Monday, December 19, 2011

Santa's Visit

In the distance I could hear the faint sound of police sirens and it reminded me that it was our day for Santa to be coming by for a visit. I quickly realized that this has become one of our traditions. I let Daniel, James and Rebecca know that they should get their lists ready and put on their shoes. Rebecca and James hustled around looking for a piece of paper and a pencil so that they could start creating their list. Daniel on the other hand said he had Googled “Santa” and told me that it was impossible to visit 2 billion children in one night and that he wasn’t going to sit on Santa’s lap this year. I was a little saddened, but didn’t show my feelings and tried to address Daniels statement as best I could. So I explained to Daniel that not everyone in the world believes in Santa and not all the kids in the world are good. Daniel indicated that this was a good point but that still left a lot of kids for Santa to visit. While Daniel went back to his Google searches I could hear the sirens growing louder as Santa’s sleigh meandered closer to our street. I sat with James and Rebecca to see how they were making out with their lists. James had added “Kites” and “Dinosaur books” to his list as Rebecca was asking me how to spell “Pink Dresses” and then ”Hair Ribbons”. I called to Daniel once again to join us in making his list and Daniel yelled back that he found a web site that says Santa would not be able to withstand the G-force of all the starts and stops and would probably die after just the first few houses. The computer was logged into my account so the “Net Nanny” software was not blocking these searches as it normally would, but I decided to allow him to continue since I was there with him in the room.

As I watched him work away at his searches I chuckled and told him that he had better get started with his list because Santa was only a few blocks away. Daniel gave me a quick glance with just a hint of desperation as he went back to his keyboard entries. James and Rebecca had finished with their lists and were scrambling to get their shoes and jackets on.

As we were opening the door I heard Daniel say “Dad, it says here at the speed required to visit every house, in one night, the reindeer and sleigh would burn up in the atmosphere due to friction and air resistance, so there is no way that Santa could be the one bringing all the gifts to all these people on Christmas eve.” At this point the sirens were blasting away adding to the excitement on the street and we could safely gauge his visit to be within a few minutes. I told Daniel we were going outside. As we emerged from the house I noticed the other kids in the neighborhood were lined up on the street maintaining a tight grip on their lists. After a few minutes chatting with the neighbors Rebecca spotted the police car down the street and started screaming “There he is!!, Their he is”!! Not a second later Rebecca said she had to go to the bathroom so we rushed back into the house so that she could go and by the time we got back outside I noticed that Santa was stopped just a couple of houses away. Just at that moment James ran up to me crying because he dropped his list which had subsequently blown into the woods. So we both ran into the woods to look for it. If there was snow on the ground we would have never found it but the white piece of paper was very visible against the backdrop of brown and auburn leaves which covered the ground. We quickly retrieved the list and managed to take our proper place at the foot of the driveway before Santa’s sleigh arrived.

Amidst the jubilation I found myself a little saddened that Daniel was not joining us this year but I realized it was inevitable that this day would come, it is one more sign that they are growing up, becoming more independent and relying more on their own sense of deductive reasoning vs. believing blindly what others tell them to believe.

Just as Santa was pulling up in front of our house Daniel came storming out, paper in hand, jacket half on. He stood behind James and Rebecca and was very quiet for a few seconds. He turned and looked at me, smiled, and said “Hi Dad”. I smiled back and rubbed his head, said I was glad he came out with us and then asked him why he changed his mind. He said “Well, I don’t know how reliable Google is plus I am still just a kid and I don’t want to take a chance just in case Google is wrong.” I told him he makes a good point and sometimes it is better to be safe than sorry.

As I watched my children take turns sitting up on Santa’s lap I took great joy in observing their faces as they answered Santa’s questions and realized that we will be forging new traditions as the old ones fade.

Thursday, December 08, 2011


I usually try to keep this upbeat but I just finished reading an article about yet another school which has banned the playing of any Christmas music (Sorry, I mean holiday music). The rule stipulated that any music played on school grounds may not be “belief specific”. So no use of the words: God, Jesus, Santa, Christmas. If you eliminate all the songs with these references you end up with “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” “Jingle Bells,” and “Marshmallow World.
Why is it that we, as a society, are continuously being asked to bend to political correctness as defined by the ACLU and/or dictated to us by the small minority who threatens to sue the schools, towns or local store owners if they don’t comply with their demands? Why are they so threatened by Christmas? Isn't the enforcement of no religion the same as enforcement of religion? Not believing in religion is still a belief in something that you base your life off of. For some individuals to try and say that they are offended with religion is the same as offending me with your non-religion and the restrictions you place on me practicing mine. But non-religious people do not threaten me. How could they?

