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Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

The beginner juggler

So, I’ve started working. Well, working more. As with each stage of parenting I am made more aware of what others must do and have more respect for my mom.

I’ve always done some level of bookkeeping from home. But now I’ve got an actual job – well two of them. I go to an office every once in a while and then I do a substantial amount from home.  The juggling is just amazing. Keeping track of which kid is where (and wondering how they are…) and when do I need to be wherever to pick them up. Makes my head spin when I think of my Mom or a million other moms like her.  My mom had three to keep track of and I only have two for now.  Then there are friends of mine that have five and six to track. Wow! Or my own grandmother who had seven (in nine years).

I have always understood why my mother limited our activities. We each had a sport and an instrument and you were allowed one thing like girl or boy scouts.  I like that rule. I felt very balanced as a child.  And let’s be real! You can only be so many places at once!

Speaking of which, my little one is starting preschool this fall and his school is offering a summer camp for a few weeks, only two days each week.  So this will be his introduction to being away from mommy and home (and not hanging out at one of his friend’s houses). I am a bit nervous, as I am sure he will be. We shall see how it goes. I am sure we will both be strong. His big brother will be with him and there is strength in numbers. Its nice when they are in the same place – for everyone!

And a random funny story:

When were getting ready to make dinner and my oldest asked what we were having. “Fish!”

Him:  But I don’t like fish.

Me: Well, we have to try everything.

Him: I know!!! I’ll have JELLY fish! I love jelly!

Me: (trying not to burst out laughing) I love your brain, Bubba.

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The older I get, I find myself identifying parts of me that belong to my parents.

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My mom has a very clean, uncluttered house. My husband tells me that I can’t throw out everything. Its hard staying uncluttered with two little kids and all the toys but I certainly try. I also can’t stand it when my house is dirty. Right now I know my stone floors in the den need a good scrub. It’ll bug me until I do it.

Dad and Zane

My dad is great at being goofy. My husband chuckles and agrees with me that I’m goofy too. I learned that from my Daddy to be sure. My favorite? My dad would make a “salad face” with his hand. Hold your hand in a loose fist, put a piece of lettuce on the top, stick two olives between your fingers for the eyes, and your thumb is the mouth. Ha! Cracks me up every time! Of course, this is the same father that made me sit up straight, no elbows on the table, keep your mouth closed when you’re eating, bring your fork to your mouth not your mouth to your fork, etc. Now as an adult, I realize what he taught me is to have good manners and its okay and fun to be goofy but make sure your timing is right. That, and don’t chew gum like a cow.

I see myself and my husband in our two boys as well.  Zane eats like his daddy – loves salty snacks over sweet ones. Cole is shy like his mommy – needs a warm up period before he feels comfortable in a new place. Zane has his mommy’s blue eyes and daddy’s super cute dimples while Cole is just a miniature version of his daddy with mommy’s chin. We start that as soon as they are born, don’t we? Who does he look like? Yeah, and then Zane shows up with red hair. WHAT? Gotta love the surprises that God gives you. Never saw that one coming. It really suites him though. The boy was meant to be red-headed.

I also know that my parents love my boys just as much as we do.

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I have very strong memories of spending time with my grandparents while growing up. We are a tight-knit bunch and while our immediate family would usually go on a real vacation each year, the rest of our free time was spent with the extended family – all of my 20+ cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.  Everyone lived fairly close to each other which made it easier than it is today. My siblings and I are spread out all over – Northwest Florida, South Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, Massachusetts, and Oregon.  But my Mom’s home in the Florida Panhandle calls everyone home eventually.  This trip was just me and the boys, so relatively quiet given the lower person count.  Although, I’m sure most people would not consider my two boys quiet. Myself included. 

When we arrived after a long drive and pulled up in the driveway my mind was full of lots of adult things:

Ahhh… long drive accomplished!

Now let’s get everything unloaded so we can get inside and relax.

Wow, I need a shower.

And then I was reminded by my boys to stop and smell the roses. Or feed Froggie, anyway.

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Froggie is a cute lawn ornament and perhaps minature bird bath that has been in this very same spot since my boys made their first visit to Nana and Papa’s house.  Immediately after we pulled into the driveway they both shouted,”I’m gonna go feed Froggie!”

They jumped out of the car, ran over to Froggie, and starting piling up the woodchips on Froggie’s plate.  They are very concerned that he doesn’t eat enough. No wonder, I’m sure my two are the only ones who feed him.

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I love that they have this memory.

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And I’m sure that they will always carry it with them.  Just like I will never forget the bright red carpet in my grandmother’s living room or the plastic she kept on the living room couch. Can you blame her? She had seven kids, all of which had a least two kids of their own, some more.  Just think of it as noisy teflon.

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Cool brains

Kids’ imaginations are an incredible thing. I frequently tell my boys,”I love your brain!”  You just never know where its going to lead them.  I just recently learned that there is a difference between imagination and creativity.  I enjoy being creative. I like making crafts to give as presents and painting. Of course I haven’t painted since I was pregnant with my first child.  Who has the time?!

I do really love to paint though.  I hope to get back to it again. But this is where the imagination falters – don’t ask me to just produce something original. For these paintings, I copied from storybook pages.

Even when I was little I had no imagination.  My friends would be playing Barbie and I would have my Barbie and I can remember thinking how dumb this was… These Barbies aren’t real! But, I do love to be creative.

My boys must have gotten their imagination from their daddy. They come up with the coolest stuff!

Like this….

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Who would have thought that the mesh basket that holds all of their balls would serve as an excellent hat?

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And how funny does it feel to do high-5s through mesh!?

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Since we only have one mesh basket, my boy decides to improvise. He has the truck bucket on his head. With all the balls and trucks all over the floor, its a miracle that no one tripped.

