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IV – Owen’s Broken Collar Bone

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(Written by Braydon)
We’ve always known and have often said that both our boys have an absurdly high tolerance for pain.  On more than one occasion we’ve found a blood trail in the house leading to one of our kids who had cut their toe or shin or something, only to find them playing happily as though nothing had ever happened.  Or we’ve seen many a crash on a bike or scooter or toy that would toppled pretty much anyone, but they bounce up with a laugh and keep going.  They are not immune to pain by any stretch of the imagination, and are also acutely sensitive to touch and feeling, but they can tolerate a lot of pain. Don’t know why.
So, we’ve discovered we’re a family that loves to ski together.  We took the boys when they were 3.5 and 4.5 and now at 5.5.  This year, like last, we went skiing before Christmas when the lines are short and the mountain has 2 for 1 deals going on – and it’s wonderful.
We started on the bunny slope and way beyond what we expected, the boys picked up where they left off last year.  Both K & O grabbed the tow rope and up they went.  No poles of course, but right on up.  And then right down, with a little snow plow and a little turning.  A few of these little practice runs and we were off to the rest of the mountain.
We were not planning it this way, but I skied with Kyle and Heather skied with Owen. We got to the top of the lift and dumped out onto our favorite run from last year – a nice easy green trail.  I followed Kyle, who, turns out, is a total speed demon, adrenaline junkie.  He took off, blasting down the mountain.  Now, I am a pretty aggressive skier, but he was bombing fast even for me.  We went past a little tree’d area that I liked to ski through last year and flew to the bottom. Totally crazy.
Kyle and I got to the lift and waited for H and Owen.  And waited, and waited and waited. Until I started to get very worried, and despite my best efforts to both hide it from him and also assure him, so did Kyle.  So we took the lift back up. I imagined that Heather had a terrible accident.  It did not occur to me it might be Owen.
When we got to the run, we saw Heather sitting on the snow holding Owen.  A ski patrol passed me and Kyle and asked if that was them.  I didn’t know what he meant, but seeing it was not normal, sent him right there.  When we got there, Heather had our boy cradled in her arms, he was not moving.  I was freaking out. But when Kyle and I clicked out and got close, we could see Owen was awake and ok – just very still and in a lot of pain.  Thank goodness he had his helmet on.  He rode the ski patrol sled down like a champ, with me and Kyle flying down behind and Heather going down too.  We headed to the ski patrol room where they carried him in for an exam.  Later Owen told me that he wanted to ski down between the trees like Papi had done last year.  Cutie pie.  Unfortunately, it was all crusty ice this year and he slammed down very very hard.
In the ski patrol room, they wanted to cut his new turtle neck shirt off, but Heather managed to get him out of it.  They articulated his left arm to gauge his reaction to it and determine how hurt it was.  He was able to move it forward and back and all around and they declared that no matter how high his pain tolerance, that if it was broken he would have screamed bloody murder.  Which he did not.  It was hurting, but not broken.
After a little recovery and an attempt at some hot chocolate, we went back out skiing again to make sure he was not too afraid and we had a great rest of the day.  Owen was a bit more tentative, but had a lot of fun.  Then we did it again the next day and also had a great time.  Owen was again more caution, but that’s not really all that unusual for him.  Kyle bombed down the mountain.  People commented that if he lived in NH they would have him on the junior ski team.
Over the next few days O favored his hurt shoulder and we gave him motrin regularly for it.  But generally he was himself and just seemed ok to play and move around.  We went ice skating and at one point we did a long chain of 6 or so of us with Owen in the middle all holding hands and swinging around.
When we got home, his shoulder was still hurting him.  We were going to make an appointment with our family doctor, but they said we should just go up to urgent care.  Since that was like the emergency room, but with a 3 hour wait, we made an appointment with our local Chiropractor for the next day.  But that night Owen woke up with a lot of pain.
Heather and I examined him and noticed a bump along his collar bone that we had not seen before.  He was still really hurting so we decided I should take him to the emergency room – which I did. It was 11 PM.
The ER doc examined him, articulated his arm, up down, back front, pushing pulling and trying to see if it hurt.  Owen said it did, this and that hurt, and mostly when the doc pushed on the bone with his thumb, but nothing dramatic.  So the doc decided that he should get an x-ray to find out what was up.
Broken collar bone. Clear as day on the x-ray.  Bent now, not curved.  Starting to knit together, but with a little bump.  Broken.  Our 5.5 year old had a broken collar bone. For 8 days.  
We’re taking him to the orthopedic surgeon tomorrow for a review.  The ER doc both assured us that he was going to be fine and that he would have full range of motion with no limitations.  But that we should have the orthopedic group look at him.  So we are.
Unbelievable in so many ways on so many levels.  But I guess maybe that is just our boy.
Note:  the photo above was taken in MorMor and MorFar’s back yard on Christmas Eve Day. Yes, his collar bone was broken at that time. 

