Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Whitney at the reigns.

Having a thirteen year old is the BOMB!

Which is not the song I was singing last November when I waved a final goodbye to my youth as Whitney approached hers.  And it's not what I felt when I thought about my daughter and the teens.  And it's not like teenagers are supposed to be easy to raise.  But for us, so far, thirteen is good.

It is fun to see Whitney live life on her own terms.  The transition is not complete yet, of course, but we're capturing glimpses of Whitney as an independently functioning person.  And Jared and me?  We like what we see!

Case in point:

1) Whitney has started a cooking club at school.  She and her friends have big plans for the club, but at the root of it all is her joy of cooking.  Which has meant big benefits in our home.  I have almost turned cookie baking over to Whitney entirely.  Fabulous!  And there have been a few nights where it was looking like dinner just wasn't going to happen until Whitney happily took over the kitchen and made sure that we were well fed.

She's become my best resource when I need menu ideas and, the big secret???  I'll tell you.  The best tool you'll ever have in your kitchen is a child (become teen) who likes to cook!  Bless the girl!

2)  Whitney is not afraid to be her own person.  In the age where kids become lemmings and judgement takes a back seat to what "every one else is doing" my beautiful daughter proved to me that she can stand on her own.

In the last year, her friends have discovered texting.  And, it is constant.  Day and night they are at it.  And I hope I don't sound mean, but it is just stupid.  A text saying "hey, want to hang out?" is perfectly fine.  But Whitney has described what the majority of her texts look like.  A sampling is in order:

Text me.
What r u doing?
I'm bored.
What r u doing?
Text me.
Why don't u ever text me?
Is your iPod broken?
Did u turn your iPod off?
Is it lost?
R U there?
Where r u?
Text meeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!

Sometimes (not kidding) Whitney gets 40 texts like this every time she turns on her iPod.  Recently she was hanging out with a friend and they sat in front of the t.v. and her friend refused to talk but would only communicate by text.

A few weeks ago Whitney had a movie night at our house with a few of her friends.  Five minutes after the girls had all arrived, she ran into the kitchen where I was, grabbed a cute little basket and was off before I even had a chance to ask what she needed.  She came back a few minutes later--returned the basket to its spot.  Only, now instead of sitting empty, it was holding every one of her friends' phones.  No texting on her turf.  They were going to chat and laugh and snack and listen to music (did you know, you can listen to music without an iPod or phone?) and then watch their movie and they were going to do it all hands free.

And you know what else was beautiful?  She reminded me of my Dad.  Her Grandpa Hoopes.  He was as charming a man as you could ask for, pleasant to talk to, and had a way of giving you his undivided attention.  However, there were times in chats with friends, where he would call the shots.  Toward the end of his life, he didn't want his visits with friends and family to be meaningless conversations--he wanted to solidly communicate friendship, love, forgiveness and when he needed to steer conversations away from fivolous topics, he would say, "look, we're on my dime" and thus would reclaim the reigns, steering the conversation where he would.

Whitney, like her Grandpa Hoopes, can take the reigns.  And you know what--I like them in her hands.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The best policy.

What do you get when my blog goes private?  Well, for starters the enhanced experience of having to log in for viewing privileges.  Also?  Work out pictures.  Sweaty, red faced AND blurry.  Nice.  Matthew took these a couple of months ago when he was home sick one day.  It's a pretty true depiction of what my workouts look like these days.

Recently, Matthew has been home sick again.  Last week he was home for three days and he's home again today.  The timing has been uncanny.  I'm in the post-Christmas, January resolution mode, which means that in the last week, I've actually been pretty good about doing a regular work out.  Matthew has been nearby for the last 3 workouts that I've done.  And, what you may or may not know about Matthew, is that I can always trust him for an honest (very honest) expression of his feelings.

In my first workout last week, he made me feel good.  "Mom, you don't need to work out so much.  You look great!" he said.  That just about made my day.

Next work out as he watched me mid jumping jack, "Mom, I sure hope you don't break the floor."

Today, a little sage advice.  "Your work out really doesn't help you lose weight, Mom.  You also have to eat right."

And, for the record, we've had several discussions about how being honest doesn't mean you are at liberty to say everything that pops into your head.

Even if it is true.

Also, for the record, I don't think there's ever been a day in my life where I really wanted an honest opinion.  I like them handed to me with a nice dose of sugar, thank you very much.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

And they're...off.

This morning as Matthew got ready for his first day of fifth grade, he did me a couple of favors.

First of all, he was just a little bit grumpy.  Every response he gave me was just a little bit sour, a slight bit sarcastic, or had a hint of edge.

