Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My Favorite Christmas Season Memories (so far)



Some friends at church were discussing (on Facebook) how the best part(s) of Christmas is the anticipation, more than the actual day. All the fun, wonderful things we do...and the anticipation of Jesus. And then I read this article all about how not to spoil your child at Christmas, and it mentioned a lot of tradition/memory making things you can do. I know I found some things I'd like to add to our Christmas experience.

But it also got my thinking about what a wonderful Christmas season this has been so far. I know this will be part one of at least two parts, because the fun keeps coming. But here's a list of my best Christmas moments so far:

1. Evan telling me he wanted to give Jesus a Christmas card, and that he didn't want Santa to come, just Jesus...and then asking me what we should get Jesus for Christmas.

2. Making ever-so-imperfect Christmas decorations, and then watching the kids admire them with joy and pride, every day since. Our favorite is our prayer chain, which bares the names of lots of the people we love. Most in fact. ;-)



3. picking out a wreath for our door together. Amelie found a little sprig of leaves, pink little balls, and a pink present and exclaimed, "Pink! My favorite color!" That just had to go on the wreath.

4. my children "laying a path for Jesus" each week in church

5. making my Christmas card...I like it so much better than last year's. ;-)

6. the first eggnog, at Flatbread...like back in November! LOL.

7. Exchanging fair-trade gifts with a dear family friend (whose commitment to and work for social justice just inspires me to no end), ours wrapped w/ construction paper decorated by Evan and hers in newspaper - and both of us just loving our gifts' wrapping, and knowing the other would too! And the smile on Evan's face as his dad told me, "Evan wants to give her the present".

8. Listening to Evan and Amelie's "Ooh"s and "Ahh"s as we watched all the lights on peoples' lawns while driving places.



9. Finding a Christmas ornament I think my hubby will really love...some years I just didn't find anything that inspired me.

10. Telling Kevin about hearing the first Bob Dylan Christmas song I ever had. And then ordering his Christmas album and thinking about whether we'll love it or just laugh at it once we listen. (Kevin never reads this blog, so if you see him - mums the word!)

11. Creating some custom-made, personalized gifts for the favorite people in my family.

12. My feeling of utter gratitude (and an itsy bit of pride, thanks to Reverend Wendy), that even though I grew up not going to church or learning much about Jesus, and even though I don't think I've quite figured out all that I do and don't believe...my kids (esp. Evan) are really into Jesus's birthday this year, and I think they kind of understand what was/is so special about Him.

13. Spending this Christmas thinking more about God and my blessings, enjoying all the moments of this season, and worried and fretting less about what has to get done....than I ever have in my life. And realizing how much Kevin and my children have had to do with making this happen.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Christmas is Coming & For Heaven's Sake (Part 2)


Recently I blogged about how pleased I am that we are bringing up our children up with as strong a faith foundation as we can, with the help of a wonderful faith community. And about our efforts to make Christmas about Jesus at least as much as it is about presents and all the wonderfully fun stuff that well, isn't.

And I am just thrilled with how it is going. Their aunt gave me a link to a website with wonderful crafts...both secular and Jesus oriented. I think these have been a big part of their growing excitement. THey love the crafts, the act of making things...and they are tied to Christmas and so I think the excitement transfers to Christmas.



But they are also excited at the Advent time about JESUS. Evan keeps talking about Jesus "coming". I hope he isn't expecting him to walk through the door Christmas morning. ;-) But I love that he is excited about celebrating Jesus's birthday at this period of time. As I mentioned in Christmas is Coming, I grew up not even really knowing what Advent was.

We made some cards with candles cut out of pieces of construction paper..this actually came from a book published by the Le Leche League that their Godmother Jane sent me. Evan doesn't want to send it as a Xmas card, he wants to send it as a birthday card to Jesus. We've made Christmas trees out of green paper and glued ornaments on. Amelie insisted on gluing the ornaments on herself. This just pleases me to no end. She is so sure of herself. I hope she never loses that. I hope I only enhance the feeling and never do anything to undermine it. After putting them on the refrigerator, she pointed to it every day. We made snowman puppets. I had to cut out the shapes...and these snowmen looked pretty sad. They ADORED them.

Hope Church is celebrating Advent in part by starting worship with the children laying a path to Christmas and lighting an Advent candle. As Pastor Wendy noted, they approached this activity with such Awe and Wonder. (Capitals, yeah!). The first week they laid down paper "leaves" to lay a paht for Jesus. The second week they laid a path of "water" for Him. They both came back to our pew smiling ear to ear. And they are also attending the Sunday School each Sunday now...for the whole time before they come back for Communion! (I just love that children are part of communion).

And their godmother Jane sent us two lovely Christmas books,The Christmas Baby by Sally An Wright, and The Moon Shines Down by Margaret Wise Brown. Evan just adores the pop up manger scene in THe Christmas Baby. He keeps asking why it folds up in the book. ;-) After I read it each night, he wants to hold it and look at it, and has fallen asleep with it in his arm. And he asks so many *questions* about the places talked about in The Moon Shines Down. We all love the artwork, and MWB's language is as beautiful as it is in Big Red Barn. It only mentions Christmas at the end...but it is after showing the experiences of young people all over the world...and so the child knows a little about each of those places before being told (or reminded) that Christmas is celebrated in lots of places.

I'm especially thrilled to have these because we only had A House Mouse Christmas. It is a lovely sweet book with beautiful illustrations (I really love House Mouse designs), but it has nothing to do with Jesus. We'll also be getting Bear Stays Up for Christmas (by the author of Bear Snores On...a Kelly Household favorite) from Nana. But we're looking right now for more childrens' books about Christmas, both secular but also especially ones about Jesus. I am eager to have a bigger collection next year.

And Evan told me tonight, "I don't want Santa to come, just Jesus". My eyes really started to tear up. It was the sweetness of what he said, but it was more just incredible gratitude that for all my poking around in the dark about what and how to teach my babies about Christmas, and not a lot of teaching on my part...my son is really into Jesus and his birthday!We will be doing Santa, on the modest side. But I'm thrilled my kids knew much more about Jesus before ever even HEARING the name Santa. I think they will get a big kick out of Santa...and I am really excited to leave out cookies with them (and carrots for the Reindeer). And the giggling and not wanting to go to sleep, but wanting Christmas morning to come. THe plan right now is to not be home on Christmas morning this year or next, but I'm already looking forward to Christmas morning 2011

So the Kelly home doesn't have its Christmas tree yet, and the only decorations we have up are the ones the children have made. But it sooo doesn't matter to the kids. They are already beginning to understand what Christmas is really about...and they're plenty excited about that.

The Little Things...

There are so many "big" things I love about Evan and Amelie. How loving they are, how thoughtful and sweet they can be, their incredible appreciation for anything and everything, even the smallest little thing you do for them. They are so friendly to everyone. And I am so happy for the way Evan is really appreciating the *true* meaning of Christmas.

But there are so many little things too, that bring me such joy and so many smiles throughout our crazy days.

1. The way Amelie gets up and does her best impersonation of Dora when they sing "We did it!" at the end...twisting her little self and moving her arms back and forth in a twisty motion.

2. The way Evan remembers the littlest of details about places and events we were at months ago!

3. Evan loves to hear stories about when he was little. He got a kick out of my telling him that when he was less than a year old, he loved any book with pictures of the moon...and at bedtime when we would read them, he would go to the window (or just look out if we were on the bed by the window) and point and say, "Moon!".

4. The way Amelie thinks about people and what they need just about *all* the time. I can be having a conversation with Kevin (Daddy if you're reading this someday kids ;-) and mention I have to go get something or I need something and she runs and gets it before I even get up!

5. One of their favorite shows right now is Wubzy (esp. Amelie). There is one character who puts up his hands and wiggles his fingers and says, "That's Kooky" to things he finds strange. Both of them, but esp. Amelie, love to put their hands up and do the same motion and say "That's Kooooky!" too! They have big grins on their faces and it is so cute. I'd love to get a picture to go with this, but it happens so fast, I probably won't be able to.

