Monday, July 25, 2011

A Big Decision

being the "Princess and The Pea"
I'd do anything for this little person. 

So when after a few days of camp at the fabulous nature immersion Reggio Emilia based school I have been lusting after, we realized that she was happy, more excited, more creative and direct at home.  During camp, she was talking more with the people there in four days or so than with some folks she has known for years.  We had to lay it on the table.  This was an excellent match, and soon other things dropped into place to make this an unavoidable truth. 

The kids at camp did a lego project when it was boiling hot outside, and she talked about her creation for a full 4 minutes (it was recorded) while there were a lot of other conversations going on in the room.  There are lots of people who have never heard Peanut talk for this long.  Maybe not even more than one or two words at a time.  This is a big deal.  Then, after Honey dropped her off at camp on Friday, he told me it was "a really cool school!  I'd like to get a tour next time!".  Ummmm.....I have gone twice for an open house and waxed poetic about it.  When I mentioned this and asked him if he thought I was just getting excited about a regular school he said yup.  So - note to self - next time be more forceful with things that are awesome. 

We signed her up for another week of camp, and then sat down to discuss the future.  We talked with Peanut about her playgroup and homeschool preschool group, and how she felt about missing those things if she went to school.  She was fine with it all, and adamant that Pumpkin could do all of those things while she was a school and it would be just fine with her.  Wow.  After lots of pros and cons and questions and answers emailed back and forth from the school, we couldn't deny it.  We needed to send her. 

So life, it is shifting.  With a big change in our daily routine, lots of help and support from Peanut's grandma and goose (great grandma) as well as me adding some more hours at work, we are going to make this work.  How could we not?


What happens when zucchini hide...

Our first melon of the season. We've been waiting and hoping to get to it before the squirrels...

It was really good too!
Black eye peas - labor intensive but easy to grow.

My solution to the squirrels that are eating all of our tomatoes before I can pick them.  I'd prefer vine ripened but I will take whatever I can get right now.

Oh Love!

There are so many small moments that I want to remember - I can sort of understand why people do the reality TV thing.  I'd love to have a camera crew around at all times to capture that one small moment that just makes your heart melt, or causes you to burst out laughing, or makes you realize how much your children have grown. 

This weekend, I pulled the little guy into bed with me when he woke up in the wee hours.  He (and his Bitty Baby of course) snuggled in between me and Honey, but he had no intention of going back to sleep.  He started talking, and at some point, he started pointing to my eyes and nose, and labeling everything.  We giggled back and forth for a while about how many eyes or noses we had, and just made goofy faces.  Then he said "I like yours eyes.  I like your nose.  Mama, I like yours everything." and gave me this big floppy grin.  Oh, the love.  Remind me to read this when he is 13...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


It's icky sticky and hot.  Even at 6am, just laying on the ground doing crunches I have sweat dripping off me.  It's quite gross.

So it seems like the perfect time to cool off in the pool or the sprinkler.  Yeah, well, our pool seems to be a mosquito larvae haven, and after a few days the water just gets nasty anyway.  That will teach me to buy a kiddie pool that is big enough to need a filter.  Peanut loves the big pool, Pumpkin does not.  And we don't have a neighborhood pool, so going in the "big pool" means inviting ourselves over to someones house.  The sprinkler is another story - Pumpkin is completely distressed about the sprinkler and won't go near it even when we are just watering the garden.  Peanut likes the sprinkler, but is pretty choosy.  She is at camp this week, and the kids were running through the sprinkler when I got there to pick her up.  Well, all the kids aside from her that is.  She told me that she "that sprinkler was different and I only like our sprinkler".  So she was pretty hot when I got her in the car.  She decided to ride home naked, and then climb a tree.  Funny way to beat the heat!

The New Babies

Our kids know that stores are places where people buy things, and the know that we are not going to every purchase everything (or anything for that matter) that they are drawn to as we shop.  We've routinely gone out and had folks comment on how amazing it is to see little kids walk past toys and dolls without a tantrum, saying "oh - someone else will buy that". 

So when Peanut discovered the American Girl catalog in the mail, we were a little wary, but not really concerned.  She and Pumpkin thought it was a book about babies for several days, and then someone spilled the beans.  Once she learned it was a store where you could actually see and purchase all of those beautiful girls and babies she was completely smitten.  The two of them spent the next several days discussing which baby they wanted ( they had narrowed it down to the babies rather than the girls - thank goodness since they are like half the price!) and making sure Honey and I were well aware of their wishes. 

