Friday, June 13, 2008
My friend Wendi has been developing her photography skills for quite some time now, and when I spoke of getting my daughter's 5-year portraits, Wendi said she wouldn't mind taking the shots for practice.
This is her "practice."
These magical images capture all that is Carsen: so very sweet, happy, expressive, and unpredictable.
How lucky am I that my friend that knows Carsen so well can prove it on film? And all for the affordable price of FREE. Watch out, local photo studios. I'm takin' my business elsewhere. Thanks, Wen. They're beautiful.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
My friend had a birthday get-together for a few women at a purse design center here in Seattle, and each of us got to pick out the design, fabric, buckles, liners, and buttons for our own purse. It was so fun, I absolutely recommend it! It was a lovely girl-bonding time, and some serious creativity was floating through the air, which is always a good thing! This is my little piece of art and I love it! It's perfect for when I have a date or a girls' night, which is a rarity, and all I have to pack is my wallet & keys! Here's the website for Laura Bee Designs, in which you can find out about their shop, designing your own bag, and online services:
Like many families, we ebb and flow in and out of consistency. We seem to have a successful streak and get a little lazy with our discipline. Then things start to turn into bad habits so we get a little strict and reteach the skills we want the kids to develop in self control. I'm a big believer in Love and Logic and Positive Discipline. I have a mommy-reliant little guy that totally responds to the former and an independent daughter that responds well to the latter. So when things start to slide a little and it's time to reinforce the good habits we want around the house, I pull these books off the shelf again for a refresher course.
So this season (we have quarterly "boot camps" it seems) I've made a chart that seems to really inspire both kids to do well. They each have a photo of themselves on their bikes and a chart that leads up to 12. They are asked to move their bikes up the "mountain" when I catch them being good, and move down a number when the opposite is true. When they hit 5, and then again at 12, they get to draw a prize out of the bowl. These consist of little folded pieces of paper with free treasures, like picking a show, having one lollipop, 30 minutes alone with one parent, an extra bedtime story, picking supper for the night, helping to cook it, etc. So far my daughter really grasps it and True just feels great when we all clap for him, but he's not totally getting the upward movement idea.
Secondly, I've reintroduced the timer, which then becomes the notifier of when clean up should be finished, when it's time to get ready for bed, taking turns with a toy, etc. This is a fabulous, cheap little gem that takes Mommy out of the equation and leads to less power struggles.
Lastly, I posted a schedule of our days. This seems a little drill-sergeantish to me, but I can simply refer to it when the kids seem really irked that it's time to brush teeth when they'd much rather be smashing leftover blueberries or climbing on one another until the other one screams in pain. I point to the chart and all the good cop/bad cop issues are out the window.
Wish me luck!
Saturday, June 7, 2008
I made this and it hangs on a hook in my kitchen so I can capture all of those cute things the kids say that I swear I'll never forget but write down because, sadly, we do forget. I used items I already had around the house, like photo filing dividers, extra snapshots & the odd scrap book embelishment. I attatched it together with binder rings.
This week I collected family ideas on what we all want from summer this year. In addition to swim lessons, a couple of warm-n-sunny weekend trips, and just plain outdoor fun, I want to keep our minds stimulated and thoughtful. So here are a few ideas I came up with on the developing minds of our little ones this summer, as well as the deteriorating ones of Mom & Dad:
- We loaded up on library books. We're ready to start our local library's Summer Reading challenge.
- I found a series of short chapter books for Carsen to have read to her, and she's already hooked. Total girly fluff, but you should see the play this inspires! http://rainbowmagiconline.com/uk/index.html
- I started buying inexpensive, paperback non-fiction for True on the subjects he loves. If he won't read anything that doesn't have a truck in it, then by golly we are going to learn about trucks this summer!
- I purchased this eagerly awaited book that shines light on the beautiful combination of kids & the outdoors. Taking the kids out and just meandering isn't my first nature, I usually toss it to Dad. But there are three long months ahead, so this little guide will help me out with ideas- 52 ideas, to be exact, and sorted by season! http://www.jenniferwardbooks.com/
- Above are some daily tools like sketchbooks & workbooks, all sorts of art from the library-system art cupboard in my kitchen (Because who really wants to clean up if you have 4 different media you're working with, and one in a huge pile of glue? Especially if you're two years old.) And we always have art staples at the ready, for whenever inspiration hits, like paint brushes, scissors, and the all important masking tape. Even backpacks prepacked with a sketchbook & pencils for the outdoor inspirations.
