Sunday, October 6, 2013

National Anthem of Andorra, Italy, and Algeria

My mom bought the kids this Intelliglobe thing, and one of the features is a pamphlet full of all the national flags. When you touch one of the flags with this special computerized pen, it plays the national anthem from that country.

Well the kids have discovered this feature and Natalie plays the Andorra anthem all day long. She loves this song so much she says she wants to play a "horn sang" (horn thing aka trumpet) so she can play it. I didn't even know where in the world Andorra was. I always feel so ignorant when it comes to geography. It reminds me of school how everyone knows who the popular kids are, but the popular kids have no idea who the less popular kids are. That is how it is living in the United States. We only really know about ourselves even though the whole rest of the world knows about us.

Anyways, Andorra is a little country that is right between Spain and France!! Who knew!? I thought it might be one of those tiny islands that's a dot in the middle of the ocean. Nope. It's right there in Europe. And I thought I knew about European countries at least. I guess not.

So while Natalie loves Andorra, Adam loves Italy (every time it stops he sticks his butt out and pretends he's farting). I happen to like Algeria (some nice snare drums). Frannie hasn't picked a favorite.

Like Soap and Horses

These are the images I keep in my head in regards to discipline:

Sometimes you hold kids like soap. You just hold them up and guide them without squeezing too hard. Because if you squeeze they'll just slip right out and fall on the floor. So you quietly hold and take them where they need to go.

In times like this I can tell one of my kids needs to just BE. And they need time to work it out. They need understanding. They need to know I'm on their team. In times like these I can't make them do exactly what I want, because that will just escalate the whole problem. Usually the perfect remedy is a nap. Sleep cures a lot of things.

Other times I think it's like horses. You need to just grab the reins. Here. Now. Do this. No negotiation.

These are the "you're not wise enough to know what's good for you, so this is simply what you must do" moments. And the "you will obey because you simply must" moments.

It's not all the time soap, or all the time horses. It just depends.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Life is moving and flowing

*Adam and Frannie started school.
*Adam is having an ok, slightly rough transition. He keeps getting hit in the face with basketballs at recess. Fortunately he is now figuring out the bigger playground and seems to be having fewer ball-face contact problems. Earlier in the week he declared he "didn't really like school because there is too much recess."
*He also has some righteous anger about other people, especially GIRLS, cutting in line. I've tried to explain that they're mostly just doing that to stand next to a friend. After all, there isn't a Disneyland ride at the end of the line or anything. But I understand the frustration of wanting to keep one's rightfully earned place in line.
*His behavior is impeccable as I knew it would be. He gets "clipped up" every day. He's a super-good boy.
*Francesca has more homework this year. Plus her piano songs take genuine practice time. Plus she's supposed to be reading 20 mins a day for homework. Plus her twice-a-week soccer practices are pretty much an hour and some change long. Life is getting busier for her with more time-management needed. So far we're trying the strategy of knocking out all the homework on Friday after school so that the rest of the week her "homework" is piano practice and reading.
*The social indoctrination of "girls don't wear dresses" is taking hold once again. I've seen this now each year (but quicker this time) where during the school year she abandons her dresses for jean shorts and t-shirts. (Basically she starts dressing like me- even though really she's dressing like the other girls in school.) During the summer the dresses come back and I consider it her natural state. She even commented that the older girls in school never wear dresses. Yup. I know. Why is this? Nothing wrong with shorts and pants of course. Certainly for Natalie this is her natural state as she hates dresses. This isn't the case for Frannie who has always preferred dresses and skirts. In general my thought process is that whatever she wants to wear is fine as long as whatever she's wearing is fine. She's learning to "fit in" at school. Even though I'd like her to just "be herself" realistically we all take cues from our surroundings as to what is right and appropriate. I would though like to encourage her to wear those things that I know she loves to wear. She can be a very creative dresser and I'm often impressed at the way she can mix colors and patterns in such nice ways. My secret delight is that she loves her looooong hair and wants to grow it longer. This is one way she isn't just like everyone else at school and I like that she likes this special quality about her appearance. (More about the shorts thing- it could also have to do with more PE activities. They make them run a lot.)
*We are homeschooling tap. I found an awesome brand-new pair of Bloch tap shoes at the thrift store in just Frannie's size. Well, a 1/2 size big which is perfect so that she can wear them longer. $3.50 for $50 shoes. LOVE IT!.So since I was disappointed at the teaching at her dance studio, I've decided to just show her how to do tap since I took classes for so many years. We've been doing this for about 2 weeks and she's learned a LOT! She's commented more than once that she's learned more from me than she learned at ballet. I know. That's why I'm not spending the money for crappy dance lessons anymore.
*Natalie is adjusting to the kids being gone during the day by taking a big nap in the afternoon. It's like she's on a long car trip and she knows the quickest way to "get there" is to just sleep through it. So she's been sleeping in the afternoon and waking up just in time to go get the kids.
*Natalie is also learning to read. I knew she would pick up reading pretty easily because she memorizes everything really quickly. She memorizes words to songs much more quickly than Adam. And she memorizes the words of stories very quickly. Even though she can't really read it sometimes seems like she's reading because she remembers all of the words on the page. So without teaching her much of anything, she's sounding out some words.
*Adam is learning to read too, but I don't think he'll really learn until he's closer to 7 like Frannie was. He's doing well though and memorizing his sight words. I firmly believe piano has helped both kids with reading skills. Mrs. Myatt is surprised at how well he's doing with piano and frankly so am I. What I'm most surprised about is how much he practices. He said he didn't want to take piano, but I know how he is and I know that he always starts out saying he doesn't want to do things, but then he likes it later.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Jason likes to match

