Hoppy Easter 2012!

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We had a lovely Easter this year! First, on Saturday, the now-traditional egg hunt/picnic at my SIL’s parent’s house, who my kids are sure are also their grandparents. Second, back to mom’s house for baths and a glow-in-the-dark egg hunt designed by my thoughtful SIL herself:


The next day, we got all ready for church with my big extended family in Alabama:




Cheeky monkey – note the skull and crossbones on the bowtie?


Had lunch with a huge group of cousins, cousins-in-law, grandparents, great-great aunts and so on:


Cousin Darby and Cat

 And to top it all off, Cat gave me her first poem! I have preserved her delicious seven year old spelling for you:

God made the erth

the tres and the plats

He also made the anemels

And the ants.

I love the Lord, whose sune died on the cross.

I love the Lord, who loves us all so much.


Well said, Baby Girl. Well said.



Michele is trying to kill me

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My babies are away for Spring Break at Nanafest 2012. Today, Michele sends me this:





And this:



Where did these babies go?! And somehow I don’t think “Alabama” is the right answer.

Drama-tunity No. 136 for 2012: Ear piercing

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Cat has made several random requests to have her ears pierced lately, so when we were visiting Alabama this last weekend, and my sister mentioned she was thinking about having her second hole repierced (it had grown up), I thought the timing was perfect. I checked in with her Dad (who was off romping through bankruptcy moot court in NYC) and the conversation went like this:

Me: I am thinking of letting Cat get her ears pierced this weekend, since Ginny is getting hers done. She could see it happen first and be less nervous.

He: [short pause, while he un-choked himself] I dont’ think she has Any. Idea. how much that is going to hurt.

Me: Um. No offense, but I don’t think you do either? When was the last time you got YOUR ears pierced?

He: [deep breathing…..dare I say, gasping…?]

Me: Seriously, it hardly hurts at all, and it is over in an insant. Gin says that now they even have quieter guns so that you don’t hear it, and the sound was the worst part.

He: [silence]

Me: Think of it like this. Ginny is going back for her SECOND second piercing. Do you really think GINNY would do it over and over if it was really painful?

He: Good point. And I suppose it is inevitable.

Me: Yes, it is.

He: And better now, while I am not there to hear the fussing.

Me: That was your out loud voice.

So on Saturday, after scarring her softening Cat up with a nice thrilling movie that had her in tears from the drama (The Journey 2 – the Lorax was sold out and hey, we were already AT the theater…) we trooped over to those elegant stylist at Chez Sam (a.k.a. Super Walmart) and got on with the show. (Some may think I should have gone more fancypants for this particular event, but I think of this like I think of childbirth. I gave birth both times at Northside Women’s Center. Why? Because they deliver babies all day, every day. The odds of my birth story including something that NWC hadn’t seen were astronomically low. And those epidural techs? That’s all THEY do. Similarly, those Walmart jewerly counter girls? They do earrings ALL day long.)  Anyway, Ginny had assured her that it really did not hurt, as had I, as had Nana. Like Daddy, Cat is pretty sure Gin won’t line up for painful procedures, so she was only a tiny bit nervous going in.

Here are the wonder twins, waiting for the girls to be ready:

A bit nervous


All happy while it is Gin’s turn:


Last photo of naked ears. I love the freckles!


A bit worried:

making sure they will be even...

OK, a lot worried:

they are counting down....


My pretty, brave girl!

I was super proud of her – there was a moment of tears and since then, very happy. 🙂 Ginny informed me, however, that Cat told her that “we just have two different opinions on ear piercing. That DID hurt, Ginny.” But she seems to have forgiven us.


Meet Rex

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On Tuesdays and Firzdays, Matthew and I take Cat to school through carpool (which ends at 8:25. Promptly.) and assuming we make that cut off, we head to the church, which is less than a mile away, to wait for Mother’s Morning Out to start at 9:00. (If we do NOT make that cut off, I have to acquire a late pass from the office, then take Cat to class. I’m not saying this happens often, but one day this winter when I dropped her off and started driving away, Matthew screamed as we passed the office: “You a’most forggotta get Cat’s PAAAASth!”