Does Christmas really offend anyone besides those that are truly at religious war with Christians or other organized religions? I am a baseball/football fan, I am not a Hockey fan, but I watch it once in a while and have been to a few games. I am not offended by those individuals who wear Boston Bruins shirts out in public as they walk on sidewalks that I pay taxes to maintain or when they place bumper stickers on their cars depicting their personal team, in plain sight, for all of us to read. When I do attend a game I stand up and sing the National Anthem, as the vast majority of other people do. If the song offended me I would just stay seated while everyone else sang and wait for the game to start because that is my right as an American citizen… the right to choose. I don’t have a personal need (or a right in my opinion) to ask everyone else at the game to stop singing because certain words in the song may offend me and then try to justify this because my tax dollars pay for the public transportation that brought all these people to the game. So why does the ACLU (Anti-Christian Lawyers union) feel the need to silence young people and teach them that being an individual or being tolerant of a diverse society is wrong? Why do we all need to walk in lock step with each other and engage in a group think mentality which is designed and forced down our throats by a very small minority?

I fear this may be the first step in what seems to be an attempt to scrub clean any Christian values from our society. Maybe we should change the names of Christmas and Hanukkah to “Yuletide” and then move the day to, say, December 21st so that no one will feel threatened. After all traces of these holidays are eliminated will they go after “Holidays” in general? The word Holiday comes from the two root words “Holy Day” which I can see as a problem down the road. Where will this all stop?

Will they ban the singing of “Winnie the Pooh” in public because one of the character’s first name, Christopher Robin, has the word “Christ” in it?

The ACLU has maintained that they merely uphold the best interests of the American people first and they always claim to hold the moral high ground.

Article 24 of the [Nazi] party platform demanded, "liberty for all religious denominations in the state, so far as they are not a danger... to the moral feelings of the German race.” We all know from history that once the people of Germany were softened up and conditioned to follow orders from a small minority they lost their will to think for themselves and followed what they were told and they all felt justified in their actions (or inactions) because it was politically correct.

Our towns and public schools should stand up to these bullies and their threats of lawsuits and teach our kids to work together and maybe build a dreidal in the classroom on December 20th and explore its significance and importance in our society. Celebrate the beginning of the season, sing Christmas songs and watch the children’s faces light up as they all come together in harmony to decorate a tree. Discuss the different ways people celebrate this season throughout the world. We should continue to teach the values that have made us all the people we are today, celebrate and shine a spot light on our differences (learn from them instead of trying to hide them or make them ashamed of their religious beliefs), and stop this erosion of our personal freedoms and the very fabric that makes us all unique individuals. As parents we can all be better role models to our children by simply teaching them to be tolerant, teaching them to stand up for each other and be proud of who they are.

I just needed to say that once.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

A Letter to Rebecca

Dear Rebecca, I could tell by the way you held my hand that you were excited and I could see in your eyes that you were a little scared about getting on the bus this morning for your first day of kindergarten. I wanted to tell you how proud I am of you for being so brave and facing the obstacles that have been placed before you, in your life, with such unyielding determination. As I hugged you and watched your bus drive away I instantly missed you and reflected on our times together as I walked back up the street to the house.

The memories didn’t come crashing down but rather swept gently past, they were uplifting instilling in me a sense of calmness. I remembered when I sat with you on the steps of the pool as we both inched our way in, a little each day, until you got your head wet, you were cautious but determined and once you realized we were in the water together and the pool was safe you embraced the lessons and became a great swimmer and comfortable in the water. You would look for me every few minutes, initially,and we would wave to each other during your gymnastics classes when I ran my laps above the gymnasium . I steadied your bike and ran alongside you as you worked hard to maintain your balance after removing your training wheels. You enjoyed the challenges of testing new waters and I enjoyed sharing them with you. We held each other during thunderstorms and laughed together as we read bedtime stories.

