Monday, November 28, 2011

Here we go!

The Christmas season is in full swing at our place!   After our lovely Thanksgiving here, we have gone full steam ahead into Christmas.  Nathan and I are usually raring to go on the Christmas decorating so this year is no exception but it's always a little shocking that it's actually time for all of it again.  We actually did consider waiting a week longer to get the tree this year, since we're going to be home for Christmas but realized that Thanksgiving weekend is the best time for us to decorate and get the tree up.  Nathan was home all weekend without having to work at all, and now until Christmas break he will be living at the library again, trying to get a paper done so we concluded that it was best to go ahead and get the tree this weekend..much to our dismay, right?  Yeah.  We love it so much it's a little ridiculous.

Anyway, so as I said we will be home this year for Christmas.  We'll head to Oklahoma a couple days afterwards, but Santa will actually be able to find the kids at their own house for once.  We are pretty psyched about's a great year for it to happen too (although I guess the year Zoe was 1 we stayed in Brooklyn for Christmas, but you know what I mean) because we've been discovering how much more aware Zoe is of everything now.  It's cool because we are not only getting the older kid perspective through her, but we are getting the adorable baby reactions again through Owen...the wide eyes, the "ooo"ing and pointing at the tree and so cute.  We usually wait until after Zoe goes to bed to put everything up because the apartment gets totally turned upside down and Nathan and I do a lot of arguing discussing about what to put where.  Doing it sans "helpful" child was always a no-brainer, but this year the combination of her being a year older and Nathan and I having decorated this same apartment already it all seemed much smoother.  I felt the same way about Thanksgiving this year...every year we seem to find our groove more as far as these holiday traditions go and it so nice to feel like we're finding OUR way to celebrate together as a little family.  Anyway, while Owen was napping, the three of us took to decorating and Zoe was actually a big help!  Nathan and I did a lot of smiling at each other as we answered Zoe's questions about what ornaments came from where and listened to her say things like "Well, last year we put these bells on THIS door."  She helped me start filling our kitchen window with paper snowflakes and was able to do every step of it herself so some of the snowflakes are ALL her...she put the star on the top of the tree...she and I made salt dough ornaments and some of hers actually came out looking like whatever she intended them to be.  Of course, we got a couple of the obligatory 20 pound paint covered ones...the ones that require a close to the trunk branch as well as an equally strong one just below as kind of an ornament safety net, but I personally wouldn't have it any other way.   I just love having some ornaments you pull out every year that make you all laugh and reminisce (a certain  5 in x 5 in square piece of silver paper comes to mind)...seeing the tree full of those kinds of ornaments makes me so happy.

Along with the things we've done every year and carried along from our childhoods, I've also loved finding new traditions.  I started reading about Winter Solstice last year and really love learning about it and incorporating it into our celebration and I'm excited that Zoe is able to talk about it all with me a little.  While we were in the car going to get the tree, I was telling her how I read about why it's traditional to bring a tree into your house.  I told her that long ago, when people didn't know about why it got dark so early in the winter, they were afraid that the sun was slowly going away and that one day there wouldn't be sun at all.  One of the things that kept them hopeful was the fact that some trees didn't lose their green color.  Evergreen trees became a kind of symbol of hope that one day the sun would return so people started decorating them to sort of honor them.  I was kind of going on and on I think because I'm still learning all of these stories and haven't found a short way of explaining it.  I was sure I had lost her totally, but when I finished my story she said "Tell me more, Mommy!"...ah, music to my ears!  I told her one or two more I'd just read but it made me that more excited to keep reading and learning...

So anyway, here are a few pictures of our hall-decking festivities!  Love love love!

After realizing she was too young last year to understand the "Hide the Elf" game from my childhood (hiding the elf and helping the person find it by telling them their hot or cold), I've been thrilled to see that she totally gets (and loves) it now...she's even added this Rudolf I made last year to the mix.

Our kitchen window...the clothespins hanging down are our "Thankfulness Stars"..a countdown to Winter Solstice.  Each morning we write on a star something we are thankful for and pin it to a pin.

