Thursday, September 02, 2010

Two preschoolers - a Butterfly & a Chocolate Chip Cookie!

Its been forever since I've written about these amazing little beings I live with. I actually started this entry back on September 9th, and it is now October 30th!This is partly because these two little beings feel like at least a dozen when their energy combines. And partly because they both have become quite adept at the lap top computer and its touch pad mouse - so there's competition for the computer!

The summer went by fast and was full of wonderfulness. The kids and their Daddy went to the beach a lot. Mama made one ceremonial trip over the sand on the last trip. Springsbrook Part is more my speed...or should I say more my terrain. ;-)

We took our first big road trip to Warren Pennsylvania to visit with Evan and Amelie's Godfamily (their Godparents and their two fabulous girls!). They've come to us when each child was born and baptized. I was so excited to finally travel to them, to take the family on a "road trip". The travel went well, so I hope this bodes well for the future and the possibility of lots of travel in the summertime (at least until their summers start to fill up with activities..which will probably be soon).

It is amazing to have two preschoolers. I still can't believe it some days. They continue to amaze me with their beautiful spirits, their kindness, and their observations of the world around them. I'm starting to think more about the things I record, try to save for them on this blog. I started out wanting to make it super-reader not just for the kids, but that other folks out there would enjoy (I have mommy-blogger envy). But that included adding pictures to entries, and to be honest, I'm making photo books now, and more interested in making sure I caption every picture I upload to my shutterfly account so I don't forget why I took the picture or the "unseen" memories that went with them. ANd I realized...there are so many special moments and little memories we *didn't* get on camera (and not 'cause we didn't try! We've got lots of pictures..and I'm so glad).

One of the things I remember from when Evan was a baby, is how when Daddy would pick him up, he would lean in and suck on his nose! LOL! It was so funny...we'd laugh every time...and each time Daddy leaned in, we would wonder, "Is he gonna do it this time?". At first it was especially funny because Evan's cousin Nora had done it to Kevin as well. We laughed that there must just be something about that nose!

I realized recently (with horror!) that there aren't many pictures of me holding Amelie when she was a baby! I rationalize that this is because when Evan was born, we had time and energy (comparatively ;-) for lots of pictures of every moment - lots of pictures. I must have sat with the camera while he would lay on the bed, because there are dozens of photos of him in the same outfit, photo after photo! LOL. But once Amelie was born, everything started to feel 10 times busier, not 2 times. ;-) Evan got mobile, there was nursing, life just got totally nuts. Gloriously, happily NUTS!

I am also trying to make myself feel better by thinking, "I was busy giving love and aren't as important as that!"...but it doesn't always work. I just love having these memories in a tactile, physical way that the kids can look at someday. So I'm going to try extra hard to get down the memories here that I haven't captured in pictures, or with some other kind of memento.

This will be more challenging...because it makes me realize, I don't want this blog to just tell the kids about things they did as kids, or fun things for them to remember. I want it to tell them more. I liken this blog to Amy Grant's album "Lead Me On"...she said she wanted to record the songs she did so her kids would know a little about "how Momma felt about things". I busy myself taking pictures, and when I can, writing things down here.
But those won't be the most special things, if they can go back in time, and know just how very much I loved them, from the moment they were born. Through the fun and the craziness. When I was hugging or laughing with them...or yelling at them about something (who'll remember what those things that made me yell were anyway?). Maybe they will remember Momma crying "for no reason". These were moments when I was just overtaken with emotion at how special they are, how kind, how loving. Or at how fast they are growing up. It can feel like a moment I'm yelling "stop that!" and wishing for quiet time alone with a latte...and the next I'm just brought to tears at how beautiful they are - what amazing spirits of joy they truly are.

Both Amelie and Evan are preschoolers now. Next year Evan will start kindergarten! I can't believe how fast *that* came around! Its all whizzing by...maybe this blogging and picture taking is really just my way of *trying* to make time stand still...if just for a little while.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

3 and 4

So its been almost a month since my last post. Summer was supposed to mean lots more blogging, lots more reflecting on life with my little ones. Its not that I haven't noticed lots of moments and lots of aspects of their little personalities worth noting. Its just life keeps flying by me.

So far this summer, Amelie has had her hair cut and put in pigtails, which shaved about a year off of her, which I loved. (They're both growing up too fast!). But when I call her my "baby", she promptly informs me, "No, Mommy - me a BIG girl!". Sometimes I wonder whether she is supposed to have stopped referring to herself as "me" yet...but part of me is dreading the fact that its probably going to fade away very soon...much like her babyhood has. She starts every day by sleepily wandering into our room and after I greet her, she says, "Good Morning, Mommy". Its the sweetest thing.

