And then they…

the things we do to live a better life.

Archive for the tag “Parenting”

Hendrick’s Park, 2014

For years, I have been trying to plan a trip to the rhododendron gardens just right.  I always seem to miss it.  A couple weeks ago, I was sitting in my living room, looking at our beautiful red rhody, my neighbor’s purple one, and another neighbor’s yellow one.  It hit me.  This was the perfect weekend to go.  So we went.  And it was perfect.

And Then They - Bleeding Hearts And Then They - Family And Then They - Gazing And Then They - WalkingI love that we are able to expose our kids to nature so easily.  We are so blessed to live in a place with nature so nearby.  Even though Hendrick’s Park is a very landscaped, planned garden, it feels wild and natural.  It rises above the city, and surrounds you with flowers, and branches.

It is lovely.  And I’m really proud that we finally went right on time.

The Pollyanna Principle

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I’ve been called a Pollyanna before.  I totally took it as a compliment (though I’m not sure it was meant that way).  I have noticed over the years, that I tend to try to find the good in all situations.  That isn’t to say that I don’t get disappointed or upset.  I do.  I sure do.

But, I always try to find something to be glad about – hence the Pollyanna Principle.

I know that the internet has really changed the way we communicate with people about our lives.  Facebook, Instagram, and blogs are full of amazing photos of incredible vacations, happy kids, balanced meals, perfect houses, and enriching activities.  The way we can instantly and widely share our accomplishments definitely gives a false sense of perfection to many people.  I am guilty of doing this.

But I don’t feel guilty about it.

Why share this blurry, sad photo:

And Then They - Sad

When I could, instead, share this adorable, (more) happy photo:And Then They - Happy

As a quote (perhaps falsely attributed to Abraham Lincoln (the internet it torn on this issue)) in the movie Pollyanna says, “When you look for the bad in mankind, expecting to find it, you surely will.”  This can be said about ourselves as well.  If I look for the bad in myself, I will become mostly bad.  If I look for the good, I will focus on that and become good.

I know that I have bad traits.  I try not to focus on them, but to be aware of them.  I do, however, try to focus on my good traits.  If I put my energy into the things I can do well, I feel that that goodness will spread into the things I can’t.

My One Little Word of the year is Gratitude, and this totally connects to my positive attitude.  Every single day, I think about what I’m grateful for, and usually I have to work hard to find a single word that can express the goodness of my day.  Even on my roughest, toughest days, I’m able to find something to be grateful about.  This morning Alma peed her pants, drew on herself, and woke Harriet up.  I felt myself getting really angry, so I took a moment to just be grateful for my beautifully frustrating 2-year-old, and remind myself that she is a 2-year-old. It took a lot of energy to be glad in the moment.  But, after a couple deep breaths, I was glad.

There is a lot of genuine positivity on the internet.  I wanted to share some of my favorite blogs and vlogs where the Pollyanna Principle is living and breathing:

First is my friend Evynne Hollens’ YouTube channel.  If you want to hear some beautiful music, and watch a new mom’s journey, please check out her channel.  Evynne has always been one of the most positive people I’ve known, and she is also one of the most successful people I’ve known.  I am going to say that those two things are related.  Watch this video about her amazing attitude, and this beautiful cover of Alma’s favorite song.

These are my three favorite blogs.  Whenever I do a reader clean-up, these three stay on the top of my Favorites list.  They are all inspired.

Kal Barteski is an amazingly strong and beautiful artist.  She has her own Girl Tribe.  She understand the power of encouragement and positivity.  Check out her project that tells people all over the world how awesome they are.  Kal is truly awesome.

Elise Blaha Cripe has a lovely attitude, and a lovely blog.  Her little corner of the internet is full of great tips, and beautiful photos.

The blog that is mostly likely to make me cry (and I love a good cry) is Girls Gone Child.  Rebecca Woolf is giving her four children the most amazing childhood full of music, dancing, creativity, expression, adventure, camaraderie, and love.  She isn’t one to shy away from the difficult or the mundane, and that is why I keep going back to her.

 

 

A New Dress for Alma

The other night I totally had the urge to sew something.  Since I’ve been working, I haven’t made anything, and I’ve been missing my hobby. While I’ve made quite a few dresses in the past, they have all been sort of complicated.