Our Christmas Season the Year You Were 5 & 1

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My Dearest Ones,
Starting December 1 our Christmas Season begins. We woke up that morning and all ran downstairs in our pajamas to listen to Amy Grant’s ‘Tennessee Christmas’ in the dull light of early morning. This is our tradition and it jump-starts many others. That song is about the beauty of being right where you want to be for Christmas. With you three is right where I want to be. You fill the season with magic. I can’t imagine a better Christmas Season than the year you three were five and one; I know I say it every year, but it is absolutely true every year; I really cannot imagine it getting any better. Kyle and Owen– you believe; you two are true believers in every sense. And this year was so special as you lead the way in teaching your baby sister all that there is to know about this season. Since she has always had some kind of problem with men with facial hair (?!), we were anticipating the worst for her first encounter with Santa. We were all surprised when she wasn’t afraid and instead walked right up to the jolly man in red and proceeded to smile and give him kisses. Of course, in retrospect it shouldn’t have been surprising– she was toddling along, following, just two steps behind her big brothers, who were high-fiving and launching in to a full-blown Q & A session with Mr. Claus. “How do you get down the chimney? How do you make your reindeer fly? How do you know if kids have been good?” They were extremely relieved to be assured that they didn’t need to have been ‘perfect’ this year (“nobody’s perfect!”), but rather that they just need to have been ‘good most of the time.’ Owen, in particular, reminded us of that on numerous occasions (“It is ok if we’re not perfect! Nobody’s perfect!”). Yes, we assured you both, it is true– nobody’s perfect, and you were good most of the time. The truth is that you are good the vast majority of the time (although I’m the first to admit you drove my crazy the other minority of the time). One thing that didn’t drive me crazy this year — for the first time in five years — was putting up the Christmas Tree! We were smart and proactive this year (why weren’t we all those other years?). We put Meera to bed early and Kyle and Owen got to ‘stay up late’ to decorate the tree. But this year we started a new tradition of having the tree up and ready the night before (Papi did it while you were sleeping), so that everything was set to just decorate — and thus, allow us to just enjoy the fun part (minus the wrestling the tree up and the bickering-over-positioning-of-limbs-and-lights parts). We drank eggnog (you love it this year!!!) and truly relished in every ornament of that tree-decorating-night. You have your favorites, of course, but each of those ornaments holds meaning for us. And our tree is thus, of course, the most beautiful in the whole wide world. Meera has enjoyed pulling certain ornaments off of it repeatedly (ornaments that we placed way down low specifically for her). And we’ve all enjoyed pulling candy canes off from time to time. Jesus is, again, a huge theme this year — particularly for Kyle (our resident Theologian). Kyle doesn’t let us forget — not for a minute — that this whole Christmas ‘thing’ is actually to celebrate when Jesus was born. While Owen has a million questions about Santa, Kyle has a million about The Christmas Story. And stories we have. You love reading Christmas books at bedtime during the month of December. And oh, how nice it has been for Papi and I to have a break from The Berenstein Bears!!! You savor those Christmas books and just pour over them as you minds dance and your imaginations fly. Our house is warm. Our spirits are bright. There is a lot that is special. It is all as it should be for precious young children during this season. And that, my Dearest Ones, is the true gift that we strive to give you each year. What we get in return is the greatest gift of all.
Love, Your Mama