Evan is just so smart. He remembered the names of two beaches he hasn't been to in a year. And I wouldn't be surprised at all if he could tell us HOW to get to them. ;-) He likes to ask Daddy when we're driving, "Daddy, is this the actual way to..?" wherever we're going. And recently his sister has picked up on it and started asking us.

So for as long as I can remember, Evan sat behind Daddy in the car, and Amelie sat behind me on the passenger side. Just the other day, we put in a new car seat for Evan, and moved Amelie's to his, so they have switched spots. Its nice to be able to turn and see Amelie, but strange not to see Evan sitting there. Its also weird to hear his voice right behind me and hers off to the side. But Evan is most excited to have a new car seat, and Amelie is pleased to be in her "big brother Evan's" car seat. Other plans for the summer include converting our extra bedroom we've been using for storage into Amelie's bedroom. Again, I can't picture them not sleeping across from each other in the same room. We'll have to see what they think of it.

Evan inevitably ends up in our bed several nights a week. Amelie does it too. Although when she does it, it is almost undetectable the way she just slides on in. Evan makes much more of a production of it, squirming into just the right spot, elbowing and kneeing us...and without fail stealing the covers. And heaven forbid if he wanders in and Amelie is already there. "Oh no! Amelie's in my spot! Now I can't cuddle!". We do our best to discourage this kind of regressive behavior, but I can't honestly say I mind when either of them acts like a "baby" again. ;-)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Life Keeps a Rollin'

So I've been waiting for a bolt of lightning-type inspiration. It isn't coming, yet lots of great memories - small but delightful - are passing by. So its just time to note some.

Evan's brain is amazing. He remembers things from so long ago, or things you told him so long ago. He takes special notes of restaurants (yeah, he's our kid alright ;-). He can tell you the names of all the restaurants and take-out places all the way down Great Road, onto Mass Ave as you go from Bedford to Lexington and Arlington. He loves the dumplings at Jade Garden. And both kids have come to the conclusion that Mexican food means balloons, because the 3 places we go for Mexican now, all give them balloons. (Amelie has been making a special point to request Margarita's, our latest discovery).

Whenever we're going somewhere in the car now, Evan will *always* ask, "Is this the actual way to such-and-such a place?", no, we're actually just going to drive in circles for a few hours, we're not really going there. ;-)

I continue to be grateful for Evan's consciousness about God. He said the other day, "Christmas is Jesus' birthday, because that's when she was born". :-)

All is not fun and games. It never has been, I just don't tend to post about the stuff that drives me nuts. But the lateast things for a while now has been the struggle around teeth brushing. Neither kid liked the switch to older kid toothpaste so they developed this ritual of running through the bathroom, into the hallway, and into our room and back into the bathroom, all in a circle. And Evan would say, "When I say "kite", you catch me!"....don't know where the kite thing came from but the catching was because that was all I could think to do to get them to stop running and brush their teeth.

We have since replaced the new toothpaste with another fluoride one that tastes more like their baby toothpaste and things are calming down a *little*.

Amelie has velcro sneakers now and "me do it MYself!" is her mantra. She is amazing at whipping together puzzles, and at CONCENTRATION. My memory sucks so this is a good development.

She got dress up clothes from Grandma for her birthday that included a little microphone. She likes to rap like the koala character on Ni Hao Kilan....and so she was rapping into her mic, "Me Amelie, its my birthday!"

Evan is loving on the Elephant and Piggy books. And we're using the library more....we got one of them and a new Bear book of the "bear snores on" series.

Its late so hopefully I'll get more down later. Life is crazy but fun, the kids are nutty but total joys.

Friday, April 16, 2010

God's Boundless Love

In my journey with my children to learn about God and God's love, and to teach them that God loves them just the way they are, and that God loves *all* of her children, I am blessed to have a United Church of Christ congregation there to support me. I am so proud to be part of such a progressive, loving, and welcoming denomination. In that spirit, I wanted to share this for the UCC's Coalition for LGBT concerns:

The leadership of the Coalition is proud to be a part of a denomination with such bold outreach to the broader community about our progressive values. We encourage you to join in the UCC "spiral" campaign by posting UCC marketing materials through your website, social networking, and other places today!

Don't forget that there are lots of ways you can spread the Good News of God's love and the UCC's welcome!