I have been wanting to try to make a simple dress pattern, so I just gave it a shot!  I sketched out a simple sun dress, then drafted up a pattern.  I just took one of Alma’s dresses and used it to estimate the bodice proportions, then made a couple simple ruffle layers.

I’m really happy with how it turned out!  I love the colors together, on Alma.  She is really into foxes these days, so it was fun to include those.

I will definitely be making more patterns and dresses in the future!

And Then They - Sundress 4And Then They - Sundress 6And Then They - Sundress 5 And Then They - Sundress 3 And Then They - Sundress 2 And Then They - Sundress

Easter Photos

It’s so much fun having a daughter who is old enough to understand Easter this year.  She is starting to get the whole Jesus thing, but she totally got the Easter Bunny.

We had a great day at church, and egg hunting, and eating with friends and family.

I was fun to start a new tradition of making the girls’ Easter dresses.  These got to serve double duty as dresses for Harriet’s Baptism.

And Then They - Easter TraditionsAnd Then They - Easter Chair and BasketsAnd Then They - PeepsAnd Then They - Walking to Rory's With PapaAnd Then They - RoryAnd Then They - EggAnd Then They - RunningAnd Then They - Going for a DriveAnd Then They - Harriet was there too

Maundy Thursday

I wouldn’t say we go to an experimental church.  But, yesterday our church had an experiemental service.  They offered their first annual Maundy Thursday Family Service.  I would call the experiment a success.  The only thing they should change would be saving the nice towels for the adult service.  More on that later.

During the Gospel, there was a full chorus of children singing various versions of the typical child-song.  During the prayers, there was a line dance happening in the back pews.  During the children’s sermon, I counted at least three children who were expertly expressing their emotions.

Then came the main event.

Our lovely priest washed any child’s feet who wanted their feet washed.  There were pitchers of water, a big bowl for the feet, beautifully pristine white towels for drying.

The first spill happened right away, so it was good to get it out of the way.  The first spill was born out of exuberance and happiness. Feet were washed.

More water was spilled.  And more.  More feet were washed.

Then came communion.  When the kids gather around the altar, to be involved in the Great Thanksgiving, it was exciting, as always. Kids were watching the priest.  Kids were sitting together.  Kids were doing suspicious dancing, ending with mad dashes to the restroom.  Kids were refusing to stand with their friends.  Kids were spitting up.  Exciting.

One thing that our church does is this – before the priest says, “The gifts of God, for the people of God,” he hands the bread and wine to the children to hold up.  As he handed the pitcher of wine to Alma and another child, the priest said, “Here you go, Alma.  And Carolyn.  Help them.”  No more spills, here.

Then the service was over.

There were muddy little footprints in the aisle.

All the pristine towels were soaked.

The children had clean feet.

The priest had damp robes.

I felt overwhelmingly happy that this was our church, and this was what our church does.

And it was good.

 

Baby Led Weaning: How To Do It and What You’ll Need

And then They - Baby Led Weaning

Oh, the exciting time when your baby is old enough to sit up, interact with you, smile, laugh, and eat!  I’ll be honest with you.  I’m not really a baby person.  I like the little babies, sure, but I am always so excited for them to grow up a little and become more interactive and fun.  Six months is an amazing age – they are doing such fun things, and becoming more of an active part of the family.

In our family, we love dinnertime.  It is a time of day that we all gather and spend time together.  I remember long, lingering dinners growing up.  We sit at the table every night.  We light candles every night.  We use cloth place mats, and cloth napkins every night.  These are important to me

It is also important to me that my kids eat what we eat.  There are many reasons for this.  It’s nutritious, it broadens their palates, and most importantly, it’s easy.  I don’t need to cook three different dinners, and keep track of minute dietary details.  This leads us to Baby Led Weaning.

And Then They - Harriet BlueberriesFirst of all, I want to clear up a misconception.  The term weaning in this sense isn’t how Americans typically understand it (as in the taking away of something, like nursing, or bottles).  It means that you will start introducing foods to a baby’s diet, in addition to breast milk, or formula.  The baby should still be getting the huge majority of their food and nutrition from breast milk.