- What's on my nightstand? The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule, The Late Bloomers Revolution by Amy Cohen, and Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Myla Kabat-Zinn & John Kabat-Zinn
- I'd post Ethan's stack, but he has a whole slew of great garage sale titles that he's about to receive for Fathers Day!
The weather in Seattle this "Spring" is exceptionally depressing, but the season must go on. So instead of buying sunblock and rolling out the slip-n-slide, we're still pouring into our galoshes for rain walks, making "fuzzy milks" (warm rice milk with vanilla & cinnamon), and having plenty of movie nights.
Luckily, garage sale season is upon us, come rain or shine, and here are my favorite recent treasures. The kids are old enough to get it this year, and they collect their coins and are not at all selective on what makes for a great find. Along with fabric swatches, miscellaneous craft paraphernalia, and dress up, I've managed to score a few vintage items for decor in my art studio (camera, frames, cool photo display for my scrap booking embellishments), the kids got this like-new green bean bag and a Scrabble game for a buck that we use the letters for reading and letter recognition. Additionally I bought some great red Mary-Janes for myself that True swears we bought for him, and this snazzy black trench coat.
Goodies like these help ease the transition from Winter into a second Autumn
Monday, June 2, 2008
E & I got to take a little getaway for the first time since becoming parents. My mom stayed with the kids while we flew on down to Vegas for a weekend of total indulgence: sleep, food, cocktails, a little entertainment, and finally on the flight home, some depth to our conversations. It's funny, I forgot how to have a decent talk with him as we've been date-free for about 6 months. We'd had a pretty steady sitter weekly for date night, but that often turned into study night as E was still working on his Masters. So it took us three days of being solo to remember how to be inspired by one another and dig beneath the surface. There was also plenty of opportunity for a much needed time to be alone with ourselves. Funny to go to Vegas, The Venetian no less, to sleep and have a little alone time, but in the parenting vortex, normalcy is left at the door. One afternoon, after a massage & poolside lunch together (I know, can you believe it?), he went to do a little $5-tabling and I went up to our room to scrapbook while watching a mushy movie on pay-per-view. This was so therapeutic, I hardly wanted to get ready for Tao (fancy-pants dinner reservations) and Blue Man. Ofcourse those experiences were phenominal too, but I just have to say we are somewhat renewed as parents, as a married couple, and as individuals because of these few days.
I am so grateful, because while it is darn hard to be a mama (and I'll resist the urge to qualify that comment because c'mon ya'll, it is hard work), I can see love showing up for me in these ways:
- I am in such a loving marriage.
- My babies are healthy, happy, and full of imagination.
- My beautiful, sexy, hard working man loves me in just the way God intended for me to be loved.
- We live a good life, basic needs above & beyond cared for.
- My girlfriends are placed in their spaces along my path in a way that makes me floored by how blessed I am.
- My newly-awakened awareness of God's love for me: I'm learning for the first time in my life that He loves me in an entirely different universe than all who have loved me in our failing ways before. And that He believes that I deserve it. Wow.
Luck is a lady in my life.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
I am here. I am in the vapor of life here, these fleeting moments of raising small ones with all my might, while being constantly distracted by bills, housekeeping, stress, sleep issues, ear infections, allergies, car batteries, toys underfoot, and that pile of laundry that doesn't seem to shrink. These things, in their masses, pull me from my post of ever-present mama, adoring wife, thoughtful friend, good daughter, sister, etc. and especially from the role of individual. This stuff of life, these roles, so little of it matters in the end, and what really does is dress up, finger paints, weekends away with the man I love, kissing ouchies, questions like, "How does that make you feel?" and being inspired to take action. The idea that moves me the most is that of showing up. Showing up for my kids. Showing up for my special people, my sister, my girlfriends. When my husband shows up for me, in a way that I don't know elsewhere. So being more present is the goal here, in my own life and in those that matter to me. I'm here.