Check out the UCC's new Language of God message on Vimeo

And read about the initial report on the overwhelming response to today's launch.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Life can get so crazy around here, I often feel like I'm on a crazy train and I didn't even realize it when I was letting off the brake..and that I wouldn't be able to get that brake back on.

But I'm stopped and time stands still every time I am blown away by some of life's more wonderful moments. When all the mess, the noise, the arguing, the craziness, and the mess. don't really matter.

Like when Evan and Amelie settle down together and have a tea party and sit and "chat" like best girlfriends. (yes, Evan's a boy ;-). Or when Evan cuddles up next to me before bed and informs me (in the cutest little baby voice), "I'm in my comfy nest". When Evan comes home from school, Amelie runs to the gate at the top of the stairs and exclaims, "Evan home! Evan, you're home!

While they are both very outwardly affectionate, it still makes my heart skip when I tell one of them "I love you", and they reply "I love you too, Mommy" (or in Amelie's case, "Me love you too, Mommy"). They are such their own people. They have their own agendas, which sometimes can be maddening, but this independence can be a lifesaver.

Now that Spring is here (Wahoo!), they both bolt out the door when we're off somewhere, and before getting in the car, they go around the yard checking out all the flowers. Evan knows their names too....he'll point out the tulips, the crocuses, and the forsythia bushes.

Evan is a lot bigger than Amelie. But he still will ask me to "hold me like a little baby", because Amelie will ask me to "hold me like little baby". And I gladly oblige. There are already so many moments where they just bolt off to go explore without even looking back. I'll take any opportunity they'll give me to hold on to them tight like little babies.

My latest fashion accessory is a beaded necklace Evan made for me at preschool. He went to the zoo w/ a friend last week, and my friend who took him told me that all the way down Great Road, he showed Julie where *all* of the restaurants were. Hey, we have our priorities straight around here. Our kid can always tell you where the best places to eat are.

There are so many other things that Evan and Amelie are doing that are delightful. Many more posts to come!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Make Bad Things Better

Evan recently had a unit in preschool on woodworking. He learned to use a saw, screwdriver, hammer. They all made their own projects. Evan made a gadget that is a block of wood, with a smaller block nailed crosswise under it. And then a "handle" coming out of the top. (I'll get a picture up here, I can't do it justice). Its painted light red and light green, and has purple glitter on it (that was for me Evan reported).

So this is is "make bad things nicer" machine. It makes bad things...well, nicer.

I like the idea that he can make a machine for this purpose, that he still believes in his power to make bad things better. As we were driving home from church on Easter, Evan and his dad started talking about Jesus and Easter. I was so glad because I was feeling like my explanation about eternal life and living on forever in Heaven sorely lacking. So way over his head. I wanted him to understand that the people we love who die, never really die because they go to be with God in Heaven, and someday we'll go to Heaven too and be with them again. But I worry that this will mess with helping him understand that indeed when people die, they don't "come back". But I want him to live with the hope of Heaven. In the end, I guess faith really isn't something you "explain" to a just try to live it the best you can, and hope it rubs off on them.

But Evan and Daddy talked about how Jesus wanted everyone to love each other, and he was in a fight for love. There were people who didn't want love to win...they wanted the fighting. But Jesus didn't want us to be fighting, he wanted us to love each other. And on Easter we celebrate that Jesus won, that love won. I remembered last year how our church had a big banner across it proclaiming "Love Wins!". I can't think of anything better to instill in a child than the conviction that no matter what bad awful things happen in the world, that people do...that in the end, Love wins. God wins.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Things I Know for Sure

Okay, so its a shameless nod to pop-culture diva Oprah. But I love Oprah. Anyway, these are some of the things I know for sure...and that I hope my kids grow up knowing for sure. Some of these overlap and may be redundant. If so, it just means its important enough to say in different ways. ;-)

1. Its always better to be yourself and maybe have few friends, than to have a gaggle of friends but not be true to yourself.

2. Whatever hard thing you're going through right now, it will pass. And God will get you through it.

3. Its more important to be kind than to be right. But you need to stand up for what you believe to be important. Just do it as kindly as you can.

4. You can almost always find some commonality somewhere with another matter how different you think you are from them. We're all God's children, after all.

5. There is no sense in beating yourself up over anything. If you do things in a way you're not proud of today, work to do better tomorrow. But beating yourself up won't change things...and you deserve to give yourself a break. You're definition you're not going to do everything right all the time. God still loves you anyway. And so does your family and your true friends.