One of Jason's favorite things is to dress matchy-matchy with Adam. He even bought himself these Vans so that they could look even more similar. Lately, he tries to pick matching outfits every Sunday for church. I think this last picture is so adorable I think I'll print this one out. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Swim Coma

We've been swimming a lot this summer. (A lot means every day.) I may not like having a $220 association fee but I like having an easy activity to do with the kids.

Swimming also has the bonus of being a sleeping pill for children.

"Life Force gone. Cannot go on."

She's what, maybe 10 minutes out of the water?

A child's perspective on the house

Frannie said to me the other day, "Mom, I hope we never move."
"Because our house is so cozy!"
"Our house is cozy? Really? Which room is your favorite?
"Your room."
"My room? (I was really surprised to hear this.) Why?"
"Because it is just so cozy!"

I really thought she'd say her room or the living room or basically any place that she plays the most or reads the most.

But her favorite room is our room. And her response reminded me of this post from Leila at Like Mother, Like Daughter

She writes, " Your home has many areas that express family life, but your bedroom expresses the foundational relationship between you and your spouse -- the inner sanctum where the sacrament of your marriage is consecrated and continually renewed with the conjugal gift.

If it weren't for the intimate aspect of your commitment, your family would not be. ...Once you make it a priority to keep your bedroom reasonably neat, clean, and tidy, you will notice that besides gaining your husband's gratitude, your children respect it more as they grow older.

Do you see how that contributes, however humbly, to their understanding of the preciousness of marriage and the home -- and the reverence that both you and your husband have for your relationship? Do you see how this lesson, an unspoken one, will carry its message to a new generation? Who knew that you were expressing so much by cleaning a room?"

Monday, August 5, 2013

Chow Mein

I thought it would be fun to have the kids try new foods so I brought home a can of sardines from TJs.

When I popped and peeled back the lid the kids said EEEWWW when they saw the fish in olive oil with the head and tail cut off.

But I forged ahead and speared one with my fork, flaked it up, and got a nice little heap to go on a cracker.

"There! Try it."

And so they did. And they liked it! They kept asking for more until all three fish in the can were gone.

Later in the day we were in the car and Adam says, "Mom, I'm hungry. Can I have some of that chow mein?"

"Chow mein? We don't have chow mein. What are you talking about?"

"You know, that chow mein. With the crackers."

"Do you mean SAR-DINES!?"

"Oh, yeah, that."

And he still couldn't remember the name and all day long he's been asking me to go to the store to get chow mein.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Answers: 212, 122, 3 1/2, 7?8?9?10?

1. How many squats did Francesca do yesterday?
2. How many did you (mom) do?
3. How many hours did Natalie "nap" today?
4. Number of days since your children last received a bath?

1. Why did she do this?
2. Why did you do this?
3. Why is this a big deal?
4. Why are you not bathing your children?

1. Because she's competitive- although I didn't quite realize how much!
2. Because I'm competitive too and Jason has been having squat competitions at work. I thought I could do between 60-100.
3. Because she's been a major grumpy-pants stinker for 2 days. I'm the only one in this house who's allowed to act like she's on her period.
4. Because they've had swim lessons every day for 2 weeks.