If you start your baby on pureed foods, you need a huge number of things:  food mill, food processor, jars, spoons, time, planning, processed baby food, money.  If you make your own purees, it is time consuming, messy, expensive.  If you buy pre-made baby food in jars, it’s also expensive, and you don’t really always know what’s in the jars.  You also always need to carry pureed food with you.

If you do Baby Led Weaning you need three things:

  1. A baby
  2. Food
  3. A sense of humor (and maybe a bib or two)

Seriously.  that’s all you need.  For real.

We did this with Alma, and she’s two now.  She’s the best eater I know.  She eats Thai food, Mexican food, vegetables, soups, and her favorite food is Sushi.  So, we are doing it again with Harriet.

And Then The - Alma Sweet PotatoI like to start with sweet potatoes, or yams, cut into French-fry shaped sticks, and roasted.  The shape is good for beginning eaters because it is easy to grasp and get to the mouth.  It’s important to only try one kind of food at a kind, and wait a couple days before trying the next, to make sure your baby doesn’t have a reaction.

We’ve been doing it for about a month with Harriet and she loves it.  Her favorite foods are roasted, then frozen cauliflower bites, blueberries, sweet potatoes, peas (so cute to see her pudgy little fingers pick up a pea and get it to her mouth), rice cakes, yogurt, applesauce, green beans, asparagus.

And Then They - Harriet EatingAnother plus to BLW is that it really encourages independence and fine motor skills.  Harriet can pick up a tiny pea, and get it to her mouth just fine.  She’s also getting pretty good at using a spoon to get applesauce from a bowl to her mouth.

It’s pretty amazing to see a little baby feeding herself.  She only has the beginnings of her two bottom teeth, but she can chew up all her food, work it around in her mouth, and swallow it, no problem.  It is so natural and instinctual (not like purees, if you ask me).

And Then They - 1 Harriet CauliflowerAnd Then They - 2 Harriet CauliflowerAnd Then They - 3 Harriet CauliflowerOne thing to be aware of is that babies will sometimes gag (this is the case in BLW, and with purees).  It is really important to understand that gagging is very different than choking.  Gagging is a sign that they are figuring it out, I see it as a sign of success when Harriet gags a little.  It teaches her how to keep the food in the right part of her mouth until she’s ready to swallow it.

One of my favorite parts of BLW is that we get to eat dinner as a family.  We each sit up at the table and eat.  Jesse and I get to enjoy our meals.  We’re not constantly focused on Harriet, trying to force feed her.  Harriet eats until she doesn’t want to eat anymore.

And Then They - Harriet CauliflowerI think it’s empowering.  Harriet gets to choose what she eats from what’s in front of her.  She gets to choose the pace in which she eats it.  She gets to choose when she’s had enough.

And Then They - Harriet popsicleShe’s a happy eater, so we’re a happy family!  Let me know if you have any fun baby feeding stories, or if you have any questions!  Cheers!

We Are Seriously Loving This Early Spring Weather

Like, seriously loving it.

And Then They - Alma AroundAnd Then They - 4 WilliamsAnd Then They - Alma UpAnd Then They - Alma AwayAnd Then They - Alma Basket HeadAnd Then They - BaskingAnd Then They - BasketingWe really have to take advantage of the spring before the spring takes advantage of us with its relentless rain and pollen.  Our kids are such a great age for playing these days.  Alma can almost independently play at a playground.  Harriet is content to roll around on a blanket, or nap in the Ergo.

These photos are from earlier this week.  We are now in the middle of a 10 day rain storm.  Such is life in a Willamette Valley spring.

I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Identity

And Then They - Identity

Last night I went to see Divergent with the ladies in my book club.  Before the movie we met for dinner and drinks and discussion.  We talked about which faction we would be in (if you haven’t read the book, or seen the movie here’s a quick rundown:  in a future Chicago, the city is divided into different factions – Erudite where everyone is smart, Abnegation where everyone is selfless, Dauntless where everyone is brave, Amity where everyone is kind, and Candor where everyone is honest).

We talked about the faction we would have chosen when we were 18, and the faction that we really belong in.  (in the book and film the characters choose where they belong as teenagers… perhaps a reflection of the absurdity of choosing a major in college at such a young age.)

