This has revolutionized our mornings.
While daylight savings time seems to have helped our kids (for now) with the simple act of getting out of bed, the challenge of constant reminders (nagging) remained. "Did you brush your teeth? ... Can you get your shoes? ..." and so it went. Each and every day. I couldn't understand why they just don't do the same simple things each day. If I help them with those things then I can't make the lunches. I get really frustrated and edgy and curt, to put it nicely. Not good.
Paul offered pumpkin pie for breakfast one day (a surprisingly healthy option, full of vitamins and fiber) as encouragement, but still we were rushed to get hair done and shoes on.
So, I took a good look at how my kids operate. They enjoy doing any number of helpful things around the house and they take great pride in their accomplishments. I had to find a way for them to take pride in the process of getting ready for school. No other major rewards would be necessary if they could just feel in charge. The solution -- as most things are in life -- was super simple: engage them in making their own morning routine list, and write it down together.
Each girl wanted to do things in a her own order. (Part of my earlier problem was trying to force the process; use the bathroom before dressing and so on. Why? I don't know. I just thought that was the way to do it. Joan, however, really wanted to get right up and put on her uniform. Okay - make it her way. Dress first ... then bathroom. So easy. Joanie is just learning to read so pictures helped. Helen just wanted me to draw pictures because Joan had them and it looked pretty. Good, whatever you like.
It was great to see them carrying their list around and making a mental check mark next to each task. They know they can come to breakfast when everything is checked off. It didn't hurt that there was warm banana bread and apple slices this morning.
One thing is for sure, the girls were happy, hugging me and telling me they loved me when they left this morning. We were all happy. That's what I want and what they NEED. We didn't have tears or rushing and it only took two months into the school year to figure it out. I think laminating is in order.
We'll see how long this lasts. If we need to we can always resort to pumpkin pie again.
on another note:
As Stephen Covey recommends, today I'm honing my skills, doing some self-educating in specific areas to communicate my ideas more effectively and take them to the next level. It's a necessity. This will likely occupy my entire weekend, which sounds pretty good to me.
Yesterday we celebrated two years with little Marty. Two years. Wow! He does a great fire engine imitation and I just knew he'd love to visit here. We walked into town where Firefighter Sean generously let Marty climb around this and the ladder truck.
He was loving life!
I really thought he was excited about his carrot cake, but in fact it was the candle blowing that he loved. So much so, that he wanted to do it over and over again. See below, the cake is already cut and served and this might be his fourth time blowing out these same two candles. That was his best part. Until ...
opening this gift. Thank you Grandma for his very favorite new thing.
This situation is much better. On review of that post, I sounded much more cool about it than I think I really was. It's hard having him (who never cried too much) be so unhappy in such an intense way. But he really is mostly over it. We love this little two year old guy so much. He is becoming such a new person; really stretching himself these last few weeks.
The day was wonderful all around. To quote Marty: "YAY!"
[using his bike basket as a little chair]
Testing. crying, and Mama, Mama! MAMA!
We are dealing with something entirely new since we returned from vacation. We have always given Marty his pacifier (the mimi) only in bed, only for sleeping. At a time in his life when I am ready to phase it out entirely, his demand for this thing has gone crazy. If we have an unstructured moment between eating, lincoln logs, and rocking horse he disapears to his bedroom, returning with the thing firmly in his mouth and carrying his pillow (mo mo) closely. Then heads for the couch for a snuggle.
That's when it starts.
Me: "Marty, the mimi is only for your bed."
And from him, a muffled response: "mee mee, mo mo"
Me: "are you sleepy for nap?"
Head shaking. "Nowwww." (his pronunciation for no.)
Fotunately, I'm ready for this showdown this time around. I hold firm, say little (ask him to hand it over) and he is the one reduced to a ferocious ball of energy on the floor, which I ignore. When he's done, there is much hugging and I shift gears by reading a story (without the mimi.) He probably is tired, but our nap has to be pushed back temporarily a bit for scheduling some other family obligations.
After going through similar, yet different issues with the two girls, I've learned that what is commonly refered to as the "terrible twos" (horrible name) is merely a matter of little ones testing boundaries and their frustration at not being able to communicate. They need to learn NOW that Mama & Papa have rules and authority and this will help them feel secure in the long run. He won't remember this phase, but will hopefully get the early form of this lesson.
