Saturday, July 30, 2011

Proud Parenting 101

Sometimes I find myself in the most disturbing situations with the kids and don't know how to get myself out of them.  I think I'm pretty good at seeing things coming and avoiding stuff that should be avoided (ie: I made sure to put the work into cleaning up my language while Zoe was still an infant) but sometimes things just happen and I find myself scrambling to get out of whatever uncomfortable moment I've landed in.  For instance, today I was trying to distract Zoe from something and enthusiastically said "Wanna learn a new song??!!"  Of course, she gladly went along and started repeating after me as I happily sang:

"MISS SUSIE HAD A STEAMBOAT, THE STEAMBOAT HAD A BELL THE STEAMBOAT WENT TO (gulp) HEAVEN (starting to slow down as my face turned into a panicky forced smile) the...steamboat went to....(enthusiasm returns as I continue, completely forgetting about the trouble ahead) HELLO OPERATOR, GIVE ME NUMBER NINE AND IF YOU DISsss...connect me (oops) , I'll chop of your beHIND the fridgerator....(Oh crap) there was a...piece of glass (shit, what can I change this into???) Miss Susie...sat upon it and (CRAP!) broke her-----"

THANKFULLY in that moment we got interrupted and she went bounding off to some other more non-damaging activity with her Dad.   Just to be clear, the rest of the song goes like this:

Miss Susie sat upon it, and broke her big, fat ASK me no more questions, tell me no more lies..the boys are in the bathroom, zipping up their FLIES are in the meadow bees are in the park, Miss Susie and her boyfriend are kissing in the D-A-R-K-D-A-R-K-D-A-R-K DARK DARK DARK!!!

Whoops!  Am I classy or what?

My favorite though, was the time after Nathan got home from a run, and he returned the iPod to the iPod dock in the living room (both of us forgetting to change the playlist back to "Zoe's Playlist"). We turned the music on for her and she nestled into the rocking chair next to the speakers.  She is like both of us, where she will zone out next to the stereo for at least an hour, listening to music when she's in the mood and this was one of those days.  I was enjoying a snack or a cup of coffee in the living room, enjoying the relative quiet when I finally tuned into the song that was blaring right next to my baby girl's eardrums.  It was "My Girlfriend, Who Lives In Canada" from Avenue Q (my favorite musical! Certainly NOT suitable for children, though).  If you are familiar with the song, imagine me cluing in somewhere around "Shit, her name is Alberta, she lives in Vancouver" and instantly jumping up and running into the living room, yelling "LALALALALALALALALALALALA!!!!" and getting my finger on the "STOP" button just after "AND I CAN'T WAIT TO EAT---"  Phew!!  Just in time!  Poor Zoe was (luckily) too stunned to ask me much about it and just accepted my flustered response ("Oh, nothing!!) to her "What, Mommy?"

If you aren't familiar with the song (or just happen to love the show as much as I do) and want to give it a listen, click the link below and check it is sung by the closeted gay character in the show....My Mormon friends had better just take my word for it and not listen...if you've even gotten this far in today's post and still want to be my friend, that is....

My Girlfriend, Who Lives in Canada

Yeah....hey, she'll never remember any of this anyway, right?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Big Announcement!

I wanted to be the first to tell you that the Stith family will soon have a new addition!  More specifically a 60,000 lb. new addition....Zoe is adopting a humpback whale!

Let me explain...this week is "Water Week" for the Smart Summer Challenge and as I was trying to think about projects, I suddenly got inspired to start talking with Zoe about endangered species.  Since even before I became a Mom, I've dreamed about teaching my kids how to care for the earth and that every little bit counts.  I'm proud that Zoe knows how to recycle and every time I see her put something in the "compost" in her play kitchen, my heart swells a bit.  So far though, she's been really too little to talk about things bigger than our own little world, but I thought I could start introducing this concept of endangered species by focusing on one of them.