Wrapping Gifts and Making Cookies with K & O

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Yesterday Margie made Christmas cookies with the boys. This, let me tell you, is a major undertaking. A challenge of utmost proportions. To be honest, I was shocked she’d even attempt it. The flour, the colored icing, the boys… the whole thing is just a formula for crazy-making. Check out Margie’s crazy smile in the photo– that says it all (that and the fact that her comment to me as she was leaving the house was, “Tonight I’ll need an extra glass of wine!”). But they did it, and they loved it. And the end result was something they were all very proud of!
Today I helped the boys wrap their Christmas presents. This is a major event each year. Perhaps one of my most challenging events of the entire year. (I blogged about it two years ago here; I guess I tried to block out last year’s event and didn’t mention it on the blog, but I do remember it). Have you ever tried wrapping presents with young twin boys? Young twin boys as rambunctious as my two? With not a crafty bone in their combined bodies? You should try it someday. It is a true test of your patience. I will put it this way: In the past 48 hours I’ve finished grading final exams for both of my classes and submitted the course grades for the fall semester, I wrote and submitted a scholarly review of a book proposal to NYU Press, I finished off and submitted for final publication production a major project that I’ve been working hard on for the past 3 years, and I’ve planned/prepped/packed for a major trip for a family of five… and seriously… sincerely… in all honesty… the gift wrapping event this afternoon was the most challenging thing I’ve done in the past two days. Next year I’ve got to remember to divide the boys up and do wrapping with each one individually after Meera is in bed. Although, I can hope that it will be less challenging when they are six???
 Anyway… for what it is worth… the presents all got wrapped, beautifully (they absolutely insist on a “twirly ribbon” on each one), and, as with Margie’s cookies… the end result was something we were all very proud of — and, as with Margie… I’ll definitely be having an extra glass of wine tonight!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year…

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Any other Professor Moms out there in the midst of juggling the grading of final exams, the finishing of scholarly-projects-with-end-of-year-deadlines, and the planning-shopping-wrapping-and-giving-of-Christmas-presents??? If you’re out there, say it with me my friends, “BREATHE, BREATHE, BREATHE.” Much, much easier said than done. On top of the regular craze of the juggling of career – mothering – and management-of-all-that-is-family/home-life, the Christmas Season just slaps on a whole other layer. It always feels like it is teetering right on the brink of complete and utter chaos. But, add the end-of-the-semester and the making-Christmas-happen to the mix, and it makes for one seriously overextended Mama. Grade and wrap, grade and wrap, grade and wrap. Red pens for grading, red markers for wrapping. Crunch time for finishing off major projects, publishers with time-lines, editors with demands. A swamp of an email inbox. Term papers from graduate students who expect lengthy feedback. Undergraduate exams hand-written in blue books — blue books that still make me quiver with anxiety (just now, for different reasons than when I was an undergrad myself). Parties and festivities and school assemblies to go to– for work and for home. Late, late nights. Early, early mornings. Wrapping paper~ check. Tape~ check. Ribbon~ check. Lists upon lists upon lists of To Do Lists. Snowpants; wool socks; hostess gifts for every party; presents for the boys’ teachers; the stamps for that slew of Christmas cards waiting to be sent; Christmas bonuses for the mailman and for the garbage truck guys and the lawn guys (and boy oh boy do those guys deserve a bundle after putting up with K & O’s adoration all year long); gifts for the department secretary and teenager who takes care of the cat when we’re gone and the neighbors who are always there for us; extra-special-super-duper-over-the-top-present for our beloved Margie (how on earth to say ‘thank you for this year?’ to her?????); hats that fit and mittens without holes; snow boots for all five; Santa Santa Santa; planning and packing for Christmas 2009. Long, lengthy and involved To Do Lists with bullets and arrows and important notes written into the margins. And then there is that other To Do List— breathe deeply; pace yourself; remember that somehow someway it will all get done; don’t freak out like your own mother did; remember the reason for the season; try to see it through their eyes; remain calm; don’t go overboard; keep it simple; be fully present; be fully present; be fully present because they are only little once and you don’t want this all to pass in a blur of hazy sleepless stress. This is important. Be with them, be within yourself, be free to truly experience it. Much easier said than done. But I am working on it.

Recent Quotes from the Dynamic Duo

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Some from Kyle:

