinner, played old school Nintendo and then I stayed up late having a really interesting discussion with my friend's brother. Saturday morning we had a yummy breakfast, the kids played outside, drew pictures for me and then we all headed out to a nearby lake for some fun swimming. I had to coerce Jay into jumping into the lake from the docks and it took about twenty minutes. I knew after his first jump he'd be hooked and he totally was. We went to a Mongolian BBQ for lunch with their church family, then went to a carnival in a neighboring town.

[I didn't take a single picture in Maine. Honestly, I've been a little slack on the pictures for the past two weeks. It feels good to just watch the moments unfold and not spend the time behind the eye of a camera. But now I regret that decision. The little Reed girls are so darned cute and our trip to the lake was picture worthy! I guess we'll just have to hold those memories in our hearts and double up on the photos next summer!]

Jay's pooped. So am I. But he still stayed up for the first two hours of the ride back to talk with me and it was the best part of the trip in my opinion.

I'm trying not to freak out about the fact that he's leaving in less than a week. 5 whole days left. He leaves Friday afternoon with his mother who's flying up Thursday night.

He said today in the car that he'd like to spend another month :) and that warmed my insides because I know he's incredibly homesick. He even saved his generic brand Axe spray because my mom bought it for him a while ago and it said it reminds him of home. I know he's ready to get home to see his brothers and parents but he's already talking about having his Uncle E drive him up for his spring break.

He's a keeper.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Party in the House

My friends and I threw Jay and one of his new buddies, Luke a joint birthday party the weekend after they both turned ages 10 and 15. And on the same day, too! The Thursday before the party, Jay and I went shopping at Target so he could buy himself a birthday gift from his dad. He bought the DoaWK Rodrick Rules dvd and he bought ME the Adele 21 cd. WOOHOO. Love that kid. And I love that cd. He also bought himself some other odds and ends but mostly ended up spending most of his birthday money on unnecessary things. Ah, to be young and rolling in the deep dough.

I work on Saturday mornings so Jay went to meet the birthday crew in Chinatown and came back with so much loot that I've been dreaming about my favorite childhood candies with Asian flares. I joined the crew later at the bowling alley in Central Square in East Boston for an unbelievable afternoon. All of the kiddos had fun and I enjoyed the candlestick bowling, too. Although I must say, I didn't really like the fact that there were no bumpers, the ball was super small, the bowling pins were oddly shaped and bowlers had to manually press a button to reset the pins.

So maybe it wasn't too much fun after all.

The place was decked out with decorations from Dollar Tree. Woohoo! I love Dollar Tree parties. I also baked a chocolate cake with vanilla frosting and sprinkled Happy 10 and 15 on the cake so that the boys would feel special. I didn't love the cake as much as I loved the cupcakes but it was nice to have something like that at the party even though both kiddos had already celebrated their birthdays the weekend before.

Then we went back to the house and had a watergun fight that sort of led to kids throwing the birdbath water on each other and then just flat out using the garden hose to drench me. The water was freezing cold but it felt amazing with the backdrop of ridiculous hot weather. The party was supposed to have been a sleepover but long story short, Jay, Jams and I headed home to watch Diary of a Wimpy Kid Rodrick Rules and Child's Play 3.

We rocked the birthday this year!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Turning Ten

My birthday was on Saturday and I turned ten. My auntie and I stayed up until midnight. We had a midnight club. I fell asleep and Titi laid out all of my presents for a surprise. Molly and Ben bought me some new shoes. Molly bought me a Harvard shirt and Ben got me a georock. My auntie bought me a Camaro t-shirt, some jeans, a psp game, a puzzle and some candy. On Tuesday we are going to open me a bank account. I am so happy. My daddy gave me $60 so I can buy something and I want to save some of it in the bank. My mom got me some spy rearview glasses and a watch that records audio, video and takes pictures. I can play games on the watch. My watch also has an alarm and it woke my auntie up this morning! My uncle is going to send me more money and my grandma and great-aunt mailed me birthday cards with money. I like both of them the best.