1. Is she sore?
2. Are you sore?
3. Is Natalie being nicer?
4. Will you ever bathe the children?

Sub-sub Answers
1. Yes. Now she is. Took 24 hours to creep up on her. (Ben-Gay to the rescue!)
2. Yes. I wish I lived in a one-story.
3. Actually yes. She cleaned up the living room nicely. I'm glad she's feeling better.
4. Actually yes. They finally got shampoo/conditioner/ears-face-feet-booty scrubbed tonight. Francesca even got a coconut oil treatment in her hair. She says she smells like popcorn.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Today was a good day

Finally, finally, FINALLY Adam had a good park day. He typically hates going and whines the whole time. It drives me nuts.

Anyways, today was different! He was a happy boy! The whole time! Natalie too was delightful!

The secret was the scooter.

I let them bring their razor scooters and that made all the difference! Finally park day became like an amusement park and I loved seeing the kids actually happily playing at the park the way they're supposed
to! sheesh this shouldn't have taken so long

Today was also a good day because I hiked up Claremont Wilderness Trail with Lorelei and Sonja. It makes me happy that I've been able to get in a bit of regular exercise and of course doing that with friends makes it that much better!

Two things I wanted to write down

(I wrote this one awhile ago too. These last four posts are all out of order.)

I got a pedicure for the very first time today. (Jason got me a gift certificate for Mother's Day.) Part of why I haven't gotten one before is because I had a sense that I would like it and I didn't want to be always tempted to spend $20 on my toes. The other reason is because I always cut my toenails suuuper short and I thought the ladies would laugh at my feet like "What is there to manicure! You've already cut the whole nail!"

So I've gone 34 years with regular feet, barefoot, and barely lotioned.

My lady noticed...

and she convinced me to spend 5 extra dollars so she could scrub off my callouses. And damn that lady darn near scraped off my natural leather shoe it was so painful. And yes I did scream out and yes others heard me!

But here's the thing: I really do get it. I get why everyone loves the pedicure so much. even more than the manicure. It's that with the soaking, and oily stuff, and exfoliation, and lotion massage and the chair that mechanically kneads your back, and this and that, my footsies felt light as air and super fresh for at least 2 hours.

Now they feel like regular feet again, but the polish is a reminder of my nice experience. I think that's why they like to make sure you leave with some polish!

Ok, on to the other thing which is completely unrelated. It's just a thought I've had from time to time and I wanted to write it down.

I know that when I first became a mother, people, older people, older WOMEN especially, would often stop me and tell me how much to enjoy my children because they grow up so fast. I remember one time in particular when Frannie was only a few weeks old, an older woman told me this and I wanted to say to her "but there is nothing to enjoy".

Later on I of course found many things to enjoy and yes, I do enjoy the kids and enjoy being their mom very much.

But I often read on blogs from other women how much they don't like older women telling them this. When they get advice to "enjoy every moment" they just find it irritating because it certainly isn't always enjoyable. It seems like just one more demand they cannot fulfill.

But I see it differently now. I believe what people are REALLY saying when they say to enjoy it, is they are saying "don't forget that this is your youth too." Because once you can't have kids anymore, you yourself are not young anymore. The message is twofold. Enjoy your kids. But also in enjoying your kids, you are enjoying your own adult youth.

Important Milestones for Adam

(Obviously I wrote this awhile ago and never published it. I kept it in my draft folder because I keep meaning to add pictures.)

Adam turned 6 years old a few weeks ago and he is having some exciting moments!

1. He finished his first year of kindergarten and did really well.

2. He learned to tie his shoes.

3. He lost his first tooth!

4. He started piano lessons, and even though he didn't want to do it, he's actually really enjoying it. I think he was getting intimidated by seeing what Frannie can do, but now that he knows a few notes I think he finds it quite exciting that he can read the music a little bit.

5. He started tennis lessons and he's enjoying that too.

Above all else, Adam is a really GOOD boy. The other day we were at Wal-Mart (I know, I know) and Natalie spotted a random little ball on the ground. She asked if she could pick it up and I said ok, but then Adam said "Mom what if the kid who lost that ball comes back to look for it? Then he'll be sad that he can't find it." I said, "You're right Adam. Natalie, Adam is right, go put the ball back." The ball didn't look like much to me, but I wanted to honor his thoughtfulness and I was impressed by that.

zumba shoes

Adam needed new shoes, but Jason ended up getting all of the kids new shoes. Natalie chose these little beauties and she said excitedly "They're ZUMBA SHOES so we can Zumba TO-GETH-ERRR!"