So, I found this website called Earth's Endangered Species that does their best to keep an up-to-date list of the current endangered species by monitoring a bunch of other sites that keep lists in more specific areas (US Fish and Wildlife and such).  They have an easy to browse through list, broken down by category and when you are looking at the category you're interested in, you can choose to read more about it, donate and/or adopt.  So, I sat Zoe down with me at the computer and clicked on the "Oceania" category.  I read all the animals out loud to her that had the option of adopting and when I got to "Humpback Whale" she got so excited she almost fell out of the chair.  I told her I was going to read the rest just in case there was something she'd want more, but she kept saying "I don't want anything else Mommy, I definitely want a humpback whale!"  Then, after making sure the price was something we could reasonably try to raise, I told her that was our new mission.  I told her we could write letters and talk to people about why helping whales is important and that she was trying to raise money to adopt a whale through the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society one.  She started in right away with the cute as can be questions:  "Where are we going to KEEP something that BIG?", "How do whales talk?  How will we be able to talk to it?", "How will we walk around with the whale?  Can whales even walk?"  Eventually, she understood that the whale wouldn't actually LIVE with us but that by donating the money she raises, she will be helping it live more comfortably where it is now.

So, we got to work!  This project has been so great because it's got so many lessons built into it:  learning about the animal and why it's endangered, talking about the reasons you want to help and what you love about the animal, the tedious fundraising letter writing, spreading the word and learning how to talk to people about your cause, how to be gracious when people donate and understanding when they can't, being patient (the hardest part for her!), counting money and writing thank you notes.  The first day, when we wrote the letters, we must have worked away for 2 hours and she never got sick of it.  Even when we had gone as far as we could for the day, she was saying "What ELSE can we do?"  All day, she was telling people that she is going to adopt a humpback whale, and never lost her couldn't have been more successful except when we reached the end of the day (ie meltdown time), she suddenly decided she wanted to use the money she raises to buy a toy.  When we told her she couldn't, she promptly melted and it was time for bed.  It's not all bad, though...I suppose it's important when talking about fundraising to fit in a little lesson about embezzlement.

So, immediate family members can expect letters in the mail in the next day or two so be prepared!  Our friends here locally have already been so kind and generous.  She's very nearly met the minimum goal of $30 and she will have her whale in no time, so I'd call that a successful campaign.  Who knows, maybe her enthusiasm will inspire you to look into doing the same with your kids and we can all save the whales together, one cutie-pie kid at a time!

By the way, I asked Zoe today what she likes about humpback whales and she said:

-How they stick their fins out of the water
-How they jump out of the water and splash
-How they swim

We started by making a "whale jar" to collect her money in

The letter writing stage...she wanted to copy the letter too but got too frustrated

So she drew a picture of a whale jumping out the water with the mountains in the background instead...even better!

The Whale Jar!

Counting the money she's collected so far

A little side project...she also liked the "Rainbow Parrotfish", which is also endangered, so she made a little collage with the fish and her beloved humpback whale.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

My Sister is an IRONMAN

When we were kids, we used to go to Camp Takodah in Keene, New Hampshire for a couple of weeks during the summer.  Some of us enjoyed it more than others and I was one that didn't so much.  I think I only went a few years and honestly have very few fond memories.  I think I just didn't like being away from home because it's a perfectly nice just wasn't for me.  There was one year when I was stuck in a cabin of girls as the odd kid out and got picked on so much that I spent the whole two weeks wanting to go home.  Although I'm sure it wasn't true, I even felt like our cabin leader hated me.  Lucky for me my sister Rachel was there that year too, though.  It got so bad that at one point I finally went to tell her about it, and she promptly hoisted me onto her back and gave me a piggy back over to my cabin so she could tell all those little jerks off.  I don't remember much of what was actually said, but I'll never forget the feeling of relief, safety and comfort as I hugged her neck that day.