This should only last a couple more days so I am happily unphased. I'm just creating diversions and keeping him busy to reduce the incidents. It's important to catch these things before they are allowed to develop bad habits. Part of my job.
I was not so confident the first and second times around. Hope it goes as well in life as it sounds on paper.
Summarizing our big trip(s) is not easy, because I was thinking and feeling so many things along the way. So many people and so much fun. So much fun.
The camera was definately an extension of myself this trip. A question I have to ask myself now is: does the camera enhance my memories of the experiences enough to justify putting it between myself and others ... constantly. Am I fully participating and experiencing the situation if I am simultaneously photo-documenting and mentally reporting on the subject? In many ways I saw things, small expressions, relations, interactions that I don't recall in the past, only because I was looking to capture those images on film. Yes, film. I'm not digital yet, but can see all of the clear advantages to going digital - and it's coming. It's inevitable.
I'll spare you all every picture of my kids being cute, but some of these just truly represent the essence of the time and place.
mini-trip # 1 :: mid-summer b-day party
5 great Irwin's all sharing July & August birthdays! The memories:
+ Scott sharing the story (prompted by my compliments of a beautifully-restored tractor) of his grandparents; their simple approach to life, their humble lifestyle, their contentment & happiness.
+ Kathy patiently taking time with Helen and Joan with the horses.
+ Mary's sweet and tender interactions with her "Marty-Matt"
+ Matt and Patty growing into two of the coolest, most interesting, people you could want to be around -- another year older, another goal acheived. They are totally inspiring!
+ Bob and Uncle Pat walking side-by-side along the pond - brothers just being together,
+ Jimmy's famous culinary contributions
+ glow sticks in the potato launcher, and much, much more.
mini-trip # 2 :: Cleveland
Yes, that is Lake Erie and it really was that color! Then, the real vacation for me was this nice little place called Three Birds, where we enjoyed too much wine and un-interupted conversation with Pat and Joan on the patio.
And finally, to top it all off, the perfect summer evening. Fan or not, it's just hard to beat the complete entertainment satisfaction you get right here at Jacob's Field. Cleveland is the vacation capital of the world!
What a great night, spending time with Jim and Renee as well, and missing having them live near us. Does everybody eventually move to Cleveland?
Okay Jim, this one's for you, by request:
Thanks so much to the Andrews' for hosting the highlight of our summer!
mini-trip # 3 :: Visiting Mom, in PA
A very short visit, but we packed in a lot: Saw my sisters, brother-in-law, neices and nephew. Visited the Audubon Center & Sancturary for a small nature walk. Poured over old family photo albums with my Mom, who filled in blanks for me everywhere. Brought home a couple of favorite pics for a project or two. I'll be doing this more, as some of our oldest pictures from the early 1900s are really fading, and I'd like to scan them for preservation.
Love you so much, Mom. Next time a longer visit; it was way to short.
Our last mini-trip to see Paul's family will get it's own post. This is enough for anyone to upload. Until tomorrow...
Paul had a great idea last night. After dinner and before bed, we headed down to Gravely Point, just across the Potomac from National Airport. From here, you can watch the planes take off, up close and loud. We haven't done that in a couple of years and the kids had forgotten all about it.
They were crazy with energy and barely stopped moving, until a big one was directly overhead, or just to watch someone down at the boat launch.
Then it was off, on the run again.
This is one of my favorites:
A great way to spend a cooler summer evening!
I've been just Mama for the past couple of days. Not the person who has time to create things, just Mama. It's remarkable, really how much time it takes to do all those little things to keep them happy throughout the day. I have actually vacuumed the kitchen three times a day, out of sheer necessity -- no way am I a clean freak -- it really needed it. These little events can really slice the day into the smallest increments. Then, where did the day go?
I still have an afternoon napper, so the girls have been filling their quiet time with collecting paper cutouts from magazines and playdoh. After nap and before dinner we do this regular driveway play (pictured above).
