Friday, September 28, 2007

Outside the box is not the easy road...but it is the most interesting!

I grew up in a household that did not value difference all that well. You needed to fit the mold - be how and what was expected of you. Be seen and not heard. You could be good at things...but they had to be the "right"things. The sports that "everyone" played or the instrument that "everyone" enjoyed etc. I knew while I was growing up that this was probably not the best approach to life...but at the same time I didn't really know any different, so I stayed in the box and did as I was told. I strayed out - here and there - with a night of drinking or a crazy haircut...but not often. In the grand scheme of life I had the "model" child hood. I played the piano, sang in chorus, was a cheerleader, got "A's", had the right friends, dressed the right way, and just stayed pretty much strait and narrow and out of the spot light as best I could.

I don't mean it to sound awful, because it was just the opposite - I had great friends and truly learned to love the "normal" life that I had. But the back of my mind...I knew that there were probably more interesting avenues to take or more inspiring things to do with my time. But as a teenager and younger...these are fleeting thoughts and they did not disrupt my day to day fun.

Now here I am...the mother of three children...soon to be 4. What do I want to do to be different from what I knew growing up? How do I teach the kids to think and do outside the box without making them freaks or letting them get into too much trouble. What I realize now is that the easiest way to make sure our kids are healthy, safe and to point them in the direction of societies norms. They are proven - why not send them that way? I get it.

In the hope is to really get to know my kids every single day of their lives. All of their quarks, all of the ways that they change, and all of the ways that they grow. If I know as much about each of them as I can, then maybe I can harness the good in their differences and point them in a direction that will maximize on their "craziness". And in the end, help the "things that make them different" to be what makes them successful and happy.

Where did this come from? always...Little Kyle always makes me think a little passed the surface. We all know that Kyle can be at times challenge. I am not even going to go into detail about his nuttyness, because everyone that is reading this knows what i am talking about.

But the most nerve wracking quirk is his ability to "flip out" over the smallest thing? Not sure why...but it happens each day. Lots of advice flys your way when you have a kid that can melt down over a spiderweb on his bike or over "losing" a bike race with himself? Yeah...figure that one out!! Anyway...I have been "told" to not let him get away with it because the world will not tolerate such behavior. I have also been told and have read articles that say that we should accommodate his craziness because he is fragile and we don't want to scar him for life.

I say this. some days I will not tolerate Kyle's behaviour because I won't be in a position to do it with grace...and some days I will probably hold him and give him comfort for his duress because I love him and i hate to see him so nuts. but in the end...Kyle is different and I hope that his difference is what makes him unique...what helps him to think and do outside of the box...what helps him to find his own personal place in this world...where HE FITS!

I only hope that I can get to know him in a way that will help me point him in directions that will suit him! There is a lot to accomplish for all of my children. As crazy and as quirky as they are! They don't need to play the piano, or play high school football - but they can if they choose! They can be in the band, or play in a band...they can rock climb, or do water ballet...Ski or bobsled...I don't care. I just hope that I can find the right ways to help them be the perfect people that they were put here to be with the greatest of purpose and the happiest of souls!!

I write this blog for all of the mothers out there who look at their children doing the most bizarre things and think "Oh My...what the heck is wrong with my kid!!??" We have all been there. So next time they do something that makes you worry or think "what have I done wrong here?"....take just a moment to smile and think...this crazy kid could be the next Neil Armstron, or Katie Couric or Mandi Moore, or Maya Angelou..the sky is the limit :) Love to all my mommy friends!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Moving - is it who I am...or what I dread?

I go back and forth on my theory about our transient life with the military! I'll have to admit first off, that the Mongold family has been VERY LUCKY when it comes to moving from station to station. We have spent the majority of Steve's career right here in Hampton Roads. Two areas of Hampton Roads...Virginia Beach and Chesapeake...but we have had the ability to see ALL of our old friends and make many SUPER new ones!!

I moved here in 1995 from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. I lived in an apartment down on 33rd street at the ocean front at that time. I found my way to Washington DC in 1997 and then back to Hampton Roads just a year later. That's when I met Steve. I was not intimidated by the life of a military family because I had lived in 4 cities in just 5 years. I was the "perfect" person for the job right??? And just 5 houses and 3 apartments later - we have only had to make one move with the military that took us out of the area... to Groton CT! And even that only lasted 6 months! I was READY to move all over the world....prepared in my mind for all the trials that this would bring...and yet we stayed!?