Anyway, MMO teachers usually arrive about 8:50 or so, but luckily I stole have a building key so we just go in and wait in the Nursery Rhyme and Matthew shows me the toys, introduces me to his friends as they arrive, and plays with the CD player.

Today, we were SUPER early, so I learned a lot of new facts.

1. Rex is a dinosaur who is TOO noi-see if you push his but-ten. In fact, supposing you were to push his but-ten over and over to hear the growl and snarling, you would be told rather sternly to stop pushing the but-ten. And if you did it again, you might be asked “What did I say, Mommy? Dat’s too. Noisee. Pweeze do not push it again. I asking nicely.”

2. Rex likes to build car washes for the bus that lives in his toy box, using the blocks that are also in his toy box. It is entirely unclear why he likes either shiny clean buses (which he will not fit inside) or why he likes construction, but these are both very high on Rex’s list of to-dos.

3. Rex has verry sharpt teef.

4. Apparently, Matthew carries at all times an emergency toof-brushing in his back pocket, which is also noi-see, and which is ONLY for dinosaurs and big kids (like matthew) but not for mommies. In his front pocket, there is a pink toofbrushing that is not noi-see.

5. It is helpful to have Mommy “hold down” Rex so that he can have his teef brushing really good, otherwise he apparently is squir-emy.

Here, you can see the busss (fresh from the washing), the Rex, and the car washing made from blocks. Below, you will see Rex being comforted after his very sharpt teef were brushed “so your mouf won’t smell bad no more.”

Brief hiatus

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This week, I have four different meetings with Assistant U.S. Attorneys on new cases. Yes, fraud against the government is alive and well. While this is nice job security, it means you will be deprived of my babblings words of wisdom for the next week, because all my time will be prepping, traveling, meeting, or debriefing.

I will miss you all. To pacify you, I offer you this, which Michele aptly titled:

“Come on, I catch ya!”

Well, he doesn’t lack for self esteem, does he?



Destressing for Kids

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Here’s a cool article you might enjoy on how to “stop your kids from stressing.” It comes from the experts at Bing Nursery School at Stanford – the very place that brought you the Marshmallow Test – and (to sum up) the tips are as follows:

1. Allow for playtime, downtime, family time. I am a big believer in this one – an overscheduled Casa del Bracker is a homicidal Casa del Bracker. I can’t do a lot about mommy and daddy’s crazy schedules (at least not until my office completes its crushing of Lockheed Evildoers and Daddy finishes school) but I can try to resist the urge to sign them up for every thing  under the clear blue sky.

And on this topic, I especially enjoyed this gem: “Studies shows that family meals are the single strongest predictor of higher achievement and fewer behavioral issues for children between 3 and 12.” Hmm. Off to find some new recipes. 🙂

2. Distract. Help them turn their focus away from what’s bothering them. Perhaps a nice game of Wii, anyone? I have recently been learning the power and value of distraction as a way to maintain patience and reach a goal – I guess I have always thought of “distraction” as a bad thing, when really, it’s more like fire. Sure, it can wreck your house and kill you dead, but it can also cook your food and give you warmth and light. Like fire, it just has to be CONTROLLED.

3. Problem solve. That’s teaching it, not doing it for them, by the way.  The aticle suggests you start by actively listen to the problem, then ask open ended questions (“what do you think would help?”). I am a huge fan of this one, since it builds a life skill.  The trick for me (as anyone who spends much time with my poor daughter will see) is that I want to JUMP IN AND FIX IT for her rather than letting her grapple with it on her own. Luckily for Matthew, I at least recognize that isn’t the best thing now.