Summer swimming

Today the kids have swim lessons. Natalie is a beast in the pool. She had no trouble learning and fearlessly throws herself in and swims all over the place. Adam is timid sometimes but has really started improving his strokes. He's a kid who is often reluctant to try things but is actually good at them once he gets going. Francesca is a very lithe swimmer. She's fun to watch. She concentrates and she executes just as they ask.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Of Career and Family

I got a phone call last week from one of my best friends:
"Jamie, a positioned opened up at my school! Language Arts! The principal thinks it will be hard to fill because no one wants to teach middle school! We could be partners!"

Wha? A job? Like a job job. A real JOB. Full time. 5 days a week. Actual responsibility to provide a quality education for other people's children.

I wasn't expecting that.

It really isn't the ideal time, but how can I not consider it? I know I still have a year before Nattie is ready to go to school, but really we could figure something out for one school year. The school is K-8 and all the kids could come to school with me. It's a really high-quality school too, so it's not as though the kids would have an educational down-grade. AND I'd be partner teachers with one of my very best friends. How cool would that be to have instant support like that?

Wow. It's actually a really tough decision. I always thought I'd get back into the job market by subbing first and building relationships with different schools and teachers. I'd get used to adding more work responsibilities to my family responsibilities before committing to full-time employment.

But I also know that getting a teaching job is not so easy these days. Openings are few and far between. Teachers aren't retiring the way it was predicted, so there are lots of fresh new grads with no jobs to fill. So how can I turn down a yellow-brick-road to an interview with a heavy recommendation?

Ack. And there's another issue here. Jason and I have been on the fence about adding to our family for a long time. Are we done with more kids or not? Ask on any given day and it's sort of a shrug. But now that Natalie is getting older (and let's face it, me too) it's very much a NOW OR NEVER issue. And we just don't know!!

It's hard when life hands you decisions that feel very much like game-show moments. Door #1 or Door #2 or Door #3? Which life do you choose? Each door presents possibilities and elements of the unknown.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Trying something new...

                                       Adam just finished his very first soccer season. Yay! 

Even though Frannie has been asking to play for several years and I keep telling her that she can't play until she's in third grade, I let Adam go ahead and play a season.


Well, sort of, but it's not so simple. It's because Adam never really wants to do anything. Swimming. No. Amusement park ride? No. Play piano? No. Ballroom dancing? No. NO! (He was emphatic on that last one.) He said to me "Mom! I like running. I want to play socco."  Finding some relief from making him do stuff (there is no negotiation on learning to swim) I overrode my "no soccer until third grade" rule and let him play.

He was jazzed. He was excited. He played his first game. And scored a goal! (The ball ricocheted off his leg.) Woo! A good start no? Weeeeell... after a few more games we soon saw that Adam loved to play soccer as long as he wasn't actually in contact with the ball or any other player.

Hmmm... soccer is kind of a hard game to get into if you don't want to touch anyone.

But he was having so much fun! Yes, but he wasn't ever touching the ball! Not for the entire game sometimes. And not for lack of opportunity.

There comes a time when you have to sit back and decide, is this something worth sticking out? Give it more of a chance? Let him grow into the sport more? Or do we simply observe a basic personality tendency (doesn't like to be aggressive with others) and just accept that hey, maybe this isn't a fit?

It's a pretty tough call.

Each week in between games I'd think, "Let's give it more time. He's not even 6 yet!" and I'd talk to other parents who told stories of their player who blossomed after two seasons.

And then game day would come and Jason and I would look at each other repeatedly during the game and think "Eeee! It really doesn't seem like this is the game for our Adam!" And again, not because he wasn't having fun, but mostly because he wasn't ever touching the ball or anyone else.

Jason's been thinking about having him try cyclocross racing since he does enjoy riding his bike so much. I'm ok with him trying that, but there's still a certain body to body aggressiveness to it with all the jockeying for position during the race. But he can certainly try it.

Adam likes to run and he likes the movement of a ball but he doesn't want to touch anyone. We considered baseball, but we're both convinced that a pop fly would cause a duck and cover.

Anyways, it's not that big of a deal.

Then yesterday, Jason came inside the house and announced "Hey you know I was hitting some balls with Adam outside and he did pretty well."


Ball + running + no contact = Adam;   Ball + running + no contact = Tennis;  Adam = Tennis?

So today I took him outside to see how he would do and to my GREAT surprise the boy can land a racket on a ball. We actually had quite a lot of back and forth. There was some control exhibited. I actually had fun and I wasn't expecting that at all. I imagined chasing balls down the street one after another. We let Natalie do the chasing, but actually she didn't have to do a ton.

