Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bath Time=Bubble Time

Once a week we've been switching up the kid's bath time routine with a treat in the BIG tub, filled with lots of bubbles! They have been loving it!

Reaching Out & Making Friends

One day a few weeks ago Nate came home from school and very excitedly told me that a new boy had joined his class. When he told me that like him, the new boy had also just moved here, I decided that I needed to take advantage of reaching out to another family with similar circumstances as ours.

I asked Nate's teacher to pass on a note to the boy's mother, Terri, explaining that we too, had just moved to the area and that I would love to connect with her. It wasn't long after that we began talking, and wow, are our situations similar! Like us, their family has also had to move several times to several different states (for a job) over the last few years. After spending an hour talking on the phone one day, I hung up feeling like I had just undergone a therapy session with someone who really, really knew my frustration, bitterness, exhaustion and sadness. Yet, we also shared one other really important aspect- a desire to prioritize being positive throughout it all, as hard as that can sometimes be! So, yesterday, we got together with Terri and her children and the kids and I enjoyed our first play date/mommy get together since moving to Birmingham.

It was wonderful! While all of the kids played, Terri and I had the chance to get to know each other more and to enjoy a real lunch- one that consisted of foods needing a fork, and other than what I normally sneak off of the kid's plates or have a chance to grab from a box in the pantry!

After four hours, we left to head back home, the kids having spent most of their energy, and I feeling content with the opportunity to have so much great conversation. Jules fell asleep in the car before we even left their neighborhood, and after so much play, we all enjoyed a focused and accomplished afternoon.

Thanks Terri!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cupcakes, Anyone?




We are in Cupcake Heaven over here today!

Red Velvet Heaven, anyone??

Or, maybe you'd just like to simply devour the Homemade Cream Cheese Frosting instead??

Pete really came around this Christmas and scored for Juliana, the little up and coming family baker, some of Sprinkles Red Velvet Cupcake mix.

Good Job Pete...
Did, I already mention how amazingly luscious these are???

Well, they're amazing, really. If you don't believe me, just go and buy yourself a box. I promise you won't be disappointed!

Oh, and while Pete and Juliana spent the afternoon baking cupcakes and homemade bread, Nate and I went shopping! Not knowing what was going on at home, we couldn't help but stop by the bakery ourselves for some yummy cupcake treats of our own!

There is nothing like a cupcake to bring on the smiles...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Today's Memories: Januaray 21, 2010

After multiple visits to the the living room-after bedtime, Nate finally told me that he is afraid of the dark-the outside dark, that is. So I thought it might help if I turned on a small light outside on our deck and take him out to look at the moon and stars.

After a minute or two, he looked up at me and asked, "Mama, why is the moon laying down?"

It was so sweet, I almost didn't want to tell him the truth!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Today's Memories

After "supposedly" spending time playing with her brother upstairs, Juliana comes running downstairs....

"Mama, mama, come and see! I cleaned my room, it's beautiful!"

Me: "Wow! Um....where did you put everything?" I ask, with a huge sinking feeling in my stomach. (we still haven't unpacked everything in Juliana's room and there had been several piles on her floor).

Juliana: "No place, mama! (while giggling wildly)"

Then I turn to see this...

Oh, no...

Monday, January 18, 2010

On Rhythm and Routine

As you may have seen while visiting here, over the last few weeks I've been really struggling to establish some sort of daily rhythm in our lives to help us all achieve the best of our abilities. It's been hard with all of the moving around here and there that we've done (I know, blah, blah, blah) but I think I have finally wrapped my mind around what it is I really want to achieve through a good solid routine.

What I want:
  • My children to get more sleep
  • ME to get more sleep
  • Well prepped mornings that run smoothly (and preferably don't involve me running around searching for missing shoes, last minute lunch prep, or forgetting to pack Nate's teddy for "bring your stuffed friend to school " day- yes, it's true, I did forget-awful, isn't it?!
  • Scheduled/routine learning time for the kids each day
  • Scheduled/routine house-hold maintenance for me each day
  • Less TV for the kiddos
  • More creative time for all of us
  • Quieter, more relaxing evening ritual time (no more crazy, hollering, splashing bath times!)
  • Evening time for Pete and I-alone (could this ever be accomplished?!)
  • Less anxiety each day over unmet expectations- I thought it was your night to give the kids a bath!
  • Giving the kids a positive, predictable, secure, dependable day- each day, so that one day soon, they can feel comfortable establishing their own independent routines.