Being a parent to you has been so rewarding to me. You taught me patience and a new way to enjoy each day. I very clearly recall the first time I saw you and the minute we made eye contact. I dedicated my life to insuring that you would be safe and happy to the best of my abilities and now for the first time in your short life I will not be cheering you on during your next milestone of when you get off the bus at the other end. I cant be there to brush way the tears when someone is mean to you or hug you when you get frightened or give you reassurance if you become surrounded by the feeling of being alone. I know if someone pushes you that you will turn the other cheek. You will be quick to share your snack if someone asks you to or if you notice someone does not have one because that is who you are. You’re a good soul, Rebecca, and part of me (right now) wishes I had taught you to stand up for yourself more and not take what this “less than perfect world” we live in has in store for you. As I sit here and say the world you are entering is imperfect I realize the imperfections I have as a parent. If I were perfect I would not be worried because I would have prepared you better for Kindergarten and the new world that awaits you. This is the first new experience in your life in which I will not be part of and sadly for me it will be the first of many. From this point on I will become less important in your life. I tried to prepare you for this day but this was a milestone that I was never looking forward to.

You were always cautious but determined when it came to swimming, walking the balance beam or riding a bike for the first time and I want to let you know that I will always try to be there for you when you fall. Your teacher may not always notice you when you do good and there will be kids who will be mean to you but your inner essence is good, you have tolerance and natural understanding for others and that will always prevail with you and help preserve your inner spirit long into your adult life.
Stay cautious, Rebecca, check the depth of the water, the height of the balance beam and the steadiness of your bike… hold on to me a little longer, as needed, ask advice and share your worries and I will be there for you and we can talk every day. There is plenty of time to grow up and gain independence but for now, just for today I want to be selfish, I don’t want you to grow up even a little bit. I want you to come home the same way you left for school today, I want to be the center of your life for just one more day

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

……. Experimenting with life.

I barely hung on to the coattails of summer this year as I struggled to keep pace with the kids’ unrelenting energy along with rising each day not too long after first light. This summer was new, adventurous and held prospects of being the best summer ever and it lived up to its expectations.
We busied ourselves with trips to the beach, kite flying, bananagrams, play dates, chutes and ladders, sand castles, puzzles, trips to the lake, museums, books, biking, birthday parties and visiting friends and family ……… Each adventure came with its unique challenges. Whoever said “Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience” may have rephrased it (after meeting our clan) to: “The more calories they burn the longer they will sleep”.

I went most of the summer without a camera since ours broke in the spring so I don’t have many photos to share.
Rebecca is very excited and is looking forward to starting Kindergarten this fall and also rejoining Tumblebees , her gymnastics group. James is anticipating making new friends and meeting his new teacher and Daniel is waiting for his new homeschooling supplies to arrive! (Well maybe not really). James just continues to grow and he inspires me with his determination to overcome obstacles in his life. It amazes me how naturally social some girls can be (vs boys). Rebecca feels so comfortable approaching a group of girls she doesn’t know and just joining the fun. Daniel is now a reading machine, since March he has read all 17 books in the "Hank Zipzer" series and 10 of the 11 books in the “39 Clues” series. He now turns to books whenever he gets bored. I am hoping that I can keep his interest going with a new series.
Here are a few pictures:

Daniel was in his element when we visited the Egyptian section of the "Yale Peabody Museum". Rebecca liked the masks used by the natives during ritual dances (and the gift shop!) and James looked past all the items in the room and was enthralled with the architecture. He felt the Peabody museum was once a church based on the shape of the windows, high ceilings and apparent choir loft and Acoustics.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

God is Bowling

The other night our household grew in excitement and anticipation of an impending thunderstorm which boldly announced itself via the internet, in full color, on Doppler radar prior to any of us hearing a single clap of thunder or witnessing a dark cloud. I felt I had a leg up on the rest of nature and proceeded to busy myself with all the necessary preparations which consisted of closing the windows in the car, close the porch umbrella etc. while Jeanine secured the windows in the house. As I moved the plants from the railing to the porch floor I noticed that the Robins, squirrels and chipmunks were also busy seeking shelter even though they did not have the advantage of the internet as I had. Somehow they received word ahead of me.