The ornaments she made for her preschool teachers

This is what Christmas is all about if you ask me. ;-)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hooray for another Thanksgiving at the Stith residence!  For the past 4 years, ever since Zoe was born on Thanksgiving morning, we've made it a tradition to stay at our house and keep to ourselves all day.  Don't get me wrong, we are incredibly thankful for the wonderful family and friends we are lucky enough to have in our lives.  At the same time though, it really is pretty great to not have to travel and to be in your own house on a day like today.  We have the day lazily mapped out every year, and it goes something like this...of course there are differences each year because the kids are so different from year to year, but basically it's the same. ...this is what we did this year:

1)  Woke up
2)  Had coffee/put pull aparts in the oven (this isn't the recipe we use, but you get the idea)
3)  Hung out with kids all together
4)  Owen went down for nap #1
5)  Watched the parade and demolished pull aparts while having one too may mimosas.  It was interesting for me to notice that the last couple of years, since we moved away from New York, I've felt a pang of nostalgia and sadness while watching the parade.  This year I didn't feel that at all.  I felt totally content to be in my apartment in Colorado, sitting on the couch knitting while Owen napped quietly upstairs and Nathan and Zoe cuddled on our big ol' recliner.
6)  Nathan started dinner around 11am (he makes the WHOLE dinner.  The only thing I did this year was put the pull aparts in the oven and I stirred the gravy while he took a quick bathroom break...don't worry I take care of clean up)
7)  Watched Santa come down the street and did a little family dance in the living room while waving to and cheering for Santa
8)  Turned on Christmas music
9)  Nathan continued to cook and I hung out with the kids
10)  Zoe and I kept busy while Owen napped.  This year we worked on our Winter Solstice wreath and Zoe helped Nathan cook here and there
11)  After Owen's nap we ate a little lunch and wrote a letter to Santa (see below)
12)  Headed outside to mail letter to Santa and go to the playground.  We also went on a nature walk to collect things to add to our wreath
13)  Headed home for Owen's afternoon nap
13)  Helped Nathan if he needed it, but otherwise hung out some more (more work on wreath)
14)  After Owen woke up it was pretty much exactly time for dinner right then (Nathan's getting better and better at this huge task...the first year we did this I think we ate at 10pm)
15)  Ate
16)  I started cleaning up and Nathan hung out with the kids
17)  Bedtime for the kids
18)  Pie for Mommy and Daddy! Zoe didn't seem to care about it this year...anyway, she hardly ate anything so we had to tell her if she was too stuffed to eat dinner, she was too stuffed for pie.  She didn't put up much of a fight so we don't feel too guilty about eating the pie after bedtime.

So there you have it!  I know you were all dying to know what our day was like so I knew I had to jump right on the computer to fill you in.  Truth be told, I haven't even had my pie yet--that's how concerned I was about getting this information out to you....honestly, though the main reason I rushed to post this is that I wanted to find a reason to show off our finished Winter Solstice wreath!  Here it is with a couple of pictures of the steps we took to get there:
Wrapped some fuzzy white yarn tightly around a craft foam wreath from Joann's

That step completed

Adding a couple of waxed leaves and felt flowers (to learn how to do these flowers, see my "Lack of Projects and an ER visit" post from October)

Finished product!

We will light one candle each week in December, leading up to Winter Solstice on the 22nd.  Each time we light one, we'll read poems about winter or just talk about why we love and appreciate this time of year.
 Here is Zoe's letter to Santa.  This is easily turning into one of my favorite cute and fun!

Yay for this time of year...our favorite...hope you all had a great day too!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, Zoe!

I put Zoe to bed last night and after I turned out the light, she wanted to know how many hours until she was going to be 4.  I told her and she fell asleep with a smile plastered on her face.  This morning at 6am, she woke up and asked "Mommy, is it morning yet?" and I said "Yup!  You're 4 now!"  We hugged each other for roughly 5 seconds and then she promptly threw up on my pillow.  Poor baby.  It should be against the laws of nature to have to be sick on your birthday, especially when you are a kid.  Luckily she didn't seem too upset about it.  She was basically just low energy all day but we didn't have any plans anyway.  At one point though, she did say "Mommy, I never thought I would feel like this on my ACTUAL birthday."  We postponed the cupcake eating until tomorrow night and we had her birthday party a couple of weeks ago, so all is well but man what a bummer!

