Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fuzzy Dice: A Forgotten Fad

Car with 3 pairs of fuzzy dice!
I remember when I was a little girl, fuzzy dice were all the rage! It seemed like everyone who had a car had a pair of fuzzy dice hanging on their rearview mirror. My dad gave me a pair of fuzzy dice when I was 5 or 6, and I couldn’t wait to finally be old enough to own a car, so I could show them off. In the meantime, though, my little brother and I soon realized that our fuzzy dice made awesome pairs of nunchucks, and we fought many a brave battle with our fuzzy dice flying!

In my child mind, what wasn't there to love about fuzzy dice? They were soft and fuzzy. They came in a bunch of different colors. They even seemed to dance as we traveled along on a bumpy road. I know there were many times I fell asleep watching those fuzzy dice dance and sway during long trips or nighttime rides home.

Years later, I came to realize that fuzzy dice are a bit tacky, and I wouldn’t dream of hanging a pair in my car now. However, fuzzy dice still hold a lot of warm memories, so I could never ever hate them. In fact, every time I glimpse a pair dangling from someone’s rearview mirror, I grin and remember my fuzzy dice adventures.

This week I witnessed something of a fuzzy dice feat: a car with 3 pairs of fuzzy dice! Even though we were late meeting up with my mom to eat out, I couldn’t resist stopping and snapping a quick photo. I was grinning from ear to ear like a fool and chuckling to myself in the middle of a busy parking lot, but I didn’t care.

The entire time my kids were staring at me and asking what was so funny. All I kept saying was, “There’s 3 fuzzy dice in that car. THREE! Isn’t that cool?”

But they just stared back at me even more confused. And then it hit me! My own children had never seen a pair of fuzzy dice before. The joys of watching fuzzy dice swaying in the breeze has turned into a forgotten fad for my family.

What do you think? Are fuzzy dice still fun? Or should they remain a thing of the past?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Just Horsin' Around!

Both of my kids are out-of-the-box thinkers. The silly, inventive, and outlandish things they come up with to entertain themselves at times ensures my life will never be dull. Their many creations and concoctions remind me of my own inventive childhood. And as long as they don’t decide that trash bags would make perfect parachutes or drinking bubble solution can make you belch bubbles (as I once did), I think I will sit back and enjoy the show!

Just a couple weeks ago, my son and daughter decided they wanted to play horses outside in the backyard. Since riding ponies at the county fair a few summers ago, they have been obsessed and can’t get enough of horses and ponies. Expecting my children to run for their stick horses or to gather up their horse figurines, I was surprised when they met me at the backdoor empty handed.

As they put on their flip-flops, I asked them if they were still going to play horses outside. Immediately, my 5-year-old daughter chimed in, “Of course, Mommy!”

Even more confused, I asked further, “But what about your horses? How are you going to play horses without any horses?”

My 6-year-old son just smiled at me and laughed, “Oh, you’ll see!”

Growing more and more curious, I opened the door and sat on a chair on the back porch. They started digging through the plastic totes that we use to store their outdoor toys. Smiling and giggling, they went through each one, whispering back and forth to each other. After a while I grew distracted and went to work sweeping off the back porch.

The next thing I knew, I heard excited, laughing voices behind me. “Hey, Mommy! Look! We‘re horses!”

I turned around and immediately started laughing myself. They were horses indeed! My children had taken the plastic horseshoes from my ring toss and horseshoes set and wedged them between their feet and their flip-flops. As they animatedly walked across the back porch, it sure sounded like a couple of horses, too!

Of course, as what usually happens whenever my kids do something cute, silly, or funny, they simultaneously shouted, “Mommy, take a picture of us!”

I snapped a few photos and then we laughed some more over how silly and cute they looked. Someday, I need to sit down and make a photo album just for these types of photos. Just imagine the crazy memories and laughs we will be able to share when they are grown and have children of their own!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cooking Up Memories

Strawberry angel food cake
Some of my fondest childhood memories were made in the kitchen. I remember all the cookies we baked with my grandma when I was having a sleepover at her house. I still can smell all the delicious cakes I helped my mom bake from scratch. And I still laugh at all the times my dad made silly jokes as I helped him prepare dinner.

All the time I spent being a kitchen helper for my family was wonderful learning experience. By the time I was 13 years old, I could cook quite a few meals completely on my own. Cooking for others made me feel good. I felt confident in myself and was proud of my cooking skills. Plus, I was even more happy to know my food was being enjoyed by my loved ones and friends.

