Posted in Frabjous Friday

The Joy of First Raindrops

Today’s Frabjous Friday post is all about perspective.

Living in the Chicago area, let me diplomatically say this winter bites. I have pretty much had it with the snow. But in the video below, we get to see a little girl experience rain for the first time. What joy she has.

Share in it, my friends.

And let’s remember that after the harshness of winter comes the beauty of spring.

Kayden + Rain from Nicole Byon on Vimeo.

I can only imagine what giggles her first experience with snow would bring!

[Email subscribers: please remember you will have to click through to my blog to view the clip.]

Posted in Bits & Pieces, Frabjous Friday

George Bailey, I’ll Love You Till the Day I Die

I’m a bit of an It’s a Wonderful Life fan. (Like…it’s my very favorite-est!) I’ve already shared a bit about that. To me, the movie resonates deeply on a number of levels. But it’s Frabjous Friday time, so I won’t get into a long discourse on why this movie is so amazingly awesome.

What I will share here is a new joy that the movie is bringing me. See, I’ve always been an old movie buff, so it’s no shock that my relationship with IAWL began when I was just a kid (back in the day when the copyright had expired and they showed it approximately 20,498 times a season). But in this day and age, most people under 30 (or maybe even 40) are pretty much not interested in a black and white movie. (“It’s booooring.” Sigh.)

That’s why the fact that my kid is loving It’s a Wonderful Life is a huge joy to me. The torch has been passed. My kid is starting to “get” the depth that the movie has to offer, and I am delighted. As the years go on, I’m hoping his love for it grows, and that he’ll be able to share it with his child one day.

That’s all I’ll say on my beloved movie today. Except if you haven’t seen it in a while (or…ever?!?!?), you should make the time to do so. It will be time well spent. (And someday I’m going to watch it with the sole purpose of counting how many sayings from the movie have become a part of our family’s lexicon–I’m a little scared to find out. I know it will be a number deep into the double digits.)

Happy Frabjous Friday, folks. I hope you were all able to make some wonderful memories this Christmas season…after all, it IS a wonderful life!

[Email subscribers: please remember you will have to click through to my blog to view the clip.]

Posted in Frabjous Friday, Soapbox

My Friday Is Not Black

I don’t get it.

Amidst the post-holiday haze, I nearly forgot that it’s Frabjous Friday time. What do I find joy in today? That I did not participate in the ridiculousness that is now infamously termed “Black Friday.”

The irony of the “event” was not lost on my 10yo son, who made the connection between having a day set aside for giving thanks immediately suffocated followed by a day where people clamor to buy buy buy!

In my lifetime, this phenomenon has grown from having stores open at a normal time on Friday…to having them open at 4 a.m….and eventually to some that are opened at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

I don’t get it.

I know some people have made it a part of their holiday tradition and they love it and life is awesome because they got the $12 big screen TV…but that’s not me.

I’m sorry for the people who are forced to work these goofy hours and miss out on their own family holiday. There is no joy in that to me.

Nor is there joy in hearing all the stories in the news about people behaving like bulls or worse. Hello, Common Sense? Clean up on aisle 4!

But…since this is Frabjous Friday, the joy for me is in hanging out today and getting creamed by my son in the game of Life. And finishing a beautiful book that he and I were reading together (Wonder, by R.J. Palacio–I highly recommend it). And eating leftovers. And watching my absolute very favorite episode of The Andy Griffith Show (the one where Opie accidentally kills the mama bird and then takes care of the babies…LOVE).

THAT, my friends, is Frabjous Friday.

Hope you, too, were able to spend some time with those you love and make some simple, loving memories. That’s the one “buy” that’s truly priceless.


Posted in Soapbox

You Can See It in the Wagons

old radio flyerCan you hear it?

Pft-pft-pft-pft-pft-pft-pft-pft-pft-pft-pft-pft…It’s the sound of a helicopter parent…Better duck!

We hear a lot of “when I was your age” lamenting, but parents—myself included—need to see that we are a big part of the change in how kids’ lives are these days. Let’s face it, parents: we’re a bit nuts.

It dawned on me that you can see it in the wagons of “then” and “now.”

The wagon I had when I was a child was a slick red metal Radio Flyer. It was maybe five inches deep, and there were no bells or whistles to it. It was simple…the rest was up to you.

