Saturday, January 30, 2010

evan

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 Amazon.com. And more practical, he can go between Sprout.com 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 NickJr.com, 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 cakes...in 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 potent...living 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' ways...music, 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 blessing...in 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" thing....it 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 way...it 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 kids...to 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 get...is 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!