Tuesday, August 26, 2008


About a year ago, Mike and I signed up for a trial of James Lehman's Total Transformation program to help us deal with Maya's behavior. While we got some ideas from it, we felt that the techniques were more suited for teenagers than a 5-6 year old. So, we returned it after the 30-day trial period, but continue to get the free emails with advice articles. Click here to read the one I read today. It pretty much describes one of the ways I dealt with Maya's disrespectful nature yesterday. And I knew when I was doing it that it probably wouldn't help, but I literally was at the end of my rope and couldn't think any clearer in the moment.

Well, contrary to what the article says, Maya did feel badly about how she behaved towards me yesterday. She woke up this morning and did everything I expect of her without being told--including her 30 minutes of reading and Summer Bridges activities. She was clearly contrite.

Of course, this doesn't mean I will use this technique again. In writing this I am vowing that, even in my weakest moment, I will do my best not to personalize my child's behavior. But, apparently, I got lucky this time--the "Parenting Police" let me go with a warning instead of a ticket.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Lady Luck

Maya's record for winning tickets through the Hennepin County Libraries is now 3-0. Last year, she won tickets to the State Fair. She also won a free book for a book report that she wrote. This year, she won State Fair tickets once again, followed by a family of four pack of tickets to a Twins game....and, yet another book for a book report she wrote.
On Sunday, we took the train to the Metrodome to see the Twins play the Mariners. Since we hadn't paid for our 4 tickets at $30 each, we didn't feel badly spending money on snacks to keep the kids occupied.
Hotdog - $3.50

Popcorn - $4.00

Lemonade - $4.00

Snow Cone - $4.00 (It's ice, for goodness sakes!)

Having your daughter tell you that she thinks baseball is boring - PRICELESS

Maybe next time, we will bring her a book to read (from the library, of course!)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Changes on the Horizon

The Bellowe household is currently undergoing many changes. As we gear up for a new school year (which, for me, a former "school girl" and teacher born on August 30, is when life truly begins), I thought I would make note of the transformations that I am witnessing amongst us.

I'll start with Mike. In late spring, he climbed up another rung of the proverbial corporate ladder to head up a division of the Education side of Pearson. He loves what he does, as he always has during the past 4 years he has been with Pearson, and the transition has gone smoothly. There is, however, one downside--travel. As it turns out, Pearson recently acquired a division of Harcourt, and, consequently, more than half of the people he now manages are based in the San Antonio office. Some Pearson employees were required to move to San Antonio. Well, Pearson just relocated us here to the Twin Cities a year ago from Phoenix. We are finally settled into our lives here and are not willing to move again. So, Mike now travels to San Antonio every other week to work out of that office. He leaves on Monday and comes home late Thursday. It is already starting to get old, but we are hoping that he will rack up enough frequent flyer miles to get us out of here to somewhere warm during month #4 of our next L-O-N-G Minnesota winter.

Next, there's me. First of all, I am now a single parent every other week. It can get lonely at times after the kids are in bed, but a good book or the Internet usually solve that problem pretty well. Mostly, I am sad for the girls when they say, "Where's Daddy?" or "When is Daddy coming home?" or "He is going to Texas AGAIN?!" It is so cute listening to them talk to him on the phone, though. (Maya typically goes into great detail about what she did all day, and Ava listens to what Maya says and repeats it.) Secondly, I will be teaching 9th grade Religious School at Bet Shalom starting Sept. 3. I am excited about this opportunity, though a bit frustrated at the moment because, when I agreed to do it, I didn't know Michael would be traveling like he is. Now I am going to have to find a sitter for the every other Wednesday night that he is gone. But, I suppose this is a small price to pay for the benefits it will provide, which include, but are not limited to: (1) Being a more integral part of the temple community (2) Learning more about Judaism through teaching (3)Having my daughters (mainly Maya at this point) see me in another role, serving the community (4) Keeping myself involved, on some level, with the field of Education (5) Working with children of different ages than my own so I can more fully appreciate what each stage has to offer. Wish me luck!