  • One early morning, cuddling in bed~~ “Papi, I’m a little white just like you. And I’m a lot brown. I’m like you on my hands and I’m brown for the whole rest of me. “
  • Explaining to us one day why he has brown skin (note: Jaren Walker was the boys’ summer sports camp coach and is Kyle’s favorite Lehigh football player, who we watched play in many games this fall)~~ “God made me this way because I love football and I’m going to be a football player. Just like Jaren Walker. He’s brown. That’s why I’m brown.”
  • One evening, requesting a specific type of cracker to be included in his lunch the next day, referring to his Kindergarten classmates~~ “Mommy, you have to put these crackers in my lunch because my people love these crackers! And you have to put my bulldozer spoon for my soup because my people love it when I have that spoon!”
  • Kyle is fascinated with languages right now. He’s particularly interested in the idea that different people speak different languages and that it is often rooted in geographical location and/or race. He has a classmate who is Russian. Kyle often overhears her speaking Russian with her Mom. One day, totally out of the blue~~ “People from France speak French. People from Mexico speak Spanish. People from Russia speak Russian. I wish I moved to Georgia. So I could speak Georgian.”
  • (Note: Kyle does not, by any stretch of the imagination [other than his own imagination] speak “Haitian”/Creole/Haitian-French, but he knows that Creole was the only language he heard in the orphanage while he was a baby in Haiti.) One day, quite matter of factly~~ “Mommy, did you know I speak English and Haitian? My whole family understands me when I speak English. But only my brother understands me when I speak Haitian. Because my brother and me both speak Haitian because my brother and me both are Haitian. Did you know that Mommy? Me and Owen really do speak Haitian. So we speak Haitian when we don’t want you to understand what we are saying. Because we are Haitian! And you aren’t!”
  • We have close family friends whose daughter, Joy Lin, was adopted from China by white American parents. The boys have known her forever and they share the inter-racial-adoption bond. Joy Lin does not go to the same school as Kyle and Owen. At school, Kyle has a classmate who is Chinese (not adopted), and whose parents are both Chinese. He often overhears his classmate and her mom speaking Chinese together. He’s trying to figure out any connection he can make between race and language. One day, after school~~  “Joy Lin and Alyssa are both from China. But Joy Lin was born in China. Alyssa was born in the United States of America. But Joy Lin doesn’t speak Chinese, only English. Alyssa speaks Chinese and English. But they are both from China. And they definitely don’t speak Spanish!”
  • Another day, again on the subject of Joy Lin and Alyssa~~ “Joy Lin and Alyssa are both from China. You can call that Chinese. But Joy Lin was adopted and Alyssa wasn’t adopted. I like China people. I like adopted people and Belly Mom people.” {this was the first I’ve ever heard ‘Belly Mom people’… I thought it was such an interesting way that Kyle came up with to identify non-adopted people!}

Some from Owen:

  • One morning, making french toast, out of the blue~~ “Sugar is my favorite vegetable!!!”
  • One day right after the boys had been eating popcorn for a snack, Kyle announced that he had to go brush his teeth because he had some popcorn stuck in his teeth. Owen, too busy for teeth brushing, quickly replied~~ “Me too Kyle! Something’s stuck on my teeth too! But I’m gonna leave it there!”
  • One day, in the car… we had reached our destination and were about to get out of the car. Meera had taken her shoe off, and I asked Owen to please put her shoe on for me. His reply, completely genuinely sincere~~ “Sorry Mom, I can’t right now because I’m too busy sucking my thumb.”
  • One day, talking about favorite colors (a recent favorite subject)~~ “Mommy, what is your favorite color? But remember, if you don’t like brown you don’t like us.”
  • Another day~~ “I love Mommy, Papi, Kyle, Meera, myself, and Cooper. My whole family. But I do have one thing. Don’t feel bad about this, okay Mama? I love my whole family but I love one person the most and that’s my brother. I do love him a tiny bit the most. Is that okay Mama???”
  • One night, the three bambinos all together in the bath before bed~~ “Mommy, I wish I was white like you.”  me: “Oh, really? Why do you wish that?”  O: “Because I want to all be the same. I wish we were all the same on our skin.” H: “Oh, I can understand that. But I’m really glad you’re not white.” O: “Why?”  H: “Because then you wouldn’t be you! And I love you with your brown skin!”  Long pause. O: “Wait. Actually, actually, I really wish you and Papi were brown like us. I wish you were brown and then we’d all be the same.”  H: “I can understand that you feel that way.” Long pause (as I notice him concentrating on looking at Meera playing next to him in the tub). O: “Wait. Actually, here is what I really wish– I wish you and Papi were brown so that you’d be the same as me and Kyle. But I don’t want Meera to be brown because then she wouldn’t be her! So, it would be you, me, Kyle, and Papi brown, and Meera white. Yeah, that’s what I wish!” 