Secondly, he combed his hair in his signature school boy style.  This summer, he had his annual buzz cut.  Summer is the one time every year that I let him shave off all his beautiful brown hair.  It ends up in a pile on my floor and I end up looking at him like he's a different kid for a while.  On Matthew, I like a school boy hair cut.  A far side part, a little water to set it in place, plenty of bang to push around on his forehead.  But this year, after his buzz cut grew out a little, he started spiking it.  He was suddenly interested in gel and combs and had this new thing going on.  But this morning, even though his hair is short and there's not a whole lot of bang to push around, he parted it on the side.  No hip spikes for the first day of school.

The last gift he gave me was at the bus stop.  He was nervous.  Probably, I was the only one who could tell.  He was quiet, his smile was stiff.  When the bus pulled up, he stood at the back of a long line of kids waiting to get on and when I called goodbye and told him to have a great day, I could tell that there was something buzzing around in his stomach.

Bless his heart.  From his grumpiness, to his "safe" hair style to his nervous entry on the bus, I felt a strong connection to him.  Because I always felt that way on the first day of school and I still do feel that way, sending my kids off into a new class with a different teacher than they've had before, off to face to world courageously and really, as far as their mother is concerned, alone.

I think I know how he feels--I am sure I know the feeling.  And if I had glanced so much as a tear in his eye or heard the slightest quiver in his voice, I might have just grabbed him and begged him to stay and hang out with me all day.  They are brave, these children of ours.  So very brave.

And his sister?  Katelyn has been excited about second grade since the last day of first grade.  She knows what she wants, and she usually knows how to get it.  I consider myself lucky if she'll look back at all, especially if she looks back to acknowledge her mother standing on the corner, watching the bus pull away and waving until someone notices her and waves back.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


That Whitney.

She faces the world head-on.  Today was her first day back to her magnet school.  Seventh grade, ya'll!

How's her mother handling it, you might ask?  I've got this feeling of tightness in my chest, my throat is sore, my eyes feel like they're going to spill out the truth of my emotional state at any second.  Thanks for asking, though.

How is Whitney handling it?  Whitney navigates her life in a way that is full of beauty, bravery, kindness and talent. She's handling the fact that she's a seventh grader fantastically.  That's all there is to it, and I'm impressed.  I have to admit it, I'm feeling a little proud.

But SEVENTH grade?!


I was so charmed by her this morning.  Her hair all in curls, her desire to put a little fashion into the school issued uniform, her backpack organized, her goals set, a huge smile on her face.  And then, an admission that she had butterflies.  It was all too cute!

Once she was ready, we all spent a few minutes on the front porch, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the bus.  I pulled out the camera, Brigham stomped around, Katelyn and Whitney chatted, Matthew observed it all with a gleeful smile.  It was one of those moments that need to be bottled up.  Let's mostly remember all the good ones, shall we, kids?

The bus came.  Whitney hopped on.  I waved to the bus driver and gave her an I'm-her-mom sort of smile.  Just so she'd know, that even though it's a seventh grader walking on her bus, she's still my little girl.

I scooped up thirteen month old Brigham, held him a tightly and pointed to the bus as it drove down the street.  "Bus," I said to Brigham.  "Bye, bye, Whitney," I said to Brigham.  He looked at the bus, looked around at his remaining siblings, Katelyn and Matthew, and then made his sign for "more."

Well said, Brigham, well said.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Better by far...

Today Whitney whipped up some chocolate/banana shakes to cool us down on this nice summer day. 

I found her in the kitchen mid-task. While the blender roared, she delicately lined each cup with a fancy drizzle of chocolate sauce. 

I asked her about her technique, and she nonchalantly replied that it was a trick she picked up while in DC. 

Oh, really?

(She's amazing.)
(I think I may soon be out of a job.)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Good Morning!

"It's great to see you!" he says.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Take my advice...


Far be it from me to dole out advice, especially here on the blog.  Except for today.

Because, someone needs to tell you what not to do.  

You do not need to go down to the closest Shop Rite and buy some Ben & Jerry's ice cream.  

Even though your son really does need it for a school project (nice project though--that requires ice cream, specifically Ben & Jerry's).

Because here's the deal.  You might get to the store and find that the ice cream is on sale.  For like, half what you usually pay for it.  So then, you might be tempted (even though one carton would be fine) to buy more than you need--like five containers of ice cream.  And then you might even find yourself spending your evening sampling flavors.  Sure, sampling.

And here's what's worse.  You might just be able to justify doing it once.  But what happens with the coupon that they gave you as you walked out of the store with a bag FULL of ice cream?  You know--the coupon that says they'll give you $1.50 off if you buy 4 more cartons of Ben & Jerry's?

Because you might be tempted (even though there's still plenty of ice cream in your freezer) to go and get even more.  I mean, it's on sale still.  And you have a coupon.  And, if there's one thing that you love, it's a good deal.  And Ben and Jerry's.

Don't do it.  PLEASE don't do it.

P.S.  I wish this post was sponsored by Ben & Jerry's!  But, it wasn't.  It was sponsored by will power.  Or the lack thereof...