Anyway, when I posted Owen's birth story on his birthday I realized I painted a much more complete picture than I did in the actual baby book so I want to try and do the same with's been 4 years so I don't know how many details I'll remember but I hope you won't mind if I try...
November 21, 2007...we had just done our Thanksgiving dinner shopping in a very crowded Fairway Market in Red Hook, Brooklyn.  Why we had waited until the night before Thanksgiving, I don't remember now but I'm sure it had something to do with a crazy work schedule.  I was almost two weeks over due and feeling really, really uncomfortable (to put it mildly) but also feeling like the baby would never come and that I might go on looking and feeling like an elephant for the rest of my life.  I picked up my first canned item from the bag on our living room floor and as I reached up to put it in the cupboard I felt my first twinge of pain.  I told Nathan I thought I'd better sit down and that was the very beginning of the most insane ride I'd ever been on in my entire life.

It was 9:30pm, which was already not part of the ideal picture Nathan and I had painted for ourselves when imagining the birth of our child.  We both had visions of walking around our neighborhood (still one of our favorite places) in the daytime or evening (we were "keeping an open mind" and not hoping for one or the other of course) with the autumn leaves helping us stay positive and our fantasy, we did a lot of hand-holding and hugging in the crisp fall air with an eventual cab ride over to our hospital.  I did NOT want to ride in our car because the car seat behind the passenger seat made it impossible for someone as huge as me to fit up there so I would have had to climb in the back.  I didn't know what was ahead of me, but I was 100% sure that it would totally and completely suck to be in labor and have to crawl into the backseat of a two-door sports car, so the plan was to call a car when the time came.

Anyway the contractions were very gradually getting stronger but I still felt pretty with one point I told Nathan "Wow.  If these are just the mild ones, I'm in big trouble" and we both laughed a little.  It got to be pretty late so we decided to try to go to bed.  I knew it would be best to try and get some rest so I laid down and tried to at least doze a little.  I was doing okay until I started feeling really cold and shaky.  I got into our shower and stood under the hot water for a really long time until I realized I couldn't stand in there all night long.  I asked Nathan to bring me some warm clothes and I bundled up and we hunkered down in our little living room.  I was feeling really awful, and not just because of the contractions.  When I wasn't having one, I realized I couldn't stop shivering.  We'd turn up the heat and I'd put on a sweatshirt and I'd be hot 1 minute later.  So, I'd take off the sweatshirt and start shivering.  I couldn't find any position that was comfortable...sitting, standing you name it.  Nothing felt right.  We were trying to time my contractions and I'd say "Okay another one is starting...I think.....and it might be going away, I don't know..."  It was the middle of the night and we didn't have a clue as to what to do.  So far this wasn't following any of the formulas anyone had taught us that help you figure out when it's a good time to call the midwife and go to the hospital.

We finally did call our midwife though because we were so totally confused.  We told her about the contractions and she said they didn't sound like they were progressing quite far enough for us to go in yet...I then said "I just wish I could stop shaking" and she suggested I take my temperature.  We did so and realized it was almost 102, so she told us to go right in.  It was smack dab in the middle of the night now, coming into early morning hours of Thanksgiving morning and we called our trusty car company.  I was shocked and totally crushed to learn that they had NO CARS AVAILABLE.  I think we tried one or two more before realizing that we were never going to find a cab that morning.  So I climbed into the backseat of our car and had the worst car ride ever.  As I walked past my midwife in labor and delivery, I saw that she was holding a cup of coffee and I said "I'm so sorry!" I passed by, Nathan told me later that she looked at him and said "She doesn't look good."  We went into a little room where they took my temperature and checked the baby's heart rate.  It was going up and down like crazy so they got me into a delivery room right away.  The next few hours were complete hell.  I had wanted to do a lot of walking around and maybe sitting in a tub...trying different positions, listening to music--the whole nine yards.  Instead, I was confined to the bed because I had to have 2 different monitors on to make sure the baby's heart was okay.  I was alright with it though, because I trusted my midwife and agreed that it was all, I felt so terrible that I don't think I could have moved if I'd wanted to.  They gave me something to help bring my fever down and when it eventually did I became so drenched in sweat that Nathan's biggest job became just mopping my head off every 3 seconds.