6 The joy they are taking from our CHristmas crafts. They made snowmen out of paper last week, and for *days*, Amelie would point to it on the refrigerator and say, "Mommy help me make that!" And they both just go to town with anything I give them to color. I was so surprised to see Amelie pasting Christmas ornaments on to her paper tree by herself! And neither of them care what they end up looking like...that's my hang up. So I'm trying to ignore that and just reinforce their pride in their creations. I know that is the best thing I can do to help foster their creativity.

More and more to come...

Monday, December 07, 2009

Toys & taking it easy on myself

There was a battle going on at my house a while back. It was me versus all of the toys we have in this house. And I won...and then I lost. Welcome to motherhood. ;-)

We have *never* done a toy donation or give away...we still have every toy the kids have gotten since they were born, basically. That's a big part of the problem. So I finally hit rock bottom one day, as my crutches were landing on every little part of every toy (figure tons of toys x tons of parts to many of them = a sea of tiny parts!)...and Evan would often start just tossing them all around frantically when he would get in "a mood" (born of tiredness, boredom or just being 3...or some combination of the three). There were too many things for him to throw.]

I have unique and odd needs when it comes to organizing toys, because of my disability. I can't lean over and pick up toys after toy to put them away. Down, up, down up, down up is just too tiring for me because I have a weak back. And lots of tiny parts on the floor are just a minefield for crutches. So after getting some much needed help from folks, I came up with a plan.

So my family and friends came to my rescue at various points over the next couple of days. And then I got smart. All of the toys with lots of pieces went downstairs to our family room with a RUG. And ones with little pieces that would get lost under the couches down there went to their room (rug again). So I wouldn't slip on the little buggers. And I put a rule in place: the toys stay in their respective rooms as much as possible, but if you bring one to another room, you put it back when you're done. We moved their toy shelf with bucket (w/ LOTS of piece) into our room, so Evan would stop toppling the whole thing over, buckets and their contents and all. THe rule for that was you take one bucket and a time, and only can take another bucket after you put the first one back.

I felt really brilliant. And now I feel SO freakin' naive and stupid. Of course neither of us keep on them all the time to keep things where they go. And so now my house is a not-so-Holy mess AGAIN. And the fact that they have a bizillion toys, books, etc. makes piles and mountains of things to wade through when they all get tossed about.

THis is one of very few "negative" posts, because I try to keep to recording the lovely memories...but I know some other moms read this...and I gotta be real. Sometimes I feel like the most unorganized mom (and wife - homemaker I guess is the word ;-), horrible disciplinarian, and just overall incompetent mother/wife. And since that's 99.9% of my identity these days...it means I'm an unorganized, incompetent PERSON.

My niece Shelley Abreu just blogged about these feelings, and I think she is the most creative, thoughtful on-top-of-everything person. And I hear other moms (mostly on Facebook)voice the same feelings. Shelley questioned why all these great moms all seem to have these same insecurities. And if you're in this boat, you should hop on over and read it. It made me feel so much better...just like talking to my other mom friends always does.

This was just going to be a rant on how toys are running my life. But it would be such an incomplete picture. Because I am saved by the support of these other moms on a daily basis. And I think that is a much more valuable message.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Handmade for the Holidays

I admire this so much. This woman's children are SMALL! I can picture *maybe* doing some of this when my kids are both in grade school. But I post this as a reminder of a wonderful goal for the holidays. If you're reading this, maybe you will take the "challenge".

The passing of time...

I started this blog on January 3, 2005 - a little over a year before my first child was born. So it is pretty wild to read one of my earliest blog posts.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, my last post was intended to be a list of all I'm thankful for, and while I did mention a few things, I used the excuse that this blog is "about my children" to avoid sitting and really thinking deeply about *all* the things I am grateful for. Maybe because it is because its such a long list, it's embarrassing to think about how often I gripe. But this blog, as I've mentioned, is as much to tell my children "how their Momma felt about things" (to steal a quote from Amy Grant, again) as it is to share things about their childhood I want us all to remember. So here goes:

I'm grateful for my children. For their cheery dispositions, and sweet personalities (among other things).

I'm grateful for my faith community, and for this rich Spiritual time in life. I wish that I always felt this way about my faith, and the growth and maturing of my faith...but I'm grateful for the fact that in times when I'm frustrated by my lack of Spiritual growth or excitement, I now know and remember that it always comes back, eventually.

I'm grateful for my dishwasher. We didn't have one during our 10 years in Arlington. :-)

I'm grateful we could afford a lovely home, with all the space we need, and an attached garage so I don't have to walk over an icy walkway or climb icy stairs in the winter time.

I'm grateful that my children, especially Evan, seem to be growing up *very* aware of Jesus and God. I made it to adulthood with a vague understanding of God that served me just fine, but I'm grateful my children will hopefully grow up always knowing that God is always there for them. People will fail them, as I have more times than I like to think about...but God never will.

I'm grateful for my childrens' Godparents, who are thoughtful, caring, devout people who actively help us in our efforts to raise our children knowing God. And have taught me a thing or two too. I'm grateful for their "god sisters" too...who are sweet and loving, and love my kids too.

I'm grateful for the big beautiful window in our living room. Right now there is NO sun coming in through it...but in the fall, it gives us a view of a gazillion beautiful leaves. (OK, I just have to say I am socked that spell checker says gazillion is really a word - I thought I'd made it up! LOL!).

I'm grateful for Springtime at our home, when our front window will be filled with the pink flowers from the tree right in the front of the house, and our *two* lawns on either side of the house will be awash with color from all the flowers we'll have.

I'm grateful to my husband, mother-in-law *and* my kids for planting all those bulbs!

I'm grateful to my husband, who does such a lovely job in general with our "landscape" - its big, and its a lot of work. I'm grateful he strings lights on a tree in our backyard and that our kids think its so cool we have TWO Christmas trees.

I'm grateful for Facebook. I've spent too much time on it this past year, but it got me through a rough patch of being stuck in the house with the babies too much, and my grief over losing my aunt.

OK, so more specifically, I'm grateful to all of my FRIENDS on Facebook and the chance to reconnect with some of them, and to be in more contact with some others. I'm grateful for all the helpful advice and support, especially from my fellow mom friends. But I'm also grateful for all the "littler" interactions of just hearing about peoples' days, and lives...and sharing mine.

I'm grateful for our master bathroom. I just love having a bathroom door *in* my room! (I especially appreciated it when I was pregnant ;-)

I'm grateful that my son, who was born too early, did just fine and never had any lingering problems as a result. I'm grateful for my friends and family, especially my husband, for supporting me when I was so nervous before he left the hospital.

I'm grateful for music. It has blessed my life with joy, encouragement, comfort, and inspiration. I'm grateful that my children love music.

I'm grateful for hot drinks in the winter, especially cider and the lovely flavors of coffee there are in the fall & winter. :-)

I'm grateful for the YMCA. I haven't lost much weight, or gotten in the shape I wish I had by now...but I know that I'm healthier for all the pounds I've lifted and the cardio work. I'm grateful to the staff there who are SO encouraging and helpful, and to the pals I have there who help pass the time.

I'm grateful that my Dad and my aunt were in my life, that their spirits live on in me through their example and all they taught me, and that I'll see them again someday. And for my half sister Bev and the poetry she shared with me, and especially my half-brother Rick, who never felt like "half" anything.

I'm grateful for my mom, especially for all the support she's given me since I became a mom.

I'm grateful for my "light box" and being able to handle dark winters better.

I'm grateful for how appreciative and joyous my kids are. Especially the way Evan points out everything he thinks is just so great!

I'm grateful for my daughter's sunny disposition, the way she loves to help, how much she's talking these days and the way she wanders out here to the living room in the morning and asks to be picked up.

She just did that, so that's the end of my list....at least for now. Happy THanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gratitude

I hope I am raising my kids to be grateful. I've been working on this blog entry for quite a while now, probably because I am guilty of forgetting all of my blessings, in the midst of keeping up with two toddlers...but now its just in time for Thanksgiving, and to share this video of Moose A. Moose from Nick Jr. singing a song about being grateful for having so much to share! I am blessed that I have very grateful, appreciative children. They are always so excited by every little thing we do, so grateful for anything we give or do for them. They're setting an example I hope to live up to someday.