And, lastly:

  • This isn’t a quote exactly, but I wrote it down on a scrap of paper to remember it~~ Driving home from Washington, D.C. after Thanksgiving… we had to take a driving break so we stopped at a McDonalds that had an indoor playground so that the kids could burn some energy. A cute energetic little boy was the only other kid playing in the playground space. We soon found out he was 5 years old too, just like K & O. His mom was sitting there keeping an eye on him. Him and his mom were both black. K, O, and the boy were instant friends and within seconds they were playing together like they’d known each other their whole lives. Braydon and I stood there chatting with the other mom, and watching Meera, while the three boys played. After a while the mom went to go check on her teenage son (who was eating in the regular eating part), and Braydon took Meera to the bathroom for a diaper change. So I was alone supervising the three boys. The three of them were way high up, inside the plastic tunnel area above my head, looking down at me through a clear plastic window, waving at me like little maniacs, and I was enthusiastically waving back. Since they were so high up, and inside the plastic tunnel thing, they seemed to have the impression that I could not hear them. They were being silly with each other, saying things that only 5-year-old boys think are funny, and laughing hysterically. Suddenly the new-friend-boy became very quiet and serious. There was silence for a second or two, and then, I overhear him say, pointedly, to K & O:  “So, where are your parents?”  K & O: “Right there!”  boy: “Where?” (they are still all three looking down at me, I’m the only other person in the entire play area, and K & O are pointing at me).  K & O: “Right there! Down there! You’re looking right at her!”  boy: “No, I mean, where are your parents?”  K & O (I don’t remember which one said what): “Right there!” boy: “No, I mean, your real parents!?” K & O: “Right there! That’s our mom!” boy (completely perplexed): “The white one?!” K & O: “Yes! The white one!” boy (completely stunned): “Oh.” A second or two passed and then the three of them were off and running again.


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Today was an amazing day for the J-Ms. In anticipation of an incredibly full and rich day planned for yesterday (with Winter Fair and the Haiti Christmas Party), we had purposefully planned for nothing for today. I knew we’d need a day of respite to recover and regroup, but staying put and laying low (and not being action-packed) is always a challenge for our family (being still is not one of our strong points). Lucky for us, Mother Nature was looking out for us today. We woke up to freezing rain and it proceeded to pour, leaving sheets of ice covering everything, all day long. The roads where too slick to drive anywhere. The icy rain was too raw to venture outside with a still-recovering-from-ear-infections-Meera. And, so, we were forced to stay home and just be. Even our cat Cooper didn’t go out at all today. It was the best possible scenario for all five of us right now. In the midst of a crazy (crazy!) holiday season, this was a day of calm and peace that is hard to come by with three under six and two overly-energetic adults. The five of us never got out of our pajamas the entire day. We watched videos, made paper airplanes, listened to Christmas music, watched the birds at our bird feeder, and snacked (leftovers from the Haiti Party) all day long. We talked. We cuddled. A lot. This afternoon we made a fire in the fireplace and roasted marshmallows and drank hot chocolate. I took the time to make a beef stew and Braydon took the time to make bread– all of which we ate for dinner. Amazingly, we had no blow-out tantrums from kids or screaming fits of frustration from parents. Amazingly, we just were at home, the five of us. It was like a tiny little one-day ‘pause’ on all the hectic-haze that is this Season… but with the added benefit of it actually being at the height of this Season. It was just what we all needed.

3rd Annual ‘Haiti Christmas Party’

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Yesterday was our 3rd Annual Christmas Party for our group of Pennsylvania-area family friends who have adopted from Haiti (click here for last year). There is just nothing like our twice-yearly get togethers with our fellow Haitian-American family friends. This gathering has become a major part of our Christmas Season and it has become a tradition that is, for us, absolutely invaluable. This is truly a top highlight of the year for K & O. They had been anticipating this day since our summer reunion, and had been counting down the days for the past couple of weeks. They were in heaven, absolute heaven!, with this party in full swing yesterday. And when I say ‘full swing,’ I mean FULL SWING. When these kids all get together, these kids can party! The full house was rocking and rolling (almost literally) with spirits through the roof. 60 people (38 of which were kids) gathered; 80 hot dogs consumed; 75 Capri Suns drank; 2 lamps broken; countless mini candy canes devoured; dozens of ornaments created (thanks Miller family!!!); unknown quantities of rice & beans, mac & cheese, chips & dip, Christmas cookies, and all sorts of other goodies enjoyed (thanks everyone!). It is good. Really good. The fellowship we share is incredibly special. We are so grateful for this group of friends and the bonds that bind us.