Contractions were the most unbelievably overwhelming sensation I could ever imagine.  I can't think of any common example to give you that could describe it.  The most accurate thing I can think of  is to say that it's what I imagine sitting in an electric chair must feel like.  It was so crazy.  At one point, I said "WHO'S IDEA WAS THIS??" and poor Nathan thought I meant was it his or mine, but what I meant was "WHO THOUGHT THIS UP??" What a crazy, cruel thing to make us women go through, seriously.  I was worried that I was scaring Nathan at one point when I looked him in the eyes during a contraction.  I can't imagine what he must have been thinking and feeling in that moment.  I also, at one point yelled out something that I'm sure has put me on some sort of Wall of Fame in my midwives office..during a contraction I said "FUCK YOU, MOTHER NATURE!!!!" and Nathan said he and the midwife had to look away for a second to hide their smiling faces. 

After a while of that, I finally got to the point where I could push and I did so for about an hour.  Luckily it kind of flew by because it was really really hard.  I'm not sure how people push longer than that because I was so totally spent I could barely lift my head.  Thank goodness she finally came out and, as I described in Owen's birth story, the relief you feel when it's over, coupled with the euphoria of finally being a parent after waiting all of that time (personally, my whole life) makes for some pretty incredible highs and it makes the whole battle worth it.  It also felt perfect because we had this beautiful view out our window of the river and a a big tree with beautiful orange and yellow leaves.  It was 9:01am on Thanksgiving morning and my midwife said "Hey, and I can still get home and bake my pie!"  All was perfectly right with the world.

I can't believe it's been 4 years since I met Zoe for the first time.  In the hospital on that first day, as he was holding her, Nathan said "We are going to have so much fun with her." and man, was he right.  She is the most smart, funny, beautiful and wonderful kid I know and I can't believe she's mine.  I can hardly remember how I felt about anything before she came along and I feel so thankful to know her.  Thanks for coming our way, Zoe...I hope we are always what you need us to be and that you think of these early days as fun and comforting.  I'm not sure I could ever pay you back for all of the wonderful things you've done for me in the last 4 years but you can be sure I'll never give up trying.



Friday, November 18, 2011

Rainbow Gnome Adventure, Part III

For those of you following along on the Rainbow Gnome Adventure, we got two more great photos from the Cullis family today.  They are in New Zealand and I am SO JEALOUS!  I know they are soaking it all up, although I'm sure they must all be totally exhausted at the same time.  They are such an adventurous family and the kiddos are such great travelers, I feel sure they are all getting the most out of the experience though...anyway, here's the latest with Becca's descriptions beneath as usual:
"Nina by the yachts in downtown in Auckland, a very seriously civilised city with boats everywhere you look."

"Hiking on the west coast, looking out over Karekare (where The Piano was filmed). Stunning, terrifyingly high cliffs."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fairy House

Thanks to our friends Jessica, Ainsley, Sierra, Gretchen and Hunter we are now officially on a fairy kick at our house and I couldn't be happier about it!  Growing up, we had several big, huge maple trees in our yard and I have wonderful memories of spending hours (well, I guess to me it seemed like hours but it could just as easily have been 15 minutes here and there) building fairy houses.  I'll never forget that feeling of really believing that there were troupes of fairies traveling around all of the time.  I loved to picture them coming upon the house I'd built for them, being SO relieved to find such a comfy place.  I always imagined them completely exhausted from a long day of traveling around the world and relaxing in my house.  My mom would leave candy in our houses for us to find, as a "thank you" from the fairies and I fell for the whole thing hook, line and sinker.  I've been excited to share fairy houses with Zoe when she was old enough to appreciate them.

