Monday, February 21, 2011

And there will be a lava pit and invisible ants . . .

My apologies for those readers who know me and my family well as the content of the first few paragraphs will not be new to you.
The basement of my childhood home was unfinished. One half was taken up with laundry and storage. The other half was wide open, excepting the support poles, and could serve various functions, including roller rink. A good portion of the basement was consistently dedicated to my classroom. I had real textbooks (NTB), old desks from my grade school, a chalk board, and plenty of invisible students. And I was happy. I taught my heart out to empty desks, completing assignments on behalf of my phantom students and then grading them.

I grew up and, to no one's surprise, became a teacher.
My sister LAP set up a store in the room she shared with our younger sister Pita. Before bed each evening (while I was reading in my room), Pita was required to "shop" from the bedroom store before she was allowed to go to sleep. LAP would ring up Pita's "purchases" on one (yes, there were multiple) of her cash registers. LAP also had a binder labeled "Business Work" in which she inventoried things like our household's collection of board games.
Despite a childhood wish to work the checkout at Kroger, LAP grew up and, to no one's surprise, became an accountant.
My point is that sometimes career paths are chosen early on.
Of course, sometimes they're not. There are plenty of wonderful stories about individuals whose life experiences have led them through a variety of jobs and eventually--through some combination of hard work, serendipity, persistence, openness, passion, and experience--to surprising and satisfying careers.
As a mom, I wonder how, if at all, my kids' current passions and preferences will predict their future careers? I'm guessing that Little Bit won't be a Jedi and that Sweet P won't get a job crawling after and chewing on dirty shoes, remotes, cords, and crumbs.
But maybe our Bub will be . . . an architect?
He came home from school last week with a two page drawing he called his "blueprints."
Using some empty cardboard boxes from the Costco run, he began executing his design.
His little brother is allowed to help.
The next day he came home from school with more "blueprints." And more the day after.
Work on the cardboard model has slowed a bit, but conceptually the project is still going strong. Throughout the day, Bub shares new aspects of his design with me and Little Bit.
Here's what I know so far about the structure he's designing: It's going to be big, a mansion. It will have wheels so it can be moved. No grown-ups allowed because they will wreck stuff. It will be big enough for all the kids he knows. There will be a pit of hot lava for robbers. Also, invisible ants to attack those robbers. All the kids will have their own rooms for sleeping and fireproof robots will protect them at night. The shower will shoot out gold coins that are really pieces of chocolate. Big kids will be there to help with homework and to read books to little kids (our next door neighbors in eighth and ninth grades were specifically named as among these "big kids"). There will be a room for babies and a robot to watch them. I forgot to mention that the robots are fireproof and waterproof.
That's all we know so far.
Maybe he'll be an architect. Or a novelist. Or a security guard. Or a designer of robots. Or all of those things. Or none of them.
My job right now? To listen to his ideas, to study his blueprints, to honor his passions and enthusiasms, to teach him to work hard and dream big, and to make sure we all remember to enjoy the journey.
Do the children in your life express career preferences yet? Do you have hopes for or guesses at the future careers of the kids you know? How did your childhood passions and preferences predict your current career? Please share in the comments.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Happy Light Sabers to you!

In grade school, a friend had free passes for the Return of the Jedi sneak preview and invited me along. I have some vague and not unpleasant memories of Ewoks, Jabba the Hut, popcorn, pop, and Twizzlers. I know for a fact though that I had not seen Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back before that night and that, after the movie, I was not inspired to fill in the blanks.
Star Wars? Well, I'm not a hater. It's more like I just don't care. I feel kind of bored and tired and bummed out when I think about those movies. An unfair assessment, I know, considering that I've only seen one of the originals in its entirety, but I've just never felt up to really watching all three. My hubby is a huge fan, and I watched one of the "new" ones with him once as an act of love. Hayden Christensen's wooden performance didn't win me over or change my opinions about the franchise.
In short, Star Wars = just not my thing.
But now that Galaxy far, far away has become a galaxy very, very near. Let's take a peek . . .
The boys had been watching Star Wars movies with Daddy on Friday Night "Movie Night" so Santa brought them some action figures.

And some light sabers.
The first of many, many light saber battles was waged before eight in the morning on Christmas Day.