I can remember saying that sometimes I envied my friends who would find their "forever" homes at age 25 or 31! How lucky they are to know that their neighbors and the people they meet can be in their daily lives "forever". But on the other hand - I felt like - for me - this would not be fast moving enough. I truly believed that I NEEDED the moving and the new sights and new people etc. to keep me happy!

Now that I have found a home here in Chesapeake, VA that has every aspect of perfection that a person could as for...I am questioning who I am and what I want once again? I still have the desire to see new places and meet new people...but my "grass may be greener" philosophy has changed a bit. I know that I will like Washington State and I will like the port that we call home just 20 months after that...and two years after that..and I am just as sure that I will like our homes and the people we meet in those, yet undecided, locations!

But what I also know is that I may NEVER have the kind of support and friendship and family that I have here in Chesapeake. I don't mean this in a negative way...more so in an adoring way and in the light of appreciation for how lucky we have been! And I know it will be my life's work to get us back here one day. What WE HAVE is super and comfortable and positive and I wake up with a smile every day and look forward to our t-ball games and our PTA functions and our play on the street with our friends. I look forward to the YMCA and to the Norfolk Zoo and to our weekend birthday parties with our true blue friends that have known us for so long! I look forward to knowing my children's doctors and to passing the hospital where I had William every week. I look forward to the Yellow Park and to our new Harris Teeter! I look forward to weekends with Uncle Brian and Laura...and other weekends of doing nothing but watching our kids play with their BEST friends in the neighborhood.

Now on the other hand...I know that the sights and people in Washington State will be wonderful and we will live our life there to the fullest and take advantage of everything that the area has to offer. But each day I will have a place in my heart that misses our life here in Chesapeake Virginia!

So in the end...I am two people all wrapped up in one. I am as happy for the new experience as I am sad to leave our happy life here. We all know I am here is another item of proof for my unstable mind!!

In June we will say good bye to Chesapeake Beach, Larkspur Lane, and our friends, and we will say hello to the west coast! We will take with us our memories and experiences and the people we love will go with us in our hearts. We will take phone numbers, addresses and e-mails so that we can stay in close touch with our "family of friends" that we will always hold dear! And we will have our cameras ready to send photos of all the things that we encounter in our next stop!

And to those of you who live here in Hampton Roads - we'll be back! Save us a spot at the birthday parties and a bike on the street!

And PS....I am so wordy...and for many of you reading this....the information that you really wanted is as follows: Station: BREMMERTON WASHINGTON - when we are leaving? - JUNE 2008 - and What boat Steve is on - THE ALABAMA - let's ignore that this is really going to happen and let's NEVER TALK ABOUT IT AGAIN!!! :)

The Beach will be missed....but we will find another one that has sand and water and nice people to play with!!

We can take vacations from anywhere!

I can only hope that the sights are as great as the ones we saw in Providence RI!!

I hope our renters love our house as much as we do!!

I'll miss driving by our first home!! But I know we will build another one day that is twice as great!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

It's Been 4 Years since I got my HAPPY!!!

I loved you right from the start! One look in those big blue eyes in that hospital room and I was hooked! I knew then that this one little man had changed my life forever!! 10 pounds of baby...right from the was like giving birth to a 3 month old! But I knew that you were wise...and special...and I knew that I was the luckiest mother in the world!

I was 42 weeks pregnant and living in CT. A very liberal state where induction is only for emergency reasons. And while I may have felt that ridding myself of this enormous belly that lay out in front of me...was an emergency...the doctors were not so convinced!

Two trips to the hospital and sent home both time. I was huge, tired, and embarrassed that I was not more knowledgeable about "when" it was "time" to have a baby! My first was induced, so the signs were not "old hat" to me. I just waited - in great pain - but I waited. I though that the pain was getting worse as I looked through the sale shelves at the Pottery Barn with my mother in law. But the words "Come back when your water breaks" were stuck in my head and since I didn't want to be "that woman" that was sent home a THIRD time...I just sucked it up and went home to the couch.

By 10:00 that night I was biting on a pillow to ease the pain and truly doing everything I could not to cry and look like a whimp. Finally Steve said...that's it...we are going to the hospital and we are not coming home! So we we drove...the pain became worse....very quickly I knew that this was not good! Next thing I know...I am asking for an epidural....screaming that I could not do this without drugs....and the doctor is saying something about 10 centimeters and fully efaced...don't push....blah blah blah....It's a boy? All kind of a scary blur in my mind...but it was a close call...and in the end....Kyle was not born in the car and that is all anyone really NEEDS to know!