My auntie and I had a good breakfast. It tasted so good you'll want to slap your mama. Titi made sunnyside up eggs, bacon and oreo cookie cupcakes. Oreo cookies were inside! For lunch we went to McDonald's. I wanted to buy lunch for my auntie and Molly. I really liked my food. Then my aunt and I went to the beach to look at the sand sculptures. We saw fireworks, too. Later that night we went to the park and played int he sprinklers and with the see-saw. We went to Ben and Molly's to eat my birthday cake. Molly baked my birthday cake. It tasted like cornbread but I liked the chocolate icing. No one really liked it.

Titi is a better baker.

[Okay, fine. I wrote that last sentence].

After cake we watched Problem Child. When it was over it was already Sunday morning. I'm so glad I'm ten years old.

{Pics to follow -- having technical difficulties!]

Saturday, July 16, 2011

10 Incredibly Short Years

Jay turned ten years old today. There's no way to articulate what I'm feeling. I'm inundated with a wave of emotions. It's such a cliche and yet I remember the day he was born. I was out shopping with one of my best friends from high school when my father called and told me to get over to the hospital because my nephew had been born. I had no idea back then that I would grow to love him this much. Sometimes I'm glad that we can't look into the future and see what's in store. It's been a pleasure watching him grow into the little man he is today.

That first part of my own life seems so far away --my first ten years and yet it's had such an extraordinary impact on who I am today. I wonder who he'll be at 27. I hope he's healthy and happy and sweet and hardworking and respectful and genuine. I hope he appreciates his life and the precious time we have that doesn't always seem so precious in the midst of it all.

We kicked off the double digit celebration at five past midnight. I decorated the coffee table in our living room with his birthday gifts (and gifts he's received since coming to Boston). I'll try to upload pictures later.

Digital camera (thanks Ash)
Basketball shoes (thanks Bolly)
Spygear watch and glasses (thanks Mom -- Jay's mom, not mine)
Birthday cards and MONEY (thanks Mama -- my mom and Aunt J)
Ipod (thanks Ben -- technically not a birthday gift but since I'm such a sucker, I decided to give it to him early on the condition that his attitude towards schoolwork continues to improve)
Sunglasses, Harvard T shirt, Presidents ruler (Molly spoils him endlessly. I can't thank you enough if you're reading this. Thanks for the most interesting birthday cake EVER. I'll be sure to post about that later!)
Clothes, PSP game, candy, puzzle, oreo cupcakes (Yours truly)
Georock (a really fun gift that I'd never heard of from Ben who bought it from the Natural History Museum at Harvard. We're definitely going and posting about it!!! So stay tuned).

I also get BONUS points because I cooked a special birthday breakfast requested by our birthday boy. Bacon, sunnyside up eggs and a cupcake. He actually had a much longer menu planned but I wasn't feeling too great so I cut it short and surprised him with the oreo cupcake. He was more excited about having cake for breakfast than he was about the gifts. Such a funny boy.

And because I'm such a nice aunt, I gave him the day off from studying. NOT! Ha. He worked for 90 minutes on rounding to the nearest ten, hundred, and thousand. He played with a little girl that I tutor and her neighborhood friends and then he, Molly and I walked to McDonald's for birthday lunch. His treat!

Imagine our little man! Buying lunch for his two favorite Boston girls on his day. He has such a good heart. He also picked out a gift for his little brother after a bit of prodding. We spent about 30 minutes in Marshalls trying on over a dozen sunglasses and we ended up going with a pair he picked in the first few minutes. He really enjoyed all the emphasis being on him today although I honestly couldn't tell the difference between any other day!

Later in the evening we drove out to Revere Beach to look at fireworks and attempted to see the sand sculpture festival but we'll watch tomorrow afternoon. It was dangerous driving out there tonight. There was just way too much traffic and people were impatient and frustrated which ultimately leads to accidents so I just decided to hightail it out of there and we'll hit it up tomorrow on the train. And I couldn't disappoint Jay on his birthday -- so we went to the park and ran through the sprinklers and played on the see saw with Chewy followed by homemade birthday cake and movie night. Problem Child. Ha ha! Watching these old movies from my youth make me appreciate good movies.