My friends and I pulled each other in it. We pushed each other in it. We loaded it up and went on numerous adventures. We tied a rope to the handle and then tied the other end to a bike for extra speed. We found hills to see just how fast we could go and how badly the steering would be by holding the handle while riding. That wagon was a springboard to our imagination.

When I was 8 or 9, I took my wagon and loaded it up with books I no longer wanted. I then—without my parents’ knowledge (which was not typical in my household)—went around the neighborhood trying to hawk the books. I sold one for 60¢ and was delighted…Until my wagon and I got home to a toe-tapping, arms-folded mother. I then had to have my dad accompany me back to the house where I made the sale and apologize and explain that I had been in the wrong. I must have looked sadly pathetic because the person gave me back my book AND let me keep the money. A small offset to my shame.

Yes, my wagon and I have many memories together.

Today’s wagons are…a little bit more involved. They are thick plastic with seatbelts. And cupholders. And canopies. And those are just the basic models. Others have coolers…tables…cargo storage…and more. I see them at the zoo, parades, the mall. Parents pull these wagons. After all, the child is belted in safely and passively taking in his surroundings.

Watch out! They're not belted in!
Watch out! They’re not belted in!

They are so specific in design that they grow obsolete quickly. I can’t remember the last time I saw a kid older than 4 or 5 hanging around a wagon. Do we even know how fast these chubby plastic wagons go?

Please don’t hear me as saying none of these differences is good or helpful. I’m all for child safety. But it seems to me that these kinds of wagons illustrate the current climate of parenting. Parents want to make it all good and perfect…but the truth is, it’s not.

Maybe it’s just me, but I worry that so much is already created for our kids that we are stifling their ability to design and create and learn on their own. I almost lost it this summer when I saw some kids selling lemonade in a store-bought stand. I wanted to knock on that parent’s door and say “Really??”

lemonade stand

We have enough judgment in this world without my butting heads with a parent who buys her kid a $40 lemonade stand, but…come on. Do we have to design or facilitate everything for them?

We need to let our kids breathe and explore…and make mistakes…and fail…and learn. We are doing them no favors by giving them trophies for merely blinking their eyes.

I’m sure I fell out of my wagon and skinned my knees many times. But you know what I did? I got back in and tried again.

And I need to do my best to let my kid realize that for himself, too. No, it is not easy to watch them learn “the hard way,” but sometimes it is the most important lesson of all.

PS—Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted in Life As I Know It

I Keep Forgetting I Don’t Pay Attention

The world in a nutshell
The world in a nutshell

I can rarely hold a thought these days, and I blame Al Gore. (Okay, not really, because he never really said he invented the Internet, people.) But between the pervasiveness of easily attainable information and the ability to communicate a million different ways, I have lost my mind.

The title of this post comes out of the mouth of my son. We were traveling down a street we drive on nearly every day, and he looked up from the book he was reading and wondered where we were. When I answered him with a little bit of frustrated disbelief in my tone, he answered, “Ohh…that’s right. I keep forgetting I don’t pay attention.” And it dawned on me how perfect a statement this was not only for him, but for me, too.

Not only am I pulled and tugged in numerous ways in my world, but I let technology grab on, too, and I find myself distracted throughout the day.

I know my brain has taken a hit in the retention category because when I attempt to read, research, and learn, there is a subconscious knowledge that I will be able to find it again. This is both terrific and horrible. Apparently, my little mind knows that so much is stored “off-site” that she doesn’t really have to rise to the occasion and commit to storing the info. My mind can be a little bitch sometimes. She’s smart enough to know she can be dense.

I remember how when I was a kid, if I wanted to learn about the Roman Empire, for instance, I would start with the World Book Encyclopedia we had in our house, and if I needed to know more, I would go to the library. I would read…focus…and repeat, if needed. Today, I would Google the Roman Empire, my eyes would dart and scan over several different sites, and…and. And little would stick for long.

But the old me is battling. I’m currently reading a book that is thick with great things to ponder and remember. Sitting next to me one day, my son asked me, “What are you doing? Why are you writing in that book?” and I had the pleasure—but also challenge—of helping him to understand why a person would mark up a book and make notes in it. “It helps me digest it and refer back to it more easily, Honey. It helps me to learn it.”

Sadly, though, it’s taking me a long time to get through the book because my little mind knows I mean business when I open it up, so I often find myself too tired (or whatever) to sit down and focus. That little mind of mine is sneaky.