At some point, Peanut began a campaign to convince Pumpkin to want a certain doll, clearly since she planned to do a friendly takeover once they got them home.  We were having none of that though, and nipped those discussions in the bud.  We did agree to go over to the store on Saturday to look at the babies, and I thought she would fly she was so excited to hear it. 

Honey and I discussed what we were willing to do, and decide that if each child wanted a baby doll, we would allow it.  I just hate being a lemming, and to me, this seems like a fad that "everyone does" just because.  It's like the Cabbage Patch kids when I was a kid, the Tickle me Elmo nonsense, and whatever other crazy stuff kids "have to have" every Christmas.  But, Peanut was truly excited, as was Pumpkin, and who are we to take that joy away from them?  It's not like we go out and cater to every commercial whim they have.  And babies are the be all end all for my little girl - she could play babies all day long.

So off to the store, and it really couldn't have been any more wonderful.  Peanut had brought one of her other babies, and as she said goodbye to her, she told her "When I come back, I'll bring you a new friend!".  Once in the store, She picked out her baby right away, and was beaming.  I asked Pumpkin if he was interested in one too or if he just wanted his sister to get one.  He clearly wanted his own baby and chose quickly.  We paid, went to dinner, and the kids had the babies out of the boxes in the car.  They snuggled them and played with them all the way home, the whole next morning, and every spare moment since then.  This is the first item that Pumpkin has allowed in his bed as a "lovey", and he cares for his new baby "Tiny" beautifully, changing her diaper, keeping her safe, taking her on walks, and introducing her to friends.  Peanut has named hers Emily Samantha, and has been very focused on her well being.  She has had a birthday, gone to the doctor, and has her own bedtime routines.  All in all, a purchase well worth making. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

This Moment - A Friday Ritual

I'm following along with SouleMama - in her words:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Boot Camp

Boot Camp.  Yes, that is the current plan.  Why?  We have a full gym in our house!  We have a neighborhood with sidewalks!  We have hiking trails all over the place!  We have almost every workout DVD known to man! 

Well, it's because I've gotten pretty lazy really.  I know I could get up and do P90X or jump on the elliptical, or run with the dog, but I'm not doing it.  I'm coming up with all kinds of rationalizations to let myself off the hook and just lay there.  I was getting pretty disgusted with myself, and I saw this deal from Groupon for a month of boot camp... and voila!

The first day (I did a demo class two weeks ago to be sure I really wanted to do it) we ran.  We did sprints, hills, and all kinds of things that reminded me of high school track practice.  I was also reminded that I ran around 7 miles a day in college for fun without anyone telling me to.  For God's sake I was a freaking personal trainer/aerobics/pilates/step instructor until a few years ago!  All this running was really hard, but I wasn't the last one finishing up, and was pumped up to do more. 

I'm finding that I can do way more than I thought - I'm actually pretty strong and fit - I'm just carrying around some extra fuel in case I might need it in a crisis.  Every day is a bit different - bands, sprinting up and down stairs, push ups, crunches, leg throw downs, whatever. 

What's been interesting is that I work way harder for one trainer than the other. I've got two trainers who alternate days, and I've realized that with one of them I slack off quite a bit.  As I thought about it, they have different ways of teaching, and different ways of speaking - one says "take another lap!" hands me a weight while I'm doing crunches, adds a step into an exercise I've got down pat, and otherwise throws an extra something at me.  The other says "I'd do another lap", and sees that I'm doing an exercise right and leaves me alone.  So I end up relaxing in one class and surprising myself with what I can do in the other. 

As I thought about this on my way home this morning, I realized that I am working hard for them - the trainers - and I should be working hard for me!  The point of this month is to get a kick in the pants and remind myself how great it feels to work out hard, not to create a dependence on someone telling me what to do.  Starting tomorrow, the work is all for me.    I'm adding on, pushing, and modifying as I need to and want to to make myself work as hard as I can so I'm impressed with myself.  The hell with impressing anyone else.  Ah, the psychology of body conditioning - so interesting.  I'm learning things about myself in the oddest of ways...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Thinking long Range

I've realized that I am just plain scared of emotions.  Mine, my kids, people in general.  Sometimes, I just don't know what to say or just don't want to deal with it so I ignore them.  It's funny, because at work I am the first person to identify and discuss the emotional components of raising kids, and am more than able to help families to problem solve their frustration, anger, sadness, etc.  Of course it's way easier to see things objectively when you are not one of the main players.