Today, Rachel completed the 2011 Lake Placid Ironman.  If you aren't familiar with it, let me break it down for you:  First a 2.4 mile swim, then a 112 mile bike ride and then a 26.2 mile run.  That's a grand total of 140.6 miles in one day.  I'm not kidding.  It's the most incredible physical accomplishment that anyone I've ever known has even dreamed to conquer and I not only KNOW her, but she is my SISTER.  How's that for bragging rights?  Okay, I guess hers are just a little more awesome than mine but seeing as I'll never be attempting one, I'll take the Ironman association.

As I went on my piddly little 3 mile morning run today, I thought about all that Rachel has been through to get to this point in her life...a battle with weight (and therefore, relentless and cruel teasing) as a child, giving birth to and raising 3 amazing children and setting higher than the stars athletic goals all on a chronic bum hip.  I imagined her starting her swim this morning at around 7am and working, working, working all day long...knowing her, she worked strong and steady......I thought about how she said several times that she "wasn't worried about covering the distance", only that she wouldn't make the strict time constraints....I thought about how much she gives to her family while finding time to reach her own goals, and how she has found a way to show her kids that everything she does for herself is also for them....I thought about her running those last few feet to the finish line and wondered if she would be walking, shuffling or running...smiling, grimacing or crying...I thought about all the things I wanted to yell to cheer her on....I thought about how lucky I am to have someone so strong and beautiful in my life and I lost my least a few times.

As I watched the livefeed tonight around 11pm, I cried as I saw my strong and beautiful sister run, pump her arms in the air and smile as she crossed the finish line.  I've never been so proud of her and I'll never forget this feeling either.  Thank you, Rachel for being totally and completely awesome.  CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here's a video of the big finish!!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Smart Summer Challenge: Week 4

I can't believe we've been doing this for 4 weeks already!  I actually thought I wouldn't have much to show this week since I've spent pretty much the whole week sulking about being back from vacation, but we managed to eek out a couple of fun projects!  Nothing like creating stuff to cheer you up!

I wrote yesterday about the DIY rainstick we FINALLY finished up.  Okay, so it's still just sort of sitting around the apartment but I love it, and Zoe keeps looking at it and talking about it too, so I'm satisfied.

Yesterday morning, a great little lesson/project came out of an argument I had with Zoe.  It was one of those days for me where it was hard to tell whether it was her making me grouchy or the other way around.  Either way, we were both grouchy pretty much from the time we rolled out of bed.  I went to the garden to weed (SO excited to finally be one of those people that "does some work in the garden" in the morning, by the way!) and brought home a handful of some herbs we have growing.  I rinsed them off and set them on a towel to dry.  When I went to put them in little baggies later, Zoe asked if she could help me.  I gladly accepted her offer since I thought it would be nice for her to touch and smell the stuff we've been tending to so lovingly over the last couple of months.  It started off pleasantly enough as we talked about how each one looked and smelled and how they were different from each other.  Then she asked if she could have her own baggie to put some of the herbs in to use in her mud kitchen, which I agreed was also a great idea.  That's when it turned sour though, as she began to DEMAND that she have ALL of it and that she have not one but FIVE plastic baggies.  I think it was a combination between my general grumpiness, an urge to talk to her about not wasting things like plastic bags and a kid-at-heart reaction to having someone take something that was mine.  After all, I had gone out and weeded the garden and I was the one that had chosen what to pick, bring it home, wash it and lay it out to dry.  I suppose I could have let it go, since we have WAY more than we need out there, but I just couldn't for whatever reason.  It got ugly for a few minutes until I got her to listen to me calmly as I talked to her about how if you want something for yourself, sometimes you have to be the one to put in the work to get it.  I said I was happy to share what I'd picked but that if she wanted more than I had to offer from my stash, she could go out to the garden and pick it herself.  So, that's exactly what we did.  It turned out to be a very sweet (and I think valuable) experience for both of us!
MY stash :-)

What I was willing to share...this was just before it all started to go South.