It was my mothers birthday so we called her first! And since I had no drugs or IV's or anything to hold me back - except some seriously sweaty sticking up hair-...I ate lots of food and fell asleep with Kyle in my arms. He was big and chunky and not really all that cute...but he was perfect in every way that mattered to me! I was taken by him he second I saw him!

And boy has he become everything we thought he would and more! It seems weird to say that the most interesting person I know is only 4 years old...but it is true. Kyle is quirky and interesting and his own person. A person that is loved by everyone that comes in contact with him. Can he be the devil - heck yes! But for whatever does not turn people away when he is bad...people smile and say "That Kyle...!" Amazing the effect that he has on me and on those who are with him each day!

Thank you Kyle for being the comic relief part of our team! Thank you for speaking your mind. Thank you for loving us all so very much and for the friendships that you have created and hold so dear! Thank you for giving me my HAPPY! I love you, I love you, I love biggest biggest silly perfect Kyle!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Raising Men.

The other day in the street, my Ben was on his bike and he rides up to little Benjamin Zayac (3) and starts tapping the front tire of his own two wheel bike (with no training wheels by the way!!) into little Benjamin's big wheel (Kettcar..for those of you that were there). And little Benjamin says "No Ben...don't do that!"...and my Ben continues to hit his own bike into the front tire of the bigwheel... Then little Benjamin says "STOP IT BEN."....and my Ben smirks and continues.

Now keep in one is hurting anyone...little Benjamin is just annoyed at the fact that his friend is taunting him...acting like the tough bully...and enjoying the screams and cries of frustration that are based simply on the fact that BEN WON'T KNOCK IT OFF! Benjamin...I would have cried too!!!

So of the "wonderful" mother than I am....I yell...BEN KNOCK IT OFF!! As loud as I can...and believe it or not...even though I used my best stern mom voice...BEN JUST KEPT TAUNTING BENJAMIN!

And then...good mom gets thrown to the wind...I yell at Ben...send him inside for an indefinite time out and that is that! I was embarrassed that my kid would be such a devil and sad that it was MY kid that now has little Benjamin Zayac in full tears! Not a proud parent moment.

At this point I turn to Steve...who has come out of the garage to see what all the yelling and crying etc. etc. is all about and I tell him what happened. Of course I am looking for some sympathy for my embarrassment here. Some sign that he was disappointed in his sons actions just as I was. And instead he laughs and says, "Almost not fair that boys have to be raised by women!"

Erica and I just looked at him like - what the heck are you talking about??!!??

He proceed to explain to us what his version of being a boy/man is. In Steve's mind - Boys rouse each other as an expression of masculinity. He claims that it starts as a kid and never stops. Boys pick on each other and taunt and joke each other and you can be one of two kinds of boys...the kind that join in and therefore "fit" in or the ones that run to mommy and then well...we know what happens to those guys! He said that even in his office life soon as he walks in - one of the guy is "ripping" on him about something. And so you just "rip" back...And as if he has told us something as obvious as "the sky is blue" he says "That's just the way it is...just must start at age 5!"

Now Erica and I both kind of paused before we spoke, because we would be lying to say that this didn't make a small bit of sense to us. I mean...we have been to college and lived with and around men all of our lives and we can certainly attest to the fact that guys will be guys and they are kind of rough at any age and always seem to be joking or egging on someone etc. etc. But let's also be honest in that ...these two boys in the street are not the "men we have known" in our lives...they are OUR KIDS! And weather I am making my kid a wimp or not...he WILL NOT be the bully that taunts other kids in front of his mother!

Steve agreed that I had no choice but to punish Ben...but he was very certain that it will not stop the behavior...He claims that Ben will simply get smart enough not to do it in front of us. I certainly hope that is not the case...but Steve may have a point and that is just so sad.

Anyway...all of this made me look up opinions, and educational readings etc. on raising boys.

I found a truly wonderful gathering of information at

At the bottom of every article there is a link to another area of information - all about the fight for boys to become men.