I don't think of myself as a particularly UN-grateful person, but lately I know I have let little annoyances and small, temporary inconveniences make me grumpy and negative. I'm grateful that it isn't very long after I'm in one of those moods, one of the kids or Kevin does something so cute, funny or just plain sweet that I snap out of it. I only wish that I was better at remembering just how blessed my life is when I am stressed or tired, and let out my "less-than-best-self".

I'm always thinking and talking about how I want my kids to grow up realizing that not everyone has all of the blessings we do. Around the world, and right here in our own country, there are people who have to struggle for things we just take for granted. There are people who don't have enough *food* to eat, or who can't afford to have a doctor take care of them. How wonderful it would be if my kids could live long enough to see a time when this world has figured out a way to work together to make sure everyone has what they need. How much more joyous life would be, if we had a more just world.

Evan is singing the Moose Thanksgiving song right now. I hope they always realize the blessings they have. I think they will. And I hope they always know (and I always remember to tell them) how grateful I am for them, and the joy they've brought to our lives.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Our childrens' play lives

Pretend or fantasy play has been a part of our children's lives for a while now. Evan likes to turn over a little tot seat that they've both outgrown, and call it his "Coffee store" (He is very in tune with his mother's love of coffee ;-). And he and Amelie both love to play kitchen with their Dora kitchen (although Evan will use it just as often as his drum set).

Amelie has also always loved to line things up, from her little people ("MY people" she calls them), to lining up all the tea cups and plates that Grandma gave them in a row on the table. Kevin and I both laughed last night when she lined up all the cards from her Dora concentration game in a nice straight, Looong row across our bedroom floor. (This was during one of her more and more common nights of insomnia.). And just now, I walked into our room to find her with the cards in nice little rows...and she had all of the garden tools Nana gave the kids neatly packed in the pockets of her overalls, and holding the play watering can, she was WATERING the Dora cards. She seems very proud of her pink, red and purple garden.

Something must be falling 'into place' around here amongst all the craziness. I'm noticing these sweet moments more and more. And we're starting to get into CRAFTS. God help me. I think it is a good sign that my copy of Rosie's Crafy U that used to overwhelm me, is actually getting me excited. Off to browse Michaels.com and some other sites for some craft supplies. Or maybe not...here comes my little gardener with all of her "flowers" tucked neatly in her pockets.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Christmas is Coming - be part of the Conspiracy


I was not brought up at all religious. My only experiences with church were at my cousins' major Catholic services, but I never was taught about them, so I just felt weird at them mostly. I didn't even know the Lord's prayer, and when it was recited in church, I just felt awkward.

Since then, I've come to a strong faith that makes me want to try to live as best I can, using the lessons from Jesus as my guide. I've participated in bible studies, attend church regularly, and developed my own Spiritual take on Easter and the other Christian holidays, rather than the fundamentalist perspective I'd heard about, or just a secular view of family get-togethers and eating lots of food.

But I only recently started to learn about Advent, and to try to make it as meaningful a time as Christmas Day. Hope Church has some wonderful resources (for Lent too, btw), and we have some advent calendars But really...more than just observing Advent, I feel called to make Christmas more about Jesus's birth and life than about all the other (albeit it lovely) "stuff". OK, not all of it is lovely. Christmas can be a very stressful time for a lot of people because of the misguided importance we put on presents and other "things".

This is where websites like Advent Conspiracy and its sister site Rethinking Christmas might be useful to folks who want to simplify their Christmas so they can spend more time and energy really connecting with family, and giving thanks for Jesus.

I for one have been trying to do this for many years. Its just too easy to fall prey to the worries about "the perfect Christmas" (think Norman Rockwell), and giving the perfect gifts - especially if you are on the receiving end of incredibly generous Christmas gifts. But I think perhaps the key isn't so much in working to make the Christmas season NOT be something, but putting so much time and attention into the things it should be about, there just won't be as much time to worry about those other things. And in trying to simplify our lives, we can "live simply so that others may simply live", something Jesus would certainly approve of.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Ritual & Tradition

Evan and Amelie's folks tend to be nontraditional. In fact, I think we both pride ourselves on rejecting tradition sometimes, especially when said tradition just doesn't make any sense.

That said, I hunger to have rituals and traditions in our home, mostly for the childrens' benefit, but for us as a family as well. And I'm realizing that these traditions or rituals don't have to be highly spiritual or impressive to be valuable. They just have to be honest. There are some traditions in our house, and I guess it is important to recognize the ones you already have, in an effort to develop more.

It is a ritual in our house that the end of the day ends with stories and a cup of milk. I read a gazillion books (it feels like at the end of the day), and when they start to get sleepy, they have their milk. Once they finish their milk, it isn't long before they nod off.

Even the books themselves have their own ritual. Cookie's Week (a must at bedtime) is a book about a busy cat who gets into different mischief each day of the week. And various consequences ensue - Cookie knocked a plant off the window sill, there was dirt everywhere. Cookie jumps in a kitchen drawer, the pots and pans are everywhere, etc. Well now, I read what Cookie does, and Evan chimes in with the second part with much enthusiasm. He likes "helping" read a story, and I think he's proud of himself that he remembers all of it.

There are other book rituals. The last books are always The Going to Bed book by Sandra Boynton, Big Red Barn, and Bear Snores on. And recently I've been making more of a point to read one or two bible stories from one of the baby bibles their Godparents have given them.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Rice cakes

Yep, rice cakes. I am continually floored by the things that "matter" to a toddler. What things have to be just so seems to be random and with little logic. But that's just because I can't read their minds, I'm sure they would tell me.

Both of my kids have utter disdain for a rice cake that is not whole. Telling them that the two pieces taste the same apart as they did together, is just insulting to them.

Evan seems to perhaps be getting a little better about this, but I don't want to count those chickens. This afternoon, I gave Amelie a rice cake upon request. I made *sure* that it was a whole one. (I've got a collection of pieces collecting for the days in which I don't have as much of an emotional need for carbs and I can stomach rice cakes). But then, she broke her rice cake in half, by accident of course. She handed the pieces back to me. When I gave them back to her, she knelt down, knees bent and wailed, "Rice CAKE!" Obviously I am too dense to realize it was no LONGER a rice cake.

I suppose I should not begrudge my children their little idiosyncratic ways. I used to line up my M&M's on my desk at my summer telemarketing job by color. My supervisor called everyone in to look at them. At least I don't do that to my kids. And when I take the silverware out of the dishwasher, I often curse myself for not loading the last load, because the various utensils are not grouped together in such a way that it is quicker and easier to sort them.

This is the first story I've recorded that I wonder if my kids will be mortified to read, knowing this blog was public until they were old enough to insist I take it down, and stop blabbing about them to the world. I hope not. I hope I teach them to love themselves enough that they can love themselves with all their foibles, not care what anyone else thinks, and be able to laugh at themselves.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Now I know my ABCs

Evan identified 13 letters on his Sesame Street ABC cards the other night. His dad had suggested we play a game...any letters he can identify, he kept that card. Any he didn't know, Mommy kept the card. He was proud to have named 13 of them. The very next night, he identified 15 of his letters. I made a big deal about him learning two more letters in one day, but this didn't impress him quite as much.

I try to focus their attention on their alphabet place mats whenever there is a lull in conversation at a meal. What I am really excited for, though, is when we put the POSTER up on the wall!

I can't believe how much Evan is learning, and how much he can do. It all seemed to happen SO fast! Amelie seems to be learning and growing even faster. This is probably true, and most likely because she gets to see Evan do things first, and she has the motivation to "do what Evan does". More about Amelie later...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Books, Glorious Books!

We have a few really good pictures of the kids with books, but we have to get more. They love books so much, and that makes me SO happy. Amelie brings me books and says "read me" all the time.

However, a really funny picture today was of the "train" of books she made. Or I think she calls it a bridge. Anyway...she has always liked to line things up....her people, and before that it was blocks. Today was a whole other level. Her room had one long stretch of books across it. She was very proud of it.

The book they hear last every night is "The Bear Snores On". I love the Sandra Boynton books...and this is saying a lot because I don't usually like books with short, rhyming lines. ;-) This is usually the second-to-last book we read. Of course we all love Big Red Barn. Evan especially loves "I Kissed the Baby". Amelie loves to be tickled at the tickling part. They both love a book from their Godfamily called Hugs for Baby. Amelie loves her Dora the Explorer stories book.