Jeanine and I settled ourselves down on the couch in the living room. I laughed as I watched the kids run around in excitement with Rebecca wondering if our porch umbrella would blow away and Daniel wondering if his strawberries would survive the storm. The afternoon sky had darkened quickly and I noticed James was becoming a little overwhelmed by the energy in the room and in need of some comfort. He walked over slowly and sat on my lap and said “ Daddy is lightning going to hit our house”?, “How many times have you been hit by lightning?”, “Does it hurt?”, “How loud is it going be?”. I held him tight and told him every time he sees a flash he will have time to cover his ears and the lightning is far, far away. The sky darkened due to both the forthcoming storm and approaching night. After the first flash there were many seconds before we heard the distant clap of thunder and James said “That wasn’t too bad” as I felt his grip ease up on my arm. We experienced subsequent flashes and the kids were enjoying the show of dancing shadows on the ceiling. As I watched with them these lightning flashes lit up my memory as vividly as they lit up the room and took me back to a time when I was young and was crunched down below the window with my siblings watching the silhouette of the trees against a grey sky as a thunder storm approached. Looking for a little reassurance I asked my dad if he was afraid and he said: “No, the sound you hear is just God Bowling”. Although, I don’t think, at the time, I bought into the whole belief that there was a bowling alley in heaven, it did distract me for a while and I found comfort in trying to imagine if the sound of the rolling thunder was similar to that of a bowling alley. I remember thinking how brave my father was and I asked my dad if he was scared of thunder storms when he was little and he shared with me a story about when he was young. As my memory intensified due to the catalyst of the storm I could now vividly see my own father sitting in his chair. I recalled every word as he recounted a moment in time when he was growing up and a storm was approaching. He told me that as a young boy he would be woken up by his father, if he was sleeping, and would gather on the stairs between the first and second floor, with his mother, father and two brothers, and pray several “decades” of the rosary until the storm passed over. This would often last for hours. He described the terrible cramps he would get in his legs from having to sit still for long periods of time. In those days they were taught to fear thunderstorms and would relive each lightning strike in detail, with his friends, the next day at school.

Just then a clap of thunder startled me back to the present. James held me tight again. Daniel and Rebecca looked towards me for reassurance that everything was fine. Rebecca asked me :”Dad were you scared of thunder when you were little”?. I said “I was a little but I found out that it was just God Bowling and so it didn’t bother me as much.”

“… and so it goes” Over the years I have grown to enjoy thunderstorms and viewed them as a sign of summer and remembrance of a time I spent with my brother and sisters staring out the window wondering if a tree would fall. Every flash of lightning would light up the room and simultaneously bring back a memory of my past (and my father) as I am sure it did my father as he told me of his experiences as a youth.

Memory Eternal on this Fathers day.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A few Easter Photos

1.Aunt Annie and Nicole

2.Rebecca hunting for eggs.

3. James eating his treats.

4. Christina found all her eggs!

5. Nicole pointing to an egg.

6.Rebecca posing.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

School Daze

Well the school year has ended and I didn’t have much time or energy left over at the end of the day to keep the blog going or much time for taking pictures (so I dont have many photos to share, but have a few more I will put up). Maybe after I get the hang of Homeschooling a little more I will be able to better balance everything.
The homeschooling was successful this year or at the very least I am able to say: “We got through it okay”. I purchased an overly structured curriculum to use as a template and it did keep us on track and very busy. I did a lot of adjusting and tweaking with the schedule to help integrate our daily routine into the demands of homeschooling. We stuck very close to the curriculum in Language, spelling and science but the way the mathematics was set up just didn’t work very well with Daniel so I went off the curriculum and I tried using more practical applications and problem solving with him which was less structured and leaned more towards the Singapore approach and he did very well.
Invariably, each day, regardless of the topic we ended up merging the curriculum into our daily lives and the environment around us. We used the tests as a benchmark to shadow how well we were progressing based on standards, but, I was amazed at how much work we got done when we broke free of the confines of the curriculum. Daniel still has such an intense liking for plants and nature that many times we just went in that direction and made it our bases for the studies that day. This passion of his helped us to work on science and nature, Spelling, language. We still needed to focus on “sight words” for spelling and we took a president every other day in chronological order and researched and wrote a story about him. We found a homeschooler group which meets at different parks around the area so that the kids can play and make friends, but Massachusetts doesn’t seem to have as many homeschoolers as other states from what I have read.
I found it was impossible to clearly segregate school time and non school time within the same household space but we eventually struck a balance that worked for us.
I found a nice preschool workbook that Rebecca used and it worked out well for her as she was able to join us. James continues to attend public school has been moving forward in leaps and bounds with his ABA and academics at school. We found out this week that James is losing Mrs. Kingsley (who designed and implemented James’ program at school) and his Individual Learning Assistant (ILA) Mrs. Gaboury who worked very closely with James over the past few years. So they will be very much missed in the coming school year.