He's literally been awake on his birthday for over 16 hours! He's exhausted. I'm exhausted. And yet when we walked through the house tonight, I played Stevie Wonder's Happy Birthday for him as he got ready for bed and he came right up and cuddled beside me with his head on my shoulders. I hope we're always this close. After a few questions about Stevie, I got the impression he didn't know him as a musical genius and so I played hit after hit hoping something would resonate. It didn't. So if any family members are reading out there, T.I. is out and Motown and Oldies are in! We can't fail him on teaching him to appreciate real music.

There's one more gift he has yet to receive. On Tuesday Jay's opening a savings account! He can't wait. We've decided that the account is deposit only and if he keeps it for at least ten years without withdrawing (at the age of 16 when he gains full control) then he'll have a special surprise.

Wonder what that might be. :) Guess we'll find out when he's 20!

Happy Birthday, Jay! I had the best day with you. I always do.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Field Trip Fridays

Last Friday, Jay and I headed out with a couple of friends on a riverboat cruise on the Charles River and had the opportunity to view both Boston and Cambridge from the water. The weather was perfect. It's been incredibly hot here but on this day it was much cooler and it even rained a little. I usually avoid the tolls so I thought I was lost for a while trying to get to the mall but we ended up exactly where we needed to be and had time to spare.

Molls and Char were first in line while I escorted Jay to the bathroom. Naturally, we skipped the line since they had our tickets and I'm sure that made the people in line a little upset. Especially since we took the best seats on the riverboat! There was room for one more seat and this woman sits down and sits so close to Jay that he gets up and moves (which is what she wanted so her partner could sit down). I was so angry that I yelled at Jay to immediately sit back down and not let people take something that's his. Then the lady asked if Molls and Char could sit closer to one another, but we weren't having it. Yes, we took the entire cushioned back seat, but the rest of the boat was completely empty! No exaggeration. So Molly played dumb and answered her in French which was fabulous since Charlotte only speaks French. Then I played along and pretended like I didn't know English either. I honestly think that woman was an idiot because she heard me talking to Jay in English after she nudged him out of his seat.

Jay wasn't too happy to have everyone speaking French. So then he left his seat again. Forced out again. Let's count how many available seats there were in just the visible frame of the picture I took!

We learned some interesting facts from the cruise. First, Harvard claims to be the oldest university in the U.S. I was always taught that it was William and Mary but apparently that's debatable. More presidents have matriculated through Harvard than any other college or university. Oh, and people can't swim in the Charles River. Not because of pollutants, but because there are obstructed views (I think) and for that reason it's unsafe.

I took some amazing pictures on Jay's camera but can't get them uploaded right now. Luckily I took some on Molly's too. Check em out!

Here's what Jay had to say about that day:

Yesterday I went on cruise to see statues then I sign up for the bike ride my aunt was so happy becase we are getting tv's then we went to sleeps (Sleepy's to) lay down on solf (soft) beds and we went to Sears and the mall. to get me a game and ring for my girlfriend. I hope my girlfriend Like it becase she is going to be so happy and I hope she give me something (if not?) I am going to be sad.

I'll clear that up for everyone. After the cruise we spent the afternoon shopping. There's a duathlon (running and biking) for kids ages 5-15 on the 31st and I signed him up to participate. I think he has to bike 3/4 of a mile and run half a mile. We're "training" by walking as much as we can. :) Every participant receives a medal and t shirt, but they will also raffle off new bikes and flat screens. I told Jay if he wins the TV, he should just leave it here because he has no way of getting it back to NC. He replied that his Uncle E could just drive it down for him. Funny.

We actually never went to Sleepy's, although we do talk about going to check out a new mattress for my. My back is killing me from sleeping on these futons! But we checked out some beds at Sears so I understand he confusion. I bought him a game for his birthday (but he's only played his PSP once since coming here because I keep him so busy so hopefully he'll forget I bought him that and I'll just pack it in his suitcase and let him fry his brain with his parents!) At first I thought he made all that girlfriend and ring stuff up. But apparently he DOES have a girlfriend (whatever that means) but no one bought her a ring. I checked with Molly and he did find a $3 ring but he wasn't on his best behavior so he knew not to ask me and she didn't buy it for him. I'm glad!