That's why I was so thrilled to see that for her birthday she received a book from Gretchen and Hunter called "The Midnight Fairies" that came with a little fairy necklace (she's totally obsessed with both).  She also got a beautiful and thoughtfully assembled package from Jessica, Ainsley and Sierra that included a handmade fairy (made by Jessica), some "building materials" (sticks, stones and shells) to help get her started on a fairy house, and a book called "Fairy Houses" that includes helpful tips and a great story.  She brought both books to school with her today and wore the necklace.  When I picked her up, one of her teachers told me that she had read the "The Midnight Fairies" to a group of kids outside and that they were all really excited about the matching necklace.  She said at first she felt shy reading it, but as soon as her teacher asked her to talk a little louder, she relaxed into it.
The fairy and building materials from Jessica, Ainsley and Sierra
It's been really windy around here ever since her party on Saturday and she has been DYING to get started on building.  I finally gave in today, even though it's still pretty windy...I just warned her that it might all blow away and that we should wait to put things like leaves and grass down until it's not so windy.  She was perfectly happy with that and got started straight away.  At first, I was trying to stay out of the process so that she could build it however she saw fit, but she seemed at a loss when it came to how to get started.  I finally decided that she's still pretty young and that working on it together as a team would be just as great an experience for her, so I ended up helping her out.  After overcoming my own "how do we get this thing started" feelings (it's been a long time since I built a fairy house!) we quickly got into a rhythm together and came up with a pretty cozy place, if I do say do myself!  It was just as much fun for me as it was her, I think, and I'm pretty confident in saying that it was 100% teamwork.  If she asked me how to do something, I made sure to always say "What do YOU think?" and if she had an idea, it was implemented every time.  If she seemed stuck, I'd suggest something and if she seemed like she just wanted to gather more materials, I'd start a walkway or something with what she was gathering....something she could easily take over and finish if she decided she wanted to....

Anyway, what a nice morning!  She says she wants to check on her fairy house "EVERY DAY" and if we're speaking truthfully here, so do I!

Here's a little "before and after" video....the basket at the "back door" that is now empty and waiting to be filled with flowers was almost a collection basket.  She got it out and said "I'll put this here in case anyone wants to give me money for staying here".  She and I went back and forth for a while...I was trying to say that that's not the reason we built the house for the fairies...that we built it to be kind and give them a place to stay, and she just kept saying "No, in case they just WANT to give me hey, THANKS for making this house for us!"...she finally agreed that it didn't make much sense anyway, since fairies don't actually use money and decided to put flowers in there if she finds any pretty ones....

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rainbow Gnome Adventure, Part II

We got a few more pictures today of our little traveling rainbow gnome from the wonderful Cullis family!  I'm so glad they are as excited to be doing this with us as we'd hoped they would be.  What a wonderful way to hear about their travels and keep in touch...I'm also excited to see Nina's Three Little Pigs t-shirt traveling the globe!  They are in California now, and they will soon fly to New Zealand...can't wait to see pictures of this little guy and our friends in my personal "dream vacation" destination!  Here are the latest photos with Becca's descriptions below:
"Muley Point (Southern Utah) with Monument Valley behind - one of the most spectacular 360 degree views I have ever seen"

"Mohave Point at sunset, Grand Canyon (there was a full moon too, just not in this picture)"

"Downtown Vegas - a crazy, crazy town"

