Tuesday, September 16, 2014 | By: Jill

Satisfying and Ordinary

Make eggs.
Pack backpacks.
Do dishes.
Return emails.
Pay bills .
Clean bathroom.
Schedule plumber and dog grooming.
Return pants for Jacob, buy another pair.
Go to Target.
Put away groceries.
Eat random leftovers for lunch.
Volunteer at school.
Meet bus.
Unpack lunchboxes and backpacks.
Take apart vaccuum cleaner.
Start meatloaf recipe.
Pack lunches.
Supervise piano and homework.
Finish dinner.
Dog walk.
Supervise kids showers.
Supervise teeth.
Read stories to kids.
Read my book.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 | By: Jill

How to Make a Friend; Two Strategies

"Mom, I made a friend today!"

"You did? Tell me about it."

"Well, I bet you didn't know it was this easy, I just walked over to Andreas and said, 'Will you be my friend?' And then he said, 'Yes.' "


"Jason is my best friend. "

"Oh yeah? How did you decide that?"

"Well, he looked at me and did this (see below). Then we were best friends."

Monday, September 8, 2014 | By: Jill


"Mommy, I know the first person on the planet had to be a woman."


"Because there would be no baby if it was a man."


Today I was waiting for the boys to get off of the school bus, and I was searching my dusty old blog looking for this post to share with a friend when I stumbled into the past.  I re-read a few blog posts from when Jacob was 1 and Asher was 4 and I a Diapers-Naps-Thomas the Train-Cheerios Mom.

Now Jacob is 5, and Asher is 8, and it feels like a lifetime has gone by. And I'm still their mom, but I'm more of a Minecraft-Quit the Fart Noises-Library-Lego Mom.

I'm also 39 today. Which is weird, because I remember when my mom was 39. And it feels like she has always been that age, but now I am that age, and that means she must be more than that and have other things in her life.   And so she has gone from Lunchpacking-Cheerleader-Soccer Mom to the mother of a Bike Riding-Origami Yoda-Little League Mom.

And I met a friend who is a mom who just put her baby into preschool for the first time. She is the kind of mom who is experiencing freedom for the first time.  I remember that. She's going from Sippy Cups-Choking Hazard Mom to Maybe Squeeze in a Yoga Class-Go to Target Alone Mom.

I was also thinking of what I thought I would be doing at 39 and what I am doing at 39. It's not what I thought. Some things are better. Lots are better. Like the parts of my life that happen with ease. The things I am grateful for, like a home and choices and the freedoms that I have every day. And smaller things like health and coffee and finally sharing good stories with my kids. The other parts aren't WORSE, they are just not what I thought, or HOW I thought it would go.

But that isn't bad.

There is this point where you think about how you were consumed by doing everything for the small people in your life. How your simple task of showering revolved around pooping and napping and eating. How it morphs into showering while they watch a show, and then while they are at preschool, and then whenever you want.  And now that they aren't physically with me all day, I have only myself to consider. I can slowly relieve myself some of those duties, and look at myself not just as the Taco-Tuesday-Laundry-Piano-Flashcard Mom, but the rest of the person.

But here's the thing.  I don't know that person. Not all of her. Not very well. I know that person at 29 and what her hopes and dreams were then. But I don't know her at 39. So I'm going to find her.

I think starting with the things I am sure of, the things I likem and that I can embrace is the obvious beginning.

So right now I'll go with Taco Tuesday-Reader-Writer-Volunteer-Yogi Mom.

I'll work from there.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014 | By: Jill

Asher Takes on Moral Monday

Where to start...?

Photo From Winston Salem News

This kid.  He has some ideas. Big ones. One is for a human powered hover scooter. One is for a laser hat. And one is for his school.

The hat and scooter he came up with on his own, I was not involved.

His ideas about schools? Those were his too, but his selective astute listening skills are what sparked this amazing opportunity.

Dan and I have been doing a lot of work advocating for public schools because our great state of North Carolina has been having some problems in that area. I have been working closely with many advocacy groups to ask for funding of our schools.

Asher has been listening.

One day at dinner he started talking about it. My jaw dropped at the way he processed it. I could watch it in slow motion.  "You mean they think....? But why wouldn't....? But how and I going to learn how to ....? Why can't they just...?"  As he talked I grabbed a piece of paper to write down his words.

