Jingle Bells are here!

It’s time to celebrate the Holidays!

Come join us for some holiday fun

with

MS. BITS N’ BOBS @

MANHATTAN VILLAGE MALL, THIS THURSDAY,

DECEMBER 10TH @ 10:00 AM

AND

PAGES BOOKSTORE, MANHATTAN BEACH

THIS MONDAY,

DECEMBER 14TH @ 10:30 AM

Let’s jingle with jingle bracelets and jingle ornaments.

Here are our ingredients:

Pipe cleaners
Jingle Bells

2015-12-08 03.37.19Thread the jingle bells through the pipe cleaners.


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Create jingling candy cane ornaments.

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Or make a jingle bells wreath.

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Or a jingling bracelet.

May your Holiday Season be filled with joy and happiness

Love,

Ms. Bits N’ Bobs

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The AYSO Soccer Ref

red and yellow card

This is a quick ode to my teenage son, whom I appreciate so much for his resilience and patience with his loving mum.

We are so proud of our boy.  He is going to become a youth soccer ref.  He chooses to take the ref. class out of the goodness of his kind, community minded heart.  I’m glowing with that fleeting moment of a mother with a teen – perhaps we haven’t done such a bad job with our kid after all.  Dash has played soccer since Kindergarten.  He continues to play as a goalkeeper in the AYSO league (American Youth Soccer Organization) and now he is graduating into helping out this wonderful organization and giving back by being a volunteer referee.

The class takes up a good part of the day.  Dash comes home late in the afternoon.  He has his “swag bag” with a whistle, ref. shorts and of course his yellow and black striped ref shirt.

“Mom, Mom” he calls from his room.  “C’m here!”

Oh, how my heart is leaping.  My kid actually wants to talk to me.  He is returning from the dark side of the moon.  I rush… calmly walk… to his room.

“What’s up?  I coolly inquire.

“Have you seen all the stuff I got from ref. class?”  He shows me his whistle, his youth volunteer badge, the flags, the clothes etc…

“But here is the important stuff.”  He grins.  He shows me the yellow card – the warning card.  Then out comes the red card – you’re off the field.

“Now let me explain how this works, mommy.  We now no longer have to actually talk to communicate, when you come into my room and annoy me for the first time, I’ll show you the yellow card.  If you continue to talk and bother me, well, you know what’s coming.”  He flashes the red card.  “Then you are banned from my room.”  He smiles angelically.

I laugh.  I cry a little inside.  I’m glad there’s still humor.  I think?

“You can go now.”  He blows his whistle

The game of parenting, growing up and life continues.

 

The Journey has Begun…

The Journey has begun…

The premiere Ms. Bits N’ Bobs theatre show has come and gone.

Without a hitch?  Mmmm?  Without any angst?  Nmm?  Fun to perform?  YES! YES! YES!

Blessed art thou, the Karate Sensei who told me that I should just go ahead and do my shows in his Karate Studio.  www.mbkarateandyoga.com He is also the guy who told me many years ago, “you do the best that you can do, with what you’ve got.”  This was when I was attempting to do karate kicks whilst holding two year old Olivia on one arm.  A crawling 9 month old Tallulah was trying to cling to my leg as I attempted to complete a Karate kick whilst avoiding kicking my son, Dash, with whom I was trying to bond and the only reason I had taken up Karate in the first place.

Ah those halcyon days… why did I ever think that those were the difficult times?  I must have sent out over 300-400 emails advertising these shows.  I approached all the very kind pre-school and elementary school principles and librarians, teachers and friends, who have provided so much encouragement and support over the last few years.  I handed out a few hundred flyers to people around my local school, including the all important local nanny network who hang out on the greenbelt close to my house.  All of this work and anxiety to merely sell 30 tickets per show.

Show #1… I sold 10 tickets!  Now on my behalf, it was the first weekend of baseball season and the St. Patrick’s Day parade.  Still… only ten tickets!

I had known going into that Saturday morning, that perhaps I had some learning to do in the marketing department.  I was  still bummed that so few people were showing up to the premiere show.

Holy Flying Guacamole!  They were the greatest ten people to ever participate in a show.  We took on the challenge of going to the Land of Imagination with verve and vigor.  When we galloped into an alternative universe on our magical horses, we flew there through a splash of color and camaraderie with fairies, dragons, Cinderella and even a cannon that shot out kids.  We met Charlotte, the spider from Charlotte’s Web.  She joined the audience – we needed her, she made 11.  One of our kids could describe Hansel and Gretel’s house so clearly, that we were all salivating to try some of the sparkling gingerbread.  But we knew the witch was really inside waiting for her chance to jump us.  The kids could talk all kinds of animal languages, my favorite being the Human Language where the mom spoke Blah, Blah, Blah all day.

