Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Music These Kids Listen To...Harumph!

True story: This is a joke that the principal told over the loudspeaker at Lindsey's school. Please note that her school is for kids in grades kindergarten through 2nd grade.

Q: How do you wake up Lady Gaga?

A: Poke her face.

Get it?

You wouldn't if you didn't know that one of Lady Gaga's top hits is the song "Poker Face."

Everyone in Lindsey's class laughed. They ALL got it. Second graders.

Have you seen Lady Gaga?

And I have to admit: I have purchased some Lady Gaga songs for Lindsey. I've listened to them and paid attention to the words, and deemed them if not exactly appropriate, at least not offensive. And I have to say I love the message of her song "Born This Way," for people to accept themselves the way they are.

I also love P!nk. She embodies all the things I love: she's a strong woman with an amazing voice, rebellious, who laughs at herself and is soft on the inside. And like Lady Gaga, I let Lindsey listen to a few of her songs.

But I didn't intend for the entire album to get downloaded to the iPod she listens to.

It's not like I purchased the P!nk album for her. I bought it for me. Which means that I bought the "explicit" version. And there are some clearly audible words that she absolutely should not be hearing.

So the other night I hear the song "Funhouse" start up on her iPod in her room, and I immediately have her turn it. I let her know that there are words and songs that she shouldn't have on there, and that I am going to re-sync her iPod. That's when she informs me that she listened to the entire thing on the drive to Tracy last weekend.

Crap. Or something a bit stronger.

Turns out the last time I synced her iPod I had the settings from syncing mine, so she got all of my songs. I've rectified that now, and have also added a few songs that I think she might like, to try to replace the ones she liked that I've now taken off her iPod.

It's time she get exposed to The Beatles. No hidden messages in "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," right?

I joke, but I love sharing music with Lindsey. She's at an age when she wants to discover new music, and I love sharing with her. Music was an integral part of my growing up years. I remember hearing Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" on my new stereo and getting completely absorbed in the opening guitar solo.

I wonder if she listens to Lady Gaga and P!nk now, what will she be listening to when she gets older? Only time will tell -- all that she wants right now is a really good beat and a catchy chorus.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Baby World

We spent this past weekend in my husband's hometown, spending Easter with all his family and wishing his mom a happy 81st birthday. We had the privilege of meeting three new members of the family, all born in the last few months, and visiting with the recent one-year-old and a new big sister to twin girls.

Throughout Saturday as people arrived at the house got noisier, busier and messier. At one point Wayne's niece Chelsea, who is visiting from California, walked into the living room, looked around at the chaos and said, "It's Baby World!"

Aubrey, age 13 months.

Baby James, age 3 months.

Great-Uncle Mark and Great-Aunt Donna holding the twins, Paige and Hailey.

Aubrey is uncertain of her cousin MacKenzie's affections.

Grandkids and great-grandkids (minus Nicole's three girls.)
And there are more and more photos of all the shenanigans. Our girls' toys were a big hit with all the little ones who came through the door, despite Marissa's attempts to keep them out of the reach of "the toddlers."

The kids were especially entertaining, and when we got tired of watching them we found a deck of cards and entertained ourselves. It was good to watch the new generation of cousins playing together.

Playing a game of "Up and Down the River."
A good time was had by all.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Family That Runs Together

This past weekend our family took part in the Minneapolis Recycle Run. The girls ran with their friends in the Kids Fun Run (1K) and I and my friend ran in the 5K. Her husband decided that morning to join in the fun and, of course, put the two of us to shame with his time. Wayne stayed off his ankle which he is still nursing from a case of tendonitis, and watched the kids while the rest of us ran.

My friend Julie and I. It was 37 degrees at the start. Yes, this is spring in Minnesota.

Lindsey was super speedy in the kid's run. Wayne may have found his running buddy.

Marissa put the burners on to catch her friend Greta. She didn't quite catch Greta, but she did lap the guy pushing the stroller next to her.

After the race we all went to the local Dunn Bros. coffee joint for snacks and a play area for the kids, coffee and conversation for the adults.

What a great way to spend a Sunday - an inexpensive activity that promotes a healthy activity. I think about the example we're setting for our girls and it makes me willing to sign up for more of these where we can involve them, despite my really not liking running. At all.