And I am really excited that Evan requests bible stories now. We must be doing *something* right. ;-) He calls his baby bible his "Hope Church Bible". I think it is wonderful that he feels such a connection to his church. Their Godparents are very active in their lives, all the way from PA. They regularly send books to them. In addition to their baby bibles we read from, they gave them a book called "What is God's Name". It is a lovely story about people having names for God related to what God means to them (the nurse called God "Healer", the lonely child called God "Friend", the soldier, "Maker of Peace"). I found it a very good omen that this book was the first whose artwork drew in Evan's attention so much that he pointed to it over and over.

Evan's first trip to the library with his preschool class was very exciting. He picked out a book about Elephants. He is very excited about the library!

When he was little, Evan loved pictures of the moon, particularly in Good Night, Moon. He would point to any picture of the moon and exclaim, "Moon!". Too bad by the time I had compiled a good list of moon themed books, he was out of that phase. ;-) He also used to love when I would read Olivia, to point to the picture of an actual painting that Olivia sees at a museum. It really impressed me that the thing that stuck out most for him was a piece of "fine art". ;-)

There is so much more to say about books...and I'll either add to this post and/or post more as they discover and explore more books!

The little tidbits

Most of my memory collecting has been in groups of things, sort of tying them together in a theme (like music, etc.). But tonight Evan and I were in the car waiting for Kevin to come out of the store getting baby wipes. Evan asked me where he would get them in the store and I told him they would be with the diapers and other "baby stuff". Then he asked if there were toys there. I told him there might be a few little toys for little babies, but most toys for big kids were in a bigger store.

And for some reason the memory of buying him a little cow who would moo when you pressed his belly came to me. I told him that was the first toy I ever got for him, so we should keep that one, even when we give his other toys to other kids when he's tired of them.

And then I remembered how much Evan loved TAGS when he was a baby. I guess this is not unique, because some ladies have made a whole line of toys called "Taggies" with tags on them. Evan loved tags so much, he often went straight for them on ANY toy...and would often be more interested in a toys tag than any other thing about it. So I went a little nuts in the gift store one day and get a taggie blanket, a taggie ball, a taggie rattle...LOL

I will have to amend this post with a picture of Evan w/ his taggie blanket as a baby sometime.

Amelie currently has a little baby doll in pink pjs that is "Baby". She sleeps with Baby. If she looks for her and can't find her, she has to be found. She's the "baby" she was changing with Desitin a while back (I'll come back and link to it here).
Speaking of the Desitin...Wednesday was an INSANE day. And one of the things my little devil of a boy did was to take the tube of the white creamy stuff...and smear it ALL OVER the top of my bedside table. (He's lucky there wasn't an Oprah magazine on it! ;-). He also got it all over his hands and legs (wearing shorts still), and on his face.

I can't easily plop him in the bath, so it was a sponge bath and take off your shirt...and I never did get to the Desitin, so Daddy got the honor of cleaning that.

For Heaven's Sake

I didn't grow up in a church going family. This never bothered me, and I don't regret it now that I'm an adult "of faith" who goes to church either. I have friends who grew up in a faith tradition, and they have grown into adults with a strong faith. And that is wonderful. But I also know folks who spent their young adulthood doing things like (and this is a true story)taking turns with their friends going to church and finding out what the Homily was about so the other friends could lie to their folks and skip church.

I don't believe that this kind of behavior happens because there is anything inherently wrong with any faith, or the way these parents are trying their best to raise their children up in faith - both are blessings in peoples' lives.And I don't think this is a rampant happening. Most families pass down their faith in such a way as to help their children come to their own understanding of God and other things of a spiritual nature. They have a true grounding, and love of God, and so their children LIKE church and want to go because it is important to them, just as it was to their parents. But I prefer the way I came upon my faith, to a faith that isn't truly deep within me, because it was foisted upon me by well-meaning parents.

To contrast that first experience: A dear friend was recounting her daughter's experience on the bus one day. Another kid was making fun of her, and being really mean. She was on her own that day, because her sister didn't ride with her like she usually did. As her mom spoke to her about her experience and she was telling Momma how it felt, she said (paraphrasing)"It was really hard. But I thought about Jesus, and it made me feel better." I think its safe to say this parent was ecstatic about this. I even got a lump in my throat. If this is the kind of feeling and knowledge of God's love for them that my children carry around with them as a result of our spiritual teachings and their church experiences, it will be my proudest accomplishment as a Mommy.

I believe that God exposes Herself to us in a variety of ways. That's why we have so many different religions. But God is *everywhere*, "always speaking" to us (as the UCC church tells us). He uses all sorts of experiences to bring us to Him. So I am perfectly happy that I came to my faith through conversations with my mom about her upbringing and beliefs, my Dad's love of Amazing Grace and their love-your-neighbor way of being, some experiences in college, Amy Grant's music, my dear friend Dawn who I met right after college, my Quaker friend Jessie, and Lawrence - my dear friend, poetry mentor and spiritual inspiration. The Watertown and Arlington Street churches of the UU church, and our lovely UCC church here in town where Evan and Amelie were both baptized me, have fed me and helped me along my spiritual journey. And the amazing Hope Church that is both UCC and DOC, where we're are currently raising our children in the light of God.

So I came to my faith in a different way from my parents, and my children will come to their faith in ways that are different from their parents. But I've landed in a place in life where I am able to bring my children up in a strong faith community. And while I don't feel I missed out by not having that...I am blessed to be able to provide this for my children. God has, and continues to bless me beyond my imagination. (It's all God's Angels, watching over me ;-).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

More on the joy of music

So Amelie was sitting on the desk in front of me to listen to stories. My Slacker kids station was playing in the background. (We have many, actually ;-). I started to read, when I heard an audible gasp from my little girl. She swung around and exclaimed, "Laurie!"

And so it was; our favorite children musician - Laurie Berkner. Amelie pointed to the floor and said, "Drum!" She ran and got her little play drum (a nice soft one that you just hit with your hand instead of those dreaded, hazardous sticks). Once up with me again, she wanted down again...and went and retrieved two tambourines from our "music toys box". (I love that we have a whole box, bordering on two now, of just instruments!). She brought them to me and said, "Mommy, you play!"

We proceeded to "jam", as Jack would say. Amelie has started to do what Evan did at this age...sing the last word of each line, with a few others thrown in here and there. So there we were, singing "I'm Not Perfect"....my anthem these days. Funny how easily I tell my daughter that of course she isn't perfect...and I love her just as she is.

My friends have started to notice on Facebook that I put myself down a lot when I don't do "just the right thing". Or even screw up...as if I'm going to permanently damage my children. There are times when I really mess up and do something really not acceptable...but usually its just letting a mess happen, or something equally annoying, but not at all "harmful". Anyway...I'm glad that I'm at least telling my kids they don't need to be perfect to be loved...I just need to practice modeling that for myself.

So after that, we buzzed along to "Buzz Buzz" (again, courtesy of Laurie). Then came Big Bird, celebrating there is "Just One Me". Another great message for all of us. Amelie turned around and saw Big Bird's picture and giggled. (We're big on Sesame Street around here, too). And then Laurie sang to us about "a world without trees" (Can You Imagine). All these talented folks are really helping me be the kind of parent I've always imagined. I'm beyond grateful for the joy, the positive messages, and the love that music gifts our family with.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Food (and nourishment)

The kids and I just had the most delightful lunch together. Everyone was quiet, and calm. But they were chatty. We talked about all sorts of things, like how we're looking forward to Nana and Aunt Jenn, Uncle Rob and cousin Nora's visit soon. They asked me questions, and answered mine. They both said "thank you" when I gave them their plates, and both cleared them, pretty well. What more could a mom really ask for?