I feel invigorated and joyful that I had the chance to entertain and be entertained by those magical children.  The journey has begun with small but magical steps.  I look forward to Ms. Bits N’ Bobs – Take #2 this weekend.  Naturally, I would love to share the adventure with you.

The Magic?

I often have children ask me whether I am real?  More philosophically profound when addressed to me as a mother in my workout clothing,  more understandable when addressed to me as Ms. Bits N’ Bobs with my brightly colored cloak covered in toys.

I always struggle with the answer.  Some children want to believe in the magic all the way, and if I tell them its all just make-believe, the entire experience is lessened.  Others are afraid, that if Ms. Bits n’ Bobs is real, that puts everything else into question, as in “does that mean the big bad wolf really can come and get me?”

We are Jewish.  That is why I feel it is important to tell you about my first Christmas.  For reasons that belie my current parenting angst, when I was eight years old, on a chilly December morning, my parents put me on a plane by myself from Johannesburg to Capetown, so that I could spend a vacation with my step-grandmother, Granny ‘Nita.  The two hour plane ride was completely uneventful – I wasn’t kidnapped, didn’t open the emergency doors and dance on the wings (it was tempting) and it didn’t even occur to me to pretend to be a terrorist.  Ah innocent days.

Granny ‘Nita met me at the airport with a safe hug and a smile and drove me through the lilac, Jacquaranda tree-lined streets to my step-mother’s childhood home in Bellville – where the mulberry tree overlooked the swimming pool.  Over the next few days, hands purple from squishing fresh mulberries into my mouth, I swam off excess energy and played with the newborn puppies of the household.

Christmas was approaching, an event noticeable in our household for eliciting yawns as one of the most boring days of the year.  We certainly didn’t celebrate a “Christian” holiday and clearly all the other kids were too busy for play dates on this day.

However, Uncle S. had married a “Christian” and we were going to her family’s home on Christmas day.  I was certainly politely curious about Xmas trees, Santa, presents etc… but definitely as an outsider who did not participate in these rituals.  The other family was also Afrikaans speaking making the whole experience even more exotic.

As was Granny ‘Nita’s way, I went with her on all her shopping chores.  On this particular day, a few days before Christmas, I was to help her find a birthday gift for one of her bridge buddies grandchildren, who fascinatingly enough was around my age.

Now, you know, I was on my best behavior throughout this holiday and today I was so excited to actually be useful.  Up and down the glittering aisles of tinsel, Granny ‘Nita and I paraded – was she thinking of something expensive or less so?  Granny ‘Nita wasn’t sure – so I pointed out both kinds.  Was she close to this child?  Should it be a very personal gift?  Yes, Granny ‘Nita was really fond of this little girl.  Was she a girly girl or more of a tomboy?  “A little of both” Granny ‘Nita replied after serious thought.

We didn’t end up purchasing anything that day for the lucky girl.  I was quite jealous of her actually, except clearly Granny ‘Nita preferred me as I hadn’t even met this girl yet.  I hope that she liked the gifts that I had helped to choose.

Christmas day arrived as uneventful as always.  I helped feed the puppies – then off to the Christmas festivities in “Afrikaansland” we went.  In South Africa, it was mandatory to learn Afrikaans from Kindergarten upwards.  However, aged eight, I’d never heard a bunch of people who actually spoke this language as their native tongue.  I’d always just thought of the lesson as an especially useless part of the school day.

At the party, there were at least twenty kids and they were super friendly and welcoming to me – in Afrikaans.  I understood NOT a word.  I smiled politely.

Then Santa came out.  Not from the fireplace, but the door near it.  It was Uncle S. – I understood not to tell the secret, not even if I could have in Afrikaans.  But I did finally comprehend that it was Jewish men who all played Santa.  At least we played some role on Christmas day.  He carried, should I say dragged the biggest, furry, red sack I had ever seen.  I understood that the childrens’ gifts would be inside and stood aside so that my new found, exuberant, Afrikaans friends could enjoy their bounty.  I also understood that there would be no gifts for me as this was not my holiday – in the same way that when you go to someone else’s birthday party, it’s completely acceptable for that child to get gifts but not you.

For although Uncle S. had dressed the role of Santa, clearly the real Santa had dropped the gifts through the chimney that morning and in the same way that G-d spared the Children of Israel at Passover – Santa spared us by passing over our Chimney’s at Christmas.

