Summer Vacation 2015

Our family vacation nearly got lost in the sauce this year. Jarvie, Giles and I were invited a year ago to visit my brother in Thetford, Vermont and my sister in Boston. Little did anyone know that I would have back surgery in the spring and that Jim, my sister-law’s father, would die a few weeks before our trip, making the timing of our trip less than ideal. Our compromise was that we would forge ahead and go on the trip, but stay at a resort, instead of staying with my brother and his family, allowing them more space and time to plan for the memorial service for Jim.

Nonetheless, the Lafave’s headed east and north for vacation this summer. First, we flew to Boston and then headed by car to South Hamilton, to visit my sister Annie and her family. Annie lives in horse country and true to form, there is horse farm across and next to her beautiful home. These pastures are home to the Harvard Polo Team and truly idyllic. Her dogs Piper and Lexi are free to roam and often saunter off with friends, as they pass by. Life doesn’t get much better!

While with Annie, we went on the Duck Tour in Boston, which is a bus, which tours the city and then becomes a boat, which tours the harbor. The boys, who are 5 1/2, loved the Duck Tour, but were dissappointed that the bus didn’t turn into a real duck!

After our visit with Annie and her clan, we journeyed by Lincoln Town & Country mini vanup to Lake Morey Resort in Vermont, near Thetford, where my brother Artie and his family have a summer home. Lake Morey provided just enough child activities to enrich the day. My boys took golf lessons, had story hour, engaged in crafts, played games, swam in the lake, went paddle boarding, canoeing, speed boating, played pool, and viewed family movies in the theatre, after dinner, and before bed.

The third leg of our trip was with my friend, Kate Stevens, from my Oberlin days of yore. Kate lives in Beverly, MA right on the water, not far from my sister Annie. Never did get a chance to glimpse John Theriault, whom Kate married shortly after college, as he was away on business in Singapore. Kate took us all over the place. We learned to “numb up” at the several beaches Kate paraded us around. The water was a bit cold, but once you get in, you can get used to it!

Have you been on a family vacation or any vacation, lately, at all? I think of vacations as much like punctuation. They demarcate periods of time before, after and during the vacation. It seems like if you simply stay home, and just do your regular routine, the days seem to blend together somehow. They lack the focus you feel when you remember a trip or a vacation!

Vacations are opportunities for creating a little history and making a few wonderful memories. Even if you can’t go away far, or for long, take a weekend trip, not far from home. We have done several trips like this including friends we adore! Sometimes getting away for just the weekend, somewhere just an hour away,is enough to make you feel, as if you’ve been away for longer and travelled a much greater distance. It is possible to be close to home, but feel light years away!

If you are a bit more strapped, try a staycation and save the money on airfares, gas and lodging and devote that money to living it up a bit in your home town. Create an actual schedule and stick to it. Go to the zoo, the museum, take in a movie, go swimming at a fancy location. And don’t forget about dinner. Dine out at a few favorite restaurants and fix a few fabulous meals.

One of my cousins had a tradition of having Family Fun Days, in which their family did everything together and no outsiders were included. Everyone in the family protected those days and really looked forward them. Why not create a few FF days of your own! If you are single you will have to create another special name for these days and decide who gets to join you on these days I’d delight! No matter what your circumstances, I encourage you to find ways to celebrate life with the people you care about!

Lisa J Lafave, PhD, MBA, ACC
CEO & Founder of Coaching Rocks, LLC
A Single Mom By Choice Raising Surrogacy Twin Boys
Written in My Little Brick in University Hts, Ohio

Leap Into Action!

I Bought A Piano Only to See It Sit In My Dining Room.

My boys, Jarvie and Giles, who are now 5 1/2, have been taking Dalcroze Eurhythmics, at The Cleveland Institue of Music, for two years now. This is the beginning of their third year. In Eurhythmics, they learn to run, skip, hop, tip toe, or gallop, according to what type of notes the instructor plays, on the piano. They also learn about 16 different types of notes. Eurhythmics is a great foundation to pursuing any instrument. At CIM, all the young adult, students are required to take Eurhythmics.

