Friday, January 30, 2009

Mail your Valentines from LOVELAND, CO

From the Loveland, CO post office. I am doing this for my daughter this year. You can mail your pre-addressed valentines - in a separate envelope - and they will cancel it with a unique LOVELAND cancellation and Valentine cachet!

Kick-off for Valentine Re-mailing Program

The program will run through February 13th with volunteers hand-stamping a message of love on Valentine cards sent to Loveland from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. Once they receive this special care, they are mailed on to the recipient. About 200,000 cards are re-mailed each year.

To receive a unique Loveland cancellation and Valentine cachet, enclose your pre-addressed envelopes affixed with the proper postage in a larger 1st Class envelope.

Mail to: Postmaster
Attention Valentines
446 E. 29th St.
Loveland, CO 80538-9998

Your valentines will be removed from the larger envelope at the Post Office. To ensure delivery by Valentine’s Day, U.S. destined mail must be received in Loveland by February 9, February 12 in-state, and foreign mail must be received by February 4. Proper postage must be affixed, especially foreign.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Happy Bunny is not a loving Valentine

I do not like the "Happy" Bunny.

Today I shopped for Valentines for my daughter to distribute to her classmates. Yes, I should have just made her go with me to select the appropriate theme. It is a difficult endeavor alone, because she is not into the cutesy stuff, and she has no interest in the current tween celebs, like Hannah Montana and the crew of High School Musical #36.

I perused the offerings and found them wanting. I was particularly disturbed by the Happy Bunny valentines. First of all, the Happy Bunny is NOT "happy," and he is definitely lacking in social skills and niceness. He is extremely narcissistic: "I am way cuter than you."

Add to that trait, the Happy Bunny is insulting to the reader. One valentine directly quoted, "I like you even though you are dumb." This valentine assortment is marketed in multi-packs that are intended to be handed out in classrooms. Um, Helloooooooooo??? Is this even bordering on an appropriate message for every day, much less the holiday of love??? With a heavy heart filled with worry about our children, I settled on some innocuous, cute, sweet Madagascar 2 valentines for distribution.

I don't like the Happy fact, the happy bunny made me very unhappy today. And, if I see one of those nasty bunnies in my daughter's Valentine box, I am going to morph into Elmer Fudd and hunt me some wabbits.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Playdates...Loving your Child's Friends

I'm reminded of the famous line from Forrest Gump, "Life is like a box of never know what you're gonna get." The same analogy works for play-dates. At the initial play-date, you just don't know what kind of child is going to show up to play with your kid. What's in their center?

It was a very social weekend for my daughter. Two play-dates in two days.

My 9-year old daughter has two very different best friends. One we'll refer to as "R," has been her best friend since kindergarten. They are yin and yang. My daughter is studious, and all learning comes easily to her. However, she's not so athletic. School is harder for R, but she is a natural athlete and can do any sport. Their different skill sets allow opportunities for one girl to the help the other dependent on the situation.

My daughter is opinionated and talkative. "R" tends to be a follower and is the most agreeable sort of child that I've ever met. She doesn't want to bother anyone or get in the way. I have to drag an opinion out of her, because she tends to goes along with my assertive daughter's suggestions. Her favorite word used to be "Sorry," for matters that didn't warrant anything near an apology. (I think we've gotten past that issue." YEA!)

"R" is like one of our family. She fits and she feels like a 2nd daughter to me. At the dinner table when we share our best/worst parts of the day, she will often say, "The best part of my day was being here with you." It's enough to warm the cockle's of one's heart, even though I still don't have a clue what "cockles"ARE! She is warm, affectionate and sweet.

Enter play-date #2, whom we shall call "A." "A" has been on the friend scene for about 1 1/2 years now. She is fun, spirited and witty, with a sparkle in her eye and a passion for life.

Daughter and "A" are similar personalities. They are both smart as whips which can make them competitive. They love each other, but they make it known that they each have an opinion and one is just as important as the other. My daughter has learned that she cannot "run over" other people's ideas, and that she doesn't always get her own way. It's an important life lesson, better learned at age 9, than learned as an adult. (Side Note: Some people never seem to have learned this lesson.)

"A" always, always manages to keep me on my toes and she makes me smile, too. Recently, while mixing up a marinade for chicken, she eyed it curiously, and then asked, "Are you sure you know what you're doing?" And then yesterday, for their play-date lunch, I made teriyaki salmon fillets, accompanied by twice baked potatoes and salad. "A" took one look and said, "That doesn't look like salmon to me." She says what she thinks and I appreciate her openness.

They are both awesome little people with unique personalities. Both friends fulfill her needs as a young developing person. They bring out the best parts of my daughter, and I am proud to know these two remarkable girls who she calls "best friends."

Play-dates are not without their challenges, for sure. However, they can be extremely rewarding. A playmate for your child, and another child for you to enjoy and love...temporarily.

And so, as with the box of chocolates, there can be many play-date kids that turn out to be enjoyably sweet...just differently textured and flavored.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Our Children as Teachers

It has been an emotional roller coaster week.