I love how imaginative and silly they are. I could learn a thing or two from them.

Speaking of silly…

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Make a silly face with your kids today!

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Today was my older son’s first last day of school. Preschool, that is – he was in the 3 year old class.  How can he be so little and so big at the same time?

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His preschool put on a cute program and graduation to celebrate the four-year olds that were moving onto Kindergarten.  The morning went the same as it usually does, just trying to get out the door on time. But I know, much like his first day of school, I’ll always remember it.

Especially this face. The same face his daddy makes right before he tees off…

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The tongue thing must be genetic… its a mark of concentration.

The kids couldn’t have been cuter. The program began with the playing of Pomp and Circumstance with the procession of the Pre-K kids, complete in cap and gown, from the back of the church. That song always makes me cry. I was having a very hard time not going into a full out cry as the kids came in. My kid wasn’t even graduating! I’m going to be a mess next year. I did manage to keep it to a steady tearing instead of sobbing.

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I’m not sure how it ended up but Cole got the sweet spot surrounded by all the girls. Life is good.

When the performances were over the 2 and 3 year olds came and sat down with us. Cole couldn’t have been more in heaven. His daddy was there.

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He didn’t let his daddy out of sight for even a second.

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The boy loves his daddy. Can you tell?

Then we headed back to the classroom to say our final good-byes.

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I can’t say enough wonderful things about his teachers, Ms. Nancy and Ms. Debbie. They really went above and beyond and took great care of my little man.

Thanks Ms. Debbie!

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Thanks Ms. Nancy!

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Bring on SUMMER!

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I stumbled over these a few months ago and immediately fell in love. Who knew such fun could be had out of such an unassuming box? I know… we need to decorate it and make it more fun, but you know… its on the list.

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File Folder Games are self-contained educational entertainment for almost any age group.  They are extraordinarily easy to make and super inexpensive.  All you need is card stock, a printer, some scissors, glue, laminating sheets, and a file folder. Most of this you’ll probably have on hand! The laminating sheets aren’t required but they will make you games pieces last longer. You don’t have to buy the laminating machine if you don’t want to. They make these cool sheets that laminate very well without the machine. I’ve also heard that you can use contact paper, but I haven’t tried that myself.

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These are a great “filler” activity. Its great for after lunch as we wind down to nap time. Or something to keep the kiddos occupied while dinner is being prepared.

This is one of those activities where the boys have different rules. Cole, who turns 4 in July, has to complete any game he begins. He has a tendency to want to stop all together when it gets difficult. Knowing the rules ahead of time removes the fight later if he feels like giving up. He can take a brain breather if he needs to but he doesn’t get out of the chair until he’s done.  Since the game in front of him is something he is very capable of doing, it gives him a real sense of satisfaction when he completes one. For Zane, who is 2 1/2, the rules are a little different.  He doesn’t have to finish. I try and encourage him to finish by helping or being a little silly, like doing it wrong so he will correct me. The great part is they get to pick. The file box that the games are in are on their height and they can get it out and open it, pick a game and enjoy. Of course, this is followed by the “you got it out, you have to put it away before you get something else out rule.”

Its amazing the variety of games you can put in a folder. Science, grammar, math, colors, counting, sequencing…. it goes on and on.

This is our favorite place for free games:

From that site we have made these, a few of our favorites.

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The folders even come pre-designed to hold all their pieces!

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A fun way to match colors.

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A slightly trickier way to match colors.

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Now there are two colors to match.

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Our most used one… can you tell?

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A great way to practice one-to-one counting.

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Another favorite

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The game is called “Down on the Farm” but in my head I always call it “The Match the Butt Game”. So very happy that my children can’t hear what’s inside my head.

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Now, this next one is a bit tricky. For the parent.

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Be careful when you cut them out… they are in order. Sometimes it isn’t a lizard for L but a newt for N.

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I wrote the names on the back not just for me but as an added way to help the kids match them. This is a phonics game, but if they get stuck they can look on the back and look for the letter.

And please! There are many grown-ups that would have a hard time with this one anyway!

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And look… surprise, surprise…

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Sorry, what can I say? I have radar for turtles.

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Have you been looking around the department stores or at the starlets on TV? Its finally happened… that moment of dread. That style that I worked so hard, and only really occasionally managed to pull off, is BACK.

Want to know what my real, first, guttural response was?

UUUUUGGGGGGHHHHH.

Yep. Sounded just like that. So, I asked my husband, who is 18 years older than I am, what it felt like when his teenage style came back around – because, you know, everything comes back. His response?

“What makes you think it came back? Have you seen any leisure suits around anywhere?”

That’s one of the reasons I love him.  The man cracks me up.

Tight-rolled jeans are on their way back. Check out the J. Crew catalog.

And I’ve seen some serious shoulder pads out there in fashion world. Oh goodness.

Do you know what shoulder pads plus tight-rolled jeans equals? An upside down TRIANGLE!  Not really the look I’m going for. Well now, but you know back in the day all I wanted to be was a triangle.

Oh, and lets just talk about the hair!  I had some serious hair back then. I did say a little prayer that I don’t have a scanner. Otherwise, I’d be sharing those pictures with you. The one where some friends and I are headed to a New Kids on the Block concert, before they were super cool and changed their name to NKOTB. What is it about acronyms and how they invoke a sense of maturity?

Anywho, guess what I was wearing? A cow print mini-dress. I had the crazy long permed and teased hair to go with it.

And, Heather B., if you are out there reading this, I dare you to post those pictures! What a great, absolutely fabulous time we had. Hairspray and all.

Now, there is a good side to this pendulum shift in fashion. We could use a little preppy. But maybe that is my 80’s-ness coming back to haunt me. I’m a sucker for a polo shirt and plaid shorts.

Am I too old to wear pink Converse high tops?

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