Zoe choosing her own herbs to pick for her mud kitchen
This afternoon, she and I found ourselves staring at each other during Owen's nap, having exhausted all of our board games. So, we decided to go outside and collect some leaves.  We got a few with the intention of looking them up on the internet to determine what kinds of trees we have around us, but Zoe really didn't feel like doing that, and I was not about to push the limit on such a HOT, HOT day (I think the high was somewhere around 95 or something).  We got some paper and crayons out and did some leaf rubbings, then made some placemats from the rubbings and leaves.  We made them with contact paper...not very stiff, but it was fun and they will serve their purpose, I think!

Ta Da!


Owen' can't tell from this picture but we made this one really small for our tiny little guy!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Project and a Serious Discussion

I have two totally unrelated things to share and I won't try and pretend I can link them together somehow.  I'll start with this project we finished up today because it's a Smart Summer Challenge submission:

My sister Rachel forwarded me this link from The Imagination Tree with instructions for a DIY rain stick forever ago and I've been chomping at the bit to make one.  First, though I had to collect all the materials, which proved more difficult than I thought it would be.  Well, actually the only thing that was hard to get my hands on was a nice strong tube, since we don't ever receive anything in the mail this shape.  Thankfully, Nathan's Mom remembered me mentioning it at some point and thoughtfully hung on to one for me and brought it with her to Colorado when she visited a few weeks ago.  At that time, I constructed the actual rain stick after Zoe went to bed since I knew she'd insist on "helping" with it.  Although she is very capable in a lot of ways, and often times surprises me with how much she actually CAN help, I thought this part of the project was better left to an adult:

First, I hammered in as many nails as possible

A view of the inside of the tube with all the nails in it

To keep the nails in place, I covered the whole outside of the tube with contact paper and then I poured a bunch of barley and then some beans into the tube.  The beans seemed to work better but I just kept the barley in there.

After sealing the ends with the contact paper, I covered the whole tube with white paper so I could just let Zoe have at it however she wanted to decorate it.

After a few weeks of being totally disinterested in it, she finally decided today that she wanted to decorate it with me so I dragged out a bunch of stuff and we covered one point she said "This is fun, Mommy!"--yay!

The finished product from the back...the green roving at the top is "hair" and....

She made a face at the top there so it almost looks like a little person...can you see the eyes, nose and mouth?
 Cute, right?  Thanks for the idea, Rach and The Imagination Tree!

Okay, so now the story....

Depending on how well you know me, you may or may not know that I'm agnostic.  Even back when I was being raised Catholic, I think I was agnostic at heart because I just never bought into all of the stuff they were telling us in church.  Now that I'm an adult and continue to learn more and more about other cultures and religions, I find that although I completely respect and, in many ways understand people's religious beliefs, I am personally a "I'll believe it when I see it" kind of gal.  It's caused me to think a lot about how I might one day put my feelings about it all into words so that when Zoe and Owen start asking me questions, I won't find myself tripping over myself in my quest to say just the right thing.  I hope to raise my children to respect all people and to have enough curiosity to learn about all the religions out there and to feel comfortable settling on what they feel in their own hearts. I strive to be open and honest enough to let them know what I believe but that if they choose to believe something different than I do, I'll be totally cool with it.  It's a great theory in my head, but the thought of achieving the reality of it seems nearly impossible to me and I break into a sweat and pour myself a glass of wine just thinking about the conversations. 

The first, most obvious question to come up has been about death.  She's brought it up lately in light conversation and the moment always passes with a simple, fairly non-sweat inducing explanation, but today it went further than that and I found myself in the middle of what I thought would be my worst nightmare, but actually turned out pretty...okay.  We were quietly sitting in our living room, playing board games during a thunderstorm while Owen took his afternoon nap.  When I told her I could teach her a card game I used to play with my Grandmother, the following conversation happened:

Zoe:  What did you call your Grandma?
Me:  Babcia (Polish for "Grandmother")
Zoe:  Where is she now?
Me:  She died a while ago.
Zoe:  (Visibly a little shaken) She died?
Me:  Yes, she lived a very long life and was very old when she died.
Zoe:  (squinting her eyes, holding up her hands in front of her face and making the space between them smaller and smaller as she said...) Did she just get smaller and smaller and smaller?
Me:  No, she just got very old and actually got to where she couldn't remember very much.
Zoe:  (sighing) I wish I could meet her.
Me:  Me too.
Zoe:  But, she's still real, she's just not with  us.  She's in another land.
Me:  Oh yeah?  What does it look like there?
Zoe:  Let's look it up on the computer and see where she is!
Me:  Well, you know what?  We can't because no one knows for sure what it looks like.  You know just as well as anyone else does.
Zoe:  Oh.