Lately, I've been realizing that in order to be a better mom, I need get more than OK with being in the muck of a mess of emotions, and get used to figuring out my own emotional responses to every ones feelings.  I'm pretty decent at validating feelings, but my own crap definitely gets in the way of going any further than that.  My first inclination when I hear crying or whining is annoyance.  Partly because I have learned that if it is coming from one person in particular, it means that a dress is too hot, or the baby doll's diapers don't fit right or the pillow has fallen, or she needs a tissue, or something else that could easily be done without an adults assistance, but for whatever reason must be giving the blessing of an adult.  I go back over our early years as brand new parents and try to figure out this helplessness and I keep coming back to the rules we set.  Many of them I think made it hard for her to see what she could do on her own, and in fact "broke" her of her independent streak.  But clearly, there is some element of personality there as well.  I also know that before the kids were truly talking, I had way more patience for all of it.  I was easily able to translate, validate, support, empathize.  Once they could talk though, my expectations increased.  They should be able to say what they want, needs, feel, etc.  Of course I know that is not true - really who can even do all that all the time as an adult? 

So the past few weeks have been a learning experience.  I had this crazy set of personal, public, and random events all at once, that has caused things to come together for me on so many levels, and pushed me towards making some changes.  With me, there are always a few books in the mix of any change, and this is no exception.  Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves by Naomi Aldort is one that had been recommended so often I felt it was a necessary read.  I had just read The Work a few weeks ago, so Aldorts ideas were not new, but they helped translate The Work to parenting for me.  The basic idea is that you are in control of your own thoughts which are what make you feel bad or good.  It's not that other things or people make you feel one way or another, it's all you.  I've been asking myself  "is it true" about all of my self talk, and finding that mostly, it's not.  You can decide how you want to be and who you want to be that is not who you are with your "story" - the old assumptions, roles, traits, etc. that you played in your family growing up, at work, or wherever else you might have been labeled one way or another.  With Aldorts version of the Work, you as a parent, teacher, mentor, help children process through their feelings and thought in a similar way.  You give voice to their feelings without creating added drama or putting your own spin on it, and allow them to do what they will with them. 

Allowing kids to have and live through their emotions.  That's pretty messy.  Not putting your own hat in the ring.  Really hard.  And hearing what comes up when you do this - super super scary.  We've already had several discussions about dying, a few about wanting to be a baby again and hating one's siblings.  One really really long day where it came out that Peanut was afraid that I didn't love her anymore after Pumpkin was born.  A big blow up about hating home school preschool, and some other smaller things as well.  It's all on, all the time.  The upside is that we are all talking more and allowing ourselves to feel.  Of course, that can be a downside as well, since we are really opening up all kinds of vulnerabilities. 

This is all a ton of work, but really what is my goal.  Mental health for everyone.  Skills at conflict resolution, standing up for oneself, compassion, empathy, comfort in one's emotional and the ability to listen to what you really want and need.  I've said before (only maybe half joking) that I want my kids to be able to be on the couch later in life talking about something other than what I talk about on the couch.  I at least want to move them forward rather than hand over my stuff to them.  I'm feeling like we are headed in that direction. 

Still Here...

I've clearly been away from blogging lately - but I'm still here!  I've been struggling to get back to some version of myself and it's taking a bit of my time.  I do realize though that blogging and writing in general as pretty therapeutic for me, so I'm expecting you'll hear a bit more from me now that I am starting to get back into the swing of it all. 

So what have I been up to?

I started "boot camp" this past week - I'm getting up before the rest of the family to join a bunch of other people in a parking lot so we can work out as the sun rises.  I'm loving it, but it has created a whole new schedule and system for me so lots of things have gone by the wayside - some intentional and some not. 

I also have been really focusing on spending time with the kids.  Yeah, I am home with them most of the time, but I'm talking about really being with them.  Playing on the floor, discussing life and their worries, helping them negotiate with each other and be kind.  I've been trying to make light of stuff I would have been annoyed with in the past, and just loving my babies. 

I've been reading :)
I have had so many great books in my hands lately, fiction and non, and I am remembering what it is like to be so immersed in a book that I walk around the house with it hoping for a moment to read another few pages. 

I've been considering who I am and who I wish to be.  The parts of me that has fallen away that I wish I'd kept, and the parts that are still here and I'm wondering what possessed me to maintain that.  I'm recognizing (seems like a bit of deja vu) that choices can be made by me or for me, and everything is a choice.   

I've been dealing with a friendly bunny who insists that our string bean teepee is his cafeteria.  Thank goodness we have planted a bit more than we need...

Friday, July 1, 2011

This Moment - A Friday Ritual

I'm following along with SouleMama - in her words:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.