Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Playing Catch up

It's been crazy around here, and I keep telling myself that when it slows down, I will write about all those amazing and exhausting and wonderful things that have been happening around here.

But it never slows down.

And it won't.

Because the next time it does start to slow, I won't want to sit in front of the computer. I will want to play one of the many board games the kidlets received for Christmas (Seriously, one of the games is all about putting scoops of ice cream into a bowl. The first to get the cherry on top, wins. Best game ever. Always makes me hungry.) or we will head out to the science museum to take advantage of our new membership, or I will just sit and read that fabulous new Christmas gift book.

So this will be my jumbled list of December events. I have a Notes section in my Iphone specifically for this blog, and when I get an itch to write, or have a great idea, or see something amazing, I write it there. So, this is my notes.


On a last minute whim, we took off to Texas for Thanksgiving to see my in-laws. Best idea we had in a long time. This trip to the country was just what we needed to recharge our batteries, relax and enjoy spending time with each other.

Also, Bjorn learned how to ride a bike.

 His PapPap brought a bike to the log cabin, and while Bjorn had never been on a bike without training wheels, and there was no paved road in sight, he went for it.

And passed with flying colors. The first time.

It was awesome to see him ride across rocks and pinecones, falling into a bed of leaves and sticks after a minute or so. He had no fear, and immediately asked to have his training wheels taken off his bike at home. Fast forward to now, a month later, and he rides up and down the street, turning and braking, only occasionally falling off. He has now asked to ride his bike to school when it begins again in January. My big kid really IS a big kid.


I was lucky enough to be able to chaperone Bjorn's field trip before school ended for Holiday Break. It was to the children's museum, and I was a bit worried (that place is HUGE), but it turned out to be really fun. I had such a blast following Bjorn and his friends around room to room, playing with any and every thing they could find.

The best part was when we went into the art room, and Bjorn immediately sat down to the table, grabbing a marker and piece of construction paper.

"What are you making, Bjorn?" I asked after a few moments. I picked up the stamps from the table. "Are you drawing something to stamp?"

"I'm writing a letter." he said.

"Oh, really? To whom?" (And, yes, I actually do use "whom" in real life. I cannot tell you when and why it should be used, and when to use "Who" but I do know when it feels right to say. Even to my 5 year old. )

"To my sister." he replied, painstakingly writing all the time.

This piqued my curiosity, so I looked over his paper.

"Dear Peanut," it said," You mak me hapy."

My heart swelled.

Oh, Bjorn. YOU make me happy.


Both Bjorn and Peanut have been playing sports this season, and sadly, (or not, depending on how you like to spend your Saturday mornings), both have decided not to play again next season.

Mine's the little blondie in blue
MVG Most Valuable Goalie

Bjorn was goalie for his soccer team, a position he said he wanted because "then I don't have to run". He had an absolute blast at first, but I think the last couple of games, against very competitive, very skilled teams had him rattled.

He asked to play baseball again next season instead of soccer, which I must admit - I loved. I love baseball. But I'm not sure he has the attention span for it. The Hubs and I had to spend his soccer games standing right behind the goal so we could make sure he paid attention to the game, and not to the police sirens a few streets away, or the plane flying off into the distance, or the wind blowing the dust into the trees or.....well, you get the idea. He tends to wander. He was a damn good goalie, though.

Peanut began ballet at a local studio, and I was so impressed with all she learned at her classes. She began "passe-ing" around the house, and moved furniture out of the way so she could somersault and twirl and, as she says in the voice of Angelina Ballerina, "Dawnce and dawnce and dawnce."

Her recital was the most precious thing I have ever seen in my life, and I would take her to a hundred more dance classes just to see her dance again. Like her brother, she also wants to play baseball, and while I have told her that the uniforms aren't nearly as princess-y as ballet's, she still wants to play. It's bittersweet. I want her to follow in my second baseman footsteps, but I truly enjoyed watching her dance.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bedtime Stories

As a reader, there is nothing more exciting than your son learning how to read. Seeing his face when he correctly reads a sentence in his book aloud. Discovering new words and ideas together through books. Reading. 

It's so exciting to see his vocabulary grow, to see sentences formed by his own hand, to hear chapters read out loud.

But as a tired mother, there is nothing more exhausting than the bedtime routine of a new reader. The wanting to read a book all by himself, but needing me there to guide him. Through all ridiculously loooooong 15 pages. Discovering new words that take 5 minutes to sound out, and he must read, and re-read and re-read again in a silly voice just to show that he does actually know it.

So while I am so incredibly thrilled that he is learning to love to read.......I really just want to go to bed.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fantastic Five

Parents of toddlers, rejoice. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

If you can get past the Terrible Twos, if you can manage to withstand your Three-nager, if you can make it through the F*&king Fours.....there is hope.

When your son is five, he will say things like "Please, Mommy, can I have a grilled cheese?" and when you make him that grilled cheese, he will sigh with contentment. "Thank you, Mommy, for making me a great dinner."

Seriously. That happened.

He will put on his own jammies so you can have three minutes to load the dishwasher before bedtime routine begins and when he is done putting on jammies, he will help you with the dirty dishes. He will remember to brush his teeth in the morning and at night without your nagging. He will still want to snuggle on the couch on Sunday morning.

You will have a child who, when you tell him no TV tonight says, "Ok, Mommy. Can we play a game instead? I'll go get Yahtzee." There is no tantrum. A boy who loves homework and school because words are "tricky" and tricky things are fun. You have a boy who can read street signs and sight words but still doesn't know what you're saying when you spell D-I-S-N-E-Y-L-A-N-D.