6. One-on-one time giving others your complete attention is more attention than working to do anything "perfectly".

7. Music has the power to heal.

8. From birth to death, the best thing you can do is focus on knowing God better, and working to do what he wants for you. Be kind. Help people. Honor other human beings. Work for justice. Be humble...we all have faults and we all have done things we shouldn't do at one time or another. Be gentle with yourself...God made you just the way you are, and loves you just the way you are. Nobody is "better" than you...we're all just different, with different strengths and virtues, and different faults, weaknesses.

9. Sin is anything that hurts God because you aren't living the way She wants for you. Its good to think before you do something, "Would Jesus do this?" and/or "Would God be happy I'm doing this?".

10. Life goes by faster than you could ever imagine and the most important thing is to make the most of today. You can't do that if you spend too much time worrying about anything in the past, or thinking/planning/worrying about things in the future. A family full of happy hearts is more important than a clean house, perfect super-uber-healthy meals, being the "best" at something, or getting that A+. An A is perfectly fine. ;-)

11. Perfection is totally over-rated. Its a BAD thing.

12. Hug the ones you love every day. Tell them you love them every day.

13. Everyone in your life will disappoint you at some point. Nobody can be all you need at every moment. But God will always be there for you.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Resolution check in

Some of my New Year's Resolutions (I called them "promises to myself" in the hopes they would feel more like fun opportunities and less like "obligations") were to cook more healthy food for my family, and do more crafts with the kids.

I've done better on the cooking front than the crafts. It seems if I take the time to look up something "different" to do with the kids online, I'm not planning for meals very well. And if I dedicate myself to finding new healthy recipes, making menu plans and shopping lists, the crafts fall by the wayside.

I barely even try to keep the house all picked up. And I don't feel bad about this one...I think love and attention, be it emotional, social or intellectual, are more important than a clean house.

My cooking has consisted of a lot of crock pot meals. Some have been a big success, others nobody but me would touch. And even this one effort seems to be more than I can balance. Either it is super yummy, and not very healthy, or its healthy, and nobody wants it.

But through it all, my kids seem really happy and mostly healthy (winter, I'm ready to say bye bye to you!). Amelie has been "hosting" more and more elaborate tea parties for all her dolls (and her brother ;-). Evan is loving preschool, and is appreciative as ever of everything we do. "Thank you for making us this dinner, Mommy", he'll say. He and Amelie have more and more little conversations, and get along great (for the most part ;-). They just had their first session of a new religious ed. program at church. And after that we went for ice cream and then they played in the back yard with Daddy on their bikes for the first time this season.

And of course, I messed up dinner. I listed only half the cheese I needed for my crock pot mac n cheese, and so I thought the mozzarella cheese that was for another dish was intended for this. Mozzarella cheese in mac and cheese? Not so great. But the kids ate it up and called it yummy. And so now, Monday, I realize I'm not making what I had intended because I used the cheese for it mistakenly on something else. But oh well...Thankfully I have all the ingredients for a Rachel Ray pasta toss recipe.

But I still have a long way to go on my goal to spend more time just BEING with my children. They play on their own a lot of the time. And while there isn't anything inherently wrong with that (independent play and the ability to play independently are good things, and they also love each others' company), I know I spend too much time researching more recipes, looking for "the perfect craft", etc. What they will remember most isn't how well I cooked, or how fantastically creative any given craft was, but the time we spent together. They delight in the simplest of art making and just seem to love it every time I cook for them, no matter how it turns out. Kids have their priorities straight.

So I'm still plugging away at working on doing the same...with gratitude that no matter how well or poorly I do, they love me and seem to be very aware that I love them to pieces too.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Remember that thing....

I seriously need to start writing things down for later, or going right to the computer when there is a moment I want to capture forever. Right now I am thinking of this crazy thing Evan used to do right in the middle of the living room. It involved a lot of movement...spinning maybe? And some loud utterance, I can't remember if it was a phrase or singing. I'll have to ask Kevin in the morning.

Meanwhile Evan has fallen asleep in our bed. He's into sneaking into our bed at night now. I have to say, as I watch my babies grow up into little people, I don't mind so much.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My rapidly growing babies

Life goes so fast these days. There have been so many cute, sweet, clever moments from Amelie and Evan that I have wanted to capture in writing that I let go by. Hopefully most of them will come rushing back to me and I'll jot them down eventually. But truly, there is too much to capture it all. They are growing up, learning new things, changing into "their own" little people so quickly.