The enthusiasm for Star Wars continued to grow and while Daddy was off work around the holidays, the boys begged for more and more. They like to curl up on either side of him as the movies play, peppering the resident expert with queries. Little Bit in particular cannot stop the stream of questions: "Who dat, Daddy?" "Where his light saber?" "He monster?" "Where Luke? Where Luke?"
Grandma and Grandpa were in town for Bub's fifth birthday and witnessing the Star Wars mania, they told tales of vintage Star Wars figurines--dozens of them--that daddy used to play with.
But where were these action figures? Had Grandma given them to Daddy already and was it possible that mommy had lost them? Were they still at Grandpa and Grandma's? Bub insisted upon a follow-up phone call once Grandma and Grandpa arrived back in Indiana. They had located the action figures!
I was the mean mommy who made them wait to open the box until Daddy arrived home.
Look at the sweet suitcase they arrived in!
The secrets of the Force are being transferred from generation to the next.
Yoda, it is. Nice to meet you, Yoda.
"Dat Pin-cess Leia?"
Bub and the gang.
Pretty sweet how the storage trays flip over and become display stands.
I still haven't taken photos of Bub tucked into the Star Wars sheets Grammy and Pop got him for his birthday, nor photos of Little Bit with the bargain Star Wars toddler bedding I found for him after he kept trying to sleep in Bub's bed.
And I still haven't captured Little Bit's pronunciations on video: Hot Slow-lo, Chew Ba-Ha, R2R2, and Pincess LEE-a. I also need to snap some pics of the action figures loaded up in various toy vehicles, including Sweet P's little pink truck. Footage of Little Bit swaddling Chew Ba-Ha before settling in for an afternoon nap with the hairy guy might also warm your heart and give you a chuckle.
Little Bit's ability to turn any object into a light saber when his own is placed in timeout (for over-"enthusiastic" use, a daily occurrence) is also admirable. A broom can be a light saber or metal rods that go with the pack n' play or a spatula . . . most anything.
NTB, but Bub is so inspired by Star Wars that he has established a new greeting (or new holiday even). He dedicated quite a bit of time last week to crafting a "Happy Light Sabers!" banner.
I can't say for sure if Bub is proclaiming that these light sabers are happy or if upon seeing them and the banner's message, one is supposed to feel happy. Perhaps both? I'd like to point out, NTB, that there are 62 light sabers featured on the banner. Yes, I helped by making rectangles for about 50 of them and did the block lettering (and forgot the "T" first time around), but Bub did all the color work, all the stickering, and the detail work on the light sabers.
Note the Barney sticker. Does Barney know how to use The Force? For good? For evil? Discuss.
Bub says to me, "Mom, did you see I put a finishing touch with that exclamation point!" He's mine for sure!!!
I still haven't been able to sit through the movies in their entirety, but I feel as if I am absorbing them through osmosis. I may not love the movies, but I love seeing the boys and their daddy sharing this experience together.
And now I'm off to get my pitch ready for George Lucas. I think "Happy Light Sabers!" has potential -- animated series featuring talking light sabers? boy band concept? reality show featuring two little Star Wars junkies? What do you think?
Are you a Star Wars fan? What are the children in your life obsessed with these days?
Happy Light Sabers to all and to all a good fight (between good and evil and with light sabers)!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow Story

My snow story is one of gratitude. I am thankful to have my family together in a cozy home with heat, television, internet access, and plenty to eat. I am thankful that hubby is able to work from home in snowpacolypse situations and thankful that everyone under this roof had the option to just stay put. I am thankful that today was our first snow day of the school year.
I'm praying for those who are separated from loved ones due to weather and those without heat, shelter, food, flexible employers, and/or reliable transportation.
In short, I am thankful that my snow story is a boring one.
Tuesday at a little after 2:00 p.m. The blizzard is about to commence. I had grand plans for taking a photo from this spot every hour, but I didn't quite manage it.
I was talking on the phone with a friend in the four o-clock hour when I looked up and saw a cardinal in our backyard. Seeing cardinals never ceases to thrill me. For me, those red birds are a gift and a reminder that all is well in my world. Bub and I were thrilled that this little guy hung out in our tree for about five minutes.
Around 6:30 and still no hubby. Traffic is moving slow, but he's on his way and arrives an hour later. I kept periodically checking the street to make sure there were parking spots available. We are both so thankful that he took Clark Street home instead of Lake Shore Drive.
Good morning! Don't think we'll be dining al fresco today.
Bub made a nest under the dining room table. Drives me nuts when toys, pillows, blankets, and books are strung out everywhere, but he looks so sweet in his little cave . . .
Sweet P was too excited about the snow day to take a morning nap so spent some extra time in the kitchen watching me make a cake. Because, you know, it's always a good idea to have a twelve inch double layer cake around if you're going to be cooped up for a couple of days.
Before the shoveling began.
Here goes the shovel man. I estimate he was out there for two and a half hours . . . enough to justify a large piece of cake, that's for sure.
"Let me in!" Yeah right. This kid was having a blast.
When Little Bit saw that the neighbors were out too, he began whining to get back into his snow clothes (had made it outside for three minutes earlier in the morning).
One of a hilarious series of photos (all taken from inside my warmish house) of our boys and the neighbor kids. I love how each of the five kids is doing his or her own thing -- from burying one's face in the snow to shoveling from a kneeling position.
This cross-country skier was one of many I spotted outside my front window. "Hey, a**hole, this street is one way going South!" Just kidding! It was delightful to see so many people out and about -- shoveling, walking, skiing, and interacting with strangers and neighbors.
Ready to be inside after a successful second outing.
After two hours, Dad lured Bub inside with the promise of hot chocolate and marshmallows.
Late in the afternoon, I got out for a few minutes to take a walk around the block.
I didn't walk far enough to see if Dairy Queen was actually open, but if it was, I doubt there was a line today!
I hope tomorrow brings another "boring" snow day for MEP and Co. I'm thankful to be safe and warm and wish the same for everyone.
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