We've been lucky since day one in terms of feeding the kids healthy foods. They both love almost every fruit, and they like a large enough collection of veggies that I can mix it up a little to keep them from getting bored, and the get a pretty good fill of vitamins. (They like broccoli, corn and sweet potato...so you've got THREE colors right there! :-)

We are fortune to live near several Farmer's Markets. Over the summer, watermelon was a BIG hit. We started serving bigger and bigger pieces, as they were coming back for seconds over and over. They both started exclaiming about how big their pieces were...bragging almost. ;-)

The Farmers' Markets of summer have also been a lovely opportunity to talk about "where" our food comes from, and the folks who help get it to us. I'm woefully uneducated about what grows here when, so its hard for me to know what foods to plan to buy that will be grown within a 50 mile radius. But I want to learn. Hope Church had a "Local Food Pot luck" recently. This is such a great place for us to learn new and exciting ways to live as Jesus would want us to. People there are just so conscience of how the things we do, buy, eat, the places we shop, etc., effect the people of the world and this planet. And food choices is just one way they are helping us learn to live a more socially, globally conscience life.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My preschooler!

Evan started preschool this fall. His group at school is called "The Lollipops"...I'm Mama to a Lollipop! I just love this. And this week, we got our first parent newsletter! I can't express how excited I was to be in proud possession of my first parent newsletter!

Evan is loving preschool. He went off happy as a clam from day 1. (Both children slept in their "big kid beds" in much the same way....we are truly blessed). I called my mom the night before. "I'm NOT sad...I'm just - EMOTIONAL!", I told her. I got a bit of a lump in my throat as he headed down the stairs with his Daddy, his little red lunchbox in hand, too.

He doesn't seem to like to talk about his day when he first gets home. "Maybe later", he'll say. Or "Not this day". But over dinner a few nights later, he'll tell me about one of his friends' favorite colors, or a picture he drew. We have his first-ever drawing done at preschool. The teacher wrote a quote from him on the bottom of it. "I'm drawing circles!". This is such a thoughtful touch, and quite characteristic of his teachers. They do everything in such a thoughtful way.

Evan only had a bright and chipper morning from the moment he opened his eyes, once. The next preschool morning (he goes two days a week), he groaned and wouldn't open his eyes or even turn over onto his back. I somehow managed to get his pants and shoes and socks on without his participation at all, until I finally had to insist he wake up and help me out a little. But by the time he is done with breakfast, he is going in the refrigerator for his lunchbox and ready to go.

The first afternoon after school, Kevin told me that the teachers said that at naptime, he wanted to sleep with the note I left in his lunchbox. I know I'm a mush-ball...something Evan will probably tell me when he's older. (I can only hope he says it affectionately ;-). But the tears started to well from my eyes. This whole experience of my baby's first "growing up" experience is something else!

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Drumming!

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The Sound of Music

It makes my heart sing to think that I am passing down the love of music that my parents instilled in me to my children. Kevin and I both love music. And our children are already following in our footsteps.

Evan enjoys playing his toy violin. His favorite song (of the 12 or so you can play automatically on this toy) is what has become known in our house as "the yellow button song". Its "My Love is Blue", and I have to look up the composer's name. But he always goes for this song, hums it when he isn't playing...and was pretty tickled when we heard it on the radio the first time. I think what impressed me most is that he has held the violin in precisely the right way, from almost the first time he "played" it.

He also likes to "play" the piano. Luckily, our piano is downstairs...so we can listen from a distance.

Evan likes to drum the best. He has a collection of "drums" sitting in the dishwasher before we close it. (The pasta pot, strainer and other assorted pots). Lately he has taken to drumming along with songs we play on the cd player in the kitchen. (This was a gift from my dear Aunt Barbara "Auntie", though I have yet to get him hooked on country music like my aunt did for me.) I can definitely see him years from now, using our guest room (downstairs) as his drumming room.

Evan definately has favorite songs. At the moment they are "Victor Vito" by Laurie Berkner, and "Violin" by They Might be Giants. (He calls it "speck of dust", a line from the song.). Evan first discovered TMBG's on two DVDs we have about the alphabet and numbers. He loves the songs on these, and was very amused when he found out that some of them were on the cd "No No No!". He listens to these few favorite songs *over* and *over* again. The repeat button on the cd player has become my new best friend.

And Evan is his father's son. His memory amazes me. He learned the lyrics to the song "Alphabet of Nations" - at THREE years old. I don't think I could ever memorize the whole song! He sings many other lyrics to TMBG...and these are not repetitive songs to say the least.

Amelie enjoys playing her guitar with Evan. I think she likes the *idea* more than actual playing...since this guitar broke and doesn't actually make any sound anymore. But she rocks back and forth in a way that would make Wynonna proud. (Girls With Guitars). :-)

Another singer Evan likes is Elizabeth Mitchell. He loves "Peace Like a River". This is a cd we mostly listen to in the car, and often this song is on repeat for the whole trip. We always listen on the way to church. At church he loves the "Amen" that is sung when the offering is brought forward by the children. He also likes her "Alphabet Ditty"...its just an ABC song, but it is funky.

The other day I asked Evan if there were any instruments we didn't have that he would like. He told me he wanted a clarinet and a saxophone. We have lots of music to look forward to!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Blogging my childrens lives...and my life with them.

In the liner notes for her album Lead Me On, Amy Grant tells her son Matt firstly, how glad she is to "finally see him face to face". How I can relate...I talked to Evan just about every day in my tummy during those long months. I remember watching Amelie move around in my tummy when I laid back in the bathtub, and I told her how we couldn't wait for her to "get here".

But she also mentions how she wants them to know "how their Mama felt about things". I guess that is part of the reason I want to keep this blog, and hope it will be even more special to them than a baby book filled with facts about their "firsts", because I am hopefully expressing how all of these events in their development bring me such extraordinary joy.

To that end, I've thought about either deleting all the posts that aren't about "joy" (i.e. are about stress!) when this is all over and I'm ready to share this blog with them....or not blogging about those feelings anymore. Well, for starters, that is just not an option. I use this space as much to process my feelings as to record events in their lives and my reaction to them. And in the end, I want them to know that even in the times when bringing them up was challenging, I loved them to pieces.

And who knows? Maybe sharing my parenting challenges and how I tried to react to them as "my best self" will help them with their own parenting someday. Sharing only the cute moments gives their story a disingenuous feeling. (It's not like they never see their Mama lose her cookies, much as I work to not do that in front of them). Life with Evan and Amelie is amazing. Having my children has made my life richer and more joyous than I ever could have imagined. And they are teaching me lessons I probably never would have learned without them.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Alternative Alphabet poster

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The Things Kids Say

I get such a kick out of so many cute and clever things my children do. And the things they say. This list will get edited as I collect more to add.

Evan

"Daddy cooks on the grill just like Sponge Bob!"

Evan: "Pick me up, Amelie."
Amelie: "No, Evan!"
Evan: "You can't Amelie, that's because you're little."

"That's you, Mommy!" (Pointing to an image similar to this one below on his Alternative Alphabet place mat.)




Amelie

"Thank you" and "No thank you" (notable I think because she's only 2 and says them every time)


Argh! I can never think of them all when I sit down to write. Like I said, will have to edit/add to this later.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Evan's first day of school

Amelie loves to line up things. It started with *all* of the little figurines I mentioned she collected in her little containers. (This collection is growing as she commandeers more and more figures from other toys to join her crew, btw). Now she likes to line up her letter blocks.

This may seem so mundane, but it is these sweet little tiny details of their childhood I most want to remember...maybe because they seem like the things I'll most likely forget. But they are just so sweet and full of wonder...it makes me smile to think about.

I am going to start playing the Slacker station I created using just Laurie Berkner's name. It results in Laurie's songs, but also great folks like her. (I added Peter Paul and Mary and Pete Seeger and Sally Rogers and Elizabeth Mitchell for a really great combo of music). I also added some "grown up" folk singers who focus most on peace and justice, because there's nothing wrong w/ kids listening to some grown up music and these messages are important to me.

Amelie and I are listening to it right now, and she is just sooo happy! Children should have lots of music around them as much as possible...and I haven't been doing a great job of making sure this happens.

So this peaceful moment with my daughter is brought to you today by Evan's preschool. ;-) But he will be home any minute now (from his *first* day) and I can't *wait* to hear how he liked his day. He woke up so happy and in such a sweet mood. He was a bit more snuggley than usual (or maybe it seemed that way to me as I prepared to say goodbye). I think it might have been the only possible hint he gave of any apprehensions. He was really just completely happy to go. We took a picture of him with his lunchbox, so when we're old and forgetful we'll remember this was his first day of school. When I get Kevin to transfer pictures to the computer I will post one here.