Evan has become quite the computer wiz-kid. He can go over to Kevin's computer and start up his sling-box and watch whatever he wants. Never mind that he can start a browser and move from NickJr. to Sprout to PBS kids faster than you could imagine.

Amelie has changed *so* much in the last two weeks or so. Her short phrases ("me do it", "mommy, drink") are no more. She has dialog back and forth with you now! It is amazing. I just love it when she stumbles out of bed and trudges sleepily into our room...those pj's that go from head to foot so she's all pink hearts or blue lions are so adorable. And she is happy from the first moment she opens her eyes (provided you don't ask her to open her eyes earlier than she wants to ;-).

Evan can be happy when he wakes up, or he can have a list of complaints he rolls out for you one after the other. But on those mornings he wakes up peaceful, it is the sweetest thing in the world. He speaks slowly and quietly. Is is a lovely time of day.

Evan has started coming into our room at night and crawling in between us. I know in my mind we need to re-direct him back to his own bed, but when he lies next to me with that sweet sleepy face, I want to just hold onto him, and freeze him in time.

We just came to the end of a vacation with Kevin home. That is always a wonderful time, the kids enjoy Daddy and his attention so much. They get piggy back rides, and get to sit on Daddy's lap and read stories. They love going grocery shopping with him. He's come home with Dora and Spongebob soups that they have picked out for him.

Back to the "routine", such as it is, tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Where's the Music?!

Evan loves his music, as I've noted here several times. But he's started taking matters into his own hands, when Mommy and Daddy don't provide quite enough for him. This morning before leaving for school he wandered over to the computer, moved the mouse around a bit, clicked, and there he had brought up the cd library and was playing his favorite They Might Be Giants album, Here Come the ABC's. He may just be a little to smart for our own good. ;-)

Saturday, January 30, 2010


This is how it appeared on the computer screen. Evan has been amazing us with the extent of his computer knowledge. He opens music applications and chooses Victor Vito by Laurie Berkner. He can find blankets on And more practical, he can go between and NickJr. and PBS kids like nothing you've ever seen.

But today was a surprise we were not expecting. He has known how to spell his name for a while now. He was playing with the art/drawing application on, and I look up and there it is: "evan", in pink ("my sister's favorite color"). I told Kevin "Evan typed his name of the computer screen". He replied, "By himself???? He came running to the laptop to see it.

And now our little scholar is taking a nap. ;-)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The "perfect" mommy

Lately I've been feeling very motivated...even possibly capable, of being a really great mom. I've found some websites that have given me ideas for great crafts to do with the kids. I've gotten a crock pot to make it easier and less time consuming to make healthy yummy meals for them. And I'm *trying* to pick up my house.

But more often than not, at the end of the day I usually feel like I didn't play with my kids enough, didn't play them enough music, didn't read to them enough, didn't clean the house enough, didn't feed my family meals that were either nutritious enough OR yummy enough...and let them watch too much tv. And I yell too much...and scream sometimes too. And I feel frustrated that I don't have a car so I don't take them places during the days during the week. And that we don't have a fence yet, and so I can't take them outside either. Argh.

I need to remember, I take them to a great church, talk to them about God and His love for *all* of us, play them some music, read to them each night, try to make nutritious meals and do fun crafts with then. I hug them a lot and tell them I love them a LOT. And I guess since no mom can be the "perfect" mommy, that's enough for right now.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Some more favorite quotes from my babies

"Nana makes spaghetti and meatballs - I LIKE spaghetti and meatballs" - Evan, while talking about leaving for Nana's for the weekend for cousin Nora's birthday.

"Me do it MYself!" - Amelie, pretty much all the time now. I can't convey the exact way she says this in writing...I hope when I'm old and gray I'll still remember it. (Oh yeah, I'm already gray. And almost 41...not old!)

"Hold me like little baby" - Amelie, when she wants me to pick her up and cradle her like I could when she was an itty bitty thing. It isn't as easy with most of her hanging off each side of my arms, but its still warms my heart that she's even interested in my holding her close to me like that.

"No, I want a hundred-million-billion" - Evan, when I give him a plate of, well, anything these days.

"Its summer in winter time! Summer in the winter time, summer in the winter time!" - both Evan and Amelie. This is cute, especially when they strip down to their diapers. When they drag all of their bedding out into the living room to make a fort with the dining room chairs? Not quite so cute...but I do have to laugh!

