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.***