Anyway...if you're reading this, I'd love to know! Send me a note or post a response. I'm not quite as obsessed with getting readers as I used to. This blog is really becoming the kids' baby book. I will treasure it when I'm old. God help me, please don't let the internet blow up! :-)

Monday, August 31, 2009

And Here We Go!

Today is the first day of the new school year. Evan has his first day of preschool tomorrow. This school seems like a vibrant, caring place that will be a wonderful place for him to make friends, learn exciting things, and maybe even help him with some of his "less than stellar" behaviors. ;-)

He really is a wonderful child, but he has some of the typical 3 year old tendencies. And I'm still struggling to figure out how to discipline in some situations. Since I can't carry him or even drag him to his time out area, when he needs a time out I just hold him and not let him go...and that's his time out. But if he's running around I can't grab him for a time out.

But today has been a pretty good day so far. There has been nutty-ness...he bit his little sister (lightly, thank goodness), and they both dumped a box of blocks onto the floor on purpose. I smiled inside at the proud way they "presented" it to me, arms outstretched singing "Mess, mess!". I didn't make them put them back in the box, because if they didn't comply there is no was I could enforce my expectation...one of many things I need to figure out this year, one day at a time.

They we came downstairs into their "playroom" (it's really the "family room"...but for now, its just their play room for the most part). Evan picked up his violin and pushed the yellow star on it, the "yellow button song", his favorite song the violin plays. I'm so tired of that one melody...there are at least 8 songs on this toy, but we only hear this one. But he was "playing" his violin, holding the bow and the tviolin in his chin just like a professional. (He's done this almost from the first day he got it). And his sister was holding her red guitar, like a little rocker. This guitar doesn't even play anymore, but she doesn't care...she rocks back and forth to the music like a pro. It was soooo cute.

Amelie handed me a little shaker/scraper toy instrument to play along. Evan doesn't like it when I sing along, so I wondered how he'd feel about this...but he just stood next to me and jammed along with me.

I have so many other memories I want to record here so I never forget them...like the way Amelie picks up a little microphone and does a "Biz's beat" a la Yo Gabba Gabba...but she wants me to read a story now. So for now...it's back to "real life". :-)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Growth

I just finished reading "Pat the Bunny" to Amelie, and playing a good old game of peekaboo. She just *loves* peekaboo. Evan had his lunch out of his new lunchbox today, to 'practice' for lunchtime at preschool. He did a really great job.

I was very emotional about the passing of Ted Kennedy since I heard the news. (Kevin asked me if I was going to be as emotional about him as I was Tim Russert. This was his way of *telling* me, and I instantly knew it.) I knew it wouldn't be long, he had a dire diagnosis. But I'm sure his family also hoped he'd be the one exception and beat it.

It's hard to lose people who represent things that are important to you. For me, he represented overcoming adversity, and developing a sense of purpose from it. He represented the continuous fight for justice and equality. And all of the tributes to him on the news have taught me about what an important role he played in his family.

Certainly all that he accomplished in terms of civil rights in his job as Senator, makes me feel like I just sit on my butt. (I heard someone else say that on the news last night, and thought "yep".) And he wasn't just sitting 'on the hill" and passing legislation, though what he did in in that arena is incredible...his part in the Civil Rights Act, the ADA, the Family and Medical Leave Act...he's done so much to further the cause of justice in the country. I wasn't as aware of all of the personal relationships he forged, and what a personal interest he took in so many people in Massachusetts.

On a more personal level of his life, I hadn't realized how much he served as the "glue" of his family during their many tragedies. Up until now, when there has been a major loss in my family, (my father and my aunt) I've pretty much been only on the receiving end of support. I wasn't strong enough to be of much support to anyone else. That's a special kind of strength. It made me think about all the new responsibilities, including the emotional ones, that come with being a parent.

The world has lost something very special in Ted Kennedy. I can only hope we all do as Caroline Kennedy suggested, and pick up the torch and work to change our world for the better.

Note: I've read some wonderful tributes to Senator Kennedy...Bill Harley's "Thinking About Teddy" is one of my favorites...it says much of what I wanted to say in this post...but is much more eloquent (and less rambling ;-)).

Friday, August 28, 2009

Health Care

I don't usually use this blog to post about political things anymore. I couldn't help myself doing the presidential campaign, and felt it was "relevant" because it had to do with the kind of country I want for my children.

And well, so does the health care issue, especially the issue of a "public option". I have very strong convictions that if the health insurances companies were that inclined to make sure EVERYONE had affordable, quality health care, they would have already. This is why I don't believe it can just be left up to them to be sure EVERYONE is covered. And this is why I believe in the public option element of reform. I know that my children have the privileges such that they will never have to worry about having good health care. But I don't want them growing up in a country with injustice. And not having the basic HUMAN RIGHT to quality health care is the greatest injustice I can think of.

Here's hoping that Senator Kennedy's dream of affordable quality health care for ALL is a reality very soon...

Fall

I historically hate fall. I just have a really hard time with it. Feeling the warmth leave the air, watching the days grow shorter, it's all just so melancholy to me. And most of all, with the change, I can't help but think about the impending winter. I know that sounds so crazy, since winter is months away...I waste an entire season (and a very pretty one at that, here in New England) dreading another one. But I suppose you could understand, even if you aren't disabled yourself...that being so much less mobile, so much more house-bound, and having each outing take so much more physical and mental energy...would depress anybody. ;-)

All that said, I am very hopeful for this fall season. Both of our children are now sleeping in their own beds, which means Kevin and I both get a much more restful sleep. (Kevin gets less sleep than I do because of the number of hours he works planning his classes, but even his smaller amount of sleep is more comfortable now ;-). Right now, Evan is on a play-date at the house of a new friend from playschool.

He starts his full days on Tuesday and Thursdays next week. (We hope he'll love it as much as he has on his visits, even after he realizes Daddy won't be staying with him at preschool anymore). Amelie is sitting coloring at the dining room table. It is such a sweet, peaceful time. Amelie will have me all to herself for the first time ever in her little life. She will have a space to play and explore on her own, without anyone directing her, or taking her toys when she is playing. She and her brother love each other very much, and have a lot of fun together, but naturally there is a fair amount of time when her older sibling can be overwhelming. So I'm excited for her to have this time on her own this year, before she starting going to preschool with her brother.

I'm also hoping there will be a change in me. I'm on Wellbutrin, because I realized that my reaction to my stress was over the top, even though I know feeling stressed by taking care of two toddlers by myself on crutches is totally normal! I'm going to use my light box again, when we head into the shorter days with less light. I'm hoping that, coupled with a break from the intensity of watching two children, one with an incredible amount of energy and penchant for looking for something to do that he shouldn't be, will help me feel less overwhelmed this year. And mostly, I am hoping all of this will help me have the focus and energy to be a more focused, engaged, better parent.

Evan and Amelie are doing more and more new things every day. They are acting so grown up! Amelie has such nice manners, she doesn't just say "no" to something she doesn't want, she says "no, THANK YOU". Unfortunately, this is also something she says to a request to do something she doesn't want to do. ;-) And as maddening as the non-compliance can be, it also is just so freakin' cute...its hard to stay stern about my expectations sometimes. (This is definitely my biggest challenge, the fact that I can't physically pick them up and direct them to what I want them to do when they are refusing).

So fall is just about here...I can't believe it. But here we go!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Music music music

A staple of quiet moments this summer has been "Let's Hear it for the Laurie Berkner Band"...we DVR'd it when Noggin aired it mid-July. They never tire of it. They also love They Might Be Giants "Here Come the ABC's" and "Here come the 1,2,3's". Evan especially loves the song about the 7's coming into someone's house and eating all the cake.

And our car ride home from NJ last night (many moments, but especially about the last half hour) was saved by Laurie Berkner songs, especially Victor Vito. And I love that song too, so it didn't become painful after the 20th repeating. ;-)

Evan and Amelie had fun with their cousin Nora this trip. They especially liked playing "Tent" with blankets on the living room floor and the couch.

Just some cute moments that make me smile.

Amelie says Amelie!