"Roar! Me hungry dinosaur!" - Amelie...also "Me mad dinosaur". Evan has decided she has to have a dinosaur on her birthday cake this year. I think he may have even found one at Costco (we *love* Costco the two baptism years, we had one for the baptism and one for the birthdays ;-)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pass It On

When Evan was little, every time he got a new stuffed toy, he went straight for the tag. It didn't matter what it was, if it had a tag, that was its most endearing quality. So I was thrilled to discover that two moms had figured out that many infants love tags, and made a whole line of toys with tons of tags all over them! :-)

We should have seriously bought stock in the Taggies company. We have two blankets (one with letters and numbers, one with a little angel sleeping on a moon that says "Our Little Angel), a mirror rattle, a ball, a triangle-shaped triangle on a ring, just to start.

I strongly associate Taggies with Evan as a baby. So didn't he just have to show me that he *isn't* a baby anymore, when this morning after I retold the story of how he loved his little blanket as a baby, he said, "We should pass this on to another baby, Mama". I was so proud of my little man.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Things I want my kids to experience

I was thinking the other day about things I delighted in as a child (or later), and it got me making a list in my head of all the things I want to expose my kids to before they are teenagers and don't care what I think anymore. ;-) This list doesn't include the "big stuff" like self-love, love, confidence, etc. Some are more important to me than others, but they are in no particular order (that would take more brain power than I seem to have these days).

1. Pin wheels. Yeah..I just loved watching pinwheels spin on a breezy Spring day when I was a kid.

2. Sparklers. I generally want to keep my kids 100 feet or more away from anything that might be the least bit risky. And I know some parents who don't want their kids near these. But I used to love holding a sparkler in my hand when I was a kid. I loved anything that sparkled...still do.

3. Live music. This might seem like no-brainer to some. "Of course they're gonna hear live music". But it has been *ages* since I've heard live music. ;-) Hearing music live is a totally different animal from listening to the radio or cds. I get such a rush I hear music live, especially if everyone else around me is really into it too. It can be such a communal experience, too. Thank goodness for church, they do get to experience live music (and fabulous music at that) almost every Sunday.

4. Music lessons. These two music related things won't be difficult. Both of my children love music. THey're almost always singing something to themselves. And they both seem to have really good rhythm. Must get that from their dad. But music is in their genes. Kevin and I both love music and had lessons as young kids. Kevin kept at his music longer than I did. I never met his dad but he had quite an extensive and eclectic music collection. And my dad made sure I had piano lessons. He played tuba when he was younger, and when I was a kid he played the piano, harmonica and even sometimes the violin for us.

5. A folk festival. This will be hit or miss whether we'll get them to one of these before they're at an age to say, "No WAAAAY, Mom!". Again, I've only been to Falcon Ridge twice, and Newport once. But of all the live music experiences we could have together...this seems it would be the most in a community of music lovers for a whole weekend. My first time at Falcon Ridge was with my best girlfriend Karen. She set up the tent (with very little help from me. ;-). It was so neat to wake up to people jamming in the tent next to ours.

6. A faith community. Check. (Ok, so this counts as one of the "big things"...but we've actually got this one covered so I had to include it.)

7. Finger painting. Again, check. Mom got us a set for Christmas and promises to come over and help me with this undertaking.

8. Different cultures. Duh. Anyone who knows me knows this is big for me. I actually haven't had much experience with cultures very different from my own myself. But I think it enriches any person to know about and appreciate people in other parts of the world. It would be great if we could take vacations to other places. But in the meantime we try to get books, music and even toys that are from or at least influenced by people in other countries. (OK so this is another "big" one, but it manifests itself in 'small', books, festivals, etc.).

I"m always looking for resources in the Boston area that will help me with this one. So if you're one of the 5 or so people who read this blog, please post them here. ;-)

8. Lots of time at the library. I haven't done very well with this so far. I'm without a car (and on crutches so walking isn't an option) during the week. And Saturdays just seem to fly by, and we haven't been to the library.

9. Cooking. This is a funny one for me, given how much I avoided the kitchen for the first 40 years of my life. But cooking is such fun, and you always read about how it helps kids develop healthy eating habits. So I need to work on finding ways to have them help me in the kitchen that don't overwhelm me. ;-)

10.Volunteering. I've never been very good about making time for this one either, but it is so important to our society, and world. And it just makes you feel so good...I think it will make them really happy.

11. Going to plays and musicals. I've always loved plays and (most) musicals. Kevin and I used to go to them more. I want my kids to have that experience..a lot.