I don’t know where I belong.  I am an eternal optimist, so that makes me feel like I should be in Amity.  I like to think I’m kind of smart, so that makes me feel like I belong in Erudite.  When I was 18, I thought I was pretty bad-ass, so I might have chosen Dauntless.  I believe in the strength of truth, so maybe Candor.

But, I sort of feel like I’m trapped in Abnegation.  I spend most of my days living the life of a two-year-old.  The other days, I’m serving and teaching slightly older than two (but not necessarily mature-r) children.

I sat at dinner last night looking at, and listening to, amazingly smart professional women.  I know how I must look to them.  A mostly stay at home mom.  A teacher.  I am not oblivious to the fact that our society doesn’t respect the intelligence of teachers (if you can’t do, teach).  I also get the ideas about a woman who spends her days with kids.  I really do get it.

My life resolves around my kids.  My main goal for each day is to entertain kids, keep them clean, maybe even clean up the house a little bit.  I don’t spend the day expanding my brain, solving problems, creating things, even talking to adults.  Sometimes I don’t get out of sweatpants.  My vocabulary is very elementary.  I talk about poop.  I talk about poop a lot.

Anyway, abnegation.  Some days I feel like my self is melting away.  I can see myself blending into the lives of my children.  If my daughter asks me to do something, I often do it.  If my daughter has a two-year-old melt down, I am along for the ride.  If my baby needs to nurse, that’s what I do.  What would my dauntless 18-year-old self think of this?

I’m not sure what I’m trying to say here.

I know that I love how I am able to stay home with my kids.  I love that I am giving them a great gift by doing this important job for them.  I know that they will soon be grown up and gone, and I will look back on these days with shining rainbows and unicorns in my hindsight.

If you’re still reading, I’ll try to get to a point.  I feel like I am missing something by not being a professional adult who spends time with other adults.  I feel like I might be wasting some of my self by not being outside the home.  But I also feel like there is no greater job than the one I have now – and no better place for me to be using my talents.

Now that you’ve read this far, I will tell you that I don’t have the answers.  Just musings and questions.  Let me know if you have the answers.

Thick as Thieves

Alma has some pretty great friends.  None so great as our neighbor, Rory.  They have an unspoken way of communicating.  Sometimes this can be a problem.And Then They - 1 Come On, Ro-roAnd Then They - 2 ChasingAnd Then They - 3 So Much JoyAnd Then They - 4 PlanningAnd Then They - 6 They're OffThere are some amazing adventures in their future.

Novruz 2014, Toddler Style

And Then They - 01 NovruzHappy Novruz, everyone!  It’s spring!  I love spring so much.  The flowers, sunshine, the green.  It’s my second favorite time of year, but every year at this time, it’s my favorite time of year.

And Then They - 02 DyeingThis year we had our playgroup over for a Novruz celebration.  We started by dyeing eggs, which was a wonderfully frantic (and surprisingly mess-free) dash.  We had nine two-year-olds, and various aged babies along for the ride. 

Jesse explained the meaning of Novruz – the toddlers listened very attentively – all the earth, wind, fire, water, rebirth, newness.  Then, we went outside to jump over the fire!

And Then They - 04 Hattie And Then They - 05 AlmaI love this ritual of leaving all our troubles, and worries, and problems in the fire.  I’m always one for a fresh, clean start – especially when spring is springing.

It was an amazingly beautiful day, so we all went to the backyard to play with all of Alma’s bikes, and her slide.  It was perfect.  I love how our kids are old enough to pretty much just play.  We don’t have to hover and help like we did last year at this time.  It gives us grown-ups time to chat and catch up. 

And Then They - 06 PlayingWe are so blessed to be a part of this great group of families.  We all (pretty much) met through the Birth Center, where most of us had our first babies.  After getting to know each other at the weekly Baby Clinics, the idea was born to have a monthly playgroup.  Not only do we all have two-year-olds, but most of us are on the second round these days, too.  It’s wonderful.

After playing for a while, we had to play the egg game.  I think Alma’s friend Beatrix won this year.

And Then They - 07 Egg GameWe were also really lucky to have our authentic Azerbaijani friend, Elvin up for the celebration.  It’s fun having him so close this year (he’s studying in Long Beach, California).  He’s a great dost, and both our girls truly love him.  So do we.

And Then They - Azeri

Happy Novruz!

 

And Then They - 03 Samani and Eggs

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