We picked out some cherries at Whole Foods today
and yesterday at the co-op I found some of the tiniest, most beautiful organic plums I've ever seen. They were only slightly larger than cherries.
It seems I am in the store every couple of days now because we are going through the fruit and vegetables like mad.
Sometimes I wish for a little uninterupted silence to simply make a phone call or write something, and I have to remind myself that I will have that someday. These kids will only be small and I will only have summer vacations with them for a few short years before they're off with thier friends and on their way. I really need to keep that perspective because there is so much whirling through my mind that I'd otherwise like to be accomplishing. There's no rush. No rush.
A good lazy summer saturday afternoon for us included:
+ Little Ones, animated short film series @ National Gallery of Art. The image above is from my favorite of the six - absolutely adorable and completely fun. It was great to see it on a big screen, but I just saw that you can view it on Utube.
+ Seeing three, large Mattisse Cutouts from 1953.
+ A Pint of red ale, fried shrimp and crabcakes on the waterfront.
+ Wandering the southwest seafood market. I really wish I had my camera for that one - the blue crabs flopping all over themselves.)
Once again, enjoying summer in our area, feeling like tourists in DC.
Paul and I both missed our high school class reunions this weekend. We just could not travel to New York two weekends this month and, in the end, had to choose a family event. To all our buddies out there ... have one with a kind memory of us. We are thinking fondly of you all.
I've been having fun with a bird theme (inspired by my encounter) and will probably have some paintings to show you on Monday.
We get ourselves out to Annapolis, or more precisely a neighborhing small town called Eastport, a handful of times a year. Here, Marty celebrates the freedom to eat a chocolate chip cookie while watching a big fire engine with flashing lights.
At one end of the street is the (forner) home of a good friend (that's how we discoverd the place) and at the other, the public dock where the water taxi picks up for trips over to Annapolis. In between is a favorite resaurant -- The Boatyard -- a big part of our overall experience every time. This place is great for a cold beer with your fish and chips, or a glass of wine with your salmon, depending on your mood. Marty was apparently not in the mood for either, so I let him run around outside while we waited for the food.
We checked out the porch of an interesting looking shop across the street, called Wild Thing.
After dinner it was off to the water taxi. This was as much the reason for our trip as anything, just enjoying the ride across the bay and feeling like a tourist in our own back yard. That is a theme you'll find here a lot, since I often feel that way and we do take advantage of our area very well.
We wandered around the city dock and bought some sweets. Wathcing the firetruck outside McGarveys. (We've had our times at McGarveys and they were fun, but now, with the kids, it's just the sweets and the walking.)
Then it was back across the bay. This time, we enjoyed a longer trip while some modern-day, Jimmy Buffet-style pirates with a dog called Jack Sparrow got delivered out to their sailboats. Another successful day trip, bay trip.
Tonight, we'll see our local fireworks. Not the crazy-busy capital DC ones, but right here in town they put on a good show. The first time for the girls. They have always been to tired to make it before, but this is the year.
I'm going to have to post again either later today or tomorrow. I'm also encouraging a special guest post from Paul (my husband) because we have just experienced a very unique opportunity worth sharing. I have a crush. More soon. Very soon.
Happy 4th of July!
I guess now you know where my color inspiration has been coming from lately. And this:
We are about 1/3 into our summer and unlike some of you organized Moms out there, I have not scheduled our days. I needed the breather from all of the drop-off and pick-up times that I stick to during the school year, but the kids absolutely need some structure, for sure. Yesteray, I think I've seen Helen (7) be as happy as she has been all summer, entirely absorbed in a new library paperback chapter book. Note to self: more library and more "home schooling" it's what they are asking for!
We were so happy to see our good friends, Pat and Joan, as well as Jeff, Jim and Michelle, last weekend and take in a baseball game: Nationals vs. Indians. These are just the kind of people who after having been around them, leave me feeling more motivated and full of ideas. I enjoy every minute with them!
It's funny how the kids still freak out about team mascots. They do not want these oversized, animated stuffed animals coming near them. Joan practically climbed me like a tree when she saw screech, but they thought the "presidents" (costumed characters wtih huge heads) were funny. So did I. I don't know why there's just something about it.
Another weekend is already upon us. Make yours everything you want it to be.