Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Mother's Journal

I keep meaning to write all of these things down somewhere so I never forget them. And I will. But it is just so much easier t type them. So now you get a small glimpse of my thoughts and memories.

- Last week I took the kids to a vintage boutique. Inside was lots of jewelry. I decided to pick some out for myself and my sister who has a birthday coming up. Jane really wanted a necklace of her own, but I didn't want to spend that kind of money on a necklace she wouldn't really appreciate and probably lose. Plus they didn't have an easy release clasp. I explained this to Jane and told her we were looking for Aunt Kim. I pulled out one of the necklaces and held it up for Jane to see.
     "Who do you think would like this necklace," I asked. "Mommy or Aunt Kim."  Jane was very quiet. She pursed those little lips and looked up at me. With a soft voice she said, "Uh, Jane?"  I couldn't help it. I bent down and gave her a big hug and kiss and told her that we would go and get a special necklace for her at Wal-mart, and how did she feel about that.
     "Sounds good for me," she replied. A few moments later she tugged on my pants and said, "Mommy, how 'bout we make a candy necklace."
     She truly is my sweet, simple girl.

-  Max is all boy. He got kicked out of nursery last week for being too rough with the other kids. He has a penchant for turning anything into a bat. And though we are working on it, he thinks it is hilarious to chase Jane around the house with things. She is just sure he is going to hit her. This fear comes from experience. Half the time now, I don't think he is really going to hit her. He just thinks it is a fun game to make her think he is going to. Also, for some reason, Jane has a frisbee magnet in her head. It seems like no matter what Max is aiming for with his frisbee, it ends up hitting Jane in the head 50% of the time. So now, of course, any time Max picks up the frisbee Jane runs from the room screaming and crying. And I can't blame her.

-  The other night, after I put Jane's jammies on, she opened the back door and sat down. She started telling me about the moon and I sat down next to her to look at the sky. It was cloudy and there wasn't much to see except for a few stars in the corners of the sky. Jane pointed to one and said, "She's brushing her hair." It took me a second to understand what she was saying. "The star is brushing her hair?" Jane nodded. "Is she getting ready for bed time?" I asked. "Yes," Jane replied.  I pointed to another star. "Is that one brushing her teeth?" "Yes," said Jane. Then she pointed to another star. "That one's putting on monkey jammies just like Jane's." Here she giggled and walked out to the yard, pointing at more stars and talking and giggling about how they were all wearing monkey jammies.

- I've been thinking lately about how my beliefs stack up with my actions. Especially as far as putting my money and time where my mouth is. It can be overwhelming to think of all the problems in the world and feel so helpless to solve anything. I've come to the conclusion that right now the best thing I can do is be a good mother and involved member of neighborhood and community. Many problems need to be noticed before they can be taken care of. I can donate some money, but not as much as I would like until Rb and I work our way out of some of the burden of this financial debt. I can help here and there, but I realized that I am just in a different season of my life. I can't take my kids on foreign volunteer excursions. I can't even take them to the soup kitchen. So for now, I will give, help where I can, be a good neighbor, friend and mother, and try to make wise purchases from local businesses and companies that are good stewards of their employees and the earth. I realize that the season for much giving and service is in the future. And by that time I will feel even more blessed than I already do. And I will have much more to give.

- We are potty training. Yesterday was great with only two accidents. Today we've had more misses than hits. But that is the nature of the beast. It will get better. And soon there won't be anymore babies in this house. No more paci's or diapers. Just in time to start thinking about having another little one, I guess.

-  I have found a new hobby. Writing. I sent off a very promising revision to Highlight's. I haven't heard back yet, but it hasn't been that long. Now I am working on another article about Kiwi's and conservation dogs. It has been very interesting so far, but it will be more difficult to write than the last one as there is less of a story line to the information. I love it though. I love the connection and information from people all over the world, deeply passionate about what they do.  I have been enjoying my writing. Who knows how much success will come from it, but it is a talent I want t develop. So that means practice. I was wondering the other day about if it was the best use of my time. I usually only write outside Max's bedroom while I wait for him to fall asleep. It doesn't take away from my kids, although sometimes it takes my thoughts far away in daydreams. But a few weeks ago I got a blessing from a leader in our church. He barely knows me. We just moved here. But he mentioned at least three times balancing my time so that I was able to pursue my interests. S I took that as a "keep going" message.

- Jane's IEP meeting was on Monday. She still qualifies as delayed in some areas, but in other areas she is ahead of the curve. Like in her knowledge of letters, colors, and shapes. It was so nice hearing those positives along with the things to work on.

Well, that's all for now. I'm off to make "star cookies" with the kids.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

First Day of Fall

It's the first day of Fall!