We've already got the family signed up for Time To Fly benefiting Children's Cancer Research Fund. Perhaps our friends will decide to join us for that one, too. Hopefully the weather will be better by then, it is at the end of June, after all!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Why Bookstores Cost Less Than Libraries (at least for us)

This past Saturday I took the girls to the library. We spent over an hour there, browsing books, snuggled up in chairs and reading together. Marissa picked out some perfectly suited phonics books and Lindsey picked out a couple of books as well. After a relaxing time, we decided it was time to go home to continue our collective reading.

I went to use the self-check out system and it said I needed to see a staff member. Okay...

Turns out that we had a book still checked out that we had never returned. I remember the book, I don't remember the last time we saw it in our house. We owed the replacement cost on the book of $20, along with late fees on the other books that HAD been returned, though obviously long past when they were due.

All of this had taken place over a year ago. Our total bill? About $35.

I pulled out what cash I had, and the staff member confided in me that as long as my balance was under $10 they would let me check out more books.

We checked out our books, got home, and two days later we do not know where the books are that Lindsey checked out, and we're missing one of the ones Marissa had checked out.

I guess it really is less expensive for us to go to the bookstore. At least when we lose books we just lose books, we don't owe anybody money for them.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

"Progress" in the Neighborhood

Part of the charm of our neighborhood are the older homes that line the streets. From two-story English tudors like ours to welcoming bungalows, the styles and sizes are unique, with something for everyone.

But I get concerned when I see cute little homes like this one get sold.

While a 1500 square foot home was once considered large enough for a family of four, the average square foot of a family home today is 2200 square feet. And typically homes of this size that are sold look like this next.

And then like this.

Sure, the city guidelines say that a home has to be at least 10 feet from the lot line. The new homes going up are 10 feet from each lot line, on both sides. (The white picket fence you see here belongs to the home next door to this one.) It appears that this one is also 10 feet away from the back lot line, too.  And while I'm sure this one falls within the guidelines for elevation, it is going to tower above the homes around it.

I'm glad that the economy is turning around, happy for the construction company who got this job and I'm sure it will be a lovely home for a nice family. But it saddens me to see the history and architecture of the last century be destroyed. Having toured some of these new homes in the neighborhood, I can tell you that they lack the charm and special touches of older homes like ours.
At least, that's the way I see it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I. Am. Five.

I can write my first and last name.

I can count to 119.

I can write "no" and "on" because really they are the same word, just backwards.

I like to draw pictures and love my mom and dad a lot, which I write on my drawings. I use all the colors I can when I draw, and I like to make patterns.

I can also count to 100 by 5s.

And most importantly, I dress myself.

My mommy is so proud of me that she can't wait for me to show my friends how I dress myself.

I'm proud, too.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Da Dove Veniamo? (Where Are We From?)

Lindsey's recent 2nd grade project was a cultural heritage project. She brought home a cut-out figure with instructions to research her cultural heritage, create national flags for the countries she's from and dress the figure in traditional dress from those countries.

This brought me to the following question: Do I tell the truth?

See, while growing up we were told that we were of Italian heritage. My mom made spaghetti sauce from scratch; no jars at our house. My dad taught us from a young age how to swirl spaghetti on a fork and that it was considered bad manners to cut noodles to eat them. For Christmas Eve dinner we had lasagna for dinner, partly because December 24th is my dad's birthday and he always picked lasagna as his birthday meal, but also because he told us it was their family tradition growing up, being Italian and all.

When people asked my heritage and I replied "Italian," it was often met with nods and smiles. "You look it with your dark hair," people would say. Never mind the fair skin, that must be my mother's Croatian side.

Then, about 7 or 8 years ago, my sister became interested in our family heritage and a great devastating truth was discovered: we are not Italian. It turns out that many generations ago there was a "philanderer" in our ancestral past. This particular predecessor married and then abandoned two families before finally settling down with his third wife, each time changing his last name to cover his tracks. The final iteration of his name is my last name, Floria. The version before that was Florey, and the original last name was Fleury. Yes, that would be French.

Upon uncovering this truth, my dad remembered that his mother always insisted that they had been French. But no one really believed her, thinking that she said this because at the time it was not popular to be of Italian descent.

This revelation truly startled me. I mulled on it for several weeks, in disbelief that so much of my cultural upbringing had been rooted in the wrong soil.

I don't even LIKE French cuisine.