One paragraph states: "Boys act out to prove they've passed the test. They need to show other boys how well they've done and this is reflected in their behavior in social groups, on the streets, and at school, where this presents particular problems. "Educators need to realize that some of what is called misbehavior in classrooms should be viewed sympathetically as boys' need to act out a masculine identity. For little boys this can include being a wise guy or a class clown. Older boys may prove themselves by being bullies," says Joseph Tobin.

So to Mare (3 boys) Erica (2 boys) Sue (2) Ansley (2) Lynn (2) Amy (2) Shelli (2) Amy (3) Sandy (2) Tania (1) Sara (3) ....I say...can't hurt to read up. We are all women...raising men? May be a harder job than I had originally labeled it!?!?! :)

Friday, September 14, 2007

So much potential in this little man!

As most of you know...Will is not a talker. He is getting better with his verbal skills, but it gives the phrase "baby steps" new meaning! Each month I see small improvement, but never a huge step toward being a talking member of society.

Now Will is not dumb? He understands everything that goes on, but I also believe he has mastered the art of getting what he wants without HAVING to say a word. The sly smirk and the smile of satisfaction when he gets his way are so obvious even to people who don't know him that well.

So this morning he was holding a flashlight and standing in front of me waving it like a traffic wand GRUNTING. GRUNTING so loud that I just walked away. I had no idea what he wanted.

As I was getting his breakfast ready in the kitchen, Will walked up to me, held out the flashlight in one hand and a pack of batteries (that he got from the junk drawer) in the other and he no uncertain terms..."Momma...Lashlite need baries" (Yep....for those of you who don't read Will...he said Flashlight needs batteries!" Yep...the whole phrase...and it was only missing one F and one T. And he said it in a tone that implied I was a complete idiot for not fixing his problem at the first grunt!

Will...if you can say "The Flashlight needs Batteries" I think it is time to make you more accountable for the English language! And so the effort begins....

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Red Sox here he comes.....

Last year it was soccer...and that didn't go so well. Ben really didn't like playing, he didn't like his coach, he didn't like much of anything about soccer except his uniform. And as a side note...while we quit soccer after about 4 games and a LOT of tears...we do still wear the uniform on a regular basis to play soccer in the yard!

So this year Ben wanted to play T-Ball. And so again we bought all the gear...the pants, shoes, hat, shirt, socks, glove etc. etc. And last week we headed off to practice. The first practice went fairly well - only a few bouts of tears. So when the first game came around I though we were golden. But alas...the second Ben stepped out of the car at the baseball complex the fear started. "Mom...I'm afraid to run the bases...what if I don't know where they are?" "Mom...I don't think I will be able to catch the ball if someone throws it to me!" "Mom...can I just go home?" And the tears quickly followed the questions as he knew at that moment that I was not letting him quit and that he WOULD play T-Ball this season!

We spent most of the time during our first game with our head down, looking like the end of the world was nearing. He refused to bat and just stood in the outfield looking at the grass as if to count every piece over and over again. He took the "If I don't make eye contact with anyone I am not really here" approach to the game!

On the way home from this first game Ben didn't talk much. And when we got home he showed great remorse for not giving the game a try. He said he was embarrassed that all the kids got up to bat and that he had not tried. I assured him that we would be going back in just two days for another game and that he would have another chance at it all.

One of our neighbors is a T-Ball coach for his sons team. I let Mr. Scott know of Ben's rough first game! Well that was all we had to tell Scott and by that afternoon he had the cul-de-sac all ready for a neighborhood game of T-Ball. Bases laid out - batting helmets ready - and about 6 kids to play the game with Ben.

Ben took his first swing at the ball in our neighborhood baseball arena and it soared across the street. His friends yelled "Run Ben...."...and so he did. All the way around the bases! It was a mental victory for my little man! Thank you Scott - you helped more than you could ever know!

So Tuesday comes and Game day is upon us. Ben with his new found confidence hits the t-ball field. He is visibly scared, but holding his own with no tears...just a look of dread! And that my progress in its own right!

Ben's time to bat comes and he looks at me like he is about the throw up! I helped him get his batting helmet on and pick a bat...he walked slowly to the "T"...he looks at me and says "Mom...if I do this will you run the bases with me?" and so of course I say "Yep buddy - let's go...i'm here with you!"

Ben swings the ball with all his might and the ball flies right down the first base line. Ben and I are running with everything we have in us....and when we arrive at the base I realize a terrible thing....BEN IS OUT! Oh my....this can't be? Ben's coach looks at me and said...Renee..just stay there...he is running them all! (Thank goodness the other coach was nice enough to understand the need for a scoring run here...Ben would never know it didn't count!!)