Friday, November 11, 2011

Direct Reflection

It's entirely possible I'm not being fair to myself, but one of the ways I tend to keep tabs on how I'm doing parenting-wise is to watch and listen to Zoe playing with her "buddies".  When she was a little younger, I spent a lot of time patting myself on the back and/or feeling relieved that the kinds of things I heard coming out of her mouth while playing "Mommy" were of the "It's okay, sweetie" and "C'mon, let me help you" variety.  However, there has been a dramatic shift in tone over the last few months and something tells me it has a lot to do with the fact that I've been a little more....ahem....short tempered lately.  I'm not beating myself up and it's honestly still mostly funny to me because I know I'm doing my best and that she knows she is loved to death.  I'm not constantly yelling at her and we have more positive exchanges than negative ones on any given day for sure, but I have to admit I cringe a bit when I hear her scolding her dolls or when I watch her get exasperated with Owen because he's not, say, eating his lunch the way she would like him to.  I know she's just experimenting and trying stuff out...I have clear memories of yelling at my dolls because they "wouldn't go to sleep", and I was SUPER DUPER mean to my poor younger brother (the deepest sleeper I've ever known) Ben whenever I was in charge of waking him up in the morning.  My Mom NEVER treated us like that so I know I wasn't mimicking her parenting style, but it's still hard to hear and see the "I'm at the end of my rope" phrases and body language I know she's picked up from me.

Today was probably the most comical yet personally frightening displays of this after I reluctantly obliged her by tying one end of a rope around her Puppy's neck and the other end around the handle of her stroller.  She wanted to "walk him" to the playground and I chose not to fight that particular battle and just throw him in the washing machine at the end of the day.  As I walked along with Owen, I watched her drag Puppy a few feet and then pick him up and scold him..."WHY are you just dragging? Stop that!  No, we'll talk about it when we get to the playground.  Okay, are you going to walk now?" and she would THROW him to the ground, drag him a few feet and repeat the whole thing...over and over again....I was entranced....I laughed about it to myself mostly because I know I never treat her THAT badly.  I know she's just role playing and more than likely has someone like "Miss Hannigan" in her head more than she is picturing me and my behavior.  Part of me felt a little sad though, that maybe I'm planting more "I'm busy, frustrated and tired right now" seeds in her little psyche than I want to.  Again, I'm trying not to be too hard on myself because I know I'm also just reacting emotionally to other stuff...

I don't know if this happens to you, but for me everything in my personal life will be going along swimmingly (oh, who am I kidding?  "Personal" is the only side of my life right now...there is no dichotomy...anyway, you know what I mean) and then out of the blue the universe decides to deal me a few bad cards just to see if I am paying attention.  Every once in a while I feel like I'm handed a bunch of mildly unpleasant situations all at once...not so bad that I feel like my world is ending but uncomfortable enough to leave me feeling just a little beat down.  In these times I always have an initial reaction to want to just gather my things and go but then I realize these times are in some ways the most important times in which to plant my feet firmly in the ground, take a hard look at myself and just deal.  It reminds me that I can't just go through life without unpleasantness and the only way to move on and feel good about stuff again is to practice forgiveness, patience and compassion.  For my kids, my husband, my family, friends and probably most importantly, for MYSELF.

I don't know if that just made any sense to you but it did to me, so....

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Rainbow Gnome Adventure!

Yay!  Remember our little gnome baby we sent along with our good friends who just moved?  Well, we just got our first installation of the "Rainbow Gnome Adventure" pictures!  It's so fun for us to see where this little guy goes and we also feel like we're traveling right along with our friends, in a way.  Becca says that it's making the sight seeing pictures a lot more fun for her kids too so we all win!  Okay, well "winning" for us would involve their family moving BACK here, but since that's impossible we'll take this.  Here are the pictures.  The captions are Becca's descriptions:
"On our hilarious muscle car (whose bonnet is so huge it looks like it should growl)."

"Just as we'd entered Utah (Colorado behind Nina)"
"In Arches National Park (stunning)"

 So wonderful!  Thanks so much, Cullis family...we are looking forward to hearing more from you guys...