Our friends from New York, who are proud Irish-Americans, found this tale completely hilarious. Love their support, thanks guys.

Now I was left with this question: Mommy, where are we from? Do I perpetuate the lie, or do I tell the truth?

And so she and I did our research. We looked up the customs and clothing of Croatia, land of my grandfather who immigrated here as a boy. And we researched England, where my husband's ancestors on both sides hail from...we think.

And then we researched France, the land of my father's family.

Lindsey's Culture Project, Apr 2011

Lindsey's Culture Project, Apr 2011

Someday I will tell her the story, and she can embrace whichever heritage she so chooses. Considering her love of pasta, I have a feeling I know where her heart lies.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Drive Time Entertainment

During our drive to Wisconsin we ended up in traffic that came to a dead stop on I-94 for approximately 20 minutes. There had been an accident with two semi-trailer trucks and the interstate was completely blocked. We and all the other vehicles around us put it in park and turned off our vehicles until there were signs of movement ahead. (I'm explaining this so you don't think I shot a nearly one-minute video while hurtling down the highway at 70 mph.)

Lindsey took this opportunity to grace us with her rendition of Katy Perry's "Firework" song while Marissa played with her happy meal toy from our recent lunch stop.

Proof positive that people don't sound as good outside of the headphones as they do in their own heads when they are wearing them. It reminds me of a certain audio recording of a sibling of mine singing the theme song to the hit TV show "Great American Hero" with noise-canceling headphones on. "Believe it or not, I'm walking on air I never thought I could feel so freeeeeee...."

Saturday, April 02, 2011

These Moments

I recently read a blog post in which a mom re-counted a sweet moment with her daughter. A moment. That's all we have, really, is life lived in moments. As humans we can't possibly drink in every detail of minutes or hours, we simply couldn't process all of that. So we live in moments.

Babyhood is filled with those sweet moments, those times of quiet repose with a baby gazing with wonder into your eyes. They become fewer and farther between as they grow into toddlerhood and beyond.

Yet I was recently reminded of those days as my youngest has struggled with the somewhat recent time change and a vacation which threw her schedule off kilter. She would sleep in if I could let her, but as two working parents, we have to cajole and urge our children out of bed so we can get to work.

"Carry me," she says, holding her arms up like a toddler to be picked up. She refuses to get out of bed but agrees to get up if I carry her down the stairs and into a kitchen chair to eat her breakfast.

And so I oblige her, picking up my big kindergartener, who wraps her legs around my waist, lays her head on my shoulder and holds on tight. Suddenly she is 1 again.

I hug her tightly, kissing her hair and carefully treading down the stairs. She is heavy and ungangly with her long legs and her torso which is slipping further and further down my body. She smells of shampoo and sleep.

We arrive in the kitchen and I set her in her chair.

"Thank you, mama," she says, and give me a peck on my cheek. Upon sitting in her chair she suddenly becomes a 5-year-old again, insistent on pouring her own milk and giggling with her sister over a burp.

But for a moment, a sweet, brief moment, she was my baby again.

Friday, April 01, 2011

We Are Family

Since we don't get together with my family over the holidays, we all get together in March to visit and spend time together. We look forward to it every year.
Ready for the pool.

The pool. The cousins. The Easter egg hunt. This year did not disappoint.

And for the first year, no tantrums, meltdowns, or fights. Who are these children?

It was fun watching Marissa and Paulie, who are all of 3 weeks apart in age, as they were quickly re-acquainted and ran off together to various shenanigans. Little Maddie trailed along doggedly, refusing to be left out of any of the fun. And Lindsey either joined in or enlisted an adult to play a game with her, games that she couldn't play at home because her little sister wasn't old enough and you had to have four people to play.

Unfortunately Wayne was suffering from a sinus infection and spent much of the weekend napping in our room. But that was okay, everyone else could help with the kids and he could be left alone to rest.

We went to a hibachi restaurant on Saturday night, which was both entertaining and delicious.

The best part? Marissa wore her jammies the entire day on Friday. We all wore our comfies most of the days, and socks or slippers were all the rage. If someone got tired and decided to take a nap, s/he could, no questions asked.

If the kids wanted to hit the pool, we could. If Lindsey wanted to play Monopoly in the common room, no problem. If they wanted to watch TV, they a point.

There's nothing like family.

Grandma and Grandpa with the grandkids.