Tuesday, watching President Obama (those 2 words never fail to make me tingle) take the oath of office was an incredible high. How can you not be awed by this humble man who used the word "we" throughout his entire speech instead of that all too common and arrogant "I" word.
I was happy to share this moment in history with my best friend and our hopes for a better future were lifted anew.

Today, I volunteered in my daughter's classroom. I have been doing more of this since being laid off from my part-time job. It's a funny thing. I volunteered to help the children, but they ultimately have helped me in ways that they do not even realize.

I helped a 10-year old boy with his writing piece entitled, "Things I Love." Putting his thoughts together, and then jotting them down on paper, does not come easily to him. However, he regaled me with a story about his deep and abiding love for his three dogs. He told me that one of them has been with him since he was a baby. His dog is 13 years old now and his body is starting to shut down in his advancing years. This boy, who is not one to make long eye contact, looked me straight in the eye and said, "He's my best friend." His love for his dog is unconditional and it runs incredibly deep. Just like the boy.

Yesterday, I assisted a young girl with her reading homework. She told me that she would soon be moving from their house into a duplex, because her dad was going to lose his job. She said that they had to move to a smaller place because her dad didn't have enough money to afford the house payment. Then she mentioned, "My uncle lost his job, too."

I look at these children and I think, "Man, I want to just scoop you up and hug you. I don't want you to have to think about these terrible things." The looming death of a best friend. Is our family going to have a place to live and food to eat? These worries are just too big for 10 year olds...and sometimes too big sometimes for 41 year olds, too.

And while their concerns break my heart inside, I am amazed by their resiliency and their strength. They strengthen me. They remind me of all that I have and of all that I am. Children are powerful teachers in their own right, and they never fail to teach me something.

My daughter and I went to lunch afterward.

She told me, "I did a good deed today, Mommy."

"Tell me about it."

"Well, one of the kids didn't do very well on their timed math test and she was so upset that she started crying."

"That's very sad. What did you do?"

"I went over and gave her a big hug and told her, 'It's okay.'"
Another life lesson slapped me in the face.

I just found out this morning that one of my aunts has a very bad cancer in her body. Her chances aren't looking very good, and I am very sad. I asked Linda, "What do I SAY???" I drive myself nuts and muck things up when I try to say and do things perfectly.

It was simple. My daughter gave me the answer at lunch time. All I have to do is to hug my Aunt and say, "It's okay." Our children. They are so incredibly wise.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Friday, January 9, 2009

Raising Daughters and Growing Cuppy Cakes (Bosoms)

As I have mentioned in previous daughter daughter is beginning to develop. It seems that many conversations are centered on (ha!) all things "bosom." Size, shape, bounciness, etc.

In fact there's a old song (1961) called "Bounce Your Boobies" by Rusty Warren. Daughter LOVES to sing the chorus. I have to say it's a catchy tune th
at tends to get stuck in your head.

You can listen to it here: (PG-13?)

Yesterday, I made a slight error and chose to get dressed in the same room with the uber-curious tweenager.

I had taken off my pajama top and was putting on the day's wardrobe. This is how the conversation progressed.

"Um, Mommy. Your boobies are banana bread loaves. (Um, so help me, I am never again eating banana bread.")

Me = silent.

Her comment while I bent over to retrieve my bra from the floor. "Oh my Gosh. They are so LONG they almost touch the floor!" PUH-LEASE! We then had to discuss her tendency to hugely exaggerate the truth. I also explained how "long" is not a complimentary descriptive word when describing a person's breasts. (Sort of accurate, yes. Complimentary, uh, no.)

And then, I love when this phrase is asked. "Mommy, can I ask a question?" We have discussed many times, don't ask that. Just ask the question, because otherwi
se, my mind goes to scary possibilities of potential questions that you might ask me.

Holding my breath.

"How come one is bigger than the other one? I do have a guess."

Me...still holding breath. Can't wait to hear THIS!

"Is one bigger because as a baby I nursed on it more because it had more milk?"

Okay, some scientific thought had actually gone into that answer. I explained that whenev
er you have two of any body part, one tends to be larger than the other.

She pondered that idea for a bit, and then completely discounted it. "Nah, my feet and my hands and all my other twosomes are the same size."

On that note, I quickly finished dressing and beat it out of the room before she could think up anything else.

She is fascinated with what she termed her "cuppy cakes." She is enthralled. A
nd, she is delighted about this development. I truly do not think that as a child I was happy about procuring my own set of breasts.

I do not and I did not enjoy them, Sam I am. And, I have to be careful to n
ot squash her excitement. All that runs through my head is, "THEY GET IN THE WAY. YOU WILL NEVER AGAIN BE FREE TO RUN (not that I run very much anyway...but I might have to one day) WITHOUT WORRYING ABOUT THEM BOUNCING.

So...when her eyes light up and she exclaims, "I think that they're growing bigger," I just nod and smile and agree. Who am I to rain on her parade. I can only hope that she achieves a detente with her breasts that I never achieved with my own.

And, I can secretly hope that she gets her Dad's breast size, instead of my own.