All along, I have been interested in having Jarvie & Giles have an appreciation for music, and then learn how to play the guitar. Along the way, friends shared with me that they thought beginning piano was important for any musical education, including guitar.

I thought I would start guitar lessons at five years old, however, my plans were foiled. Upon further exploration, I discovered that the guitar teachers felt that learning guitar, before the age of seven was too early, because of the size of the average 4, 5, and 6 year old’s hand.

So I thought to myself, maybe Jarvie and Giles could take piano in the interim. I attended a meeting at the Cleveland Institute of Music regarding preparatory piano lessons. I was told you need to have an acoustic piano, in your home, in order to have your child in their preparatory classes. So I went out and purchased a like new, but used, Baldwin. She is a beauty! Sounds pretty good too!

As I began to make arrangements for piano lessons, with teachers from the Cleveland Institute of Music, the common theme was that it would be better to wait, until the boys were seven to start piano. Apparently, the teachers want children to know that you read prose and music, from left to right, and until that is drilled into the brains of little boys and little girls, trying to read music is rather difficult!

Thank goodness that Baldwin is as pretty to look at, as she is to listen to! I have acquired a rather large piece of furniture in my dining room that will sit largely unused, until my boys learn to read!

So much for taking piano, before guitar!

Lisa J Lafave, PhD, MBA, ACC
A Single Mom By Choice Raising Surrogacy Twin Boys
CEO & Founder of Coaching Rocks, LLC
Written in Mt Little Brick in University Heights, Ohio

Leap Into Action!

My Son the Jokester

Giles sporting boxer briefs over shorts
Giles sporting boxer briefs over shorts

Giles will go along way for a laugh. He left the locker room at Purvis Park, our local swimming hole, with his boxer briefs over his shorts. They match so darn well it almost looks like one pair of shorts. But no, that’s my five year old trying to make everyone laugh with a new look. I must admit, I didn’t even notice until my babysitter Sascha pointed it out. I truly wonder whether he’ll be a comedian one day!

Pillow Talk

Before bed, Jarve loves to come in and chat with me. He basically downloads his day, and talks about any particular concerns he has, and tells me he loves me a million times over. It is also a time for problem solving. It is such a sweet time. I cherish it so.

Tonight before bed, this was the gist of the conversation.

Jarvie: Mama you are the best Mom in the whole world.

Mama: Jarvie you are the best boy in the whole world.

Jarvie: Mama how can I be the best boy in the whole world, when I fight with Giles everyday?

Mama: Well, you are a work in progress. Everyday you are changing and hopefully everyday you will work toward fighting with Giles less and getting along more. I am very proud of you just the way you are.

Jarvie: Well, now we fight about 5 times everyday. Maybe I could get it down to 2 times a day. That would be better. Huh Mama?

Mama: That would be much better. Just try to get along with him. Sometimes it is better to give something up, so you can get along. Just try it and see if you like it.

Jarvie: Okay Mama, I’m gonna try it. You are the best Mama ever!

And with that, Jarvie drifted off to sleep!

Lisa J Lafave, PhD, MBA, ACC
The Surrogacy Coach from Surrogacy Rocks
CEO & Founder of Coaching Rocks, LLC
A Single Mom By Choice Raising Surrogacy Twin Boys
Written in My Little Brick in University Heights, Ohio

Funny What they Know and Don’t Know All at Once

Jarvie: Be back in a minute Mom, even though I don’t really know what a minute is.

Mama: A minute is sixty seconds you silly goose.

Lisa J Lafave, PhD, MBA, ACC
The Surrogacy Coach from Surrogacy Rocks
CEO & Founder of Coaching Rocks, LLC
A Single Mom By Choice Raising Surrogacy Twin Boys
Written in My Little Brick in University Heights, Ohio

The Baldwin Arrived!

Our beautiful Baldwin spinnet
Our beautiful Baldwin spinnet

Piano lessons during your youth is such a tried and true way to have kids involved in music and gain a deeper understanding. It’s almost a rite of passage. When I was a kid nearly everyone had piano lessons, or so it seemed. I bet that’s less true now. Even if this experience is one of monkey see, monkey do, I hope it works out well!