Another update from that same post:  I made another little hat for Owen, and actually did it right this time (here's the pattern again)!  I love how it came out, although I still have a lot to particular with my finishing skills.  Most of the things I've made so far all end up having at least one loose piece of yarn wriggle it's way out after a few days so I've definitely got to work on that.  Not bad so far, though I'd say.  Both kids are wearing their hats regularly and we're getting lots of compliments so I'm patting myself on the back despite the flaws:
I'm also excited to finally be able to show you the baby gift I put together for my brother and sister-in-law, who are expecting their first next month.  I finished it a while ago, but they just had the shower this past weekend and my sister passed it along to them.  I saw the idea on Paint Cut Paste forever ago, and just loved the idea.  I was so happy to be able to make one for these guys...I got a list of friends from the couple but didn't tell them what we were up to..I then emailed everyone, asking them to send me a message for the soon to be parents.  I put all of the messages into a keepsake book and took snippets of what everyone said and incorporated them into a wall hanging.  I love the idea of giving a book and a wall felt like a nice, complete gift....the paper behind the sun on the wall hanging is the shaving cream marbled paper I shared with you back in September:

Finally, I have to say this at the risk of losing you as a reader but HAVE YOU EXPLORED PINTEREST YET?  It's. A.W.E.S.O.M.E.  It took me a bit to figure out how to utilize it, but now that I have I love, love, love it.  It's basically like a pinboard for anything that interests you and since it's online it's easier to keep it organized and there is endless inspiration on there.  I basically now have a running list of things I'd like to do (I try not to pin things that would be impossible for us to accomplish..only things that I can either do now with what I have in my house or that would only require me to go get a couple more supplies).  I feel like I always have backup ideas ready for those days when I feel totally out of ideas myself.  I've tried out so many so far and some flop for sure but many don't and they've all at the very least given us something new to try for a few minutes.  So, if you haven't already then spend some time on there looking around and see if it helps you out as much as it has can be a huge time suck if you aren't careful but I've already found a way to use it in a mostly helpful way as opposed to at "wasting my time" kind of way.

Anyway, this is one of my favorites of our latest Pinterest adventures....colored ice glass!  It looked pretty cool and we ended up with a unique snowman when we were done tossing them around!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Self Preservation

A couple of the Moms in my life have told me that reading my blog makes them "feel like a bad Mom" because I do more projects with Zoe than they do with their kids.  It bums me out for a couple of reasons:

Reason #1:
Every Mother I know is amazing.  We all have our different styles and I learn from other Moms every day.  When I share my thoughts and our activities on here it's in part to try and give back to other Moms in the way that I personally sharing my struggles in the hopes that others will read and know that they aren't alone in this crazy, difficult, inspiring and fun (all at once sometimes) job that we have.  I was telling my friends the other day that I had a good cry after my morning got turned upside down and Zoe was having one of her "I'm going to throw a fit every time you ask me to do something" days.  I was hanging up the laundry and just bawled my head off.  One of my friends said "I'm glad I'm not the only one!" and I immediately thought to myself: "That statement sums up one of the main reasons I write my blog."  We all struggle with the kids, ourselves, our spouses...well, just LIFE I suppose and you know what?  Sometimes it brings me to my knees.  That doesn't mean I'm weak or unhappy or a bad Mom, it just means that what we do is really hard sometimes and once in a while the only thing left to do to help you through a moment is to bawl your head off.  So, go ahead and know that I'm right there with you!  I also like to share our activities and projects just to give you ideas!  I've become so much more crafty and motivated this year and a big reason why it's seemed so accessible to me is because I started reading OTHER blogs and getting ideas.  Once I started seeing more and more people doing little projects with their kids, the easier it all seemed to be.  I wanted to add to that big pool of people sharing ideas in case anyone in my personal circle isn't into surfing the net and reading as many blogs as I am.  I'm hoping this is another way for me to give to other Moms like other Moms have given to me since I became a parent.