Winter Fair

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Saturday was Winter Fair at the boys’ school. This was our third year going (our third year at the school), and I swear, it gets better and better — and more and more magical — with each year we attend it. I can’t even begin to try to describe it; the entire school is literally transformed into a magical fairy-tale-esque winter wonderland. It is a lot of work for the school community, with every family chipping in, but the end result is an incredible Christmas Season tradition that I know Kyle, Owen, and now Meera too, will cherish forever. It is really magnificent to be a part of something so special. I snapped the picture above as we were heading out to get home in time for all of our Haiti Party guests to arrive!

The Latest with The Three

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While Owen has been reading-ready and actually reading (almost entirely self-taught) for a long time now (like the entire past year+), Kyle has shown almost zero interest in learning to read. We haven’t pushed it or had concern about it (we’re in a Waldorf School for goodness sake!!!). But it has always sort of been a curiosity to me because Kyle has forever been obsessed with books (much more so than Owen). He’d sit forever having books read to him if he could– and has been like that literally since the first day we met him and brought a couple of board books with us to Haiti (the first books he had ever seen– and he fell in love with them instantly). But this week there has been a huge U-turn with Kyle. He earned his “video game” (see post below) and immediately some kind of switch was switched in him. He is suddenly obsessed with spelling, reading, and phonics. I mean, obsessed. Like 24×7 locked-in obsessed. Virtually every word he says he enunciates out loud and tries to spell it out phonetically. He is particularly obsessed with which words start with a ‘c’ versus which words start with a ‘k.’ Our child who had no interest whatsoever in learning to read is now Reading Ready (capital RR) and spelling stuff like a maniac. Who knew???! {photo above of Kyle’s first day with his beloved Leapster}

Owen has mastered tying a bow this week!!! Again, something we had not pushed at all. But I had bought this great ‘Learn to Tie’ book thing a while back, and it had been just sort of hanging around the house, and then, suddenly, this week Owen became totally interested in it and working on it for long chunks of time each day. He’s been working so hard on this and he finally has it down! He’s so proud of himself! {photo above of Owen’s first really solidly successful bow}

Meera woke up at 6:00 this morning and started saying “NO” almost immediately. Like, with perfect clarity and pronunciation. She had been communicating ‘no’ for a while, but now, as of today, she’s fully 100% verbally saying it so that absolutely anyone who would hear it would know exactly what she’s saying. Braydon got up with her this morning and heard it repeatedly. Kyle was up next and came running to tell me he heard her say “NO!” Soon enough I heard it myself. And we all proceeded to hear it — over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over — allllllll daaaaaaaaaaay loooooooooooooooong. “NO!” “no.” “No!!!” I’ll admit, she sounds very cute saying it… but I’ll also admit that it got old awfully quick. And by the end of the day when she refused every single thing that was offered her for dinner (“No!” “No!” “No!” “No!”) we were all to the point of laughing (as a conscientiously better option than crying). “No” is definitely Meera’s new favorite word.

Leaping Into "Video Games"

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Kyle and Owen have been working very hard for the past five weeks to earn their first ever “video games” (these Leapster2 Kindergarten systems, to be precise). Every once in a while we do an ‘earning chart’ but we’ve never done something as big as this. They needed to accumulate 100 checks each to “earn it!” And we really wanted them to earn it before Christmas (i.e., not a Christmas present) so that they’d have them for the long road trips we’re going to be setting out on in the coming days! They had 3 chances each day to get a check– making their beds and tidying up their rooms in the morning (without complaint), feeding Cooper and setting the table for dinner each evening (without complaint), and doing “good bedtime behavior” at night. 100 checks is a lot when you’re five years old. But, we wanted this to be big because it is a big deal for us to dive into the whole ‘screen-time’/video/media world with our kids. At age 5.5 K & O have never had any exposure to this stuff. They have seen only two movies in the theater, ever. And they’ve never watched television with advertising (only PBS, with the exception of a handful of baseball and football games only in the past six months). The videos they have exposure to are very limited (the majority of their video collection is comprised of Curious George). We’ve held off for lots and lots of reasons, about which we feel very strongly. But we felt it was time now, and the boys really wanted these Leapster things, and the more we researched them, and talked to other parents about them, the more we thought that it was the right thing to do. Anyway, this week they both earned it! They couldn’t be more thrilled with themselves. And seriously, they on fire with spelling and reading right now– both of them– and this is in large part thanks to those hard-earned Leapsters.