4. Keep routines. The article suggests that when things are stressful, routines are even more important. This, of course, is music to my heart. But it also comports with my observations both as a parent and as a teacher. Routines provide a measure of comforting predictability, as well as something to look forward to when other things are not going as well.

5. “Watch, listen, communicate, reassure, validate” – isn’t that more than one thing? Taken together, they seem to be saying check in and stay aware of how your kids are feeling so you can respond appropriately – including by reassuring them that it is “ok” to have whatever emotion they are having. I like that this is intended to guide them toward more empathy – “how do you think the other person feels?” Give them skills to talk about stress and stressors, so that they can “use their words” and not their actions.

6. Let children be children. I love this quote: “Physiologically, kids are not mini-adults,” Pope says, “and the idea of miniaturizing the adult world is a huge problem. It can lead to things like inappropriate use of media, inappropriate ways of dressing and inappropriate things being put on children’s shoulders.” Chandra advises that if kids do pick up on things happening at home, that they be told it’s “an adult agenda” and that parents are taking care of it. That seems to make some solidly good sense.

Now, the most interesting suggestion to me was this:

Pope recommends that families sit down and take a hard look at the value systems driving them. “Ask the big questions: How are you, your school and your child defining success? It is often that definition, that value system, that is driving the unhealthy stress.” Work together to write a mission statement that articulates the family’s core values, Pope suggests. Who are you as a family? Where are you going? And who are you not? A lot of important parenting choices are made on the fly from your gut. “You ask people what they want for their children and most will say, ‘A happy, healthy, self-sufficient person who gives back to society.’ But if you work backward from that, it’s not about the overscheduled, gratified 8-year-old. We are talking about the long term here.” Pope adds, “And even if that train has already left the station, it’s not too late. It’s never too late! Put your stake in the ground, abide by it and live your values.”

Wow! Love that!

Has anyone ever tried this family mission statement thing? I am not sure that we are ready for that at 3 and 6, but I do think the “working backward” idea is a great topic of discussion for parents!

Pinterest Planet: Social Media Is Ruining My Life

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My daughter’s valentine bag came home full and looking like an advertisement for Pinterest. 

There were no fewer than four bookmark projects involving paint chips, at least three or clever plays on words like “crayon” and “sucker” (with appropriate items attached) and of course, the requisite doilies taped/stapled/glued together.

Facebook was even worse – everyone rushing to display what “my kid did” for Valentine’s Day (perhaps with a TINY bit of help from mum).

Looking at that bag, I flashed back to a Valentine’s FB post by a friend (private and I can’t link, unfortunately). It was a story written years ago by her grandfather several years ago, a humorous piece about why he hated Valentine’s Day because when he was growing up, students had all week to drop “mail” into other student’s boxes, with no requirement that everyone receive a valentine from everyone else. (The horror! The inequity!) Apparently, in Depression-era rural Pennsylvania, the best Valentines were the precious, “store bought” variety.

Clearly, we have come full circle. 

I confess, I have not signed up for Pinterest yet. I know it is inevitable, but I fear and dread it. One reason – the reason I keep articulating – is that Pinterest has the promise of being even more time-wastey than Facebook, and I do not have room for another Facebook in my life, thankyouverymuch. The second, more shameful reason, is that I am just plain annoyed about it. Pinterest is trying to ruin my life.

 Let’s be honest, people. The single strength I bring to this whole mommying rodeo is that I have a lot of cute ideas. I don’t always have time to execute them, and I get a LOT of help when I do from Marvelous Michele, but I do really enjoy trying to come up with cute things to do. But with Pinterest, you don’t need ideas, just a computer and time.

Arg. My one parenting strength has been obsoleted (is that a word?) by social media.

And for now, I am taking a perverse pleasure in NOT using Pinterest for my ideas. Why? As near as I can tell, because I am stupid that way.

Rant over. I will return you to your regularly scheduled blog.  Or you can go craft or something. I’m pretty sure there’s some sort of “aggravated rainbow” craft with paintchips that we can make off of Pinterest.

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