Friday, July 18, 2014

"Those Mexicans"

A gate got left open last week and Bo, the Basset Hound, escaped.  A knock on the door alerted us to the issue as a woman who lives a few streets over had an inkling he belonged to us.  We visited for a bit in the street as I got Bo out of her van.  She was simply trying to be neighborly, to help us.  Because "those Mexicans drive so fast down that street and I was afraid they would hit him."

Ugh! Even though she didn't say "those Mexicans" with a disparaging tone, that phrase is heavy, one that reminds me of an old tire that has filled with water and sunk to the bottom of a farm pond.  The thoughtless discarding has created a bogged down, muddy, stinky mess that over time gets mired into the muck, slowly sinking into the silt of the pond bottom.  Do I think that this woman is racist?  While I admit I don't know her all that well, I would say it is highly unlikely she is a dyed in the wool racist.  It is much more likely that she has never had to consider her words or how they sound.     She has never thought about how annoyed she would be if a group of Hispanics described her peer group in similar terms, as "those white ladies who are always yelling at their kids" or "those white ladies who park funny in the Walmart parking lot."  (Or whatever irritating or irresponsible thing it is that we white ladies do.)  She has never thought about how hearing the phrase "those white ladies" once or twice might not be such a big deal but that by time number four or five or thirty three, you're kind of over it as the phrase starts to weigh on you.    (And that doesn't even cover the fact that there is a good chance "those Mexicans" are not even Mexican at all.  There's a good chance they are Guatemalan, Honduran, El Salvadorian, or horror of all horrors, simply plain old American.)

At the time, I didn't reply but repeated my thanks and took the dog inside.  Of course, I was thankful she brought him home.  But the whole conversation regarding "those Mexicans" left me with a sour taste in my mouth.  My three brown kids all heard her say those words.  My three brown babies all heard me ignore the comment, perhaps assuming that I didn't think it was that big of a deal or that I, as a white woman, was ignorant of the implications of the words.  Would I have ignored those comments if the woman had told me how she was concerned because "those black kids just drive too fast?"  

Her words left me in a quandary that I mulled over for the afternoon.  Does my silence equate agreement?  Does my silence allude to a color blind mom who is unaware of the complexities of race in our country?  In a perfect world, I perhaps would have pointed out the words the woman said, asked my kids how they felt about it, and then rectified all problems related to race in a neat three step plan that my children eagerly agreed to follow and then teach to others.  But I didn't.  While my kids do recognize race and while my two older kids have been pre taught a bit about slavery in anticipation of Lincoln's birthday and Martin Luther King Junior Day, I am not quite ready to have to point out the words of others.  I don't want to have to point out those words and have that conversation.  I just don't.  They're 7 and I'm just not ready.   

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Wildlife Adventures

Zeke caught an itty bitty frog today.  (If any of you reading were present at the MOPS end of year potluck and saw him holding 4-5 frogs at a time, it was similar.  My sympathy lies with the frog who is being held by a boy who is lacking fingers.  It is probably awfully uncomfortable to be smashed against a boy's chest as he tries to keep you from hopping away.)  I was feeding the baby so my attention was elsewhere and I had threatened all of my children with loss of life and limb if they came inside and interrupted me while I was trying to put Kai down for a nap so when I headed out to check on them, they had helped themselves to one of our lidded drinking glasses to hold the frog.  I watched them play a bit, then headed in to fix lunch.  Once lunch was ready, I went out to tell the kids to come in and to tell Zeke that he needed to release the frog.  Zeke though met me as I was heading out, showing me his empty cup, and telling me that he had already let the frog go.  I should have known better.  But I took it at face value.  The kids came in, washed up, and ate their raviolis.  Next on the agenda was an hour of quiet time where everyone has to go to separate rooms and play quietly.  I usually get everyone settled but was picking up lunch first so I sent the three big kids back to their rooms unattended.  A few seconds later, Kenson pipes up, "Mom.  Zeke has the frog in here."  A quick trip to the boys' bedroom and, sure enough, the frog was sitting on Zeke's bed.  Phrase #205 that I didn't envision myself saying today, "Zeke, take the frog out of your room. "  (I think he had actually stored him the top box of Conleigh's jewelry box.)  Needless to say, the frog got a personal escort out of the house by the mama.

Then as if that wasn't enough excitement for the day, we had a deer traipse behind our backyard to eat the apples off of the tree in the vacant lot that sits right behind our house.  Our neighbor had shared a few days ago that he saw a buck doing the same thing so Zeke was quick to share with him that we too saw a deer.  Our neighbor then shared that he had gotten a wildlife camera for his birthday or Christmas (or some other random holiday-I am seriously a poor listener at times) and had set it up back by the apple trees.  Um, awesome...except my kids were back there playing a few days ago and told me something about their being a camera in the tree.  I of course ignored their crazy talk and chalked it up to looney kids.  At least now our neighbor has a heads up that not only did he probably capture the deer but he probably also captured a bunch of hooligan neighbor children, thumbs in their ears, tongues wagging, while they bulged out their eyes and grinned like crazy.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Berry Time

Delicious is juice dribbling down chins, fingers stained an inky purple by a favorite berry.

