Beach Days

I am delighted that my kids love to swim. I was a water baby and it’s refreshing to see that my kids enjoy getting wet too. Lately I’ve been taking them to one of the lakes in town to cool off since the temps have been in the upper 80s. They get in totally fearless (with their little water wings, of course) and cool off during these hot days. Now as a woman well into her pregnancy I get a lot of stares at the beach mainly because I don’t have a maternity swimsuit, don’t care to have one and just let my belly hang out. Baby needs sun too! So I get into the frigid water along with my kids and we have a blast.

I’m savoring every day of hot, sunny weather because as soon as we head West we’ll be greeted with grey skies and temps in the low 60s. Here’s to summer, in late spring! Here’s to the whole of life! Enjoy the outdoors and GET IN THE WATER!

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No show Friday

It’s been over two weeks since I have let the kids watch anything on the computer. A year ago we put our TV in storage ¬†mainly because we didn’t really use it. I only watched Oprah (I still miss her) but we didn’t have cable and with Hulu and others like it you can really afford to put your power sucker in the basement. The kids watched PBS but it got a bit out of control with how much they asked to watch a show. In fact my son would get overly cranky if I said ‘No’ to anything he wanted in regards to TV.

After the dismissal of the TV came PBS kids online and although we never did a lot of watching shows or movies I still felt like it was having an affect (or is it effect?- I will never learn the rules for those two words!!!) on his moods. He asked to watch something several times a day and it was driving me nuts. I’m not hyper idealistic about not watching TV and I’ve never been judgmental in knowing that friends or other parents let their kids watch TV. Parents are often too critical of other families anyway, why add more fodder? But as a family we didn’t really see much value in TV mainly because the ubiquitous commercial tells your child what they need you to buy for them; cheap junk that they won’t play with a week after purchase. And a lot of shows are just lame anyway!

So a few weeks ago I decided that we weren’t doing ANYTHING on our computer for at least a week. Then when the week was over we’d celebrate with a party. And we did. We made pumpkin pancakes with my leftover pumpkin (the kids love making food that came from our yard) and we talked about how fun our week was without it. Then I just decided that we would keep going into the next week. Anyone who knows my kids or has read my blog can understand my children a bit through what I write. My son is super creative, smart, friendly, compassionate and…. active! It’s been hard to get him to calm down a lot of days but I have to say I noticed a huge difference in his behavior when we cut out the computer all together. He just played more, wasn’t as moody and wanted to hear more stories (we’re moving on from picture books with simple sentences to longer stories with less pictures). I can testify to the fact that this experiment has mellowed him a lot. He’s still got a lot of energy but he’s certainly not as moody and he takes more initiative to think of something to play. He seems to need a lot less stimulation.

I’m not certain yet how long or how far we will take this experiment because I really believe that moms need a break sometimes and often this is the only way to get one. If your family isn’t around to help relieve the load this may be the easiest and fastest way to take some of the stress off when the kids are going wild. For me I had to make more effort these past weeks to lay down what I wanted to do in the moment so that I could read long books or get them started on a project. But once we had time together (and that’s what kids crave most, time with us) and once I touched, hugged and kissed them they were a lot more eager to play on their own.

TV can make a hyper kid even more cranky and hyper. I’ve known that statistic for a while. But if you are struggling to keep high energy, emotional kids in a zone of peace and playfulness then consider cutting out the kid’s shows all together. They balk about it at first, just like we do when we don’t get our way in life, but after a while they do adjust and the payoff is huge. Besides, it’s almost summer time…. you can let them run around in the sun!

Happy Days!

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Simple produce bags

Recently a friend asked what she can use instead of those plastic produce bags that we get at the grocery store. I am actually surprised I never even thought about the alternative before but her question made me realize how simple it is to make an alternative, if that’s the sort of thing you’re into.

Instead of going out and getting earth friendly fabric just cut up a shirt or some sort of light weight material that you don’t use anymore and snip away. Make a rectangle, sew by hand or machine up the sides and maybe hem the top, or don’t even bother sewing. Just cut something that looks like a handkerchief and put your veggies inside of it like you would a bunch of rocks, fold up the sides and cinch with a rubber band or string.

These are what I made today. They can be washed and reused and they weigh as much as the plastic bag. I have a ton of left over fabric that I keep using for loads of projects so this was perfect. Just wash any brand new fabric to get any chemicals out. New fabric has a TON of chemicals. You don’t have to bother going out and buying earth friendly produce bags that are way over priced. Save your tuppence for asparagus!

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The reality of the move is setting in

I’m realizing how much I am going to miss friends and those who have become family to us in our past 10 years. I was lying in bed the other night thinking about packing, moving, the long road trip which will likely be filled with lots of tushes falling asleep due to the long stretches of sitting. I lay awake for nearly three hours planning, working out details of the move and thinking of hitting the beach with the kids just days after we get to the coast. Then I began to reminisce (1:30am is not the best time to recall 10 years of memories) about some of our closest friends here.