Choose Day

An interesting post on Blogher caught my eye this evening and even though I'm tired beyond imagination I wanted to put this down "in writing" so that I couldn't reneg on it later. At almost ten years old, Jay doesn't have that much independence. But it's definitely time to start letting him make some decisions so that we can reinforce what works and what try to cut out what doesn't.

Right now, he's pretty scheduled, but not overly so. He wakes up in the morning, gets himself ready for camp with too much assistance from me, walks Chewy, and then comes in for a hot breakfast. Then it's off to camp, he walks down the street to his sitter (because I'm still at work) and I wanted to encourage some degree of independence. (It's really a safe neighborhood and not a busy street and I feel comfortable that he can handle it especially because Ben is all about kids walking to and from school in safe zones.) Initially, I wanted him to spend some time post camp doing academic enrichment but I've just decided to not fight that battle, so he has three hours of pure free time. He's free to read (which I doubt he ever does) play Wii or watch kids programs on Netflix. Then we have dinner, which I usually decide based on what's in the frig or what Moll's is cooking, and I try to get in some "schoolwork" but I'm more often than not just beat from a long day of dealing with other people's kids and so whatever lessons he receives aren't that structured.

I do wonder though, what he'd do if he made every single decision for one day. So he gets to decide. Saturday or Sunday. I'll break the news to him tomorrow afternoon after our riverboat cruise. I think he'd suggest going to the beach, cooking dinner, not walking Chewy or washing dishes or taking out the trash, not doing any academic enrichment, watching WWE online for at least 4 hours, eating whatever he wants and not having a single drop of water all day long.

Hopefully, he'll learn without hearing one of my half a dozen lectures he rolls his eyes through on any given day that having seconds at dinner almost always gives him a stomachache. That not drinking water makes him feel yucky. Not walking Chewy means cleaning up his mess in the house (I really hope he thinks to walk that dog). And leaving dishes for the next day means spending twice as much time on the next day.

I say it at least three or four times a day. I'm so glad Jay is here. We are so much more active around here now that there's a tween in our midst. I have a free dishwasher and dogwalker. What's not to love about that? And taking care of him creates the space for me to see the ways that I need to take care of myself. He's so considerate and giving and caring and loving. And he's also a nine year old boy, so I find myself being extremely repetitive and uptight because raising boys (or girls) isn't easy. He's a little person with feelings and frustrations and fears and ideas about how he wants things to happen and I need to balance that with what I think is best and ease up a bit.

Tomorrow we're going on an hour long riverboat cruise, writing at least two blog entries (he's really behind because I've really enjoyed the good behavior and I'm not interested in battling him every single day.), and visiting the MIT Natural History Museum. He also suggested we do some science projects from a workbook I picked up at Target and I'd like to hit up to beach and search for seaglass so we can do a project over the weekend. Well, you know...if he chooses to do so.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Multiple Posts (by Jay, heavily edited by Titi -- because I'm so tired of frustrating him!)

We went to the beach and we walked a long time on the beach to find crabs. I gave them food and relaxed on my mat to eat and drink water. The night before we ate dinner with Ben and Molly and we watched Harry and the Hendersons. Earlier in the week, I had a play date with R but it was not that fun because R was not letting me play with his DC. But it was still a little fun. Then I went home and did salsa dancing with Jams. The next day I went to camp to play. It was so fun and I really like it.

Then on the Fourth of July, I went to my friends Luke and Liam's house and we went swimming and we ate some good food. We had corn, hot dogs, and hamburgers. When it was dark outside we lit trick birthday candles [because fireworks are illegal in Massachusetts.]


Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Children's Museum (Jay's account)

we walk to the train and we went to see molly and this guy was yelling titi took the wrong train we took four trains to see molly (at) the chanden (Children's) museum the girls was spent (spitting) on top on the clamp (climbing) thing then we went to the bule (bubble) room and the golf room it was so fun and we had Ice cream we walk bach (back) home with ben faimly and we took a water taxis to meet ben and he gave me a Ipod.


***I pulled teeth for this entry. Seriously. But we're editing all of these tonight because he knows to capitalize proper nouns and I've explained what that is and he knows to capitalize at the beginning of sentences. Even if he doesn't always know when the sentence ends and a new thought begins, the very first letter of this paragraph should have been capitalized. I think when he reads it on the blog and see the lack of punctuation he'll be more agreeable to improving his writing. Anyone who's reading, leave comments and suggest that he continue to work hard. He has fallen in love with Harvard -- so let's push him to get there!***

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Playing Catchup

Jay and I have been busy! Extremely busy.

Friday was a tough day for him. I didn't have to work which gave us a good amount of time to dedicate to writing, reading comprehension and multiplication tables. He wasn't happy about it. At all. I wasn't happy about the fact that he wasn't happy about it. Never a good combination. But we got through the day, went shopping at Target where we picked up some math flashcards, President flashcards, and a science project workbook. He also picked out some gifts for his new besties!

Later that evening we met a friend at the Children's Museum of Boston. I really enjoyed myself at the Children's Museum which means Jay absolutely loved it. They have a new exhibit featuring The Wizard of Oz and because of that some of the cast members were dressed in costume greeting us as the front door. The Wicked Witch of the East (or West?) was friendly. My favorite room in the museum was probably the bubble room. Jay was also a fan of the golf ball room and the netted climbing structure. I don't think he would have left if we hadn't lured him with ice cream.

This climbing structure was his favorite and most of all the other kiddos too. He made it to the top once, I think. It was so crowded he had to make his way back down to make room for other kids. Or to escape the madness.

Other kids had difficulty pulling up their weight. Good to know our kiddo is as strong as he looks!

My favorite room! I love bubbles! It kind of counts as getting a bath, right? I totally blew one right in his face. Didn't even see it coming.

Those turtles were delightful to watch. He crawled right under their station and watched them swim across (on top of each other) from one side to the other.

It's going to be a sad day when Jay leaves. :( No more Children's Museum.

We started walking towards the Aquarium station when Molls had the fantastic idea to take a water taxi home. It was definitely the best 20 minutes of the day. No lie. The city lights against the backdrop of the night sky and the rushing sound of the waves was absolutely exactly what the doctor ordered. It had been THE longest day. I felt utterly at peace and when we pulled into the harbor and had a 20+ minute walk ahead of us to get home, I was glad. Simply glad. So glad of the take it easy feel of summer. So glad that my nephew was with me. So glad that I've made such good friends.

While I worked Saturday, the freighbors took Jay out with their foreign exchange student to see a war reenactment, have lunch, and check out prices for an e-reader. I packed Jay with a bagged lunch because I thought they were going to the library (not the mall) but I think he probably tossed it. Can't blame him. He also came home with a brand new pair of basketball shoes. (This is literally less than 24 hours after his multiplication meltdown.) Oh, and he got an ipod.

SO JEALOUS. But not really. He's been asking for one for years and 10 is a pretty special year. His first decade. I seriously get a little weepy when I think about the fact that he's more than half way out of the nest.

Saturday in the City (title by Titi)

Today we went to see a fake war (a re-enactment) but it was a play. It was so fun. Molly's cousin was in the play. We took a lot of trains to go to the mall. They (Molly and Ben) bought me New shoes. I love the shoes they was Like the same thing I have no but diffent coloer but better becase they fent (fit) my feet Good. and it was awsome but the best thing I hope Titi have a Good day and I love Titi me and Titi went to see (some of her students).we went to Toget (Target) to get some food and we love Toget it's the store (We cooked) pizza and meatballs on top of the pizza and I cooked it we went to the dollar store to get flashcards and multiplication flash cards it is a lot of cads (cards) but is not I bought them a prezent a bear me and ben did this awsome with the bulbes (bubbles?)
i should write that on the chart we had water bules (balloons) throw them on each another