A few weeks ago, I came across this Waldorf inspired post about bedtime rituals (geared toward children). So I decided to take a leap and put an earlier bedtime to the test. The result:

My children have been in bed, stories read, prayers said, hugs given, by 7 pm each night (more or less). And amazingly they are still waking at their normal times (Nate: 7 am, Juliana: 4 am-okay, just kidding! But she is usually up around 6 am or so).

  • More sleep for the kids- check
  • More evening time for Pete and I, alone- check
  • More time the night before to prep for mornings- check
  • Quieter bedtime rituals- check
  • On our way to creating those dependable and oh so valuable rhythmic days- check!

We're getting there...

What successes, big or small, are you feeling these days?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Words to LIVE by:

To accomplish great things, we must
not only act, but also dream;
not only plan, but also believe.
-Anatole France

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

On My Mind Today...

  • creating a "launch pad" to help keep book bags, shoes etc...organized
  • finishing the thesis chapter I'm working on
  • making a bird feeder with the kids via Christmas gift from auntie krista
  • desperately wanting shelving or ANY means of storage for our playroom area
  • appreciating the many windows in our kitchen and how awesome it is to soak up the sun's warmth because of it!
  • feeling extra thrifty after scoring 2 pairs of knee height Ann Taylor leather boots (1 black, 1 brown) and 2 pairs of boys Merrell slip on shoes for a crazy total of $20 yesterday at a local thrift store!
  • relief and a better understanding of how Nate's learning at school, after an hour long phone conversation with his teacher
  • slight annoyance at the fact that his school performed tests with each child last week and no one even mentioned it to the parents...
  • the need to get caught up with e-mails (along with everything else!)
  • getting a "congratulations on the birth of your baby!" package out to a friend who had her baby 6 months ago! I told you I am a procrastinator....
  • looking forward to my mom returning from Japan next week and her making her way here to Birmingham for a WEEK long visit!
  • Feeling envious, yet also INSPIRED by friends like this, and this, who are so CREATIVE!!!! (thank you for being in my life!)
  • Feeling thankful for bloggers like this, and this, and even this, for supplying the rest of us with such amazing resources for educating our children, parenting, and simply living life to the best of our abilities.
  • awe at how fast this week is flying by, and how little it feels I've accomplished!!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Today's Memories

This morning while reading The Snowy Day, a book about a little boy named Peter who spends an adventure filled day playing in the snow, Nate and Juliana showed their Yankee mama true signs of being Southern born babes...

Part of the story reads: "He picked up a handful of snow--and another, and still another. He packed it round and firm and put the snowball in his pocket for tomorrow. Then he went into his warm house."

"Before he got into bed he looked in his pocket. His pocket was empty. The snowball wasn't there. He felt very sad."

"What do you think happened to the snowball?" I asked the kids

Juliana: "Maybe it ran away."

Nate:"Maybe it died."

Oh boy. We need to get up North more often.

Today's Memories January 11, 2010

Nate is playing with some very LOUD toys in the living room this morning while Juliana sits at the kitchen table pretending to teach herself some new Spanish words.

"Okay, this (holding up napkin) is (blah, blah, blah) in Spanish,"Juliana says quietly...

Bang, Kerplunk, BOOM!!!

"Nate!" she says, "could you please be quiet, I'm trying to talk to myself and I can't hear!"

Friday, January 8, 2010

On The Lighter Side

While I've been unpacking, Nate and Jules have been getting creative with keeping themselves entertained!

Nate's developed a new passion for skydiving- Don't ask me where he discovered this new interest! He spent a few hours yesterday building his own "jet pack" complete with parachute and goggles to help him jump from the stairs!

Note to Pete- please install extra locks on Nate's bedroom windows...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Finding Rhythm

After re-reading yesterday's post about procrastination, I realized that although a lot of the procrastination part of it is true, I am also suffering from a wee bit of disorganization!

The last few years of several moves and changes and plain old craziness around here and there, has left very little room for our family to develop any permanent routines or better yet, rhythm. All afternoon yesterday, I pondered ideas about what I could do to make things flow better for us, and then it dawned on me just how badly I really crave that sense of rhythm in our daily lives. Although we are doing really well overall, our recent multiple transitions have led to lots of change, reinventing, disorder, disorganization, and most importantly, lack of schedule, and or rhythm.