That was pretty much it!  Not too bad, I must say...the conversation sort of petered out as I told her that I used to have 2 Grandmothers and 2 Grandfathers and that they all died a while ago.  She thought that maybe my Grandmothers were in one land and my Grandfathers were in another land and by the end of it all didn't seem all that disturbed by it (which is my worst nightmare--that sharing my personal beliefs on the matter with my kids will scare them senseless).  I know it's just the beginning and that there's a lifetime ahead of questions but it felt like a good start.  Phew!  Now, where's that glass of wine?

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Loss For Words

We just got back from a week long trip to Cape Cod, which explains the larger than normal gap in posts.  The trip was amazing and can easily be described as "The Best Vacation Ever"....Zoe, Nathan and I are in complete agreement on that and I believe most of the other attendees would too.  16 adults, 13 kids (and one on the way!), 1 dog, 4 houses, 1 quiet street, 2 lakes, 2 beaches, 1 fish loading dock, 1 game of musical chairs and 5 days of musical carseats, 4 days of crafts, 1 dance party, 1 Uncle Tim story, 4 late night chats on a screened in porch, 7 after the beach, under the stars outdoor showers, 2 trips to Krista K's ice cream shop, 1 demolished trash can, 5 nights of board games and cards, 7 family dinners, 1 night of smore's, 1 after dinner walk along the beach, 1 naked baby in the ocean for the first time, 1 little girl learning how to swim, 2 games of pirate wars, 2 long swims for a soon-to-be Ironman, 1 wonderful announcement, 1 supportive surprise, 7 days of trampoline jumping, 4 bottles of cheap sangria, 1 trailer full of bikes.  1 huge, supportive, amazing, funny, loving, smart, close and ever growing family.

I wish there was a way to rewind and relive but part of me knows that what makes weeks like that so special and sweet is the rarity of them occurring.  If there was a way I could bottle up my family and take them wherever I go I would, but since I can't I will take these times when the stars align and we are all able to make it to the same place at the same time and do nothing but enjoy each others company and soak it all up to the very last second.  I was trying to talk my sister Jill out of crying when she dropped us off at the airport before I finally realized there's no shame in having a hard time saying goodbye in moments like that.  I miss my family and even though I'm enjoying where we are right now, my heart will forever be on the East Coast.

There.  Now that I've written about that I can move on.....

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lord of the Flies: The Apartment

If you could take the danger element out of the picture, I wonder what my apartment would look like if we left the kids alone in it all day.  Owen is getting more and more active by the minute...he is constantly moving.  When I'm holding him, he's trying to climb over my shoulder and when he's on the floor, he's army crawling to the nearest esophagus sized (and for some reason delicious looking) object under the couch--far enough under so that we don't notice it to pick it up, but close enough to the edge that HE can spot it in a second and reach it with his little arm.  He's starting to pull up to the tables and the toy shelf so all of that stuff is ending up on the floor practically the minute you put him on the floor.  As with all babies, he often times heads straight for the shoe pile by the door to sneak a taste before we realize he's got a gum and dirt encrusted flip flop jammed into his mouth.  Ew. Anyway, although he can't reach very far UP yet, he would certainly do his fair share of damage at shin level if left alone for a day.