My boys, Jarvie and Giles, took Dalcroze Eurhythmics for 2 years at The Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM). My father was on the Board of Trustees there for many years. It’s truly a fine institution.

Dalcroze is a way for people to engage gross motor movements to music according to learned conventions. There is theory added in as well. It is the perfect preparation for playing an instrument, where it all comes together and finer motor movements are required.

I was hoping eurhythmics would help my boys with guitar later on. Guitar seems like such a nice and manageable instrument. But at five, their hands are not big enough to start. I don’t want all the Dalcroze to go the wayside.

Everyone kept saying that piano is the foundation for guitar and all other instruments, so piano it is, at least for now! Funny how a class at three can lead to a whole life style.

Piano is really a perfect addition to their overall education. It involves so many aspects of life. They can learn to listen to music with a more discerning ear, develop a knowledge of a whole other world, they can learn to play and enjoy theory an technique, as well as, have their emotions engaged in all of these experiences. It truly is very rich.

What piano will they play, you ask. Richard, our friend and dog walker, had offered to give us his. Sounded like a great idea at first blush. I could have the kids involved in piano and not take so much risk. I went and took a peak at it and discovered it is in poor repair. It has broken strings. The wood looks a bit frightful. Poor thing has been neglected. It was well loved in its day. It hasn’t been played in 25 years!

So I did some research. First question was where could I have it restored and how much would it cost. I was told that for $1800 I could have his piano moved out of his house, restored and moved to my house, but it’s really just the toss of a coin whether it would hold a tune! At that price, I was well on my way to buying one that is restored, tuned and working well.

Such a kind offer on Richard’s part. I totally appreciate the thought. The boys love Richard and I think they would have treasured having his piano. It just isn’t the path I want to take.

Buying a newly restored one or a new one is truly a risk. But likely a risk well worth taking. You just don’t know if your investment will pay off. You never know if your child will take to it or just want nothing to do with it in short order. I guess nothing ventured, nothing gained.

We got a Baldwin! I bought it from Bill Kap, at Kap’s Pianos, down on Euclid near Superior. He has a wonderful store. He says he is a world class collector of music boxes. He also has organs and music machines with drums and glockenspiel inside something that looks like a player piano. He showed me a few. They are amazing. I will take the boys back to see them, as kind of a field trip, of sorts. Bill is an older man in his mid 80s, who has been working there for 61 years. He son is there to take the reigns when he is ready to leave.

Our Baldwin is a beauty! She sits in the dining room. I hope that will be a good long term choice for her. I kind of like it, because it’s a straight shot from the kitchen sink, where I spend a lot of time. I can just turn my head and check in to see what the boys are up to.

Where to take the lessons? CIM, of course. Fortunately, teachers come up this way and provide lessons in the basement of the Unitarian Church, which is just a few miles away. The boys are totally familiar with that place. We used to hang out in the piano rooms there, when we took Kindermusic classes.

Now we are in the hunt for teachers. Two have been recommended, Andre Kelberg and Ann Castellano. I had been hoping they could have a group lesson, but Dr. Schulze of CIM highly advises against. Richard explains it would be very likely that they would progress at different speeds too. So single lessons with two different CIM teachers.

Getting these boys to practice is going to be a real treat! Nonetheless, we are so looking forward to the experience.

Who knows we might have the next Liberace or Elton John in the house! Even if that is not the case, the experience may help them to have a life long love for piano or music, in general.

Wish us luck with our journey!

Lisa J Lafave, PhD, MBA, ACC
The Surrogacy Coach from Surrogacy Rocks
CEO & Founder of Coaching Rocks, LLC
A Single Mom By Choice Raising Surrogacy Twin Boys
Written in My Little Brick in University Heights, Ohio

How a Question Can Become A Declaration!

The other day, I was cleaning up the kitchen when my 5 year old son Giles said to me, “Mom, do you think I will be a good man when I grow up?”

My reply? “Well I certainly hope so. That is clearly the plan. Come to think of it, I do think you will be a good man when you grow up!”

To which Giles remarked with strong conviction, “That’s right Mom, I am going to be a very, very, very good man when I grow!”