So I'm heartened. I'm encouraged. Maybe we can try something new.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

My little Natawee

Today she went to bed early.

It started when she wouldn't eat her dinner. And she knew that if she didn't eat her dinner she wouldn't be able to have any of the milkshake I promised to make. Well, sure enough, when dinner was over and I got to making that milkshake she wanted some, and of course I divided it amongst everyone except her. She said that I was really mean.

"You're mean to meeee!"

As I was cleaning up the kitchen I could hear the kids fighting upstairs. I knew Natalie was causing problems just because she was feeling upset about the milkshake. Soon Francesca came down saying how Natalie had closed them out of the toy room and wouldn't let her play with the doll house. I told her to just go get the doll house and bring it into the other bedroom. While the kids were doing that I soon heard more screams from upstairs. Adam was crying. Natalie was crying. Adam accused her of hitting him the face. The amount of her tears and the fact that she didn't deny it told me he was right. He was screaming crying, she was screaming crying. Neither could settle down. Jason heard all the commotion and came upstairs and scolded her for hitting him in the face, and then put her on time-out. Crying crying crying. After a few minutes I asked if she was ready to say sorry. More crying. So I let her be.

I came downstairs and just fiddled around on the computer for awhile. After about 15 minutes she was still crying up there. So I went on up and asked if she wanted to go to bed. She did. "Let's put your diaper on." She stopped crying and crawled into bed holding her bie to her face. Then she said she wanted to say sorry. So I called Adam into the bedroom. He came to her bedside and she paused for a minute and then whispered "Sorry Adam" and then flung her arms around his head and gave him a big squeeze and many kisses. He told her it was ok and left.

But now she was crying saying "Nobody likes me!"

I called the kids back to the bedroom and whispered to them that she is feeling sad about what happened, so they went to her bedside and gave her kisses and hugs and told her that she was a favorite sister.

Then she was ready for bed. "Do you want me to kiss your eyes?" Yes.

I kissed her eyes and pushed back her bangs. "I know it's hard to be three years old. You're almost four. I know it's really hard sometimes. I remember."

She nods and says "Free is really really hard. Four will be easier."

And I can tell it will be.
Three has been hard. Many many many situations like the one above. Getting slighted over one thing and escalating it more and more until into a full blown thing. This is common to me now and I don't get upset about it the way I used to. But I have seen so much improvement. I know she is maturing and she is understanding more. But it's a process and it takes a lot of time and learning.

It was just so precious to me the way she said it tonight "Three is hard. Four will be easier."

Monday, April 15, 2013

Carpinteria Camping

This Spring Break we once again went to our favorite beach campsite: Carpinteria

Of course we went with my Papa without whom vacations would not be possible. 

We had an excellent site this time with lots of space for play and a great view of all the incoming campers. About every few minutes or so either Jason and Dad would discuss the merits of the next approaching camper entering the park. I think because we have a tent we get "camper envy" although I suspect even people with campers check out everyone else's set up. We do love our tent though!

Our camping trips always include Dad's little friend Archie. You can almost see on little Archie's face, "Why isn't he playing with me? With ME?" He stares after Dad constantly and whinnies and pretty much drives Dad absolutely bonkers. But he's still a fun camping buddy for the rest of us!

Oh boy Smashball!

One thing that's fun about Carpinteria is that everyone gets their favorite park. This is Adam's. It's set up right next to the railroad track and the incoming Amtrack is always faithful to give the kids a honk or even a "Shave and A Haircut, Two Bits!" honk. 

Francesca's favorite park is the "workout" park right near the beach. Lots of bars to flip on. She's having sort of a Zen moment here. 
Natalie likes all parks.

My favorite park is just simply the beach. I LOVE this beach. Most times we come we see some sort of interesting wildlife like dolphins swimming by or a seal popping it's head out of water or the puff of a whale's blow hole. On this occasion we went for a little hike to see the harbor seals.
Lots of tar formations along the coastline

But inland you need to watch your step because tar is oozing from the ground. 

But then the Seals!

Here are lots of seals and pelicans camped out in the afternoon sun. 

And unfortunately we saw two dead seals washed onto the shore. Who knows why?

I'm not sure what Jason's favorite park is. My guess is that he just likes the time off. He's the one who took all these pictures!

Of course he likes to ride bikes with the kids. 

Natalie take one: Shy Face

Take Two: Big Cheese!

Well hello there Granny Frannie! (Or is she just pretending to be me?)

Until next time!