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Outdoor Waterbed

14 Apr

Outdoor waterbed

The other day I came across this post from Play at Home Mom LLC on making a “Redneck Waterbed.” Rednecks aside, I loved the idea¬† of using a giant plastic sheet and duct tape to make a fun outdoor waterbed for the kids. Originally, PAHM had used the sheeting to make an enormous “bubble” that the kids could walk in, which I originally read about on Curly Bug’s blog.

So it was Easter weekend and we were staying home because the husband had a cold that we didn’t want to share with others. We had picked up a pack of Husky sheeting at Home Depot and a roll of duct tape; no one but me knew what they were for. While the kids were napping I began laying out the sheeting, folding it in half, and taping. This was harder than I expected and my tape job was far from perfect. Still, I called everyone outside and we turned on the hose.

The baby was at best skeptical, at worst terrified.

Sad baby

But my daughter was amazed.

Happy kid

I felt like the coolest mom EVER.

Relaxin'

We watched the water shoot in between the sheeting, forming rivers and lakes under our feet. We squished our bare feet on the cold plastic; we walked on water. We jumped and ran, then we laid down and basked in the Easter sun. They call this sort of thing “sensory play” for a reason.

Everyone is a kid when there's a lawn waterbed involved.

The waterbed filled up, and up, and up. And then it sprung some leaks, and we patched them. So we all got a little wet, which added to the fun for my daughter anyway.

We turned off the hose, but kept coming back to play throughout the day. Overnight, much of the water leaked out and the next day I dumped out the rest. We turn on the sprinklers in the back yard manually, so we skipped a few days to make up for the water we had dumped out while making our waterbed.

There was something so novel about this activity, so different from the norm for us, that we all acted like kids. I’m happy to have found the idea and decided to actually do it, instead of just pinning and forgetting, like I do with so many things.

Family time

Coolest mom. Coolest kid.

Sunbathing

Joyful

When the TV is Off…

28 Mar

This is what happens when I say “no” to TV, “no” to computer games and “no” to watching “My Little Pony” videos on the iPhone.

 

This is something I can say “yes” to.

(And yes, I did just post a photo of my baby boy in a diaper with his banged-up knee, pacifier in place and belly showing.)

So often I choose the path of least resistance, the easy road, the instant and free babysitter. Today I did not. She asked – several times – and at one point there were tears. But we survived, and after dinner she pulled out a stack of books and began telling me the stories. And he followed suit. The house was at peace.

Holding On to Christmas

9 Dec

My memories of Christmas as a child are vivid and deep. I can close my eyes and feel the excitement welling up in my chest at the thought of Santa coming at night. I can hear the rich voices of our neighbors singing carols around our piano. I can feel popcorn and string between my fingers and the soft flannel of my Christmas Eve nightgown. I smell pine and I see my sister and me dancing on the driveway with boughs of noble fir in our hands. These memories, and Christmas itself, leave me feeling sentimental and sad at the same time. I always wanted it to last longer than just December.

This month, as every December before, seems impossible to hold on to. It is here but it is slipping through my fingers. There are so many things that seem to be shouting for our attention. Planning a birthday party – or two. Projects around the new house. This virus that put three out of four of us out of commission over Thanksgiving. The unexpected busyness of my HollowGlen shop. Stopping Jackson from eating whatever he finds on the floor. I keep reminding myself that we need to slow down. Enjoy this. Enjoy them – these two amazing, beautiful, funny, snuggly babies we have. Give them the same kind of vivid Christmas memories my parents gave me. Take them to see Santa Claus. Be in the moment and not planning ahead. See their smiles, feel their warm bodies, smell their hair, tell them they are loved a million times this month. Hear them laugh.

I wanted to come up with some deep, meaningful close to this post. But the baby is staring at me with a wide, open-mouthed grin. He is babbling and pushing one of our dining chairs around the room. He is honestly the cutest little boy I have ever seen. I am compelled to go give him a hug and a kiss and most likely squeeze him. Next post will hopefully be an update on what I’ve been working on for the shop.

Enjoy this time everyone. Make some memories.

Happy Mother’s Day

7 May

I am writing this post from a chair in my daughter’s room. I am waiting for her to fall asleep. She is dangling her stuffed penguin – who wears a scarf and hat to keep warm – over the bed rail, pretending she is Rapunzel and the penguin’s scarf is her hair. We watched “Tangled” tonight for the first time as a family, the baby dozing on and off in my arms, my daughter asking a million questions in between attempts to leap over the baby and me and launch herself onto Daddy’s lap.

After the movie and before coming up to her room, I picked up a crate full of train tracks, stepped on a plastic swordfish, watched the baby chew on his fingers and spit up simultaneously, collected all of the wardrobe changes from the living room floor, and changed a diaper.

Motherhood is nothing like I expected it to be. It is far less glamorous.

Motherhood is infinitely harder than I thought it would be.

Motherhood can get a lot uglier than I ever imagined it would be. The bodily functions, the sleep deprivation, the tantrums, the grief and frustration.

But there is beauty in motherhood – such raw beauty.

A screaming, red-faced newborn being held by his overwhelmed, terrified and elated mom.

Impossibly tiny fingernails and impossibly long eyelashes.

Those eyelashes fluttering as baby sleeps at her mother’s breast.

First, second, third and 283rd smiles, each one more contagious than the last.

Giggles, then laughter. So many giggles and so much laughter.

Soft snuggles, stories, kisses on damp heads after bath time.