So we've been trying to get Amelie to say Amelie for quite a while now. She names all of her family...especially loves to say Evan (whether it is in a loving way or an annoyed way ;-). But when you ask her to say Amelie, all she'll say is "me!" or "no". (She now says "no thank you" very politely, although she uses this response to refuse to do things as well.)

But yesterday morning at breakfast I asked her "who are you?" or something that phrased the question differently than "what is your name"...and she said "Amelie"...not excitedly, but very quietly. And now she won't do it again. She'll even say "Daddy" or "Evan" if you ask her her name. Oh well...it was a thrill for the moment it lasted. ;-)

Amelie loves all of the little people she has in her toy collection. She has actual "Little People" (the trademarked name) as well as some castle characters, and she loves to line them all up in a line. She sometimes puts them all lying down and covers them with a blanket. And she loves to carry them around in her little bug house (its like a cloth basket), or other baskets she has like her Halloween pumpkin or her yellow easter bucket.

Evan and Amelie both do such funny cute things, and I'm grateful for this space to write them down. I'm terrible about picking up a baby book and recording things, so this is a great place to make sure I don't forget these small, sweet moments.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

It's a car, no it's a wheelchair...wait, it's a bed!

So I thought Evan was pretending that the Diapers.com box he and Amelie were sitting in was a car. But then he informed me that it was a wheelchair (no, not because of mommy I don't think...I think the kid in the wheelchair on Pinky Dinky Doo actually gave him the idea ;-).

Then while I was reading HuffingtonPost.com, I look up and he is dragging it up the stairs. As he tries to drag it past my chairlift, he snags onto the switch on the arm of it, and it starts going up the stairs with him, and the box. "Why are you bringing the wheelchair upstairs, honey?"

"I want to turn it into a bed."

Busy box.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My Big Boy

The kids are growing up so fast. The other night while we were having dinner on the porch, Evan turned to me and said, "Thank you for making us a nice dinner, Mommy!" (a dinner Kevin had cooked but oh well ;-). And today he drank from a big boy cup for the first time. (This is good, since I'm sure they don't serve drinks in sippy cups at playschool ;-).

I am so excited for Evan to go to preschool. Aside from getting a break two days a week, Amelie will get me to herself for the first time ever. And Evan is such a friendly, sociable boy, I'm eager for him to make more friends. It will be fun to hear about all the fun things he does at school, and maybe even get some ideas from school about fun things to do at home.

Right now they are clapping along to a Laurie Berkner song from the Noggin special "Let's Hear it for the Laurie Berkner Band". They love music and love to sing. Evan will only sing the theme from Fifi & the Flowertots on the way to the Flatbread Pizza near us....he says that's the "Flatbread song".

The children love to go places in the car. They love the car. And they are very appreciative. When we go out to the car now, they often will put out their arms and give the car a big hug and a kiss.

Heh...Laurie just sang about gettin' tired and they laid down on their blankets. But the next verse is "I'm jumpin' up", so no nap. ;-)The next song is about Energy...how appropriate, because they have SO much! LOL. They mostly play together very nicely. We're still learning "share" and "no take", but it will come. The crisis of this afternoon before lunch was the missing "remote" (a play remote that lights up but does nothing else). There was a lot of screaming. We finally found it in the sink of his Dora kitchen in the kitchen.

Evan is looking forward to going to Nana's house and see her washer and dryer downstairs. Whenever he mentions going to Nana's house, Amelie is sure to make sure her cat isnt' forgotten by chiming in, "Tommy too!" Every time.

And life goes on....

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Plums

I'm sitting on the porch sharing a plum with the babies (well, actually just Evan, Amelie just spit out her first bite and wanted no part of it after that). I can't help but be reminded of the poem....

This Is Just To Say
by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

And on this afternoon, I can't help but think about Michael Jackson, who won't be able to watch his children grow up, to be there for them, and share in moments like this. And of my dad, and my aunt, who aren't here to see my kids childhood. And Tim Russert, who should have lived to see grandchildren. Makes you count your blessings.

Monday, June 22, 2009

misc. cute things from the kids

I can't remember if I blogged about Amelie getting into the diaper box, and sitting down with a diaper and the *desitin* to change her baby doll. What a smart little cookie. Messy, but smart!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

appreciative children

So Evan said something this morning when he ran out into the living room, and I just had to write his daddy right away to tell him.

Every night Kevin collects all of their toys (we're talkin' hundreds...we have a ridiculous number of toys, this is quite a task each night), and every day the kids toss them all over the place. It is a thankless job.

Well, this morning, when Evan came out in the living room, he exclaimed, "Look! My house is all cleaned up!"

He's working on undoing this as we speak, naturally.

Monday, June 15, 2009

My sweet little boy

I know every parent thinks their child is the smartest, the sweetest, etc. But I have just been blown away by Evan lately.

One night last week, I had a mad headache and took some Tylenol. The next morning Evan asked me, "Mommy are you all better? Do you need more medicine?". I told him I felt much better. Later that night and several times of the next few days he kept asking, "Mommy, you all better?". Yeah, sweetie...except for the lump in my throat I'm just fine. ;-)

This afternoon Evan was very said that his mother's helper couldn't make it. To make him feel better, I checked with Daddy and told him he would take him with him to the grocery store. He asked, "Amelie come too?" I said, "Probably not, honey. So let's not talk about it too much so Amelie won't feel bad".

He didn't miss a beat when he said to me, "But Mommy, the grocery store have carts and the carts have TWO seats, one for me and one for Amelie!". I have the sweetest children EVER. :-)

Monday, June 08, 2009

The Inspiration of Weddings

My niece Shelley is blogging this time (over at With Arms Open Wide about a wedding she attended recently and how her own marriage has shaped her. I remember in our prayers of the people, we prayed that our wedding be not just our wedding, but a chance for the married folks there to commit to each other anew.

I thought about the things we promised each other in our vows. We wrote them very last minute (shhhhh! ;-), but they still stand up today to the struggles couples face.

One of my favorite vows was to love each other, even as life changes us. I think that's a big cause of divorce today, couples feeling like they can't stay together through changes...and really, isn't that what life is all about? Sticking with each other even as the hardships of life wear on you,and yes, change you.

Do I still struggle with some of my vows? Sure. And that's part of why they were my vows. I tend to be *very ungracious* when I'm mad (I'm being gentle with myself here ;-). So one of my vows is to "always speak graciously". Each year when Kevin and I re-read our vows to each other, I always break out laughing at that part, thinking about how badly I failed at that one - again. But thankfully, God gives us a fresh start every day. Even more miraculously, so does my mortal husband. ;-)

As we enter into the big wedding season, I hope all married folks who attend these miracles find themselves refreshed in their own commitments.

I also remember one of our prayers of the people being about our prayer that we raise children someday, to know and love God. My friend Dawn spoke that prayer for us, because she was my first spiritual mentor, and taught me much of what I know today about God. This was 11 years ago, when children seemed so far away...and I was so melancholy about our childless status for so many years after that. I had no idea the challenges that would come with this joy.

Weddings, what a wonderful opportunity to reflect.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Healing from Depression


I thought this Daily Devotional from the United Church of Christ was too important not to share...for anyone who might happen upon it here, or for someone in your life.

Gracious words

May we all strive to be more "spiritually generous" with our words. I know I could certainly afford to work a little harder at it. ;-)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

We continue to screw up....

I was sitting here not knowing what to do with my disappointment and anger that Prop. 8 was upheld by the California Supreme Court. And then I received this Franciscan Benediction from a great blog, Wheelie Catholic.

Food from Everywhere


My sister-in-law gave our children (among many wonderful things), a set of play food from Step 2 that is multicultural food. She does something like this for most occasions. For Christmas it was Yo Yo dolls, an update of the classic quilter's doll made from scrap fabrics. They're each hand sewn by women artisans in Bolivia and Peru. Jenny Krauss, the company responsible for designing and sourcing the product, is committed to working with women artisans who have excpetional skill and very few options for other work.

It means so much when folks give our children gifts that reflect an understanding and appreciation for the values and lessons I want to teach them.