Reason #2
If any more than 1 minute passes in which I don't have an idea of what we can do, ZOE TAKES CHARGE AND STARTS TELLING ME WHAT TO DO.  Don't get me wrong, she is loads of fun but man I just can't stand getting sucked into her games sometimes.  They always involve something I'm not in the mood to do and I do so much eye rolling, sighing and complaining that not only am I bored out of my mind, but I also end up feeling guilty that I'm not enthusiastic enough for her.  If I stay a step ahead of her and have a few things in mind to do, while it doesn't always work, it usually diminishes the time in which I'll be forced to, for example, pretend she is my dog and walk her around the house on a leash trying to figure out what she is saying in her "doggie voice". Doing crafts and stuff is just my personal way of dealing with this dilemma we all have in common.  Some people tend to the house, but that doesn't relax me so I try to do my cleaning when Zoe and Owen are otherwise engaged or asleep so it doesn't happen as often as it should.  Some people bake and cook but, while I enjoy doing these things sometimes, doing them with the kids around just stresses me out more.  I marvel at the meals many of my friends prepare for their families on a regular basis.  Our dinners every week almost always include frozen pizza, mac and cheese (sometimes twice), spaghetti with sauce from a jar (sometimes heated up, most times not), and scrambled eggs, all paired guessed it:  frozen mixed vegetables (or a bowl of applesauce if the thought of cooking the veggies is just too much to think about).  Let's not forget my favorite (when Nathan isn't home for dinner) tater tots, string cheese and edamame.  So, these little projects are how I personally get through my days and choose to spend the better part of my parenting energy.  Yes, I feel proud that the stuff we do together is fun and interesting and sometimes a learning experience for Zoe and that is also why I do it but I can't tell you how many times I set something up for us to do and she gets bored with it after 2 minutes and moves on to something else while I finish the project.  Lots of times when that happens, she plays alone until I'm done or colors alongside me or something.  Not to mention it just makes me feel good to have something to show for the hard work I do during the day.  I like having something to show Nathan when he gets home that goes along with a story about what we did that day.

So, if  I've ever made you feel like you "don't do enough" with your kids just keep in mind that a big reason (probably the biggest) why I do all of this stuff with her is to just keep my mind from imploding, just like you do in your own way.

Anyway, all that said....since winter has arrived here I have plenty of reasons to stay prepared for ideas every day since it's more and more common for us to be stuck inside for the whole day together.  I saw this idea the other day and knew we had to give it a whirl because I had all of the supplies in my house already.  When I went to do it today, I totally forgot about the liquid soap and ended up putting vegetable oil in.  We will have to try it again with the soap and see how different it looks.  Also, you wouldn't want to do this with oil if your kids tend to get really messy because you'd have a lot of oil to clean up.  It was fun though...didn't last long but I thought it was totally worth it...
Poured the milk and oil in a tray and then added however much food coloring as we wanted

Then we just sort of played around with the bubbles and watched them change

It looked really cool!

Zoe was a princess for Halloween and I happened to come across this autumn leaf crown the day before.  She was already planning to wear a beautiful birthday crown that was made for and given to her by my friend Jessica last year and I was totally cool with that so I wasn't planning on making it for her costume.  During the day on Halloween though we were out playing in the beautiful weather and I decided I wanted to fiddle around with some leaves and see if I could make one.  I thought it would be cool if she liked it enough to add to her costume, but I also knew I just wanted to make it just to make it, so I didn't mind at all when she decided to go with the birthday crown in the end.  I struggled with it quite a bit just because I vaguely remembered the blog post I'd read and couldn't remember how they had done it exactly.  I couldn't get the stems to work for the weaving for some reason and thought I was a genius when I decided to use pine needles instead.  After concentrating for at least a half an hour on it, I went to put it on her and it totally fell apart!  Ugh!  Of COURSE!  My former dresser-self scoffed at the present-time me when I realized I never would have expected a costume to stay together if I'd used a bunch of straight pins and not sewn it together at all.  So, I threw my pile of leaves down in a huff and almost left them at the playground.  At the last minute, I turned around and got them because this really nice mother, who had watched me carefully put it together that whole time, quietly said "Oh, don't give up!  It's so beautiful!" and I realized she was right...I'd be disappointed if I didn't keep trying.  What finally worked was stitching them together with embroidery floss.  Although I'm sure that alone would have held it together just fine, I glued on a  strip of construction paper on the inside edge, just to make it more sturdy and also to make it less itchy to wear.  Anyway, here is the result!
Held together with just pine needles fold the bottom part of the leaf and sort of layer them however you want.  Then you sew or weave through those folds.  When I knew it was long enough I stitched it together after I sized it to her head.
Gluing in the construction paper

Beautiful girl!