September Snippets: Sweet Dreams, Sweet Words, and Sweetie Pies!

  • Today, my late Gigidad’s birthday: thinking about how he LOVED these little children, and I’m so thankful he got to meet and know them a little bit. Everyday, I try to channel his patience, goodness, and gentleness for my own parenting, but it takes at least double the recipe for my kids!

    MJ and Gigidad, fall 2010

    Ellie and Gigidad, fall 2010

  • Ellie and MJ seem to have turned a corner when it comes to getting along. That is to say, we are currently in a phase of more peaceful moments than battle-zone moments, more play together than arguing against each other. Whole half hours of kind words and cooperation while Mommy does something completely unrelated in a completely different room! (I never thought I would see this day!) Perhaps it’s just a phase, but maybe, just maybe, it’s a new way of life! (I can dream, can’t I?) Read more on my post, “NurtureShock: The Science of Sibs”
  • One of their favorite activities to do together (albeit messy) is to cook, really cook. (I mean not good food necessarily, but food that I necessarily have to eat, at least feign to eat and enjoy, because it is made out of love for me and Daddy, and sometimes we get lucky.)

The chefs at work...keeps them busy while I get the real dish on the tableMJ's green gruel

  • One late evening, MJ wandered bleary-eyed out of his room clearly upset by a dream, but not fully awake. I escorted him back to bed, and rubbed his forehead gently to “implant” sweet dreams with my fingers and soothing voice: “Dream about butterflies…..dream about rainbows….dream about flying a kite at the beach….“. It was one of those moments when I just love being a Mommy, and just wish it could last forever…
  • After supper one evening, Ellie clears her place and tells me, “Mommy, I’m finished hungering and thirsting.” Well, okay, little lady.
  • One afternoon while MJ and Ellie are helping to make Magic Milkshakes, MJ warns Ellie about the loud sound to come from the blender. “Okay Ellie, take your ears off.” See the healthy recipe for this treat…
  • I overhear MJ explaining the new sticker-collection system from our neighborhood Albertson’s. We are trying to earn enough to get a new Cuisan-art, and he is in charge of sticking the little red stickers we get at the register on the blue chart. I am impressed when he uses the phrase, “For instance, Ellie…“, and goes on to demonstrate.
  • Ellie and I have a talk about inner beauty in the car one day. I say something about her being a pretty girl. and she says she’s not pretty anymore because she has a little red scrape on her forehead. (I know pre-schoolers think in very black-and-white terms, but I’ve got to introduce some nuance as far as the whole “beauty” concept goes or she’ll be in trouble when she gets zits as a teenager, which she’s sure to inherit from both parents.) I explain that she’s still pretty, even with her scrape. I show her a bump I have on my face, and claim proudly that I am still pretty, too! Daddy agrees that both of his girls are beautiful, especially when we smile. Then I delve into inner beauty…it’s an up-hill battle to fight to protect my daughter’s self-esteem in our beauty-centered cultured, but one I will fight snaggle-tooth and unpolished nail!

  • Ellie is apparently experiencing a newly acute sense of smell. One evening I give her a hug, and she very rudely says, “Mommy, you stink!” And the next morning at breakfast, she matter-of-factly says, with MJ inches away from her, “I don’t like the smell of Brother. He’s yucky!” (Not sure where this is coming from…perhaps some little boy at school? Or maybe she’s the one teaching them bad habits and rude behavior. Oh dear.)
  • She is forming some good habits, too, I swear! One day this week, she actually took my advice to go calm herself down in her room after throwing a late-afternoon-skipped-a-nap tantrum. I praised her when she came back out on her own, and a few minutes later when she got in trouble once again, she walked back to the solitude of her room all by herself. I found her a few minutes later squeezing her big pink bunny in her fuzzy pink chair, and taking deep breaths. I was so proud of her! This is an example of one of my guiding parenting philosophies in action, “What you Focus on, you get more of.” It actually worked this time!
  • On one of the first cooler September evenings, we went on a family bike/scooter ride to a neighborhood ice cream social at our elementary school up the street. I love Lake Highlands! It’s like living in a small town in the middle of a big city. Of course Dr. Daddy spent the whole time there on the phone in his scrubs to a resident while I chased sticky children, and tried to keep them from double-dipping spoons in the communal sprinkles. (Not everyone there had children, so they were a little uptight, though I was prepared to let this go.)
  • For “family play” one evening, the kids wanted to ride their scooters down to the “snail wall” to collect snails for the cardboard home they have made for them on our front porch. Lucky little snails!