Pride. Joy. Worry. And love. So so much love. Love that hurts. And underneath it all this fear that life will try to take your babies away. You imagine every scenario, every disaster, and you hurt just imagining it. Because your babies and your heart, they’re the same thing. They can never be separated.

I am honored to be a mother. I am proud of my children and the work I do in raising them. I feel joy when I see their faces. I kiss them so often that I don’t bother wearing lipstick.

That gorgeous little girl of mine with the Rapunzel hair, she’s asleep now. Those impossibly long eyelashes cast a shadow across her cheek. I want to kiss her even now but I want her to sleep more. The baby is sleeping too. I don’t know which clothes on the bedroom floor are clean and which are dirty. There are dishes in the sink and we desperately need to wash diapers in the morning. And it is anyone’s guess how many times I will be woken up tonight.

Motherhood is infinitely harder than I thought it would be.

And it’s so beautiful.

Mom, I love you.

Bad Parenting

25 Apr

What would you say if I told you I never take my kids to the doctor? Not even for annual check-ups? Or that I don’t make them take their vitamins? That I let my daughter eat as much fast food, chocolate and candy as she wants? Kool-Aid instead of water? It’s shameful, I know.

What if I told you my kids go to bed at 1 a.m.? That they spend most of the day sitting, in chairs or on the couch? That they don’t watch much TV but can spend as much time on the computer as they want?

What if I admitted that not only do my children not get enough nutritious food, sleep, or exercise, but that they also aren’t given time to play with their friends during the week? And don’t even get me started on art projects. Way too messy for this house.

Are you judging me yet? Maybe just a little, right? Because you might believe that things like annual check-ups, nature walks, broccoli, naps, finger-painting and socialization are super important for kids. Maybe even vital.

So do I.

But tell me this: When did it become satisfactory, normal even, to enforce these rules upon our children but give ourselves a pass? How many parents do you know who do all of those things for themselves? Are you one of them?

What would we be like if we took care of ourselves the way we take care of those adorable little people who run our lives? Happier? Healthier? What if we held ourselves to the same standards?

No Mom, you may not have more chocolate because you will ruin your dinner.

Dad, you may watch one show before bed and then it’s lights out. You know the drill; bedtime is 8 p.m.

Mom, you’ve got playdates scheduled two evenings this week and an art class on Thursday night. The only rules are to share with your friends, wash your hands after using the potty, and HAVE FUN.

Gosh, even as I was typing that last paragraph I was mocking myself. “TWO playdates a WEEK? HA! That would never happen. I’d be lucky to fit in one a MONTH.” For myself, anyway. For my kid? Two a week is easy. Standard, even.

Why are we always last? Because we put ourselves there. But as anyone who has flown on an airplane knows, someone needs to be there to put an oxygen mask on your babies in the event of a decrease in cabin pressure. And if you haven’t put yours on first, there’s a decent chance you won’t be up to the task.

10 Lessons We Could All Learn from Preschool

18 Sep

Preschool

1. Read a book, sing a song and do a little bit of silly dancing every day.

2. Sharing makes others happy.

3. Nine out of 10 times, a nutritious snack will cure grumpiness and temper tantrums.

4. Specific praise means more to the receiver than a “good job.”

5. Don’t hesitate to use the sparkle paint generously.

6. Hitting, biting and name-calling are not acceptable behaviors.

7. Clean-up is futile. (But singing a song while doing it anyway makes it seem more fun.)

8. Listen.

9. Always wash your hands after you use the potty.

10. Chances are, the dirtier you got, the more fun you had.

Finding Balance

28 Aug

The wise mother of my dear friend once told her that a cluttered home is a sign of a cluttered mind.

For me, this is true. When I am at peace, my home is at peace – clean counters, clean laundry, bedrooms you can relax in, bathrooms I am not ashamed of, cats that have been petted and brushed, a husband who has been appreciated and loved, and above all else, a child that receives loads of affection, plenty of one-on-one interaction, a healthy dose of outdoor playtime and the respect she deserves as a human being.

Every once in a while, something will go out of whack and our home is thrown off balance. I become single-mindedly focused on an idea, a concern, a task, and everything else falls to the wayside. This week has been one of those times. Blame it on pregnancy hormones, stress, not eating right or getting enough exercise, or simply not setting my priorities correctly. The cause doesn’t matter; the result is always the same. Cluttered mind, cluttered home.

Today my daughter and I argued for 20 minutes about lunch. She wanted a sandwich; I said no sandwich because she had one for dinner last night and for breakfast this morning. (And yes, CPS, we do feed her a wide variety of foods that do not come between two pieces of bread.) The back-and-forth exhausted me, and as we stood at an impasse in the middle of the kitchen, my eyes fell on the pile of dishes, the crumbs on the counter, the floor in desperate need of a sweeping. And for the first time today, I looked at Kaitlyn, really looked at her – this frustrated toddler who didn’t understand why lately I was spending too much time on the computer and not playing dinosaurs and sea creatures, why I seemed annoyed with being climbed on and rolled my eyes at the never-ending shouted demands for more milk, more cheese, more Play-Doh, more markers, more stickers, and now I wouldn’t give her a delicious sandwich for lunch? What was going on here?

And, looking at my daughter, I got it.

I pulled out the wheat bread and the cheese and the cutting board, and I fixed us each a sandwich. After placing her plate on the table, I paused. And then, instead of taking my plate to the desk and sitting in front of the computer for the tenth time that day, I asked Kaitlyn if I could sit next to her. “Sure!” she said. She doesn’t hold grudges, this little girl. And we sat at her toddler table next to her play kitchen and ate our cheese sandwiches, and a little bit of that clutter in my mind was swept away.