Zoe might be able to handle herself alright, I have to say (again, being sure to keep the danger element out of it because otherwise she would surely do her little brother in trying to "help" him do stuff).  She's grown up a lot over this last year and can now brush her teeth, get dressed, go to the bathroom and make her meals all by herself....understand, though that just because she is ABLE to do these things doesn't necessarily mean she WILL do them unassisted.  We still help her out with all of these things most days, either as per her request (bathroom visits) or in order to keep things fairly orderly (making meals).  More and more though I trust her to make my lunch at least.  She even likes me to go in the other room while she makes my sandwich so she can come in when she's done and say "There's a surprise for you in the kitchen!".  If I have to feed Owen at the same time she insists that I not look at what she's doing...even if she asks for help:  "Mommy, will you open the peanut butter--but DON'T LOOK AT IT!!"  Anyway, she actually does a pretty great job with my lunches...The other day I was upstairs on the computer while she was making lunch (ahhh...the life!) and she yelled up "Mommy! I askidentally gave you the biggest mustard in the whole wide wold!"...Cringing a bit, I went down to her beaming face and took a bite of my cheese and MUSTARD sandwich and it was pretty perfect!  This "my kids growing up so fast" thing ain't so bad, I must say!  Pretty soon we'll be able to make her wash the dishes and clean the bathroom--the dream of every parent.

It was because of this new passion of hers for making our lunches that this post about a mud pie kitchen on TinkerLab spoke to me.  I immediately became inspired to run to Goodwill and see what I could find.  Low and behold I found everything a girl could want in a mud kitchen.  I scored the kid's work bench for $7, a big plastic bin for storing all the buckets and stuff for $4 and a few new tools for less than $3.  She prepared a 5-course meal for me and named her new chic restaurant "Parmesan Cheese Chandelier Restaurant".  She says her next step is to make actual menus and serve anyone who happens upon our patio and has time to sit, relax and enjoy the flawless and truly original "Mud Flat Cake".  Yay Mud!
Hard at work in the kitchen

Grand Opening


Aren't you jealous?

The menu!

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July Fun!

We had a completely exhausting, fun day today...actually it hasn't even ended yet because Nathan has Zoe out to see the fireworks and I'm sure she won't even be close to ready to go to sleep when they get home since she took more than a 2 hour nap today.  It's always a gamble letting her take a nap like that during the day but when we have something fun in mind for after bedtime, we really have no choice unless we want a total cranky mess on our hands.  Ah, summer...a time full of hot dogs, late nights, dirty feet and meltdowns (actually that last one is a year-round pleasure but you get the idea). 

We had a BBQ with our friends this evening and it was really great.  After dinner we made ice cream in a baggie and experimented with flavors this time.  Since it's the 4th of July and all, we made vanilla, strawberry and blueberry.  After tasting them all, we took a vote (by secret ballot) and counted the votes to see which was the most popular.  Fun!  Really yummy too...I do recommend wearing gloves because your hands get REALLY cold but it was also a great way to stay cool at the same time...anyway, Happy 4th of July everyone!

I never get enough of seeing little kids sitting together at little tables.  So cute!


Just chattin'.


Putting the ingredients together for the ice cream

Shakin' it up!



Voting....vanilla won by a landslide!  

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Thank you, Universe.

Before I met Nathan, I was a lonely drama-queen who drank too much and didn't think it was all that important to vote.  I cringe when thinking back to my college years, because I felt sorry for myself and made terrible choices (if I could get myself to stop waffling enough to even make a choice, that is) and spent those years almost entirely in my own head.  I had no idea what it meant to live in this world and strive for happiness and was convinced that I was not qualified or talented enough to reach for any goal higher than getting "C"s.  In other words, good enough to pass and get the hell out of school.