Today we are going to go on a nature walk and see if we can see the oncoming change in season. It is still pretty warm here, so I don't know how that will go.  We will also be picking out a few trinkets from our walk to bring home and display on our nature table (it's the top of the piano).

I also hope to make leaf shaped sugar cookies. We might even top it off with apple cider!

I'm going to try and keep you updated on our nature table display every time we add something. I'm just getting started with this sort of thing.

Do you have any plans to celebrate the first day of Fall?  If not, here are a few.

Crochet a warm hat for those fall walks.
Go on a nature walk.
Make pinecone bird feeders. The time to feed the birds is coming soon!
Go buy a few pumpkins to set around your house.
Make pumpkin something (cookies, muffins, bread, etc.)
Drink apple cider and tell stories.
Make a list of all the fall things you want to do this year.
Make a Fall color collage with red, brown, yellow, and orange construction paper pieces glued to another piece of paper.
Buy a sweater!

Add your idea to the list!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Getting the Most Out of Your Library

We love the library at this house. We, of course, love all the fun picture books, the alphabet books, the number books. But it wasn't until recently that I realized there were so many different kinds of picture books that would help supplement my children's education.  I'm going to let you in on some of the neat books you can get at the library. I try to get at least of few of these kind of books to introduce new things to my children each week.

Biographical Picture Books - Our children's section has an entire section of children's biographical picture books. Most are a little long for my kids, but in a few years they will be perfect for introducing characters and events from history. I try to get something off this shelf every week. Here are some good ones that we have enjoyed recently.
Into the Woods: John James Audubon Lives His DreamUncommon Traveler: Mary Kingsley in Africa

Non-fiction books about animals - For my kids age, we check out the easy-reading ones with just a few, informative sentences on each page. Just think if you read one of these books every week, how much your children would learn!

Illustrated Classic Poetry - These books are classic poems by the great poets with beautiful illustrations. They are a great way to introduce your kids to some of the great works. This week we are reading Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll. My kids love it, and the nonsense words make perfect sense to them when Mommy reads it just right.
   JabberwockyWhen I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer (Golden Kite Honors)

Books that explore other cultures - These come in non-fiction and fiction. It is a great way to shine a light on our differences and similarities. Here are a few to get you started that we love.

Same, Same But Different   Apple Pie Fourth of July
One Child, One Seed: A South African Counting Book

Science Books - These can range from Biology to Chemistry to Physics to Ecology. They can range from explaining scientific concepts, giving experiment ideas, to exploring the purposes of bubbles.  These books are not the boring encyclopedias that we usually  associate with this genre. Check out these titles!

Bugs and Bugsicles: Insects in the Winter  Bubble Homes and Fish Farts (Junior Library Guild Selection (Charlesbridge Paper))

There is a book on just about anything you can think of. If you are looking for it, ask your children's librarian for help. They are your number one resource. I have known so many librarians who, when I ask for books about apples, or eyes, or cows, or whatever, say "just a minute" and then come back five minutes later loaded to the gills with books featuring whatever it was I asked for. Usually far more than came up when I simply searched the term in the library database.

What kinds of books do you make an effort to check out on a regular basis?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Apple Sauce Nights

A leader in my church once said that if he could do it all over, he would plan more family work projects. He says looking back on his time with his family, those were the things they remember most, especially when the fruits of their labors are still visible.

Family work projects with young children can be difficult, but I assure you they are worth the extra effort. I have been canning the last week. Peaches, strawberries, apples. One night, I decided to let the kids help me make apple sauce. I remembered the one time my mom had made apple sauce, cranking the strainer and watching the sauce come out while the skins and cores came out a different hole. It was fascinating.

So I cooked up the apples. Daddy sliced the apples. Miss J helped stir the apples in the stock pot. Then we set up the strainer. Miss J smashed and Little Man helped crank. I finished with the pouring and sealing, and boiling.

I didn't realize what a hit the activity had been until the next morning. Both kids kept talking about making apple sauce, about smashing and turning the handle. They asked to do it again. And so we did! It didn't feel like work at all. Could I have done it faster by myself? Probably. Would I ever trade that time for anything else? No.

I'm out of apples now, but it is only the beginning of fall. I foresee many more days of apple sauce making.

What other family projects can you do with young children? Well, just about anything if you aren't afraid of a mess and taking more time.

Check out my friend Bobi's blog to see her family remodeling their home.

If you want a list, here are some ideas.

Make your own Christmas Ornaments
Put up the tent and take it down together.
Plant a garden, weed a garden, water a garden, harvest a garden!
Build a birdhouse.
Pick all the dandelions out of your yard. (seriously, my kids loved this one)
Cook together.

Do you have any ideas for family projects?