Monday, October 27, 2014

Autumn Babies

 My children are very used to having me take their pictures, and they know there's a difference between candid, "we're documenting this event for the family in Kansas" pictures and "Mommy wants some beautiful pictures of the two of you, dressed in nice clothes and looking like you love each other" type shots. They've both gone through phases where they didn't like having their picture taken, and I've backed off, but now they actually enjoy going out together, finding fun places to pose, and spending the time together. It's one of our "things".

 I kind of love that.
 Even so, sometimes it takes a minute or two to warm them up and get them into the general spirit. No, darlin', I don't want pictures with your tongue out this time. I know that's your current favorite. And no, not with your hand over your face.

 Buddy, you'll have to open your eyes. Yes, in every picture.

 But then, we get to laughing, and it all starts to go right.

 There's still just the teensy-eensy-littlest hint of baby in the way Miss V walks sometimes, and I love it so very much. I don't think anyone would see the similarity, but me, but I can see the toddler that was in the big girl that is, and it's precious.

 Autumn is in full swing here, with wild thrashes in the weather and gorgeous color all around. There's a lot of work and scheduling and constant go-go-go and "Mom! Mom! Mom!". The Holidays will be here soon, with all that they entail. It can be a whirlwind, and I have to make myself STOP sometimes and remember that this is their childhood, and the moments count. Hugs in the morning, even though I just want some coffee and another hour of sleep. Notes in the lunchbox. Extra smiles. Extra "I love you"s. Sitting around, singing songs together in the evening sometimes. One more book before bed. It matters - it all matters. I'm tired. I feel like I'm always tired, if you want to know the truth, and I get irritated and lose my temper and need to step back take a deep breath, when the clearly communicated rules and boundaries are not respected. I'm a very imperfect, constantly learning parent, and I live in Real Town - how about you? But I'm tired for a reason - I'm helping to build the lives and hearts of two people I love so very, very much, and it matters.

So. Deep breaths. Take it all in. Every "Mom! Mom! Mom!", every thrash in the weather, every reminder of the babies they were, as they so rapidly turn into the big kids and eventual adults they will be.  This relationship is precious and requires attention, and this time belongs to them, as much as it belongs to me.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

My Einstein

 The J-Bird attends a Montessori school that we absolutely LOVE. His teacher is outstanding, and he's part of a tiny little class of kids from grades 1-5. He is thriving there.  Montessori method focuses on empowering children, so Montessori schools can seem kind of "hands off" when it comes to parental involvement. It's all about the children and what THEY can do. The J-bird's school makes use of parents in a lovely way though, by inviting some of us to contribute in ways that we are able (or qualified) to do. Some folks bring in special foods to contribute when the kids have a cooking lesson. Someone may come in a give a talk on a country they've visited. One of the students has a dad who presents a science lesson once a week that inspires further experimentation and work for the kids until he comes back.

I am privileged to teach music once a week. I do have a music degree, and I've taught music to children for years. I direct two children's choirs. When they asked me to give this a try, I was delighted. This is my second year, and it's just so fun. We work on very basic music theory and some music history, we sing together, and, when they have a program coming up, I help with that.

Like tonight.

Every year, around Halloween, the kids in the Elementary class do a Biography Timeline, where they choose a historical character and put together a short piece about them to recite that ends with, "Who am I?..." and the name of whomever they are describing. It's adorable. That's always followed by the preschoolers singing a few adorable (and I mean ADORABLE) songs, and then illumination of the pumpkins everyone has carved before the program starts. It's precious. This year, because the class is so small, the J-Bird's teacher asked to add a song, so we did. The kids were FANTASTIC and had a blast - you could tell they were so proud of themselves.

AND MY J-BIRD played Albert Einstein. One of his lines was, "When I was young, people thought I acted oddly!" I giggled every single time he said it.

This kid. He was very concerned with looking as much like Albert as possible. He really wanted me to dye his hair white and get him a mustache, but we went with crazy hair and a suit and called it good. Watching him with his friends, I could just smile at how grown up he's getting. I mean...he will always be my baby. I don't care if he's 63 years old. I'm going to force him to sit on my lap and give me snuggles. HE CAN DEAL. But he be-bopped all around, laughing and goofing off and showing everyone his silly hair, and James and I just watched and shook our heads. And then took away the second cookie he snuck from the snack table afterward. Because come on. :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

To Be Four

 Age four is very, very different than age three. While some of the same frustrations are there for Miss V, communication has opened up even wider, and it's a whole new world of discovery, fun, and adventure. She's such a fun kid to be around - sweet, genuine, hilarious and kind. I see her through a mother's eyes, I know, but I just adore her, and our time together while the J-bird is at school is precious.

 During our home pre-school time, we take a Montessori-esque approach, with works set out in our classroom space for Miss V to choose from each day. This works well with her, because she's really independent, and she enjoys working that way (with guidance and supervision, of course). We also do some workbooks, early reading and writing, music, and arts and crafts. We have playdates and outings, and she'll start swimming lessons later this month.

I love her so!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Calm Down Bottle

 I've seen this idea of "Calm Down Bottles" a few places (mainly on Pinterest), and it looked like a fun thing to try, so the kids and I made a few this week. It's super easy - just a smooth-sided bottle of water and glitter glue. We tried it out with small bottles and bigger bottles, and both were fun, but the kids like the bigger bottles best. We also figured out that the more glue you add, the longer it takes to settle (makes sense) and that it needs a good stir after you first add the glue. I used a skewer.

The idea is that you can shake up the bottle and watch all the glitter settle, and it's calming. It actually kind of is.

Miss V mixed pink and purple glitter glues (natch), and the J-bird mixed blue and purple. (These photos are from one of three bottle making sessions.) Also, I super glued the lids on, because I'm not crazy.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pumpkining and 13 Years

 And traditions...we have a few. Each year, on the first Saturday of October, we go to the pumpkin patch. We go to the same pumpkin patch, because it's adorable, and we love it, and it has a train AND a boat, and the prices are completely reasonable, so you don't have to just dump out your wallet to go there. This year, Amy and the kids met us there and surprised the J-bird and Miss V.

We rode the train out to the pumpkins, let the kiddos run around the little hay maze, picked out our pumpkins, rode the boat back in to the barn, took all our yearly photos, and just had a wonderful time.

As I write this and look at that last photo, I remember October 6th, 13 years ago, when our family looked a little different :

The intervening years seem like a blink and an era, simultaneously. Some of those years have been easy. Some have been difficult. That's marriage. That's life building. I think about those two starry-eyed twenty three year olds and smile about everything in front of them. Then I think about these two thirty six year olds. Our eyes are a little more tired these days, but we're still in love, and I think we see each other more clearly and love one another more honestly than we could have thirteen years ago. Plus, now we get to share all that love with two hilarious, ornery, sweet babies.

That's pretty great.