A few days later, Dan and I were composing our letters to the legislators. I reminded Asher about his great ideas. If I would type it, he wanted to write his letter. That's the trouble with your voice at 8 years old, right? Your thoughts are hindered by the speed of your fingers.  So I typed. He dictated. I asked a question or two so he could clarify a point here and there but there are none of my words in his letter. None.

We sent it to Raleigh. Dan posted it to the FB page of one of the websites. Someone noticed. A lot of people noticed. By 10 PM, someone asked if he wanted to speak at Moral Monday. At breakfast, I asked Asher if he wanted to give a speech. He didn't hesitate, "Would it be like talking on front of the schools? OK."  By noon, he was on the agenda. He got home from school and said, "So? Did they have time for me to do it? Do I get to?"

As we waited for his turn and looked out on the crowd, he didn't really waver. (He did run a few laps and dump some water on his head, but doesn't Phil Berger before he talks to people?)

But when it was his turn, he told me I could stand to the side.

I'm proud. Of his command of the stage. Of not getting nervous when he fumbled. Of his message. Of his independence. And of what is going on in his head.

On the way home, he told me he'd like to get in touch with Google. He thinks they have use for his hovercraft, since they are making driverless cars.

I think he might be right.

For news links:


- scroll through to pic 7

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 | By: Jill

Everything is NOT Awesome

A few weeks ago Jacob wrote a letter to the Lego company following a giant tantrum about the Lego catalog and the price of his current wants.  We discussed economics and the free market, and why a set that has 136 pieces would be about $8.99.  Jacob concluded that Legos were very expensive, but he still wanted them.  Since as parents, we are not in the habit of buying toys outside of special occasions, he wasn't getting anywhere with us.  He counted his money, and realized that his allowance isn't that generous, even though he does work for it (another discussion for another day!)  His solution was this:

He addressed and stamped it himself. Given the criminal style of the handwriting on the envelope, I assumed it would either be returned for looking like a threatening letter, or it would just be ignored.

Several weeks later, he received this in the mail.

Initially, I was thrilled that he got a response, but he was surprisingly indifferent. After thinking about it, I think I realized why.

You see, at age 5, it was a big effort to write that letter. It was an excellent lesson in the power of your voice. The power of your word. The meaning behind the pen. But he didn't see the value.

As an adult, I appreciate that Lego probably gets a lot of letters from kids. It would take a lot of work to reply to each specific inquiry with an age appropriate response.  As an adult consumer, I would be satisfied that Lego was  willing to pass my concerns along to the appropriate people. What does that mean when you are a kid? Nothing.

For him, this is a meaningless reply.  His first attempt at communicating through writing didn't get him anything that he could relate to. It is just an explanation of their overhead, which is a concept he can not really grasp. There are so many other appropriate options! Suggest he collect mini-figures since they are fairly inexpensive. Or, tell him you can get directions to different things online, where he can try to use his pieces to build other things. Suggest he buy a few unusual, loose pieces to fix up some things he has already built. Maybe send him one of the 'Lego Builder Club' cards to show you really want him to keep building. Even put the letter on some cool stationary with pictures of different Lego pieces on it. Send him a $1 coupon... I'm sure I would take him to the store if he had a coupon, just to prove a point.

What really happened is that he put a lot of effort into contacting a company that he believed was there for his enjoyment.  And he didn't feel like they were interested in what he had to say, or were willing to offer a solution to his problem.  It won't make him likely to express his opinions in the future.

It's not about free stuff or Lego swag. It's about a company that makes its profits by targeting to this very specific group of children. I mean, I get regular deliveries of catalogs to prove it. That's what started the whole thing. The Lego website uses games to highlight their products, and my kids know every one of them. Lego is full of marketing genius. It's just disappointing that when their targeted customers reach out to them, the company doesn't value them enough to send an appropriate reply.

I'm sure that's not the message Lego wants to be sending to it's youngest customers who have a many years of purchasing Legos ahead of them. I would think that Lego wants Jacob to love their product and think they are worth the patience of saving his money. That letter may convey that message to an adult, but a company in the business of making lifelong toys should have a much better reply waiting for such an honest letter from a young fan.

It feels way more like President Business than Wildstyle, and Jacob's seen the Lego Movie twice. He knows that even President Business changed his ways in the end.