Remember

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

some of the best moments of motherhood

So I'm waiting and waiting for my mother's day present to arrive...and I've been annoyed I don't have it yet. This afternoon I was coming back up my stair-lift after checking the mailbox, disappointed it still isn't here, and as I rise up the stairs, I see through the banister that my little (almost) 2 year old girl has stacked SIX of her blocks in a tower. And my son came out from the kitchen with a package of string cheese and announced, "Mommy, I want some string cheese! See,we have a whole package." My kids impress/amuse me so much.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Mother's Helper


When I told Evan to finish his lunch up because Kelsey (my mother's helper - try mother's GODSEND) was coming, he started making a "ding-dong" sound like the doorbell...and little baby sister Amelie (that's what he calls her) joined right in.

This time last year, Auntie had just died and I was just heartsick that the Hope and Faith I had put into the fact that it was Easter time was for not. I was completely expecting a miracle - it was Easter after all.

So I try to focus on the bigger miracle, that I will see Aunty again someday. That reality gives me great comfort when I think about my Dad. But I'm just not there yet with Auntie. I've got Susan Ashton's You Move Me on the radio right now....

"I'm frozen solid with fear, like a rock in the ground. But You move me. You give me courage I didn't know I had. You move me. I can't go with You and stay where I am, so You move me."

I am in such a place of self-pity and immobility. So I hang on with the faith that He *will* move me. I think back to when Aunty died. It was so awful...such a let down after a short period of hope for that miracle. But then I remember feeling "better" so much sooner than I thought I would. I was so grateful to my faith communities for that. (First Church of Christ, Congregational in Bedford, and Hope Church (UCC) in Roslindale).


You would think that all the joy that *is* a two year old, and a three year old, that I would be so happy. And I kick myself when I'm not. I get so angry that I'm not happier. I wish that Aunty could have been around longer for my babies. I wish I were able to do more with them...get out more. {{Sigh}}

God's got His work cut out for Him to move me. So I hang on, try to have patience, and try to have Faith. I think about my blessings...my wonderful mother's helper, my newest best friend I have here in Bedford who comes at least once a week for our kids to have a playdate, my church friends...the fact that my mom is able to visit about once a week. God is the greatest "mother's helper" I've got.

On the Journey...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

God Does Not Like Whiners

I have long thought I should start a gratitude journal. Mostly because I can be *such* a whiner...I complain a lot.

So this morning I am grateful for Spring, grateful for the upcoming baptism of my niece Shelley's baby boy, David. I'm grateful for my friends, one of whom is coming over today with her son and niece to play with my kids. I'm grateful for my loving husband, and my sweet, wonderful babies.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Year of Blessings, of Mourning

{{Sigh}} This year has been so busy with Amelie being almost 2, and Evan coming up on 3 on May 13th.

This has also been the year in which we lost my aunt. She was my aunt, my mother, and my sister all wrapped up in one. She understood me like nobody else. She will be gone a year this Thursday. I am forever grateful that I spent that morning with a dear friend from church. David Malone has shared so much spiritual and life wisdom with me. Hope Church and my darling husband got me through what was the most awful day of my life since my Daddy died in July of 1995.

It felt like such a scary day. It was like God was telling me "It's getting time for you to grow up now, sweetie. Your aunty is gone, you have a husband and two babies depending on you now. You're not a kid anymore."

I hope there will be more revelations this week and through Easter. Time will tell.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Blessings

I get so caught up in the stress that is raising two toddlers while on crutches, that it seems I often forget to count my blessings. And I have become so lapse at recording them here on my blog. This was meant to be a gift to myself, more than anything, so I wouldn't forget those little moments I want to remember forever.

The "babies" are growing up so fast. Evan will be 3 in May, and Amelie will be 2 in June. Evan has few "baby" moments left...he will sometimes cuddle under his blanket and *say*, "I'm a little baby", in a really cute baby voice. And he still calls out "Mommy I want you" if I am out in the living room or kitchen doing something and he is in the bedroom behind the gate.

Amelie still curls her toes, and pulls her legs up to grab her feet while I change her diaper. Almost every time I change her, I wonder how much longer she will be doing that. She is such an independent little thing, and very sure of what she wants. She will pull Daddy by the finger into the bedroom if she wants a diaper change, or just if she wants to play in there with him.

They both still sleep with out. It's getting kind of crowded, but I know I'll miss these days. Evan will probably be in two days of preschool in the fall, and then Amelie will follow the next year. It will be exciting to share in what they learn at school. And as stressful as my days are with the two of them, I'm trying really hard not to wish their babyhood away.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Election Day 2008



I am so thrilled to have these pictures to tell Evan and Amelie about the day Mama voted for Obama! (And tell Evan about how he would tell us Obama would be the next president, be in the White House and how he needed a sign and a flag! :-) (Click on the title of this post to see all the pictures on my facebook page. (you don't have to have a facebook account!)

Monday, February 16, 2009

RachelRama

Her website is new, so you won't find a whole lot at RachelRama quite yet, but Rachel Clancy is an old friend from high school who is taking her shot at stand up comedy (well, actually it is a return...I missed her the first time around and don't intend to miss her this time!). Anyway...if you're in Boston and dig stand up - keep checking back to her site.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Water Dances


Water Dances 2009 is a project by one of my most favorite people, Phyllis Labanowski. So while I don't think this blog gets much traffic...for anyone that visits between now and April 19th, I wanted this to be here. :-)

Monday, February 02, 2009

The Trouble With Jerry


I don't talk to most people about hating the Jerry Lewis Telethon. I assume most people would react to me like I'm The Grinch. "How can you hate Jerry Lewis?!" "He's such a good man!" "He was so funny in all his movies!" "He does such good things for those poor children".

It's that last one that lies at the root of my problem with Jerry Lewis. Understand, I do believe his heart is in the right place. He does want to "help" those "poor children". But have you watched him on his telethon for any length of time? He does indeed portray people with disabilities as "those poor people". I'm sure it is partly stragtegic. If the people didn't seem pathetic, he wouldn't get as much money for them. But he has had it pointed out to him the damage this does to people with disabilities as a whole, and has basically responed with an "F-you" type attitude. He has been quoted to say, "You don't want pity? Stay in your house!".

Please visit The Trouble With Jerry, and consider becoming part of the movement for more disability rights oriented fund-raising.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Starting Today: poems for the first 100 days

I recently subscribed to my first poetry mailing list in ages...at least since before the kids were born. And someone posted this: Starting Today: poems for the first 100 days. Inspiring!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

one word. so little time.

one word. so little time.

I can't remember the last time I wrote on my poetry blog, so I thought I'd post this here. This is a great little writing prompt website.

A New Day Dawning

I have often said I am keeping this blog in part, to keep note of things I want to remember about my babies childhoods. But today, I am grateful to have it to write down my thoughts for them to read someday, on this historic day.

Our country now has its first African American president. But it is so much more than that. Barack Obama is a president who speaks to our hopes, more than our fears. To what unites us, more than what makes us different, while still celebrating the things that make us unique. During the last few days, he spoke of the "patchwork" that we indeed are. Here is his wonderful Inaugural Speech.

There were many wonderful phrases:

. . . . let us brave once more the icy currents . . . . "

" . . . . we have chosen hope over fear . . . . "

" . . . . everywhere we look, there is work to be done . . . . "

"All this we will do."

" . . . . we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals."

" . . . . we are ready to lead once more."

" . . . . your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy."

" . . . . new era of responsibility . . . "

And I thought the poet, Elizabeth Alexander, was wonderful too. Her poem, Praise Song for the Day", did not have the grand imagery of On the Pulse of Morning, but I thought that was part of its power...it was about every day people.

I didn't get to hear Rev. Gene Robinson before the "We Are One" event, but you can watch it here. (Shame on HBO for screwing up and not showing this. I know it was only because it was because the official start time, but they should have made sure this was aired.) I loved his call for a move beyond tolerance to respect.

And I must admit Rick Warren's prayer was a nice one.

And I loved loved the last prayer offered up by Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery. I dare you to watch this without grinning ear to ear. :-) I loved how he ended it, as I've read he's done before...

"....help us work for that day when black will not be asked to give back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man, and when white will embrace what is right."

He concluded,

"Let all who do justice and love mercy say amen and say amen."

Friday, January 09, 2009

Through the Looking Glass Book Review

I just foundThrough the Looking Glass Book Review, a blog of reviews of children books. I'm always looking for great books for kids. Also, in case I forget to mention, I recently found Barefoot Books which I love!