I find that this way of thinking (or not thinking) has gone beyond affecting how I read or research, though. It affects how I listen, too. And that is unforgivable.

I need to pay better attention. The distractions that surround me are exactly that: distractions. They are diversions from something else, and too often that something else should have my full attention. And it’s hard enough to give full attention in a world where one thought leads to another and before I know it, my remembering that I need to buy milk has resulted in my thinking about how I need to get the oil changed and sign up to chaperone my son’s field trip and send three work emails and is that a squirrel in the tree?…

And here’s the final kicker to this line of thinking…I wanted to include a quote that I’ve loved for years: We are drowning in information, but starved for knowledge (John Naisbitt), and I vaguely remembered that I might have used the quote before. Turns out I wrote an entire other post at the beginning of the year on this same struggle of mine. I can’t even remember my own writing! (Sorry for the rerun topic, but since I didn’t remember my own writing, I’m going to trust that this doesn’t feel like a repeat to you, either…but still. Yeesh.)

Paying better attention is indeed an uphill battle, but I’m not raising the white flag quite yet. Are you with me? Oh, wait…someone just texted me. Can you hold that thought for a sec? I’ll be right back with you in a blink…

PS–This post was written while I had two 10yo boys playing/fighting/laughing/swordfighting/wrestling in the next room. Can you tell?

Posted in Life As I Know It

It’s More Than Okay to Be Silly

The Stache Stands Alone.
The Stache stands alone.

Sometimes teachable moments come with wigs and fake mustaches.

For those of you who know me personally, it may come as a surprise when I say that up until this weekend, I’m pretty sure my husband and I hadn’t yet mortally embarrassed our son, Tony. Sure, there’s been lots of “Mom, would you please stop (dancing, singing, being generally goofy, etc.)??” After all, I am me. But this weekend brought a little more significant mortification potential.

A dear friend’s birthday party was also a costume party, and Mike and I knew it was our calling to attend as the 80s pop duo Hall and Oates. The look came together pretty nicely and included a mullet wig for Mike/Hall and a black, curly wig for me/Oates.

Mike grew some sideburn chops for his look, and with a little coloring help, they blended right into his mullet that was fanned out into a coif of 80s glory. Daryl would be proud.

I'm Oates.
I’m Oates.

My Oates wig could also serve as the wig Jan Brady wore in her attempt to get noticed over Marcia in the Brady Bunch movie parody, as well as Groucho Marx or Mr. Kotter (at least that was the word on the street). To complete the rockin’ look, I sported a groovy ‘stache (see above) that just may have looked like a newly born puppy snuggling on my upper lip.

We looked authentic, as some people might say. Others…might say other things.

Since the party was a surprise (and kids were included), we kept our son out of the loop so he wouldn’t spill the beans, and when we did finally explain, he was apprehensively excited. “You’re going to wear those?” While he thought it was very funny, he also had the nervous laugh of someone who didn’t know if he should run away from home now or later.

When we donned the full look and got into the car to go to the party, Tony’s mortification settled in. He was wearing his Halloween costume which, though it was a biker skeleton dude, was still much subtler than his parents. We all enjoyed pulling up to stoplights and seeing people notice us, but the idea that people we knew and loved were going to see us making fools of ourselves was unsettling to him.

We reassured him that it was going to be better than all right—it was going to be downright fun. Over the course of the ride, he accepted that he was going to live through whatever the night might bring.

He is our kid, after all, and he does have a very big silly bone. But he is also at that stage of weighing what other people think and deciding how much all that matters—and sometimes that doesn’t make it easy to embrace your inner silly.

At the party, there were people in varying degrees of costume—some full blown participants and others who had a little something on in the spirit of things. I think I’m safe in saying most people were amused at our look. From the bad hair to the increasingly moist ‘stache (how do you mustache-wearers eat and drink with that thing?!?!), there were lots of giggles to be had. Let’s just say Hall and Oates kissed a few times. Let’s just say it was weird.

Over the course of the night, Tony went from being embarrassed to wanting to wear my mustache and wig.  He realized that it was more than okay to be silly—it was a whole lot of fun. Fun for us and fun for others. Sometimes you just gotta let your hair down. Or your fro out, so to speak.

I hope the lesson sticks for him, but I know it will be a lifelong journey of knowing that it’s okay to let the silly out. Luckily, he’s got a mom and dad who can be pretty serious about being silly.

The wigs are put away for now, but they can be ready at a moment’s notice…