We did lots of garden stuff this week from picking the last of the sugar snap peas to picking green beans to Zeke's favorite activity, watermelon watching.  We have a watermelon the size of a volleyball, several that are canteloupe size, and a bunch that are much smaller.  He loves watermelon so he is always excited to come outside and check on the progress of the watermelon in the garden.  We also picked the ripe gooseberries and pilfered mulberries from the tree in the vacant lot next door.  Sitting the front porch eating the berries is a great way to end an evening.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Anticipated Chompers

Right at the end of June, these two pearly whites appeared.
One first but within 24 hours, he had two.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Honey Flavored Kisses and Other Misunderstandings

We went to Runza today for an ice cream snack. There was a little country music playing on the Runza sound system, specifically Beer Money by Kip Moore. In case you've never heard it, the lyrics include "You've got a kiss that tastes like honey and I've got a little beer money." Conleigh heard this and wanted to know why he was singing about kids that taste like honey. I explained that the words were "a kiss that tastes like honey" and the song was about boyfriends and girlfriends, that the singer was saying he liked his girlfriend's kisses because they were sweet like honey. (Cue the eye rolling and gagging from the two older ones.) I probably should have told them it was about husbands and wives but I missed that chance to fight the culture of teenage PDA's. Then Derek chimed in and asked Kenson if his kisses tasted like honey. Kenson answered as honestly as he could. "Nope, they just taste like spit." Ah, the truth. But probably not the makings of any hit song.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Conleigh's New Do-Shoe Lace Tied Bun

Conleigh's hair is finally getting enough length on it to do some of the fun updo type styles that I've been dreaming of.  Up until recently, I would say amazing loc styles and be dreaming about being able to do them on Conleigh's hair.  I had tried a few things but her hair was too short or I wasn't sure how to get the locs to stay put.  Regular old bobby pins and ponytail holders really don't cut it with locs.  (In fact, if Conleigh wants one giant ponytail, I use an elastic headband to hold it instead of a ponytail holder because her hair is just that thick.)  I've finally had the time to do a little research and had a huge aha moment.  So many loc styles use hair tying to secure the hair.  It's just what it sounds.  You actually tie the hair to itself.  Anyway, using this hair style from Chescaleigh for inspiration,
we did a modified shoe lace bun.  Conleigh's hair isn't quite long enough to do all of her hair up.  But we could definitely do the front section up.  It's a simple concept:  pull the hair up into a ponytail, then using two sections, tie the hair just like a shoe string, creating loops of hair.  Conleigh's exact words when she say it were, "I thought this might be ugly.  But it's pretty.  And really cool!"  (Thanks for the vote of confidence, dear.)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Cheap Summertime Entertainment

With Zeke all casted up, our summertime fun has been kind of stymied.  We haven't done a lot that involves water.  So no pool, no sprinkler, no water guns.  We did do bubbles a couple of times.  It also means Zeke can't ride his bike, play on our playground, dig in the rocks, or swing on the swings.  (All things the kids do constantly.)  We've also tried to stick to a somewhat structured morning with an art and building time, a writing time, a puzzle and board game time, and a math time.  The big kids are reading in the afternoon and doing a few pages of phonics but they also usually read before bed.  Too much free time ends up with my kids fighting constantly or the kids just hanging out not really playing anything.  I think we've come up with a good balance of 30 minutes of an activity and then free time before lunch and most of the afternoon.  The big kids have pushed Zeke in the stroller in the street.  They've played traffic cop, with Zeke giving them directions as they ride their bikes.  I taught them out to play Kick the Can (but with a whistle instead of a can).  That lasted maybe ten minutes.  They've learned how to play War with math flash cards.  They've made roads and shapes with sidewalk chalk.  We used cornstarch to make our own sidewalk chalk paint.  They've played hockey in the street with bouncy balls.  They've played soccer and t-ball.  They pilfered all of the greeting cards out of our summer writing supplies and jammed the neighbor's mailboxes with notes.  The big kids have patiently obliged Zeke's whims and drawn him whatever picture he wanted at art time since his own drawing ability is pretty limited right now.  Conleigh's come in several times with purple stained fingers from stealing mulberries off our neighbor's tree.

And we've still got lots to do.  I picked up a giant game of jacks at Target that has 2 inch rubber jacks so I think even Zeke will be able to pick them up.  We've still got a couple of new board games to try out.  I haven't yet showed the big kids how to create sticker stories, where you use stickers for the main parts of your story and then draw in the background and fill in your words.  I'm hoping we can make an aluminum foil river in our backyard without dousing Zeke's arm.  We haven't touched our watercolor paints yet or the precut tissue paper squares that I found at Michaels' on clearance.  The garden is just starting to produce; we just had green beans out of it yesterday.  We hit the Omaha zoo when we were there a few weeks back but we haven't done the Lincoln Children's Zoo yet.  And I'm hoping once Zeke gets his casts off to have a big old "No More Casts" water party with friends.

The summer reading program at the library had the kids make robots as one of the activities in their reading logs.  Conleigh's is named Lucy.  And Zeke's is a shark.

The kids seriously thought this was so funny.  Conleigh was pretending to be Kenson and Kenson was pretending to be Kenson.  The clothespin earrings are a nice touch, don't you think?  Look how Conleigh is standing.  She just did that all on her own, because apparently that's how boys stand.