He can wipe his own butt, but he still wants to hold your hand when he crosses the street. It truly is the best of both worlds. A little big boy. Or a big little boy.

So hang in there, Parents of Toddlers. Stay strong. If you can get past the ages where you wonder why on Earth you ever thought having kids was a good idea, you will see. Five is a magical number.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Thankful Tree

This year I wanted to try making the holiday season more meaningful to Bjorn and Peanut. They are, as the cliche goes, such little sponges. I don't want them to soak up the all the commercialism and Christmas songs 24 hours-7-days-a-week without also realizing that there is a lot more to Thanksgiving than turkey and Christmas than reindeer.

I decided to start a "Thankful Tree", which is exactly as it sounds -a place to hold all the things we are thankful for.

The acorns were actually in another decor setup, but Bjorn keeps moving them onto the tree. Because that's where acorns go. He's so logical.

I happened to have an extra tree jewelry holder. Yes, an extra one, don't ask me why I have so much stuff. And, yes, that is the same tree we draped in spiderwebs and hung bats from to decorate for Halloween! Reduce, Reuse.....

Throw in some fake acorns and a few decor leaves, and you have yourself this year's Thankful Tree.

I explained it to Bjorn as a place for us to write down all we are thankful for, a new one each day. We would write the word on a leave, put it on the tree and watch the tree grow thick with leaves.  I hope for them to realize just how much we already have in our lives to be thankful for, little bit by little bit. 

Day One. I meant to do this every day during November, but as it usually happens, time got away from me, so today was Day One. And only because Bjorn grabbed a leaf and reminded me. "Hey Mom, can we start our Thankful Tree now?" Ummmm, yes. Yes, we can.

I expected one of them to say their favorite vice, TV. Or on the heels of Halloween weekend, their second favorite: candy. Instead, I got this.

My son is thankful for the Marines. Yesterday, at dinner, he prayed for the military. Each branch* got its own little prayer, as he stated "Thank you God for the Army and the Marines and the Air Force and...what's the name of the ones who are in the water? Oh yeah, the Navy. Thank you for all the military."  Thankful for the Marines. I can't write much more about it, for I feel it says it all....that, and I'm tearing up as I write. He makes me so proud.

Peanut is thankful for our dog. Our 13 year old, slightly insane, always hungry dog that steals string cheese from her hand as it is en route to her mouth, breathes so loudly the TV volume has to be turned up to 40 so we can hear it over her, and hasn't played a game or fetched in at least five years. She is still thankful for her. She does not see a curmudgeon of an old dog, breaking doors and stealing stuff from the trash. She sees a soft doggie that lets her hug her, and dress her in tiaras and necklaces, holding a Tinkerbell wand in her paws. She sees an animal that is scared of thunderstorms, so comes to sleep in her room. She sees love.

I thought maybe this Thankful Tree would teach my kids to not be motivated for more possessions, but to love what they have. It has already, on day one, taught me so much more.

I am thankful for my kids.

*I just looked up military branches because it felt like one was missing. The Coast Guard. I'll have to show him pictures of the Coast Guard. I honestly didn't know that they weren't a subdivision of a different branch. I feel ashamed that I don't know my own country's military better, but I guess that's the first step? Feeling a little ashamed and then learning? 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

It's a jungle out there

As a college graduate in English Literature, an avid reader, and a writer who prides herself on not using spell-check, I never expected our language to be so tough to teach.

Then I had to explain it to a five year old. A smart, precocious, inquisitive five year old. 

Driving outside of town yesterday, we passed an outdoor plant store, one that specializes in palm trees. 

"Is that a jungle?! In our city? In Arizona?" Bjorn asked.

"No, that's not a jungle. That's a nursery." I replied.

"Nursery? What's a nursery?"

But just as I was opening my mouth to answer, he stopped me.

"OHHHHH. I know what a nursery is." he said excitedly. "It's like the doctor's office."

It took me a minute, but I finally got it. 
Do YOU see the connection? 

The English language sucks. I'm just sayin'.

Monday, September 15, 2014

All by herself.....

Peanut has been playing Connect Four by herself for close to an hour.

By 'playing Connect Four', I mean putting all the checkers in, dropping them from the bottom and yelling "It's pooping!"

Still, it's playing. By herself. For an HOUR.

I'm astounded by the differences in boys and girls, first and second kids, and children from the exact same parents who act completely different.

Bjorn recently began drawing and painting pictures alone, but besides that, I cannot recall a single time where he didn't want the attention or adulation of an adult at least once every five minutes. Mainly me. And usually it's not even five minutes, it is more like every two minutes.

I'm astounded with her ability to amuse herself. I'm not sure if it is a girl/boy thing, but I believe it might be a combination of nature and nurture working in her.  Bjorn was the only child for 2 years, so I spent more time guiding and leading and playing with him alone, while Peanut, until Bjorn went to school this year, has never known a world without him taking some of the time and attention from her.

Yesterday, she laid a kitchen towel on the living room floor, pulled the chairs from her toddler table over, and sat different stuffed animals in each chair. She then piled cups and teapots and food from her play kitchen on a tray and served each of them. Baby Belle's coffee was too hot so she had to blow on it, and Pepper the Cat had chocolate milk that he kept spilling.

Of course, when she asked me to join her picnic, I did.

It was the best, hottest coffee I've had all year.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Through a Child's Eyes

Ever since he was little, I've been teaching Bjorn the art of finding shapes in the clouds. Last week, he found the laughing elephant and turtle sitting on top of a rock before I did. He has an eye for it.

Today, he found another gem.

"Look, Mom! Those clouds look like a big butt coming through the clouds! A big giant butt because the giant fell and his butt broke through the clouds!"

He was right. It did.