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.