12. The outdoors. We all know how good fresh air is for all of us. I guess I make note of this one because as of right now, I have to arrange to take my kids outside during the day. We don't have a fence yet, so if they go out, I need to invite another adult over to chase them, should they decide to run off. But beyond just getting them *out* whenever possible (even for snowman building, and snow angel making...I like these things, even if they happen during my most-hated season ;-)...I also want to get them out into expansive, unspoiled nature. That's one of the reasons I hope they'll love National Parks as much as we do...and the travel involved in getting to said parks. My dad loved nature. He was an avid bird-watcher, along with my mom. Growing up, I was nonplussed by nature. I'm glad I have matured. But I can't wait to see the kids get excited by seeing a deer in a place where we haven't encroached on her space.

There are so many other things I haven't thought of. Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments section. I'd really appreciate it, and I"ll probably add some to this list. :-)

Monday, January 04, 2010

Some favorite Christmas & post-Christmas moments...

Its almost more fun to celebrate the Christmas season *after* all the "stuff" is done...

1. turning on the Christmas lights when the sun starts to set, this and my children's reaction almost makes me enjoy the sun going down so freakin' early...
2. the kids reaction when I point out "Hey kids! The Christmas tree in the backyard just came on" and the way they still come running to look out the window.
3. the fact that Amelie started singing "We wish you a Merry Christmas, We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year", a day after Christmas. And they both are still doing it daily.
4. watching the kids play with their new things, and listening to them exclaim "I love this toy that so-and-so gave us!" (they remember these things better than I do ;-)
5. Our church Christmas pageant. I count this as Christmas, as opposed to pre-Christmas, because every "thing" is done...and all this is left is to experience it all. I love the informality of ours. I think it leaves room upon for magic we wouldn't necessarily experience if it were more rehearsed, planned for, etc. A few years ago, *both* of my children were baby Jesus. Actually, my daughter Amelie was, because she was the "baby" of the family. But we told Evan they both were.
6. Watching the kids play with their Grandma, and having her over our house for Christmas. This year was the first year I ever "hosted" Thanksgiving or Christmas, and I got to do both!
7. Watching my mom and mom-in-law open their photo books of their grandchildren.
8. Evan and Amelie playing with their cousin Nora. This year was more special than ever, because Amelie is finally old enough to participate fully in the "big kids" playing.

9. Reading our Christmas picture books. I enjoyed this before Christmas too, but I got such a kick out of them requesting "Bear Stays Up for Christmas" after Christmas. We finally have a nice collection of Christmas books. It started with just A House Mouse Christmas, but now we have two Christmas story books, Margaret Wise Brown's "Moon Shines Down", the bear book and a lovely book called "We Wish you a Merry CHristmas" with a lovely pop up scene of animals in the wood around a Christmas tree in it. (It used to play a midi file of the song, but I have to admit I don't mind the fact that they broke that.)

Sunday, January 03, 2010

5 Years

Hmmm. I just looked, and I started this blog exactly 5 years ago today. I was over a year away from having my first child. I had been married for 7 years. I was even more web-obsessed than I am today. I was living in a dinky, albeit cozy little apartment in Arlington. I was working in Newton, my most inspiring teaching gig, especially considering the fact that I was kicking myself for having left a fabulous job in Needham to take a job that was an absolutely horrible match for me.

Its wild to think about the things that took up my time and attention. I knew I *should* be cooking healthy meals for myself and my hubby, but I used my teeny tiny kitchen as a good excuse not to. I was fantasizing about a career in multicultural education or teaching poetry. I was collecting poems on every possible topic, and making lists of songs that could be used in the curriculum of every possible discipline while posting messages to the school's email system about all of these things.

These days, with a 3 1/2 year old, and a 2 1/2 year old, I'm learning to use a crock pot in the hopes that it will help me serve healthy, somewhat interesting meals for my family. I am getting ready to blow the dust off my dulcimer to make music with my music-loving babies. And its scary the art supplies all over the place for the kids to get into.

I float in and out of two modes: "Isn't this the most amazing experience and time in life for anyone - raising little people?" and "Oh Good Lord. I am so not equipped for this." My resolve to be patient waxes and wanes in between these moments. I struggle with my jealousy of my husband's never-ending supply of patience with the children.