Every Thursday night for nearly five years now a small group meets together and takes turns hosting a dinner gathering. In the beginning it was just a small group in an intimate setting of someone’s cozy home, eating a sweet meal together. Matt and I were the only ones with children and this past year this has changed as a few friends had their own babies. But as I sat in bed, wishing I could drift off to sleep, I was thinking how lucky we have been to have friends that deeply love and delight in… our children. Our friends play with them on Thursday night, allow our kids to jump on their furniture, show them how to play games on their IPhones, tickle our kids, hug them, speak encouragement in their ears and greet them every week with excitement. They have endured a lot of emotional changes that our wee ones go through and they empathize with me and offer help when it’s just too taxing for me to deal with their emotional toddler-phase meltdowns.

Our children have a few little friends that are peers whom they see every once in a while and when they get to play with them they are super excited at the opportunity. But I can definitely confirm that some of my kid’s closest friends are our friends that we meet with every week. They actually get completely excited to see them for dinner and when I tell them it’s Thursday (they still don’t understand days of the week) my son especially jumps up in the air, shouts, “YEAH!” and becomes uncontrollably hyper. This is why I had opted to tell him just moments before our guests arrive… he gets excited and STAYS excited! It’s a bit intense. But it’s just a reflection of his love for his dear friends.

As I was in my state of insomnia, recalling our relationships in Madison and all that we are leaving behind, this was the moment that I began to cry. It’s the first time I’ve cried while thinking of our move. I think I’ve been so busy packing, selling things, holding garage sales and fixing our house that the reality of leaving friends hasn’t really sunk in. Yet when I thought about what our friendships have meant to our children it moved me to realize that our kids have something so precious among this small community of friends, they have family among them. They are deeply loved and cherished and have been since they were born. Our friends have seen our kids grow from their birth and they have been involved in the nurturing of our little people. This is going to be the deepest wound for our kids when they begin to realize that they won’t be seeing their friends for dinner or jumping on their furniture or playing with the new babies the next day, that they are too far away and can’t come over the play with them. This is when I soaked my pillow thinking of the hole this will leave.

Even though it will leave a hole I am aware that it’s made the most excellent impact and laid a lovely foundation for their first years of life. Oliver and Chloe have had the most amazing gift… love and acceptance of who they are. They are celebrated for their amazing personalities. These relationships have encouraged them and thrown them high in the air; tickled and hit them with pillows, chased them through the yard and let them walk their dog. What a gift to have a place where your children are free to be themselves. I think it’s rare to have such acceptance from people other than family but we’ve had it. We’ve had it for them since day one. I’m so very grateful and nervous. Grateful for the foundation laid but nervous that we are going to a place where people don’t know my kids and maybe won’t feel the same way about them. Maybe they won’t enjoy them as much as our friends here have. Will my kids sense that and begin to miss our old life?

As parents we want our children to experience the best and would never want to take away the good life from them. Sometimes it’s unavoidable. It’s not always possible to give them the best, whatever that is, but we give them what we can. I’m so thankful we’ve given them this group of friends to cherish them and to teach them to cherish in return. If you guys are reading… you are so dearly loved! By us, of course, but our children love you deeply. Thank you for sharing your lives with THEM!

Another great blog

My friend Amanda sent me this link and I’ve been hooked for a few days now. I’m intrigued by Stephanie Neilson’s journey since her accident as she is now adjusting to her new life as a mother who deals with physical pain. Her story is amazing to me mainly because I love to see people overcoming in life as they find the resolve to live it gloriously, in spite of serious adversity. I have always felt awkward when I hear someone who still has their health or their looks say to someone who has suffered so much loss say, “You have put into perspective all that I have been taking for granted”. I know that is actually true and I feel the same at times but it often sounds like, “Seeing all that you don’t have anymore reminds me to be grateful for what I have” and it just makes me cringe. All that to say, I have asked myself while I’ve been reading her blog, “Why do I feel touched and emotional? Do I feel pity? What is inspiring me and making me want to be more?” The conclusion I came to is that her story is tragic and glorious in the same gulp. It brought me to tears thinking that a family had to endure loss but it’s glorious in that she knows she is not defined by her body anymore.

I am challenged as a mother and reminded that having a family and raising children is a gift. I can see where I’ve pushed away a child because I was busy or turned my head away from the dirty child smell that eminates from the tops of their scalp once they’ve been outside in the hot sun all day. It’s sort of a wet dog smell. I’ve lost patience and ‘wanted my space’. Stephanie reminds me what a gift it is to be able to feel our children. To have our fingerprints touching their skin or to put a little girl’s hair in pony tails and feel our skin against her hair. To feel and hug a child without pain is something I NEVER think about and I’m very inspired to remember the gifts that I have living in my home, shaking up my entire life. Thank you, Nie

Her Blog

Her Story

Her voice (I really wanted to hear what she sounded like- it made her more real to me)

On Oprah