I spent some time last night reading up on developing and setting a rhythm in your family's life, and found several great places to start, including this site where ideas about about repetition, establishing good habits and a sense of knowing all lead to a smooth flowing day and a well slept night. Creating rhythmic methods for mornings, meals and bedtimes is also key.

I am eager to start working toward creating some rhythm for our family, what kinds of routines does your family rely upon?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Art of Procrastination

I have always been known as a day dreamer, people pleaser, and yes, if you can believe it or not, a big time procrastinator. If you've known me for a long time, then while reading the above sentence you gave a small chuckle, but still nodded your head in complete agreement!

As I've matured, (okay, just gotten older) I've worked hard to lasso in those fleeting thoughts and to spend more time being focused on what needs to get done. I've also learned that no matter how hard I try, there will no doubt be times when I can't please everyone, right? And making the time to make myself happy every once in a while isn't such a bad thing either.

But as far as procrastinating...ugh. I am notorious. It's not that I spend my days goofing off, or lounging around. I mean, come on: The last 14 months were spent moving 3 times, between 3 states, selling and buying 3 homes, unpacking, working on completing a master degree, oh yeah, and still squeezing in time to raise two small children, and try and calm the built up stresses compiling around my husband. I'm not making excuses, just telling like it is.

I really have tried to overcome this procrastination thing, I swear I have! But everyday new things pile up on my to do list and often other (sometimes more enjoyable-I'll admit it) events seem to get in the way of my accomplishing that ever-growing list.

With the New Year, however, I promised myself to work on it. I decided that I was over putting off today what I could do tomorrow! In fact, this past Monday, as I looked ahead to the kids return to preschool today, I tried hard to get back into routine mode. I tried to organize my thoughts, preparing and making a mental list of all that I needed to do the night before so that I wouldn't be frantic this morning trying to find matching clothes, misplaced lunch boxes, or pleading with my (sometimes turtle paced) 4-year-old son (also a day dreamer) to just (please, oh please) move a little bit faster!

Last night, I set out both my own and the kid's clothes, packed dry goods in lunch totes, found book bags and placed them by the door, decided on breakfast, and even set out bowls, spoons, cups and napkins. Wow, was I proud of myself! I even made it into bed by 9:45 pm, ensuring a decent amount of sleep for a 6:45 wake up call-despite foreseeing several middle of the night wakings by Nate, Jules and or the dogs (yes, the dogs actually paw at my arm as I lay in bed, begging for me to let them out just one more time!). After dropping off the kids at school, I planned to head to the library to work on my thesis- which I've been procrastinating the completion of for oh, about two years now!

So, just when I thought I'd step outside of my procrastination shell and actually prepared for something with great thought and intention, I still fell flat on my face.

1.) It somehow, still took me 45 minutes to get every one's lunches together (mine and Pete's included)

2.) Nate slept late, and took at least 30 minutes to properly wake up and be functional enough to sit at the table and eat breakfast (which of course I'd prepared slightly different than Juliana's resulting in his refusing to eat)

3.) I spent an extra 10 minutes scowering the kitchen for a travel coffee cup lid for my husband (who left the other two mugs in his office this week)

4.) Nate refused to begin the "getting dressed process" unless I was actually in his bedroom with him

5.) Shoes, I'd forgotten the shoes! Of course, all three sets of Juliana's had been (perfectly) hidden in a box in the dining room earlier yesterday

6.) I'd neglected to get together my own bag with computer, books, and other materials needed to work with at the library

7. ) And last but not least, I'd realized that I'd told myself last night that I would look up the library's opening hours this morning...and of course I remembered this after the laptop had been shut down and packed up in my bag...where were the darn phone books?
And so it was, despite my efforts, I was left with approximately 7 minutes to shower, dress and brush my teeth, before scooting out the door (forgetting breakfast for myself) 1 hour and 40 minutes after my 6:45 wake up call.

Ahhhhh....maybe I'll plan to be better at all of this tomorrow....