***So, as you can see, we're making slow and steady progress. It's been a challenge to get him to sit down and write the post. So when it's all said and done, I'm just glad to have it done and neither one of us has the mental capacity to edit. I've introduced weekly spelling words to tackle the misspellings. He also is very aware now of bad grammar and catches himself ALL the time before saying things like "Do you got" or "Is we." I'm a proud Auntie. In fact, I said something the other day that wasn't grammatically correct, and he said, "Titi, that's not right!" It was pretty funny. I'm a little concerned about the inability to mark when sentences end (and then begin). But I think, all in all, that's the only time a red flag appears. Spelling isn't the easiest thing in the world so I'm not too worried.***

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Learning Curve

Being employed as an educator should give me a leg up in the motherhood department. As should my genuine affection of children. Not so. The difference between working with children who you don't go home to everyday or appreciating the delight in making a young child smile who doesn't know your buttons is great. And the truth is, I do have a wonderful advantage. Except, it's still hard.

I'm constantly wondering if I'm making the right decisions. I have no idea what three minutes of this day Jay will remember twenty years from now. I have no idea how the messages he receives from me will impact how he feels about himself when he's older. So I worry. Needlessly, I suppose. What will be, will be, right?

I worry about everything. If my expectations are too great. If I'm being unreasonable. If I'm too hard on him. If I frustrate him. If I'm too lenient on him. (After all, he's the oldest. He's the experimental nephew!) I worry if my discipline methods are too harsh. (Restricting Ipad and computer usage for being too tired to take out the trash isn't too severe, right?) I worry if I let him get away with too much (like telling his babysitter to "shut up" and chalking it up to his being in a foreign place.)

Do I still need to hold his hand when we cross the street? Obviously, no. And yet, sometimes he reaches out for it and how do I let him know that I will always be there to hold his hand, even when I'm not. And then there's coping with having this "tween" in my house who is embarrassed with my hugs and kisses one moment and hops out of bed to plant another one on my cheek. (That's probably a stall tactic though.)

I worry because some aspects of life are already hard for him. Mainly school. And yet, he has such a pure heart that I'm sometimes compelled to just cultivate his sweet spirit and make sure he stays as loving and attentive as he is right now. All the academic success in the world can't compete with kindness. I love his character. I love that he helps, that he wants to help, that he listens and obeys (as much as any nine year old) and cares. I don't think you can teach that.

Still, this week hasn't been without challenges. We haven't done as much "work" as Jay let on. And each time it was met with crying, whining, pouting, door slamming, and raging tempers. I think I've remained calm for the most part. I'm really good about reminding him of the consequences of such behaviors before they occur so that once it happens I'm less likely to engage him and I just state in a matter of fact manner that he can't watch tv, or use the computer, or play on the Ipad, etc.

I hate the idea of "taking things away." I'm not entirely sure that his almost 10 year old brain makes the connection between his present actions and his future options. It's hard to see the parallel between lashing out in anger or frustration because of not wanting to do something he needs to do (write his blog post) and the obstacles he will undoubtedly face later in life. I'll push him now to get these things done because life does get harder and I don't want him to give up on himself when the tough gets going.

And the tough gets going, Jay. If you're reading this, when you read this, I love you. But life's not easy. It's good. It's fun. It's hard. It's sad. It's happy. It's breathtaking and backbreaking. And I just want you to be ready. For all of it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Favorite City

***This next post was written almost exclusively by Jay. Anything italicized was edited by yours truly***

When I came to Boston I went to pick up Chewy. He was at Molly and Ben's house. I was jealous because Chewy was happy to see Titi but not me! Over the next few days we were so busy with schoolwork. (Not true) We did fun stuff too.

I went to the Beach and we saw jellyfishs. Me and my Titi threw rocks. Then I cooked with Molly. We baked poptarts and hot pockets. Then I played with Ben's Ipad. We made music and we played a guitar and on the internet.