Then Nathan came along and became the kind of person in my life I was so unfamiliar with, I was constantly telling him that if he "was getting sick of me, just tell me" until he finally said "Stop saying that.  That's not what's going on here.  It's not going to happen, so just get used to it."  He was the boyfriend I could stay up all night talking to and then the fiance who had as much fun planning our wedding as I did.  He patiently helped me find my love for living in New York City (a place I had always been terrified of and intimidated by) and started me on my journey of opening my eyes up to the rest of the world without a hint of condescension.  He encouraged me to challenge myself and put myself out there.  During my stage managing days, he endured my middle of the night, random declarations that "this is is the time I'm going to completely fuck up and ruin the show" and would remind me that I was good at what I did and that I was most certainly NOT going to fuck anything up.  Without his support and encouragement I would never have ended up with the sweetest gig on Broadway I ever imagined possible for a small town gal from Vermont.

Now we have these two kids together and I'm more and more grateful every day that our paths crossed and we had time to get to know each other and fall in love.  He's an amazing father, a supportive husband and reliable partner in this challenging, fun, maddening and hilarious chapter of our lives and I only wish that more people were lucky enough to find such a perfect fit for themselves.

In the beginning...
8 years and two people later...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Smart Summer Challenge: Week 1

My apologies if you find more enjoyment out of my crazy ramblings than my crafting/projects posts...this one is pretty much just to show off all the fun stuff we've been doing for the Smart Summer Challenge.  I've felt very scatterbrained lately and haven't even been able to pick up the clutter on the kitchen table...something I usually do every night after bedtime, if not a few times during the day or else it drives me crazy.  I'm not letting myself get too uptight about it and reminding myself that it's because we've been having so much summer fun!  Staying outside until JUST before dinner and being too pooped to want to do anything other than sit on my butt and drink a glass of wine or have a bowl if ice cream after the kids go to sleep.  This quote that my friend shared a while ago has been my mantra:  "A clean house is the sign of a wasted life."  No idea who said that, but I think it's one of those classic refrigerator magnet sayings...anyway, it's what I've been telling myself as to not get too annoyed with the summer clutter.

ANYWAY, the following is another good reason to not be too hard on myself about the messy house...we've been busy bees!

Monday we made our life sized paper "Zoe" doll which is still up and didn't fool Grandma and Peepaw quite like we'd hoped, but only because Zoe was too excited to see them to stay in her hiding spot.

Tuesday, we drew the floor plan for our apartment.  I drew it, but Zoe helped me figure out what to draw where and then she colored the stairs and drew in some of the furniture:
Wednesday, we listened to some music from South Africa and watched videos of some traditional dancing.  Our friends from Family Housing will be moving there at the end of the year, and one of our dear New York City friends, Tshidi is from there so Zoe wanted to learn a little more about it.  Zoe called Tshidi to ask if she could sing her favorite song from when she was Zoe's age...we are still playing phone tag though...

Later that day, Zoe had a good ol' mud party on our my opinion, it's practically a kid's responsibility to get as dirty as possible in the summertime, so when she asked if she could play with mud, I gladly got her all set up!

Then yesterday, we broke out the USA map puzzle that has been a favorite of Zoe's for a good year and a half.  She's gotten shockingly good at it, and so I decided I could start introducing the concept of North, South, East and West using the puzzle.  To be honest, I thought it would be over her head but she seemed to grasp it pretty well.  Even better, I've gotten better at putting the puzzle together myself.  One of the reasons I got it for her was so that I could practice too...don't know about you, but my geography skills are embarrassingly bad!

Finally, we had our friends Jessica, Sierra and Ainsley over later in the morning and for lunch.  I've been letting Zoe make our lunches for us lately and so we let all three little girls make their own yesterday.  Jessica and I sat with the baby in the living room while we decided to trust them in the kitchen.  They did an awesome job and were so proud of themselves.  Zoe and Sierra put their cheese and strawberries right into the pb&j sandwiches and thought it was a genius idea.  They both took one bite and said "I'm done! I'm full!".  Poor babies...didn't want to admit they didn't like their own creations!
The little girls wanted to open up their sandwiches to show off the filling for the picture
We have a little day trip planned today and we might make a "Story of Zoe" book if she feels like it.  She's LOVED tackling the challenges from the calendar so I'm sure we will...if it turns out to be fun, I'll share it in my next Smart Summer Challenge post....

Happy Summer!