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Reminder of Innocence

As squeals of laughter echo from the adjacent room, I find myself feeling relieved to finally hear playful sounds coming from my two children. We’ve only been in our new house for a few days, and without the convenience of their favorite toys or TV, and no one else to entertain them but me, they’ve been encouraged to create their own fun. I hear scrambling feet, and as the squeals come closer, my 2-year-old, Juliana, zips past me grinning widely as her brother, Nate, scrambles at her heels, promising to “tickle torture her.” The boxes strewn about seem endless, and my knees are starting to ache from my constant kneeling on the cold, hardwood floors throughout the house. Just as I lean over and begin unpacking a new box, Nate, my 4-year-old, races past me, bumping the tall cardboard container with his feet, sending it sliding several feet away. I stand up, and although I try to keep my cool, I yell after him to slow down—again. He is wild, and fast, and always on the go. He is getting tall and assertive too. Almost every day now, he reminds me that he is no longer a baby. “I am a big boy now, mom. I can do anything!”

A moment later, the two of them come crashing back into the living room and collapse on the floor next to me. Nate sits up though and instantly reaches his hands out to the pile of photo albums sitting on the floor nearby.

“Mama!” he exclaimed, pointing to my wedding album. “Is that the book about your wedding?”

“Yes, it is,” I say, thrilled to have caught his attention with something new. Do you want to look at it?”

He beamed, and without hesitation yelled, “yes!” He jumped up and picked up the massive book, clumsily lugging it in his small hands toward the kitchen where he placed it atop the kitchen table.

“Juliana!” Nate called, “come on, mama’s going to show us the pictures in her married book!” They sat down next to me and as we opened the album and began turning the pages of crisp, colorful photos, the two of them honored me with all of the appropriate oohs, and awes. Their little fingers pointed excitedly to each picture, complimenting daddy’s smile or auntie’s hairdo. They asked about the names of extended family members in the photos, who they still had yet to meet, and to them, most importantly, about what kind of cake we ate at the reception.

We continued to flip the pages of the album and when we were about half way through, Nate suddenly stopped and with a growing frown, looked up at me.

“Mama,” he said, while tears began to well in his big blue eyes, "how come I'm not in any of the pictures? Didn't I get to go to your wedding?”

I stared at him, speechless and completely taken aback by his question. I searched in mind for the appropriate response, and I paused for still another moment, willing my mind to produce a magic answer for him.

“Nate, sweetie, you hadn't yet been born,” I blurted out, regretting my choice of words the second they left my lips. In that one second, I knew with every fiber in my body that my careless choice of words had been terribly wrong. He couldn’t comprehend what I was saying. I watched his eyes narrow and his face wrinkle a bit. He didn’t even understand what I said.

He grows impatient with me and he begins to cry a deep muffled sob. He asks again, practically yelling at me this time, “why am I not in the pictures mama? Where was I?”

Juliana responds this time. “You were probably just a baby, Nate!”

“No, I wasn’t,” he snaps back at her, clearly annoyed at the mention of his being anything other then a big boy. "And even if I was, babies are allowed in church,” he tells her. “It’s not fair! I always want to be where you are mama, why didn’t I get to go to the party for your wedding?"

Wow, I think to myself. This is getting tricky, and the situation as a whole is quickly becoming one of my less finer moments as a parent. Why am I not able to offer him the knowledge we desperately need to see us through this conversation?

I reach out to him and pull his little body up onto my lap, offering him the only kind of security I’m able to in this confusing experience. I take a deep breath, stalling again and imagine what is going through his mind—if there was a time when he wasn’t alive, here with us, then where was he?

“Was I all alone?” He asks me, tears streaming down his cheeks. “Did you leave me at home by myself, or forget about me?”

And then, in an instance, it comes to me—focus on what he does know, what he is capable of understanding, what is said to him.

“Nate, no,” I practically whisper, “of course not sweetheart. You know mommy and daddy would never do that.”

He wraps his arms around my waist and buries his face into my shirt.

“Look,” I say, stroking his hair, “I know that you are sad because you can’t see yourself in the pictures, but you were there that day, you and Juliana both were, I promise. You were there in mommy and daddy’s hearts, you always have been.

He looks up at me then, content with finally hearing that he had been there—in some capacity. I give him a hug and before he has a chance to say anything else, I decide that at least for the rest of the day, we’ll just stick to the tangibles in life. I put Nate on his feet.

“Go back to that open box in the living room,” I tell them both, “and see if you can find your baby photo albums!”

Nate wipes his cheeks dry and before I know it, they’re both off and running—once again.