Monday, June 27, 2011

My Story

Recently, I read this post. It really hit me that this is it. This is our real life. And I'd like to take a couple of minutes to jot down my story just as it is today.

My story is staying up late drinking cheap wine and watching fireflies with my honey as we butcher all our favorite songs on our various stringed instruments.

My story is inviting everyone I know and love over to eat and play even though we're broke as joke with nothing to offer them. And there is plenty.

My story is blowing off everything and catching up with a friend over coffee, or sushi, or pasta, or pizza.

My story is holding a friend late at night and crying with her over what's not fair and wishing I could carry her sorrow for her... hoping that sharing in it will be enough.

My story is taking risks. Stretching my limits and coming up short most of the time. But, having friends that think I am totally awesome even in my failure.

My story is having enough love to go around, having a family to share my life with, and a crazy, unpredictable, unbelievable life it is.

What's your story?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Home Improvement Week 2: Challenging My Children

This week, I will focus on thoughtfully giving my children opportunities to expand and explore based on their individual interests, characteristics, and developmental stages.

I don't know if you've met Aiden, but it's clear that his Type A personality craves uniformity and predictability. He has an idea of how the world is supposed to work and when someone strays from his vision, meltdowns quite possibly may ensue. He also has a curious and adventurous side that combined with this stubborn, unbending view of how the world works (very firstborn), scares me a little and challenges me a lot.

Evie, though little, is exhibiting many of the same traits as her brother. She is determined and she is fearless. However, she is free of the constraints of space and time. She eats when she wants, wakes up to play when she wants, sleeps whenever she's tired, she leaps from the couch to the floor though she cannot yet walk, crawls behind herds of running, rolling big kids while other babies linger near their moms, and hangs her head from the edge of the bed, all with a certain cavalier dare-devilness. She also craves social interaction and is happiest, and least clingy, when in a group of other babies.

Evie is me... with wings...on fire. Aiden is Dave... with a mustache... and a megaphone. I'm in trouble... big time.

How can I give Evie the opportunities to safely grow and explore; socially, intellectually, and physically, while not limiting Aiden's sense of curiosity and adventure (putting him a situation that will get him into trouble) and providing the structure he craves?

This is where I come back to time and again in my inner homeschooling debate. This is where Aiden's morning preschool comes in. Do I feel that his school is providing the stimulation to fulfill Aiden's desire to expand? No. But, it does give me a chance to spend some time focusing on what Evie needs; playdates with other babies, plenty of time for us to read board books, sing, dance, and for her to crawl, creep, and push her own limits in an environment that is safe for her.

That way, when Aiden comes home from school, I feel completely at ease strapping her in the Ergo or putting her in her high chair with a snack or toys so Aiden and I can do a science experiment, garden, cook, hike, swim, go on a big kid playdate, or whatever else sparks his interest that day. All the while, Evie can watch, listen, talk, and participate when appropriate for her.

So, to put things simply, this week I will focus on providing Evie opportunities to explore and grow in the morning and Aiden in the afternoon.

How do you challenge your children? How do you balance meeting their individual needs and interests?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Home Improvement Week 1: An Update

At the end of last week, I created a daily rhythm for my family to follow beginning Monday.

It has now been 5 days that we have been working with our new routine.

It's been ok at best. Like I said in my original post, I am just terrible, really, really, terrible at following a schedule... or directions... or recipes. Terrible.

This is clearly going to be a work in progress.

Here is a quick play by play:

FAIL-Aiden didn't want to go to school because he was tired and I couldn't think of a good reason for him not to stay home... so he did.
WIN- We spent all morning making a color wheel as a science experiment, then ate lunch, played in our little kiddie pool, and had a siesta.

WIN- He went to school, so Evie and I had a baby playdate, then we had a big kid playdate at a friend's house.
FAIL- We stayed until 5 (!?) so no siesta, then we went to the park with Daddy, out to dinner, and went to bed late

WIN- We stuck to our schedule!
FAIL- Dave came home and surprised Aiden by bringing him to a baseball game. They got home super late and Aiden was super tired the next day.

WIN- We stuck to our schedule! Hooray!

Fridays just count as weekends in our house. Aiden is playing with Mimi and Grandad.

Is it that we're just too fun and spontaneous to have a rhythm? Is the rhythm in the chaos? Like I said, work in progress...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

It's hot. I mean really hot. The rising mercury is making my preconceived notions of spending the entire summer meandering long, light dappled trails and meeting up with friends at various playgrounds look slightly less realistic.