Looking back, I can see that these happy moments had another benefit, something I failed to see until I was an adult: the simple act of helping my family make delicious food fostered a renewed closeness and camaraderie. My family wasn’t what you would call “close knit.” In fact, we had quite a lot of ups and downs. However, all of our disputes and differences would disappear whenever a kitchen task was at hand.

Much has changed since I was that eager little girl. I am an adult now with two young children of my own. One major thing has not changed, though. I still love to cook! I enjoy making homemade meals for my family as often as possible. I have carried with me some of my family’s recipes from the past. I have changed a few family recipes to make them my own. And I experiment with new and different recipes eagerly.

Yet, my most favorite part about cooking, though, is sharing the experience with my son and daughter. Just like their mother once did, they both race to the kitchen whenever there is any food to be made. They eagerly take turns measuring and adding ingredients and sometimes quarrel a little over who gets to stir.

As any parent knows, having young children as helpers can get quite messy, but I don’t care. All the spilled flour everywhere, the honey in their hair, and the tomato sauce splattered on the wall is well worth it. Watching my children hard at work in the kitchen makes me so very proud! Their smiles, laughter, and giggles warm me to my very soul. Each time we bake cupcakes or cook spaghetti or even toss a salad, we are making memories together that will last a lifetime!

What are some of your favorite ways to make memories with your own family?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

My Daughter Tamed My Inner Tomboy

Hair styling with my princess
From the age of 7, I drove my mother crazy with my tomboyish ways. I despised dresses and the color pink. My dreams of becoming a princess were replaced with the glories of knighthood. I was often more fascinated with my brother’s toys than my own. And I absolutely loved to get covered in mud. As I grew more and more comfortable as a tomboy, my mother’s dreams of beauty nights, clothes shopping, and other more girly activities went up in smoke!

As a woman now, I am still stuck in some of my old tomboy habits. I am much more comfortable in jeans and a T-shirt than a dress or skirt. I still cringe at the sight of high heels and like to take pink in small doses. I have yet to start wearing makeup regularly (and really don’t know how to wear the infernal stuff anyway).

However, I am slowly getting more in tune with my feminine side, thanks to my 5-year-old daughter. My little princess is just that, a princess. She loves everything frilly, lacy, sparkling, pink, and purple. She has a multitude of purses, putting my single purse (I finally broke down and bought my first one 2 years ago) to shame! She has tutus, high heels, tiaras, and jewelry boxes full of costume jewelry. She even asked for her first makeup set for Christmas last year.

Now I find myself learning to become a hairstylist, makeup artist, manicurist, and fashionista little by little. We play dress up together. We spend hours trying out new hairstyles. And I am even getting better at painting fingernails and toenails. Maybe when she gets older, we will learn to put on makeup together . . . something I swore I was never going to do until the day I died!

It is funny how life can change you. It is even more ironic that it took a little girl, my own flesh and blood, to start making me more comfortable with being a woman. It is a lesson I should be teaching her, not the other way around. Yet, I know deep down that I had to learn that lesson first before I could ever hope to teach it to my daughter.

When we first become parents we worry about how we are going to teach our children to become responsible, caring adults. Little do we realize that parenting is NOT a one way street. We learn just as much from our children as they learn from us--sometimes even more. If you would have told me 6 years ago that one day I would be wearing a tutu and pretending to be a ballerina or that I would someday be eagerly perusing the nail polish aisle with my daughter, I would have thought you were insane! Here I am, though, enthusiastically planning for our next girl night. Who knew a sweet little girl could hold such amazing power?!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sparklers, Smiles & Simpler Times

Sparkler time!
Last night, as our 4th of July celebration started to wind down, I sat in my yard and watched as my fiancé lit sparklers for my son and daughter. Their smiles and giggles of pure joy and excitement as they twirled the sparklers in the air warmed my heart. There is just something about sparklers that strikes a chord deep in my soul. And as I painted the sky with my own sparkler, my mind drifted back to when life was so much simpler for me . . .

In my mind, I could see me as a little girl, happy and carefree. Giggling and dancing in the summer breeze, there were times I really did fly. As I spun in circles and closed my eyes, I was soaring high above the ground and hopping from cloud to cloud! And as I tumbled into the cool grass and opened my eyes, I swore I could feel the earth spinning beneath my body.

Nothing seemed impossible in those days, and I couldn’t wait to grow up so I could see the world. Both day and night, my imagination ran wild! I dreamed about rocket ships, deep sea divers, and jungle safaris. I had a LONG list of all the things I wanted to be and planned to do whenever I was an adult, and I was positive I would get to each and every one of them!

Sometimes I wonder how that determined and optimistic little girl grew into me! How did I become so jaded and pessimistic? What happened to my endless imagination and my bright dreams of the future? Is it all gone forever? Or is the girl I used to be still inside me somewhere or active in my dreams at night?