One day I went to lunch with my aunt and her two friends. I ate a big fish. It was so good. When I got my food the fish eyes were on the fish. I did not eat the fish eyes. but the rest of the fish was so good.

We also played Just Dance 2. I played with my buddy Nathan and my other buddy Molly. Molly won. Nathan beat me too. I beat Titi in our first game but she beat me in the second.

I hope we go sailing this weekend with our friends but too bad too sad it's going to rain!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The first 4 days

I'm sitting in my friends' living room listening to Jay make hot pockets from scratch with Molly. Yeah, I know. The first thing Jay asked for when looking at the contents of my refrigerator/freezer were the hot pockets. Truth be told, I've never had one. And since I'm extra cautious about frozen foods and high sodium prepackaged foods, I wasn't sure I could commit to buying them. So imagine the sheer joy on Jay's face when Molly suggested that we make our own hot pockets.

Within minutes we were off to the grocery store to buy pepperoni and deli turkey. Only, we never found the pepperoni and I sort of suggested turkey sausage to keep our homemade version of hot pockets as healthy as possible. (Next, I'll make a huge batch of burritos and freeze them so when Jay wants a snack/lunch/dinner and I'm unable/unwilling to cook, he can pop one in the microwave. Triple Win!)

Look at our little chef! This is his second night cooking since arriving in Beantown. The first night he grilled merguez with Ben and was such a great helper! I caught him using the tongs to take off the last few links.

So you might be wondering what we've been up to...

Saturday we went out to lunch at a Columbian restaurant in Eastie where Jay ordered the most expensive item on the menu. The $16.50 Snapper with plaintains, rice, and salad. To balance out the bill, I ordered the fried yucca. Lucky for me, Jay shared his snapper meal with me and had enough for lunch the next day. So I was able to justify the expense of the meal since it fed him for two meals (and me for one.)

Sunday we checked out Calvary Chapel in the City. I had been before but there was a guest preacher the first time so it was nice to get a glimpse at what the church experience is like normally. We finally headed to the grocery store because I never got around to doing the food shopping before he arrived and I made pizza from scratch for dinner for 7 people! It was a ton of fun. We didn't take any pictures of the pizzas but we had a pepperoni and fresh basil from the freighbor's garden; salmon, spinach, and basil; green pepper, onion, sun dried tomato, and spinach; and finally pepperoni and green pepper.

Did I mention that Jay LOVES the freighbors? Like really? Ben is amazing with him. They pay on the ipad for hours on end. Nathan played Just Dance 2 with him. Molly bakes with him (now they're making poptarts -- from scratch!)

In fact, I'm officially "the bad guy" because of course I'm the only one forcing correct grammar and reading time and multiplication tables. When I suggested that maybe we don't hang out with friends everyday, Jay suggested that I might be jealous.

Maybe just a little.

So today he and I went to Constitution Beach. We walked there Sunday afternoon but didn't have our suits on so we couldn't go for a swim. I also was a little weary about that body of water, but this afternoon we just decided to go for it. After a bit of pestering, Jay completely dunked himself in the water and then tried to get me to do it! Ha ha ha! Fat chance! I sat down and let the waves crash against me but the water was too cold to completely immerse myself.

Oh! I almost forgot. Jay's on chapter 15 of James and the Giant Peach. We bought about a dozen books from Harvard Bookstore's warehouse sale on Sunday and I'm excited to read them together. Jay wrote his next entry for our blog, but it definitely needs some work. His verbal communication has already improved. Just this evening he corrected a conjugation mistake immediately. I'm so proud! It makes me feel confident that his written composition skills will improve once we get settled into a routine and can dedicate significant time towards it.

Jay's up next! I can't wait to read his thoughts on Beantown so far!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

New York City

It took us ten hours to get to New York from North Carolina. In my uncle's car there was a couch so we could stretch out our feet and we made many stops. My uncle drove us to New York City to visit my aunt, have fun, and go see a whole bunch of stuff.

We took about eight trains and it was so hot that my cousin and I wanted to go back home. One of our trains broke down. Then we had to take another train and that one didn't break down.