So, imagine my surprise when Uncle S. “Santa” yells my name with some Afrikaans words sprinkled in, from across the room  The sea of jolly, smiling kids parts the way and gift upon gift… upon gift are piled upon me – yes, little Jewish me – from Santa!

Every single gift that I had so thoughtfully suggested to Granny ‘Nita for “that other girl” were oohed and aahed over by my new non-English speaking friends.  From a manicure set, to a beautiful doll, a paint set and a snow globe, I got the most gifts out of everyone.

I knew the gifts were from Granny ‘Nita.  Clearly, she did too.  But we both knew the gifts were officially from Santa.  When I asked her how I could say thank you, Granny ‘Nita just said “Keep the magic alive in your life”.

I still have the manicure set and Granny ‘Nita your magic lives on in my heart.

Just Sign ‘Em Up!

 

Olivia and Tallulah may disown me for writing this particular story. Though sometimes it’s tempting to want to sign your children up for the military at a young age, this isn’t about that.  However, sign-ups are here again for AYSO soccer season.  For those of you in other countries, AYSO is American Youth Soccer Organization.  Soccer is a huge sport for kids in America.  I don’t know what happens when we reach adulthood, ‘cos unlike in England, Spain, Mexico, Italy, South Africa and the rest of the world no-one here really gives soccer the time of day as a grown-up.

Needless to say, I have signed up all three of my children to run around a field and hopefully score a couple goals this coming season.  Dash, now 12, has always scored goals in soccer, before specializing as a goalie and I naively assumed that all children did.  Olivia (8) has gone two seasons without scoring and does not like the game (I wonder why?)  Tallulah (6) who looks tall and athletic, is scared of the soccer ball (mostly ‘cos her sister prepared her with menacing stories of mean running girls at bedtime.)  Both of them have told me in no uncertain terms that they do not want to play soccer.

So why has this crazy mother signed them all up?  Not to mention the fact that my husband or I have to get the kids to three practices and three soccer games every week. Come to think of it…I’m rapidly talking myself out of the entire proposition, which is not the goal of the story.

There are the obvious positives…running around and getting sweaty, working as a group, learning that you are only as strong as the weakest link in the chain.  It gives my kids a social outlet that is apart from school. They will meet kids from other elementary schools, so that when they make that transition into middle and high school they’ll already know a whole bunch of kids from the other feeder schools.

But here is the kicker (yes, pun intended) for me…  Dash, even though he sometimes scores, is not the star of his team.  Whilst driving him to a friend’s house recently, I asked him whether I had made the right decision to just “sign him up” each year, when he was 8, 9, 10 years old.  These were the famous “NO” years for Dash.  Vegetables for dinner? NO!  Sports?  NO!  Ice cream?  NO!  I mean YES.  I was more than a little surprised when I received an unflinching, unreserved, in-my-face YES! Absolutely. Mom, you did the right thing.   Just Sign ‘Em Up!

Currently, Dash is a great, well-respected soccer goalie.  He understands and knows that he could never have gotten to this place or figured out his position without the years of practice and of winning and losing games.  He understands that you need to earn the respect of your coaches and your team mates over time.  He understands and values respect – others and his own.   And whilst many American adults may not have a passion for soccer, we do like our self-respect.

So, although I am sure that the concept of dogged determination and constant practice can be learned in other areas of life, group sports infuse this idea at a young age.   AYSO soccer is so well organized that all you have to really do is… just sign ’em up.

Dash is glad I did.

The Bits N’ Bobs of the Week Side Bar:

(AKA compulsory read for desperate parents trying to get their kids of the TV, computer, Wii, XBox, DS screen)

You may have heard through the grapevine about a certain World Cup in a certain country of my birth, South Africa, coming up.  Tallulah is all about the Spectator Sport.  She is the inspiration for this week’s “bit n’ bob of the week”.  For those of you with kids there is an entire section of my website devoted to arts n’ crafts or activities that are linked to the shows and now I guess the blog.  (See top of the menu on the right).  So voila… here goes.

FIFA World Cup Art’s n’ Crafts activity

Choose your country and some countries that your team is playing in the FIFA world cup.  Have your child make flags for each country using regular 81/2″ x11″ paper.  Attach popsicle sticks, garden sticks or kebab sticks on the back and wave to your hearts content.

Tallulah and I are rooting for England, (adopted country #1) vs. USA (adopted country #2) this coming Saturday.  The rest of the family are pulling for the USA.  I know, I know, the TV screen still involved, but I’m weaning slowly.