The only places I can envision myself spending these sweltering, South Carolina summer afternoons are beside my gracious friend's pool or somewhere heavily shaded... by a roof... like my house.

But, the pool is not always an option and lounging in the house everyday is beginning to compromise the integrity of our electrical devices/ appliances (have I mentioned Aiden loves electricity?). So, on a sticky, sweaty afternoon last week, I thought I'd save Dave from untangling yet another mass of knotted cords and  break out a can of Barbesol from my stash in my craft closet for a "snow day". 

While Aiden mangled cords and risked electric shock in the office, I sneakily emptied the contents of a can onto his play table and added little cotton ball snowmen. I beckoned him from his lair and watched as he descended upon the frothy concoction with delight. I patted myself on the back when he played at the table for almost half an hour (!) and when he began dropping it onto the floor to "ice skate", I was overjoyed that now I would be able to occupy him for another half hour with the task of mopping it up. 

Then I had to pee... and may have become distracted by my phone's Kindle app (has anyone read Swamplandia!?)... and may have overlooked the silence in the living room...

But I couldn't overlook this:


I wiped her eyes before taking this picture. Originally, all that was visible were two big, blue eyes and her smile. She was so excited brother had given her attention (even if it was only to completely smother her in shaving cream). 

I can't say I was upset, Aiden and I shared a good laugh (of which Evie was quite pleased to be the subject). I did earn my glass of Moscato and choco-peanut-butter-graham-which that day though.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Home Improvement Week 1: Establishing A Rhythm

Here are some adjectives I would use to describe myself: joyful, good-natured, curious, talkative, goofy, excitable, spontaneous, creative, free-spirited, scattered. These traits, I think, add a lot of color and fun to our family life. And although they sometimes get me into trouble, I am happy to be the way I am. They do not, however, lend themselves well to routine.

After much contemplation, I feel that developing a routine, or rhythm, is crucial to enriching our home life, but will also be my biggest challenge. This past week I have been mulling over how I can find a balance between structure and my free-spiritedness. How can I provide an environment that my children can grow, learn, and explore in comfort and security that doesn't leave me stagnate, bored, and unfulfilled (read: grumpy).

I realize developing a rhythm that we all feel comfortable with will be a process of trial and error and may never actually come to fruition. In any case, I have tried to combine some of the very little bit of routine we already have going with some new ideas to create the foundation of what will inevitably be an ever-evolving structure.

Mommy/ DaddyTime (6:00 or 6:30)
Mommy: exercise, read, have coffee, get ready, etc
Daddy: walk/ run with Mingo, have coffee, check email, read news, budget
Breakfast (7:00)
Make and eat breakfast together
Getting Ready (7:00-7:45)
Get dressed, groom, say bye to Daddy, straighten up
School (7:45 or 8:00)
Pack up and head out
Mommy and Evie Time (8:30)
Walk, grocery shop, play with babies, go to story time, snuggle and rest, do some chores
Exploration Time (12:00-2:00 or 3:00)
Play with friends, have lunch with Daddy, visit parks, playgrounds, trails, and pools, work in the garden, play in the yard, cook, free play inside.
Siesta (2:00 or 3:00)
(This is word we use for quiet time/ nap/ rest because Aiden has no negative connotations associated with it.)
Aiden plays quietly in his room or on the floor in Mommy's room or lies down by himself or with Mommy and Evie. Mommy and Evie lie down (hopefully Evie will rest by herself sometimes if not eventually all the time). We listen to music. Mommy works around the house.
The Home Stretch (4:00)
Prepare dinner, straighten up, set table (or get cleaned up to go out), have independent free play or help Mommy, sit down together, talk about our day, draw pictures or write about it, go outside.
Family Time (5:30 or 6:00)
Dinner, family walk, bath
I straighten up and have some time to myself to garden, exercise, read, rest, get on the computer, or whatever I'd like.
Bedtime (7:30 0r 8:00)
Aiden: stories, songs, snuggles
Evie: nursing, rocking, snuggling, or walking in Ergo.
Mommy/ Daddy Time
Daddy goes for walk or run with Mingo, final straighten up.

We have tried working with this routine the past two days and so far so good. I'll update next week on how  it's going and what, if any, changes seem necessary as well as introduce my focus for the following week.