I went sightseeing. I went on a boat to see the Statue of Liberty. The Statue of Liberty was gigantic and people were climbing up in it on a ladder. But I didn't do that. The Empire State Building was so huge and I saw it from a good view.
We also went to Madison Square Gardens. It was awesome! People were really nice. There were a lot of statues and flowers, but they were dying. Some of them lived. We also went to Macy's to buy some clothes. I got a Rocawear shirt and a Tapout shirt. I bought a present for my mom, a magnet of New York City.

New York City is so awesome. My favorite thing about NYC is the Statue of Liberty. It was my first time seeing it and I got to take lots of pictures.

I like New York City but Raleigh is a little cooler!

Friday, June 24, 2011

From Beantown to the Big Apple

I was up pretty late on Wednesday night setting up the blog and working on the first post. And that obviously meant I was running late the whole day. I dropped Chewy off at the freighbors (friends + neighbors) and had a pretty sorrowful goodbye with him. I hate leaving him in the care of others because I know how crazy he is sometimes. But in the event of the greater good, both he and I can make small sacrifices!

It rained practically the whole way to New York. It rained through all of Massachusetts and Connecticut. (Does anyone else think CT is ridiculously long? It should NEVER take hours to get through such a tiny state!) Traffic came to a screeching halt around 530 (near New Haven, I think?) and I didn't make the decision to give up on I-95 S until Fairfield County. The drive along Route 7 was beautiful. Really hilly and curvy with grand majestic trees and it was the one of the few parts of the drive with little to no rain.

My GPS said it would take four hours to get here. They overestimate their time, but with the weather and traffic delays it took me a little over five hours. Next time I take a road trip from Boston and head in any direction other than north, I'll leave at night. It's less stressful and even though it's a pain not being able to speed, it'll save me time and peace of mind.

Needless to say I was really happy to see my family! The last time I saw my aunt was about a year ago when I went home for my sister's housewarming and I hadn't seen my cousin in over five and a half years! But it was really fun catching up with him. And even better seeing Jay! (He's lost a couple of teeth since last November -- don't worry. We'll post pictures later!) I printed off a copy of our family tree for my aunt. She's been a really good resource since she's older than my mom and neither of my grandparents on my maternal side are still living. I can't wait to add pictures and get the book professionally bound.

The only bad thing about the trip is that it wasn't long enough. It would have been nice to spend a few more days in NY to visit with all of my relatives who live out here. And it would have been nice to drive out to NJ to see my grandma. One of my college roommates also flew out to the city last night and I wanted to go see her but after that drive, I was pooped!

Jay already started his first post. He's not very thrilled about posting. Hopefully he'll get into it after a few posts.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

716 miles

Meet Jay. He's my adorable (almost) 10 year old nephew.

I'm his adorable aunt, whom he lovingly calls Titi.

We're close. Emotionally, not physically. And that's because I moved 716 miles away from home and we're working our butts off to keep things as close to the way they used to be. Jay teaches me patience, forgiveness, acceptance, love, freedom, discipline, and -- all the things one needs to take care of themselves and someone else. And I teach him (hopefully all of these same things, too) along with how to be a good boy. It's kind of easy for him though.

Don't get the wrong idea, though. We're far from perfect. But the best thing about our relationship is that we're friends. Of course I love him. But I actually really like him, too. And that's why I invited him to spend the summer in Boston. Jay had a rough time in the third grade and I want to get him up to speed for next year. Maybe I'm being completely unrealistic, but my plan is for this to be a joint effort for the both of us. Jay needs to work on his writing skills and I think blogging about his first summer away from home would be an exciting project and serve as a way for us both to chronicle our time together and our time apart. Sadly, Jay's going back home at the end of the summer and since he's not the most talkative kid, unless he's talking about WWE, Raw or Smackdown, this can also serve as a way for us to stay connected with each other when there are 716 miles between us.

And "the wonder that's keeping the stars apart" -- taken from e.e. cummings' [i carry your heart with me] -- Simply put...that's us.