And so it went...Ben ran the bases...batted again...and ended up scoring 2 points for his team in the end. He also stopped several balls from heading out to the far field and he had some great throws!
This blog is intended to brag about show that even the greatest fear can be overcome with love, support and sticking with it...and to thank all of the mom's and kids and neighbors and coaches who helped to make it possible for Ben to ask, "Mom...when is my next game...I can't wait!!"

Friends for a lifetime

24 years ago we met Mary Beth. Can it really be that long ago? I'm not old enough to have a friend for that long am I? But's true! 24 years ago I met the person that would be our Aunt Mary Beth!

She was a super friend to me from the start. I was new to the school and kids can be hard on a girl that is new in the 7th grade year! Many nasty looks and turned backs...but not from Mary Beth. She sat with me in the cafeteria and came to my house to play and never made me feel new!

24 years later we look forward to any time that we can spend with Mary Beth! My family was lucky enough to get her for one full week this time around. And boy did we...or should I say she...accomplish a ton during this past 6 days!

It all started on day one with the most difficult happy meal toys in the fast food world! least 20 pieces to put together to make this crazy sea turtle and snake! But she did it...with the help of Ben!!! :)

While MB was in Chesapeake she Ran 13 miles, fixed our broken water pipes, babysat my kids, had a date, did my laundry, rode a bike around the neighborhood to find a lost "blankie", painted two rooms in my brothers house, made dinner, put Ben on the Kindergarten bus, went to the grocery store for me, went shopping with my sister for her wedding gear - and bought Alyssa a pair of shoes!!...she played with the kids from 7am to 9pm every day (and for those of us who know MB...that is a long day of playing!!).

When I took her back to the airport my heart sank! You can't know how much we loved having you hear Aunt Mary Beth! And while you are back at home tonight - you are in our hearts every day!

Friday, September 7, 2007


Star in Your Own JibJab! It's Free!

Let's Boogie

Evil or decide!!

So yesterday as we played in the street for hours with our friends...our children started to get a bit hungry! I went in and got a bag of small pretzels and put Will in charge of handing them out to the other kids. About 15 minutes later Kyle comes to Erica and I...sitting on our kid watching chairs...and he is crying very hard!

He says, "Mom...Will won't share the pretzels with me...I keep telling him I want 5 pretzels (and at this point Kyle holds up his hand in front of him and shows all 5 fingers)...and he continues with his saga, "And Will keeps giving me high five and walking away!!"

So...the question is Will oblivious to what Kyle wants and just thinks a high five is really in order? Will just smart enough to see a joke where it lies and is on his way to being the next Best Comic Standing!!! :) You decide!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Anxiety and Excitement of a First Day...

" This morning I softly opened your door Reluctant to rouse you from sleep. Your blonde hair all tousled from a little boy's dream and your body curled up in a heap.

For a stolen moment standing there at your door my mind reached back into time. to a little blue bundle cuddled up in my arms and a gentle hint of nursery rhyme.

Was it not a mere yesterday that you were learning how to walk. And I know that it was just last week we were teaching you to talk.

But somehow, I managed to waken you to your breakfast waiting there. I dressed you in your finest clothes and I carefully combed your hair.

Oh little boy, I love you so and I felt like such a fool... to be so hesitant to let go of you on your very first day of school."

This poem was written 20 years ago by a mom that I don't even know. But when I read it I was so aware of how similar our lives are. I held back tears of both sorry and joy that very first day of school. I was proud of my little man and sad for my loss all at the same time.

To the friends who encouraged Ben to get on the bus that first morning - to the neighbors who helped Ben find his teacher on his first day - to our best friends Sue, Alexander, Hamilton, Erica, Benjamin, Bradley, and Mary Beth, who stood with this first time mom as her baby walked of the school bus in the afternoon - I THANK YOU!
For sharing in our experience and for supporting Ben and Me. I love you guys beyond what words can say and I know with no doubts that my blessing far outreach what any person deserves. I am thankful each and every day!

To Aunt Mary Beth who came from South Carolina to help me get through this week and to my Dear Erica - the angel that lives next door who brought cake and balloons to welcome Ben home... Just thank you! A million times over!

Congratulations Ben! We love you so! You are our big man and we are so very proud of you!