And through it all, there is Hope. Hope Church, and the Hope that IS God. Life truly is a the good times and the struggles. Its just easier to remember this when things are going smoothly. And when your kids aren't tearing up paper bags because you chose a piss-poor time to try to sit and compose a blog entry. Ah, 2010 isn't any more sane than 2009. But that's o.k. :-)

Friday, January 01, 2010

A New Year, A New Start

"So I thank the Lord for giving me
a brand new start each day;
and I praise His Blessed name
for guiding me all along the way" - Amy Grant

This is something that I just LOVE about God. He gives us a new start, each day. Heck, sometimes its in each moment. I can stumble miserably, but God always lets me start again. And that's how I'm thinking about 2010 - a chance to start again. I have never liked the whole "resolution" just seemed to me to be a total set up for failure. So instead, this January 1st, I'm making myself some promises about things I am going to try to do more of this year.

1. to have more healthy, home-cooked meals - I fell in *love* with the idea of a slow-cooker this year, after reading an article about them in Oprah. It just seemed like a perfect thing for me - someone who isn't all that comfortable in the kitchen, is often crunched for time (usually just because of my poor timing and ability to coordinate cooking times for a whole bunch of meal components), and lets face it...can be a bit lazy, especially in the kitchen. ;-) I also discovered the blog A Year of Slow Cooking, by Stephanie O'Dea, and her book - Make it Fast, Cook it Slow. These are simple recipes, and she presents them in such a low-key, down-to-earth has given me a sense of confidence about this.

2. Doing more crafts with the kids - I got a bunch of great craft materials to use with the kids for Christmas. I'm really thrilled they seem so into crafts. Somewhere along the line I developed a very strong inner-critic about my creations...I hope these early projects with the kids will help them build a strong foundation of confidence and pride in their creations. I never felt particularly creative growing up, and yet each of us is inherently creative...I want me children to know this.

3. Play my dulcimer for my children - my poor dulcimer has been in storage for longer than I'd like to admit. So I got a brand new refresher book for Christmas...that just happens to include some great songs from church!

4. Live a more earth conscious life. Reduce, reuse, recycle more (in that order...all are great things to do for our Mother Earth, but it is better to re-use than recycle, and it is better to reduce. (That last one's a tough one). Remember the compost, and find a source for composting our waste that we aren't set up to compost right now.

Make good buying choices - recycled things, things that don't get thrown away, etc. Buy food and other items that are sold in as little packaging as possible, especially plastic packaging. Looking at all the egg-shell containers and plastic stuff than held things together was discouraging. Buy and eat organic, locally grown food. Purchase objects that are handmade by local and/or struggling artisans.

5. Buy and gift things that are globally conscious. Try to give as many gifts as I can that are eco-friendly (made from recycled materials, or at least from sustainable ones and with processes that are kind to the earth - - no plastic), and at best also benefit someone in need (things where a decent portion of proceeds from the sale of the item go to helping someone else, and/or handmade items from folks around the world who make these things as a way to support themselves and their family).

This one will be easier for me because I just love love love things with an international flair...although that isn't true for all of my gift recipients. I've collected a fair number of web resources for fair trade gifts and gifts made by our brothers and sisters in struggling nations. And I also like the idea of having things in the house that represent many world cultures to help my children learn of the bigger world outside their home, their town, and this one country of the many many on Earth.

(Thanks Neeka, for the inspiration for both #4 and #5 :-).

6. Figure out whether it is possible right now, and if so, cross-stitch, scrapbook, and and organize our pictures. I love to stitch, and have some projects for the babies. And preserving memories in a pleasing way is something that brings me much joy.

Heh. I have been reading some other folks' resolution lists. And it made me realize that while these goals are great, and will enhance my life....they aren't the most important goals, *and* they are the "easy, keeping busy" kind that allow one to ignore the more important stuff. So here's some more:

5. Be easier on myself when I don't do everything exactly the way I think I should be doing it.

6. Pray more. Rely on God more. Think more in every thought and action, is this what would most please God? Trust more that all indeed will be well.

7. Take more time to just "be" with my delight in all they are learning, discovering and doing. Pay more 100% attention to them, instead of doing lots of other "stuff".

8. Be more intentional in how I spend those few precious moments of 'me' time that I do vegging in front of the tv or zoning out on Facebook really always the best choice? ;-)

9. Truly relax. Just be quiet and still, and listen for the voice of God.

10. Love. Let go of petty resentments, jealousies and old hurts. Love as Jesus would want me to Love. (Geesh, these each got progressively more challenging but also more important, I think).

Enjoy 2010. With all that I am blessed with in my life, I know I will...if I can just get out of my own way. I'm going to try to embrace and enjoy these promises to myself, rather than let them just become more responsibilities I feel I"m not living up to. After all, each one of these things will make me feel better about myself and my world. So wish me luck with my promises to myself. I hope you've made some promises to yourself, too. You deserve it. Happy New Year!