The fact that he is pondering this at all suggests a desire to lead a meaningful life. One filled with purpose. This desire means he has begun to create a positive path for himself toward his manhood.

I am really going to love watching him grow. And you know what? As his mom, I have front row seats!

Yes today was a good day. A very, very, very good day!

Lisa J Lafave, PhD, MBA, ACC
CEO & Founder of Coaching Rocks, LLC
A Single Mom By Choice Raising Surrogacy Twin Boys
Written in My Little a Brick in University a Heights, Ohio

Media Games are Quickly Addicting!

My son Jarvie, has taken to this Frozen free fall game and now I know why. It’s totally addicting. I spent the last two hours playing it over and over again. Such a waste. I wanted to see what he was doing and am glad I did. I will be removing it from all of our machines. It’s interesting at first, but then the same darn thing over and over and over again.

I wonder what playing these games does to your heart rate and your ability to sleep at night. I already know what it does to your mind set. Puts it in the garbage!

I used to say I was so glad I didn’t live near a major gambling center like Vegas or Atlantic city, but truth be told we do live just 7 short miles from the Horseshoe Casino in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. I am so glad I know enough to leave well enough alone! House always wins anyway. That’s why they call it a business!

No real gambling for this girl. It’s a nasty scene and one I just won’t be part of.

I wonder what early experience with gambling like five and under, does to the developing mind with regard to susceptibility to developing an adult gambling problem. Heck I don’t even really want to know. I just want to shield my kids from all of that crap. Help me get back to a more wholesome game of go fish!

I did start out the day with this question, when I first opened my eyeballs, “Can I challenge you to a game of Tip It?” Oh my goodness at the time my response was, “Go play with your brother,” but after this experience I might revise that and say something like, “Hang onto your hat, I’m on my way!”

Lisa J Lafave, PhD, MBA, ACC
The Surrogacy Rocks Coach
CEO & Founder of Coaching Rocks, LLC
A Single Mom By Choice Raising Surrogacy Twin Boys
Written in My Little Brick in University Heights, Ohio

Piano, Guitar or Both?

Do you have a musical background?  What did you study first? Recorder? Piano? Violin? Drums?  Inquiring minds want to know!

My boys are five and as such I am told their hands just aren’t large enough to give guitar a good go.  I would like nothing better than for one of them to really take to the guitar.  But apparently we have some growing to do first.  Admittedly, Giles is a bit bigger than Jarvie, but still not big enough to start Guitar.  I want them to start together anyway.  I’m told guitar at 7.  So the question remains what do we fill the gap between Delcros Eurythmics and Guitar with?Piano?  Does a basic foundation in Piano put Guitar players in better stead anyway?  I think there are different theories here.

I am considering launching them in Piano lessons this Fall through the Cleveland Institue of Music (CIM) and taking the lessons at the local Unitarian Church.  This way they would not lose all the knowledge they have gained from the last year of Delcros Eurhythmics.

Fortunately, our friend and dog walker Richard can give us an old spinnet, which won’t take up too much space in our little home.  For those of you who don’t know a spinnet is the smallest upright piano.  The spinnet must be moved from his house to ours and then tuned.  All in the next 6 weeks.  Sounds like I better find a tuner now.



Preparing for travel

Jarvie and Giles at the BMV

The boys are really growing up and today is really a momentous occasion!  We are getting our state IDs, complete with photo, and passports for the boys!  When I was a kid no one had a State ID.  Today it is a necessity to travel on an airplane!  We are preparing for our trip to the east coast and then who knows where!  Any suggestions for great places for travel for 5 year old boys from the Midwest!

I would love to go to Cuba and Puerto Rico.  Disney Land in Orlando beckons me too.  Maybe we can go at Christmas time.  I guess the first thing is to figure out if I can walk after my back surgery!  It may be that I need a knee replacement too, before I can really walk.  We’ll see.  Only time will tell.

Lisa J Lafave, PhD, MBA, ACC
CEO & Founder COaching Rocks, LLC
A Single Mom By Choice Raising Twin Surrogacy Biys
Written in My Liitle Brick in University Heights, Ohio