Now for Maya. She has had a fun and busy summer and is MOSTLY excited to start first grade. The only concern she has expressed to me so far is that she knows she won't have as long of a lunch this year as she did in kindergarten, and she hopes she has enough time to eat as well as talk with her friends. However, the up side, she tells me, is the fact that first graders get to eat before kindergarteners do. She just got her hair cut shorter, which she loves. We think it makes her look older, which is good, as she hasn't grown much over the summer (for the record, she is 40 pounds and 41 inches....still!), and she really gets mad when people guess that she is 4 years old. ("I am SIX and a HALF!" she adamantly corrects them.) Poor kid doesn't stand a chance with her Polish/Jewish genes, but we keep telling her that good things come in small packages. Hopefully someday she will agree. During the past week, she has made some significant strides in dealing with her anxiety, thanks to Dr. Ann Layne. The University of Minnesota, where Maya received her official diagnosis, referred us to Dr. Layne back in March, but we were on a waiting list until last week, as she wasn't seeing new patients. All we can say is - WOW - what difference the right therapist and techniques can make. In just two sessions, she has accomplished more than we have in months exploring other avenues. THANK GOD. And an added benefit is that Dr. Layne's parenting techniques to support Maya's progress are ones we have been implementing for years now. So, we feel validated that we are on the right track, and are just thankful that Maya is finally in a place where she can learn to help herself more, and is willing to do so. It feels like we have turned a corner and are moving in the right direction...(I type this as I breathe a sigh of relief while I simultaneously cross my fingers and say a little prayer!) She is a special kid who has so much to offer. Once she gets past her stumbling blocks, she will have the world at her feet. We love her so much and will do whatever it takes to help her find her way.

Last, but certainly not least, comes Ava. Happy as always, she is talking up a storm these days, assuming her sister lets her get a word in edgewise. She loves going to the lake or pool and has become quite a fish this summer. We will continue with swim lessons this fall to keep her progressing in this area. She is finally showing interest in using the potty, so we might be saying good-bye to diapers by her third birthday after all (more prayers and fingers crossed on that one, too!) Tonight marks her first night sleeping in her toddler bed. Here is a picture of her trying it out for size yesterday. While she would probably be content to sleep in a crib until she is ten, she has to move on at some point, and we felt now is as good a time as any. She starts preschool next month at Shalom Yeladim, where she has already made a lot of friends. She loves to cuddle and read books, do puzzles, draw, dance, and play school with her sister. Her smile lights up a room, and she brings so much joy to our lives.
So, that about sums up where we all are at as we gear up for the 2008-2009 school year. With enough love and prayer, it's bound to be a great one!

Monday, August 4, 2008

A Time To Celebrate

July 4th also marked the 10-year anniversary of the night Michael proposed to me. He took me out on a Hornblower dinner cruise in San Diego Harbor. When the fireworks started shooting over the bay, he got out the ring and asked me to marry him. I was completely taken off guard, but of course said YES, and the rest, as they say, is history. A couple weeks later, when he turned 30, I surprised him with a singing telegram at our favorite bar in Pacific Beach, PB Bar and Grill. Oh, those were some good times! Now, here we are, ten years, 2 kids, 4 cities and 4 houses later, still having great times. What an amazing journey it has been! So, to celebrate, we headed off to Sandals Dunn's River Villagio Resort, leaving the kids behind to have fun with Nana and Grandpa Bob, who hadn't seen them in a year and were excited to spend some quality time with them. It was a win-win situation.
We had some great couple time for a week, kayaking, snorkeling, tubing down the White River, and climbing the Dunn's River Falls, which was absolutely amazing! We also spent a lot of time on the beach, just lying around doing nothing. We had candlelit dinners by the beach. We read books for pure enjoyment, and we didn't once think about ways to improve our parenting skills. Watching many young couples enjoying their honeymoons, some getting married right before our eyes on the beach, took us back to when our love was new. Was it really ten years ago? In many ways, it seems like it happened in the blink of an eye. I don't feel any older, and I hope I will be able to say the same in another ten years. All in all, the trip was a great way to refresh ourselves and begin another adventurous decade together. We will always remember the beauty of Jamaica as a great backdrop for fun and romance. (If you are interested in seeing more pictures from our trip to paradise, you can click here.)