As I watch my own children, so carefree and joyous in their play, I miss that little girl terribly! Most of the time, she feels like a separate entity--like someone that I once knew a long, long ago. I usually only glimpse bits and pieces, fragments of a shattered past. However, once in a while, like today, something triggers a memory buried deep inside, and I can see, hear, and feel her again. It is as though she is alive and well all over again, and my soul wakens in a way it has long forgotten. I feel joy and pure happiness, and my heart is, for a moment, no longer scarred and worn!

I get lost in these moments, so far and in between--so precious, and I stare off into the distance, forgetting for a minute the here and now. But then a giggle or a hug from my children draws me back to the present, reminding me again of how truly I am blessed. At times, I know I’m not the perfect mother, but I take solace in the realization that despite my shortcomings, I have done everything to preserve my children’s innocence and wonder. And I will fight to protect them for as long as I can. If my son and daughter grow up and take with them clear, heartwarming memories of their childhoods, I will know I did part of my job perfectly!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Time Flies By So Fast

Our three young robins preparing to leave the nest!
Today I was reminded of just how fast time truly passes. After nearly a month of having to dodge the mother robin nested on our front porch, my kids and I witnessed the young robins become confident enough to leave their mother’s nest forever. This morning, the three little robins sat in their nest looking down at us, chirping and flapping their wings.

Suddenly, the first robin took flight. Then the second one took off, followed by the smallest of the young birds. They hopped and twittered on a branch of the tall maple tree in front of our house for a few moments and then flew off, flapping their wings desperately to try to caught up with their mother. They have yet to return and it is late into the night. All that remains of our cute birdie friends is an empty nest.

It was such a small event in this vast world, but tears formed in my eyes. Although human children take much more than a month to grow up and become independent, I know one day I will have to allow my own children to spread their wings and fly. It is the natural order of things, but I know it will be a bittersweet time for me. I will be so proud of my children and be happy that I raised them well. Yet, my children are my world, so I know it may take an army to pry my arms away from them when the time comes.

One day, it will be my own empty nest that I will be checking frequently to see if my young ones are truly gone. Some people may insist it is much too soon for me to be dreading the empty nest. My children are only 5 and 6 for goodness sake! But part of me wants to remind myself of it every now and then so I don’t ever take these precious years for granted. I want to make the most of now because time flies by at an incredible speed. I want to relish these Mommy years and savor every second I spend with my children. These truly are some of the best years of my life!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

My Imaginary Bundle of Joy

Meet the newest member of our family, Chaya.  Yes, she’s only two dimensional and doesn’t have any hands or feet to speak of.  However, she’s part of the family just the same.  She loves the color pink and has lots of pretty black hair.  Her favorite animals are horses, and she wants to be a doctor when she grows up.  She is the “bestest” baby sister in the whole wide world, too . . . well, at least according to my 5-year-old daughter.

My little girl is still going through baby sister withdrawal.  Her best friend finally got a baby sister last year (after having to deal with 4 brothers for years).  And ever since then, my daughter has asked and asked and ASKED for her own baby sister.  She has prayed for one, asked Santa Claus for one, and even asked Grandma to buy her one for her birthday.  She has even asked for her younger cousin (by 3 months) to come live with us so she could have a best friend and sister every day!

In her 5-year-old world, she can’t comprehend why she just can’t have a baby sister.  So, she has become desperate enough to make one up.  In fact, she’s drawn several pictures of her.  She plays with her imaginary baby sister, Chaya now a regular basis.   She pretends they are having tea parties together.  She has imaginary dress-up, makeup sessions with her baby sister.  My little princess even makes up stories about adventures they have had together.

At first, I was a little concerned.  Was my daughter getting enough attention?  Was she playing enough with other children?  Was I spending enough time with her?  Finally, I asked her about Chaya and if she knew that she really didn’t have a baby sister.

To my relief, she replied immediately, “Oh, I know, Mommy.  I’m just practicing for when I do get a baby sister!”

I suppose time will tell if she will ever have a real baby sister.  I know I’m not ready right now to be considering another baby.  But you never know.  Every now and then, I catch myself missing those days.  I see the tiniest, cutest baby shoes and think, I really want these!  Or I see a smiling, giggling baby ahead of me in the checkout lane and my heart skips a beat and melts at the pure sweetness.  I admit I miss the cuddles and snuggles with my babies.  I still haven’t been able to part with all the adorable baby outfits my kids have long outgrown.  Yes, perhaps, one day there might be another little Amanda in my arms . . . and then we shall see if it’s everything my daughter expects.