    Scooting to collect snails

    Zippy in her pink dress!

  • Ellie disobeys me by using a regular pen on a dry erase board after I tell her not too. After we try to clean it off, and it doesn’t work, she goes to her room to retrieve a quarter as payment for “damaged property.” Those darn teaching moments just keep popping up!
  • MJ asks me how to spell “the mysterious beyond“. Must be working on a new sci-fi novel.

    a "mini-magna-dodle" love note from MJ in the car

  • One day Ellie looks up to see a helicopter, waves and says, “Hi, President Obama!” (We saw him in a helicopter from the beach in Chicago at spring break, so now she thinks he’s in every one.)
  • One morning at breakfast (the day after Obama’s big convention speech), I’m feeling inspired and I talk with the children about the concept of “citizenship”, taking care of and helping out our fellow Americans – that we’re all in this together.  (Moms, don’t beat yourselves up…sometimes we talk about snot, and sometimes we don’t even talk.) Later that evening, I show them the last few minutes of the speech, and MJ has fun chanting “four more years”, though I don’t explain in detail what it means. They love watching the confetti fall and Michelle and the girls sneak up on Daddy President when it’s over. I don’t talk trash about the other side, I don’t propagandize about my side, but I feel proud that they are growing up with this impressive impression of a black first family.  No matter your side, if you are respectful and thoughtful about your words and messages, your children don’t have to understand politics to start becoming patriotic Americans. Perhaps they are even more patriotic since they lack the vitriol and cynicism of so many American adults. My job is to teach them, as my parents did me, to hear out and respect the different views of others, to see the best in people, and to make friendships across the societal lines that separate us.
  • One morning at breakfast, the children are inspired to make an “s” list as I introduced “September”…. other words we know that start with “S”…Smile, sticker, scone, spaghetti, and Ellie thinks of “speech”, then echoes a phrase I used earlier in the week, “I loved that speech!” I explain that a speech is when you talk in front of an audience about something that you care about or are an expert on. I explained that Mommy sometimes gives speeches on how to be a good parent or teacher, that Daddy might give a speech to women on how to take care of their bodies, and asked them what they might like to give speeches about as “experts”. MJ quickly answered “dinosaurs”. (This makes sense as he does have a business card that says “Michael James Manders, kid dinosaur expert.”) I’m thinking Ellie might say, “taking care of babies” or “coloring”, but she says “TV”. Oh, okay. She goes on to explain that she could talk about the characters on “Umizoomi” and “Olivia”. Too true.
  • On our first Friday morning off together, I give the kids a break from morning chores and “out the door, in the car” routine, and let them do more computer and play in pj’s (let Ellie marinate a little longer in her soaked overnight pull-up). I leave them with the housekeeper to do some peaceful work at the coffee shop, but get a call that MJ has hurt his eye. Apparently he was playing with one of those neon glow sticks like a sword. It broke, and somehow the liquid got in his eye – OF COURSE! I went home to comfort him, and he was alright. We went scooting at the SMU campus again, visited Beffa at her office, and went to lunch at the student center. Being around the college kids somehow makes me feel a combination of younger and much older. By “rest” time, I am ready for a “day off” from my “day off”!

    MJ went in "disguise" to trick Beffa, made lots of students smile!

    Watching and listening to the "The Wave" at SMU

"Meditating" quickly at the Labyrinth at Perkins

Sitting on the Perkins bench dedicated to my Gammy and Papaw. Lots of Perkins connections in the family.

  • I come home one evening after the kids are in bed. The babysitter reports that MJ had led them in some star gazing. At least, that was the plan, though it was a little too cloudy and early for stars. He printed himself a “September” calendar earlier in the week, and had showed me where he put stars on several of the days to indicate “star gazing”. I didn’t think he would remember. Apparently, he had also prepared for the event by creating a “pin the tail on the shooting star” game during his rest time, and making “star food”. Miss Emily showed me the recipe that MJ had transcribed to her: “2 pieces of bread cut into triangles (to form the star), shredded cheese, and powdered sugar.” He and Ellie had gone out into the front yard in their “Nunu’s” for the official star-gazing after bath-time, but ended scooter-riding instead. (Wish I had a picture. For some reason, they call their little white bathrobes, “Nunu’s”. They say it is “grandchildren” language.)

Strange and wonderful children making strange and wonderful memories!


  1. Gary Minton says:

    Sweetheart, I love this one! I’m glad I am one of the grandparents for whom their Grandchildren language was developed. (So that we could not understand what they were saying.)